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Summer Reading!

The other day friend and colleague Rita DiCarne posted her plan for summer reading – rotate through one book for fun, one for her students, and one for professional development. This seemed like a great rotation and helped me figure out some of my next reads.

For Fun: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This book popped up as a recommendation from my Amazon account and is about twin sisters who ran away from their small hometown together but went on to lead very different lives. As the first page explains, “…the twins scattered, their lives splitting as evenly as their shared egg. Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.” Stella moves to California, where she keeps her identity as a black woman a secret from everyone, including her white husband. Desiree eventually leaves her husband and moves back home with her daughter.

I downloaded the audiobook so I can enjoy the story with my husband on our several long summer vacation drives. So far we’ve only listened to the first few minutes, but we are already hooked by both the plot and the narration. The story starts in present-day Mallard with Desiree’s surprising return to the small town before it flashes back the summer of 1954, when the sisters ran away from home together. Shayna Small narrates the book with a slow, southern voice that draws you into the characters’ lives and their setting.

For my Students: You Brought Me The Ocean written by Alex Sanchez and Illustrated by Julie Maroh

My students LOVE graphic novels – I never seem to have enough on my classroom shelves. This graphic novel, published by DC Comics and set in the DC Universe, seems to have something for everyone – love, friendship, family tension, secrets, super powers. Jake, the main character, is struggling with his evolving identity as he develops a crush on swim team captain Kenny, secretly applies for a college far from home, and grapples with a mysterious power marking his skin. The book was just published a week ago and I can’t wait until my copy is delivered! Here are the first two pages for you to sample:

For Professional Development: Argument in the Real World: Teaching Adolescents to Read and Write Digital Texts by Kristen Hawley Turner and Troy Hicks.

This book has actually been in a pile on the corner of my desk for over a year. However, in light of the likelihood of teaching my students argument writing via a virtual platform in the fall and with consideration of the ever-evolving issues dominating our society and news cycles, I moved it to the top of my to-read list. I can tell from the chapter titles and section descriptors alone that this book will offer a wealth of practical approaches that I can use to encourage my students to be more critical readers and writers of digital argument.

One the first page the authors drive home the importance of teaching our students how to wade through the digital landslide of arguments they are inadvertently exposed to everyday: “Like us, our students, who are beginning to use tablets and smartphones at increasingly younger ages, are exposed to a variety of arguments. Some of these arguments come from reliable sources that include credentialed experts and reputable news organizations. Others come from anonymous marketers and opinionated individuals who write blogs and discussion posts. All of us must make sense of the barrage of information.” I can only assume students will experience an increase in exposure to these arguments as they continue to learn via a virtual platform and I’m hoping to discover some engaging and practical ways I can encourage them to think more critically about them by reading this book.

What do you plan to read this summer – for fun, for your students, for professional development?

Kelly Virgin

Kelly Virgin teaches English for the Kennett Consolidated School District and has been a PAWLP teacher consultant since 2010. She is a proud bookworm and loves sharing her passion for reading and writing with her students.