Monday, November 17, 2014

i only ask because i genuinely want to know...

sooooo... i love to read. like, i genuinely, truly, deeply LOVE to read. i love to read more than i love bacon, and i REALLY love bacon. ask anyone. well, anyone who knows me anyway. ideally i could just spend my days reading books and eating bacon, and then when someone asked me what i did all day i would just say "books and bacon," and they would understand.

well, i have this super-stellar job (it's, like, number 5 on the list of things in my life that i really love), part of which entails attempting to instill in young people a love of learning. in my brain that is the same as a love of reading. during the school year i mostly just try to talk them off a ledge while they do homework that they find boring/confusing/frustrating/infuriating, and the reading bit is mostly assigned by their english teachers. sometimes the books are wonderful, sometimes not so much. it's often an uphill battle, but there's only so much i can do.

and then it's summer.

ahhhh, summer. what kid doesn't just live for summer? the long days, the late nights, the lack of's glorious!

so each summer at work, we (and by we i mean me) choose a theme and set a goal for summer reading. usually it's pretty simple--books that have been turned into movies (read the book and watch the movie, complete with snacks), myths and legends from around the world, etc.--anything to get them to read. literally anything. i discovered long ago that teenagers will jump through hoops of fire if there is food on the other side so the motivation for meeting the goal is pretty much always pizza. this year, we did something a little different. and it was, by far, the most daunting summer reading scheme we have ever undertaken.

we read the united states.

say what?!

we read the united states. meaning, as a group, we (collectively) read one book that takes place in each of the 50 states plus d.c. 51 books. 51 books as a group by the end of the summer. it may not seem like it to you, but this is actually a lofty goal. considering that our summer program is only 10 weeks long (1 full week shorter than years past) and the fact that we have never, in my all years at the club, reached a number like that in one summer.

enter the motivation.

food, of course. ice cream sundae party for all of the readers if we reach the goal. i spent days compiling a list of books, organized by state, made and hung a big map of the country on the wall, and even made a little flag for each of my teens. all 111 of them.

when they chose a book and began reading, they marked the state with their flag--staking their claim. when they finished they got to paint the state in with the color of their choice and, if they wanted to, move their flag and start a new book.

and they did.

it was a slow start (i read the first 3 books myself), but they gradually gained momentum and we finished! not only that, but we finished a week ahead of schedule. for those of you who like numbers ("not i!" said the little red lindsay) that averages out to 5.66 books per week. and that's only counting the books that took place in the u.s. there were other readers whose books (like harry potter) took place in other parts of the world or (like eragon) took place is another world entirely. that also doesn't count the five or so incidents of double reading (more than one person read either the same book or a book from the same state). all told, we probably read closer to 65 or 70 books in the 10 week period known as summer at the club. go us!

as the title of this post suggests, all of this has been leading to a question (i just had to brag on my teens a bit first), and that question is this:
what book did you read that made you love reading?

also, how the devil am i gonna top this program next year?!!!


Terry said...

Nice job, Lindsay! I'm always happy to see the Teen Center doing awesome stuff! As for the book, I don't remember the one that got me into it; I've been an avid reader for a long time, but the book I can think of that really got me immersed in reading was the series called the Belgariad by David Eddings. It was a fantasy five-book series and I devoured it (I was 15 or 16, I think).

As for topping the program, I have a idea: time travel. Look up different books (fictional or non) in different time periods (Elizabethan, Wild West, Roman empire, etc.), especially that specifically give out dates. Set up the timeline with the flags and time hop. You could keep track by coloring in a Tardis (thus satisfying the Dr. Who fans).

Or in a similar fashion, see how many fictional worlds the teens can travel through (Narnia, Middle Earth, the Star Wars universe, etc.).

Best of luck!

P.S. Miss you all!

Jess said...

I love this, and I'm so glad you guys reached your goal! What a great idea.

I honestly can't remember the book that made me first fall in love with reading, but it was probably something my mom read to my sisters and I when we were kids. She read us the entire "Indian in the Cupboard" series, and I loved it.

Now that I'm old, it's easier to remember the books that make me fall in love with reading all over again, like Peace Like a River (Leif Enger), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Finnikin of the Rock (Marina Marchetta), and The Blue Sword (Robin McKinley). There aren't many books that I read over again (there are enough books to read even once through!), but I always return to those books every year or so. :)

Kindall Family said...

Love it! I have always liked reading and had a ton of the Babysitter's Club books. But the ones I come back to over and over again are the Little House books. I love them! I like realistic fiction and historical fiction the best.

I like the above idea of books through time, that might get their interest. Or you could move on to the world and read books that take place in different countries.

You are so awesome, Lindsay. Those kids are super lucky to have you working with them. :)

Kristy said...

I would love to see the list of books from all 50 states! What an amazing way to get kids to read. Books and bacon are at the top of my list too (this is why we are friends - among many other things). My favorite book growing up was "Harriet the Spy". It is the only book I have read over and over.

A couple ideas for reading next summer - books about different countries and have the kids see how many different places they can find. Or pick a topic and see how many books the kids can find to read about. Every week pick a new topic.

Deon said...

You know this totally speaks to my book-loving heart, right? Moreover, it speaks to my get-and-keep-children-reading heart as well! Good job on this project, Lindsay! Well done, missy!

So, a few of the books that sucked me and and never spit me out are: Where the Red Fern Grows; Old Yeller; The Little House series; Anne of Green Gables; The Secret Garden; The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. B . . . ; The Blue Dolphins; My Side of the Mountain; and The Box Car Children. I recognize that most of these books are for younger readers, but these books contained fabulous stories that even older kids might love.

Keep up the good work, Linds! I am so proud of you!