English teachers search for engaging novels

English teachers search for engaging novels

Jennifer Ackerman, Staff Writer

  Just as Lakeview’s English III classes started reading a new book this year, English IV classes also may have new reading material next year.  English IV teachers Kurt Miley and Theresa Walker are in search of a new novel to replace The Handmaid’s Tale, which they usually teach.

  Miley reported that they can teach any book they choose as long as the school approves it.  He explained that teachers do not introduce a new novel into the curriculum often because it requires time and effort.  It takes a year or two to gather and create worksheets, writing prompts, and tests for a new book.

  “But after you have that stuff, then you have it.  Then you just tweak it here and there. You don’t have to do it all over again,” Miley said.

  He admitted that one issue with getting approval for a new book is money for the new books.

  Miley elaborated, “You have to order about 120 books usually to make sure everyone can teach it at the same time.  You figure 120 books times 10 or 15 dollars a book, that’s money we have to make sure we have.”

  Often, teachers will introduce a new novel if they believe that it is relevant to current topics or issues.  Miley said that books such as Black and White and The Handmaid’s Tale were chosen because they have minority authors.

  “Having more minority writers is kind of important nowadays,” he stated.

  Other times, English instructors search for new novels in efforts to get students interested in reading.  Both Miley and Walker admitted that encouraging students to read can be difficult.

  Walker stated, “I’ve read probably six books in the last month or so, and out of those I think the kids would enjoy maybe one of them.  It is difficult to find things that kids would find interesting and not boring.”

  Miley explained that, of course, class is smoother for both students and teachers if students read what they are assigned.  Miley explained how students learn noticeably more when they enjoy a book and read all of it. They participate in class and have engaging comments and questions.

  “In most cases kids like The Kite Runner.  In most cases kids like The Great Gatsby.  It’s that third book where we’ve been trying to figure out…. If the kids like the book it makes our jobs easier,” he detailed.

  Overall, Lakeview teachers genuinely want their students to enjoy reading and learn from it.  Students should give their teachers feedback about novels. If they give instructors suggestions for interesting books, those books could possibly end up being used in classes.