Thinking about my Reading Roots: a Response

Sometimes others write my thoughts. Shana did that this week in her post about Reading Resolutions.

Well, not the part about traveling to England and visiting all the awe-inspiring places she mentions. (“Someday,” I tell my self daily.) But the part about losing her way as a reader, and the part about needing to “read my roots.” This is so me.

When we run a readers and writers workshop classroom, we read so we can encourage our students to read. Sure, we can book talk titles that we’ve only heard of — there is a little art to that though. Sure, we can have students book talk to one another — this works well when we’ve modeled talking books enough times. And while most of the YA literature I have read over the past several years has held my attention and given me insights into the minds and hearts of my students, it is still not my roots. (Honestly, I get a little tired of all the teen angst that my students love to read.)

Like Shana, my roots run deep into literature. I love the classics. I mean the real old classics — a little Homer, Greek tragedy, a comedy or two, definitely a book of Will’s plays, maybe some Milton, and more.

I teach none of it. And I’m okay with that.

In AP Language, our focus in non-fiction:  speeches, essays, op-ed pieces, arguments, and I have managed to include literature in our book clubs and poetry into our writing workshops. This works great for the purposes of my course design and my teaching. I just sometimes miss the me kind of reads.

Right now I need to think about me.

Here’s three things I’m doing to focus on the Reader who responded to Shana’s post with a “Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes”:

1. Participate in a Book Club.  We’ve only met twice, but we’ve read two interesting texts: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and Unbroken by Laura Hildebrand, and our next book is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Grown up talk about books we read for pleasure. That’s about my favorite thing.

2. Challenge myself to read author’s I’ve never read: James Joyce, Kurt Vonnegut (ok, I read “Harris Bergeron”), J.K. Rowling. I have many more, but these are the first three that came to mind.

3. Attend an event at the Dallas Institute of Humanities. A new colleague filled me in on the offerings here. I had no idea. On-going classes, and then in the summer a Teacher’s Institute to study Tragedy/Comedy and Epic Tradition.

What are you doing to reach your roots?

©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015


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3 thoughts on “Thinking about my Reading Roots: a Response

  1. lizcmckenna February 4, 2015 at 11:04 am Reply

    I’m a little late to this post, Amy, but if you haven’t already finished Station Eleven you’ll love the Shakespearean connections! It was one of my favorites from last year.


  2. Amy January 16, 2015 at 10:10 pm Reply

    Dave, sad that you had surgery but glad you got time with Faulkner. Thanks for the comment!


  3. Dave Arbogast January 16, 2015 at 7:37 am Reply

    Two summers ago I was home recovering from surgery, and I re-read about a half-dozen Faulkner novels. Now, that touched my roots! But they are in need of watering once more. I’m tempted to return to Shakespeare.


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