Friday, January 1, 2016

Down Time = Read Time

     During the last few weeks, I've had some undesired and unexpected down time. With mobility limited, I've found myself faced with a lot of time on my hands. A lot. In preparation of this, prior to my time away from school, I stocked up on books I had on my TBR list.The result of this luschious lull? I've been able to read and reread a large number of books. Here are some of the tops ones I read.
     In the YA genre, Butter  by Erin Jade Lange, is at the top of the books I read and enjoyed. Dealing with touchy subjects of bullying and teen suicide, this was a book that kept me engaged and empathetic to the main character.
     Another book I wish wouldn't end, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler,was a coming of age story of a young girl who feels like a misfit in her family. Her older siblings, both overachievers and legendary in the high school, set a high bar for fifteen-year-old Virginia Sheeves. But as she comes to terms with who she is and her place in life, she also sees the cracks in her "perfect" brother. The author includes a nice twist in the plot that the reader doesn't see coming.
     One of my favorites, The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider, deals with a high school senior who was involved in a crippling car accident that ended his tennis career and leaves him wondering where he fits in the high school hierarchy. It deals with accepting his new limitations, reestablishing friendships and entering into a relationship. Just when his life has fallen into a smooth rhythm, main character Ezra Faulkner confronts the past in a way that transforms his futures and shakes his present.
      Although I read more books, I can't mention them all. However, one NF that deserves mention is True Notebook: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall by Mark Salzman. This book chronicles Salzman's visits into juvenile hall where he is convinced by an erstwhile nun to offer a writing class to young offenders. Unsure of how the class would go, Salzman agrees to give it a try. What unfolds is a mixture of the angst of the teen offenders as they wait for their future to be revealed and a release of some of the teen's stress as they use writing to express their anxieties and fears.
      As someone who teaches at-risk teens, this book showed me how powerful words are and how the writing process can be therapeutic to teens. I knew this, but I never KNEW this. Maybe it was that the class members read their writing out loud that led to the profundity of the writing class and this book. For me, at least, this book revealed the power of writing and the power of paper and pencil to help young adults explore and express their feelings outside of the classroom. If this book did anything, it helped to reinforce my commitment to having students write...a lot.
      My seclusion has one more week before I'm allowed to reenter the classroom for half days. Honestly, it can't come soon enough for me. But as I wait patiently for that time to arrive, I guarantee you'll I'll be reading. Guaranteed.

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