Literature: Reading for Pleasure

“The man who hasn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” –Mark Twain

I’ve been in Norman, Oklahoma for the past few days talking about books and adventure at a high school of 2,400 students. Some of these students–about 150 of them–are lucky enough to take an elective class called “Reading for Pleasure.” When I first heard about it, I wondered if there was any other kind of reading. I mean–I thought all reading was for pleasure! Reading for Pain? Sounds horrible. But then I remembered back to those days of assigned reading. Those days when I had to read because someone was telling me what to read. And even now–those articles I have to read for meetings, or whatever. Yes–there is something other than reading for pleasure. I must have forgotten about it after reading a few good books of my own choosing.

The “Reading for Pleasure” students get to walk into a classroom each day and read what they want to read, at their own pace. I’m jealous. They give presentations about their books at the end of the semester, but most of the time, they just get to read. I talked to the teacher who designed this course and promotes reading for pleasure. Her room was absolutely full of books, and I asked her what she’d recommend for young adult readers. She gave me a long list and another handout including titles and authors high school students picked as their favorites. I’ll name a few of them here; many of them are either National Book Award Winners or winners of the Prinz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

Reading for pleasure recommendations, from the “Reading for Pleasure” guru at Norman North High School:

Hurricane Song, Paul Volponi
Peak, Roland Smith
Touching Spirit Bear, Ben Mikaelsen

Carter Finally Gets It, Brent Crawford
Son of the Mob, Gordon Korman
Spanking Shakespeare, Jake Wizner

Just Good Books:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary Pearson
If I Stay, Gayle Forman
Looking for Alaska, John Green
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
Runner, Carl Deuker
The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht
Wish You Were Dead, Todd Strasser

Photo credit: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

3 responses to “Literature: Reading for Pleasure

  1. I wish they had a class like that when I was in high school or even college. I remember one of the worst books I ever had to read for school was Z for Zachariah. But, what a great concept for a class. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This is my class! Thank you sooo much for giving us this publicity! I really enjoyed sitting with you and sharing books. The class is totally magic when the teacher trusts students to read good books. I almost hate to say I’m collecting research that shows (duh!!) our class raises ACT reading scores in reading, improves kids’ AP Lit and Lang scores, and makes kids stronger writers! I know this class makes readers! Thank you for telling your friends about our class!

  3. OK–I’ll remember not to put “Z is for Zachariah” on my list. And–Claudia. YES–this is your class. YOU are amazing. Thank you. -t

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