My 14 year old started high school this year. As I mentioned before, she’s the baby of the family and my last chance to do things right so naturally, I’ve been pretty involved with her school work and her grades. She had a few issues in English this year, which is strange because she always tested well above her age in English and literature. In 7th grade, she was reading on a college level so you can imagine my surprise when I was notified that she’s only reading on a 9th grade level THIS year. Of course, I immediately scheduled a meeting with her English teacher and what I learned was more than a little unsettling to me. I don’t know about ALL public schools but our little public school doesn’t have a required reading list for their high school students. Totally not acceptable to me! No WONDER we have such a high illiteracy rate these days. I realize times are different AND there’s a big difference between public school and the Catholic school that I grew up in BUT I was required to read Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in 6th grade! We couldn’t move on to 7th grade until we had a complete understanding of both.
And here’s where I took matters in my own hands… I established my own very special required reading program for Julia. Okay, at first she wasn’t happy about it but I explained that she would lose her skills if she didn’t use them (she came really close to letting that happen) AND reading is the single most inexpensive vacation that a person can take. Once you open a book, you’re transformed to places you may never get to see in “real” life. Did I tell you that I also resorted to bribery? Each book that she finishes in a timely manner (I usually give her 2 weeks but she’s been finishing 1 book a week) AND hands me a good book report on is worth between $5 and $10! You can’t beat that, right? She loves it! For the most part, I’ll be choosing the books I want her to read. I don’t want this to be a punishment though so every once in a while she’ll get to choose her own.
I’m going to try and post about every book as she finishes it but because this is a new blog and she’s finished 3 books since we started doing this, there’s going to be 3 books on this post.
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
The reason I chose this book for my 14 year old is that I wanted her to understand how very lucky she is to live in America, the land of the free. I wanted her to have an understanding about the horrors and oppression other women face in the developing world. What she learned: She says what stuck with her is how widespread human trafficking is and about sex slavery. Did she appreciate this book? No. Maybe a bit too much for a 14 year old BUT she does want to start fundraising and getting her friends involved in raising money to prevent human trafficking. Mission accomplished!
I paid her $10 for this one!
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The reason I chose this book was primarily because we own sled dogs (Alaskan Malamutes) and I remember loving this book at her age. I thought it would be cool for her to see the world through the eyes of a dog. Did she appreciate this book? Absolutely not! She thought it was too sad. She didn’t like to read about “Buck’s” struggle to survive the extreme conditions and inhumane treatment of some humans. It made her sad. On the other hand, she liked Jack London’s writing style. She liked that she was made to understand exactly how “Buck” felt… she truly saw through the eyes of a dog.
This one earned her $5
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
I chose this one last week in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day. It’s so hard for a white kid to understand what it was like to be black in America even in the early 1900’s. I wanted her to know and to feel something. Mildred D Taylor will MAKE you feel! Basically, it’s a coming of age story about a black family and their struggle with “accepting the way things were” and the treatment of black people. It also mentions lynching, night riders (or KKK) and describes a tar and feathering. Did she like it? YES! We have a winner! She loved it and even gave me a 3 page book report (I didn’t ask for 3 pages but she just had a lot to say about the book! Lol)
$5 for this one!