Convincing young people to volunteer to read a timeworn, Pulitzer Prize-winning classic isn't always the easiest argument to win. Throw in lunch-time meetings and probing questions about things like plotline, character, and metaphor and you might feel like the initial solicitation of a group of 11-13-year-olds carries a significant risk of revolt or at least ignorance.
Last year, in the CA Middle School, we finally took this risk, and with great reward. All of our students in grades 6-8 participated in our newfound MS Book Club. We have long known, via experience, that adolescents are hungry to learn. And while there are a few students for whom this manifests in "reading", there seems to be a trend away from reading as students reach middle school and adolescence. Is this again the perceived curse of the phone and the myriad apps that divert young people's attention? Or is simply that they are adolescent, as we all were, and interested in other things? Don't get me wrong, clearly, students are still hungry for the likes of Harry Potter and the genres popular at Barnes and Noble or Amazon such as "Teen Paranormal Romance". But Hemingway?
The answer, as it turns out, a resounding "Yes".
-Mr. Green, Middle School Head