Not a Title in Sight

It’s the end of January. I’m down to the final days of the month, and I have a problem. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big problem – it’s probably not even a problem at all. But in the world of my classroom, it’s a problem of monumental proportions. It could derail the reading we have going on. I have no Schmidt’s Pick title for February. None. I’m empty. Dry. Barren.

Let me back up a bit. Obviously, reading is emphasized in my classroom. My students read. They always have. They may not come in reading, but by the end of the school year, they’re Readers (with a capital R). How do I do this? I quite simply make time for reading in my room. Reading with no strings attached. I talk about what I’m reading. I ask them what they’re reading. And as the year goes on, we become a community of readers. It seems to happen organically when in reality it is something I work really hard at nurturing. This school year I decided that I would highlight one title each month that I felt was – to steal a term from Barnes and Noble – unputdownable. So I started out with The Hunger Games. Then I moved onto City of Bones, Airborn, A Northern Light, and The Alchemyst.

The day the books are allowed to be checked out, my 7th and 8th graders race down the hall to my room eager to be the first to check out the book. By the end of the month, anywhere from 20 – 30 students have read the book. Yes, my dear readers, my students will read through the books in one day, and some of these titles are quite unwieldy. They come back asking for the next book (if it’s a series) or for another book like it (if it’s not). They agree that the books are unputdownable.

By November, I had developed a small following of students who needed my blessing on what book they should read next. I’ve overheard them saying to each other that I know all the good books. I scratched my head in wonder because some books I think are trash, they love and, well, vice-versa. By December 1, the kids excitedly entered the classroom wondering what the pick was, and by January 3, they were trying to guess what I would pick. The public library is working overtime to keep up with my requests – apparently the kids aren’t waiting for the books to make it back in the classroom. And side deals are being made for kids to bring in their own copy of the Pick to loan to classmates. Schmidt’s Pick has become like a drug to my students as I watch books get handed off surreptitiously at lockers.

I’ve been watching this with glee for five months. And now this. . .

February is less than a week away, and I have no title. I’ve been reading like gang busters – 9 books this month. I’ve liked a lot of them. But for one reason or another, they were not unputdownable for the masses.  I thought The Christopher Killer might be the book, but it’s been rejected. I’ve got a few more options – The Maze Runner, The Killer’s Cousin, and Clockwork Angel waiting to be read. Until then I’m busy reading, reading, reading and taking suggestions, looking for that next pick.

Until next time. . .  See YA!

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