Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Topic: Using Book Previews as Motivation to Read

10-second review: Summarizes key scenes in a novel and asks what the student would do, then gives the page numbers on which the scene will be found with what the character in the book actually did.

Title: “Teaching Reading and Literature to the Disadvantaged, Part IV: Method.” Saul Bachner. Journal of Reading (December 1974), 238-240. The Journal of Reading was the secondary school publication for the International Reading Association (IRA), since replaced by the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

Summary/Quote: “Whether Johnny can read or Johnny can’t read, the initial problem quite often in the English classroom is that Johnny won’t read.

“Last year, to combat this problem, I developed a previewing technique using…key scenes from Richard Wright’s autobiographical novel, Black Boy. Each scene I selected from the book spanned only a few pages. I briefly summarized each scene…. Instead of using the main character’s name, however, I substituted the pronoun ‘you,’ thus automatically forcing each student to take on a little part in the novel by becoming the main character himself. …[asked] the students what [they] would do in the situation, along with the page numbers in the book where the student could read the actual scene.”

Sample scene summarized: “You work for a woman who promises to feed you two meals a day. The first meal in her house consists of spoiled molasses and stale bread, even though there is fresh food in the house. Your are a Negro and the woman is white. What would you do? Would you say anything? What would you say? You need the job.

After previewing several of these crucial scenes, the students were very much interested in reading the novel.

Comment: One of these days I’m going to include in my blog a variety of methods for previewing books to motivate students to read them. This is a good one. RayS.

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