Which genre have you enjoyed reading the most this year?
A. Rank them from 1 (most enjoyed) to 5 (enjoyed but not as much!):
- Short Stories ("The Most Dangerous Game," "To Hell with Dying," "Bluestown," "Death by Landscape," "Singing My Sister Down," "Rules of the Game," "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge")
- Drama ("Trifles," The Importance of Being Earnest, Antigone)
- Poetry (see our poems here)
- Nonfiction/Autobiographies ("On Being a Cripple," Night)
- Novels (Frankenstein)
B. For your #1 choice, how often have you read something in this genre entirely of your own choice?
C. For your #2 choice, how often have you read something in this genre entirely of your own choice?
D. Final question: Of these two, which genre have you learned you enjoy but choose to read the least?
Then, I asked them to consider reading in this genre that they found they enjoyed but really had never chosen to read on their own. And this is why I love my students: they went along with my suggestion. Out of my ten students (I had only one of my classes today), only 1 chose novel, and he chose it because he rarely reads them. I teased him that I would make him read Twilight so he could really get caught up on the novel genre! Of the other students, 2 chose short stories, 3 chose poetry, and 4 chose nonfiction.
I am using a modified literature circle for this unit where they will meet in genre-similar groups to compare what they are reading (since they will be reading different representations of the genre) and tease out a deeper understanding of their chosen genres. My final goal for them is to understand not only their genre but to understand why that genre appeals to them -- what style techniques and topics are common.
I always want to give my students choice in their reading, but I also really want to push them into new territory so they grow as readers and thinkers an discover new loves. I do not always strike a great balance between these sometimes conflicting pressures, but I think I have struck a homerun with this one.