Last week we started Literature Circles in my class. For any of you that don't know what that is, think of a book club. There are 5 or so students all reading the same book and they meet with the teacher (me) a few times a week to discuss their reading and at the same time they have assignments to do that shows their understanding of the book and the characters, etc. So anyway, we started just over a week ago and almost a quarter of my students have finished 1, if not 2, novels already. I am thinking that either I picked awesome books,, or books that are too easy...hmmm.
One of the books was new to me as well, Peak by Roland Smith. This is an adventure book about a teenager who attempts to become the youngest person to ever climb Mount Everest. It is a fantastic adventure; suspenseful, gripping and full of theme as well. The main character, Peak, is on the climb with his father who is a famous mountain climber. They have not spent a lot of time together during Peak's childhood and Peak does not have many fond memories of his father supporting him throughout his life. A secondary storyline, that becomes the main storyline, is the fact that there is a second boy, Sun-jo, who is on the climb as well. The novel touched briefly on the conflict between China and Tibet through the character of this boy and would lead well into further studies if this were to be used for a full class novel study. I really got into this book and the characters and I know my students did as well.
All 5 students who read Peak finished the book in a week's time and have decided, as a group, to move on to a new book together. They did all this without any prompting or influence from me. I love when students become independent learners and start to create their own learning atmosphere.
There are quite a few other students who have finished their book as well, and in some cases, finished 2 books. It's hard to believe, and I don't want to be egotistical, but that makes me proud that maybe I am inspiring my students to read so much! I have made some notes about how I will change the unit for next year; such as having the students complete an assignment before they move on to their next book. I also don't think I would do the unit right before the Winter Break as I am feeling very rushed.
But I am super proud of the reading my students are doing and that I have found a new YA favourite in Peak.