Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The English Library

Today, I met some first-year students for the first time! I don't teach their classes until later this week, but I popped into the English Zone classroom near the end of the lunch period and found a few students browsing the books in the English library.
New books that we ordered for the library this year! So exciting!
I don't know if I've talked about this library before, but I am kind of in love with it. It only consists of a few bookshelves, but it is crammed with some of the best English literature out there. At least a third of my junior high and high school reading list is there, along with classics like the LOTR trilogy, popular fiction such as the entire Harry Potter series, some solid recent non-fiction like Obama's memoir and Malcolm Gladwell's works, and hundreds of children's books, including a huge collection of Roald Dahl. If you look at my Bookworm page, over a third of the books I've read this year are books I've snagged from the library. (In addition to novels, the English library has an enormous collection of SAT and AP prep books and a shelf overflowing with random English grammar references and textbooks.)

I ordered kids' classics - some that I've read, some that I haven't.
The problem, however, is that CSHS students basically never read any of these books. They're too busy studying science and math; English grammar and conversation are already very low on their priority list, so what chance does English literature have? It made me kind of sad when I thought about all the money the school funneled into stocking this library (and expanding it every year) going toward nothing more than a pretty display gathering dust. Of course, I'm reading all of these books, so it's not a complete waste, but I really wanted my students to read them, too.

That's why I had my college prep class read Holes together last semester. It was a small success, I suppose. At least one of my students was interested enough in the story to go to the school's main library and check out the Korean translation, and then he read that.

Anyway, I digress. Today, during lunch, I ran into first-year students browsing the shelves in the English Zone, and I introduced myself (of course, they know who I am already, but I had to be friendly) and told them how I wished more students would read novels in English. One of the students, HY, seemed really eager to chat with me in English, and her speaking level was more advanced than I expected. She had picked out the fifth Harry Potter book of the shelves, and we talked about our favorite characters and books. I told all of them that I had more books in my office and that they could come and borrow them at any time. It was great! I hope I didn't scare them too much.
Co-teacher got a ton of books she wanted to read. Smart move!

Later, HY came into my office and asked if she could borrow a book from the English library. That's the second time since I've been here that that has happened. The first time was a college prep student who wanted to borrow the AP Chemistry book to study.

Speaking of reading, since my schedule has been rather erratic during this first week (I had both my afternoon classes canceled, and more changes will come next week), I spent the entire afternoon reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was interesting, and, due to the many classics name-dropped in Charlie's letters, made me even thirstier to read the rest of the books in the English library.

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