Teaching difficult novels

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Ideally, students would stop judging books by their covers and at least try to read what they are given.  Yet more often than not, I am faced with the question, “How do I get students to love the amazing books I love, or at least tolerate the books we are assigned since they’re the only […]

“Where do you buy these?”

Barnes and Noble at Cherry Hill, NJ.

Eight years ago, the question shocked me: “Mr. Ribay, where do you buy these?” The student was holding up a book. He had no idea where to buy a book. That was my first year teaching in Camden, NJ and the first time I had ever encountered someone who had to ask this question. But […]

Review of The Children of the King

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The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    266 pp. 3/14    978-0-7636-6735-1    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7042-9    $16.99 Continuing her string of novels exploring the effects of war on innocents (The Silver Donkey, rev. 9/06; The Midnight Zoo, rev. 9/11), Hartnett’s latest book tackles the home front. In the early days […]

Marrying accountability and independent reading

The book nook in Elizabeth's classroom

My middle school remedial reading students come to me with a wide variety of reading profiles, interests and needs. Yet one thing almost all of my students have in common is that they begin the year as students who have spent very little time reading. In order to combat this problem, our classroom book nook […]

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Some years ago, my optimistic neighbor told me that he considers Valentine’s Day to be the unofficial start of spring. Given the ridiculous winter we are having in the northeast, this year I am holding him to it! So, in desperate hope for the start of spring, I am dedicating this post to Valentine’s Day. […]

Middle-school reading for Black History Month

Zora!

Four nonfiction books on African American history for middle-school readers.