Besides being an author, I was a social studies teacher at our local high school. A few years ago, I noticed something very unusual going on in my first period class. I was standing in front of the class discussing feudalism with the kids, but three of the girls weren’t listening to me. Not that they always listened to me, mind you, but these girls weren’t talking. They weren’t passing notes, sleeping, or trying to do their homework before it was due. So, what were they doing? They were reading.
Yes, reading, and yes, it’s a very big deal. The majority of my students said they didn’t care for reading. They said it was boring. Almost, I don’t blame them. If I never read anything but textbooks, I’d think reading was boring too.
Okay, they don’t read. Is that a problem? You bet it is! How can students develop reading comprehension skills if they don’t read? I bet readers score higher on standardized tests, and of course all of you readers know how reading can enrich your life.
The girls were reading Twilight. I asked them if it was good, and you should have heard them carrying on. One of them told me she’d never read an entire book in her life until she started Twilight. She was almost finished with it and already had New Moon ready to read. I was so intrigued I bought a copy of Twilight that very day.
The book was okay, but more importantly this experience impressed on me the need to provide young people with books they can enjoy, books that’ll make readers of them. So, this Christmas please consider a gift of books for any young adult or child on your list. In the long run it’ll be of more use to them than another sweater or video game.
I recently reviewed a middle grade book for another author, so I thought I’d share my review with you. The title of the book is Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis.
Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious “Santa” has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington. Her friends guess that the secret Kris Kringle could be either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie’s class who have liked her in the past, but she’s not sure. Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she’s opened on Christmas morning. It’s a holiday surprise she’ll never forget!
Sophie Washington is a girl everyone would want for a friend. She’s fun, smart, and can’t wait for Christmas vacation to come. Before that happens she’d like to solve a mystery. Someone who signs himself “Your Secret Santa” is mailing one gift to Sophie every day. Who can it be? Sophie has a few guesses, but really she doesn’t know. On top of that, her brother is having trouble with some neighborhood bullies. Sophie has her hands full.
I liked this book. The author accurately portrayed the excitement of students as Christmas vacation approaches. The book is up to date as well. Sophie and the other kids are dealing with the real world and the problems it sometimes brings. I also loved the character development in the story. As Sophie goes on her quest to find her Secret Santa and help her brother, she learns a lot about love, forgiveness, and friendship. I’d give it 5 out of 5 stars.