Tag Archives: classic literature

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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