Each year, idealistically, I like my students to independently read one classic (or contemporary novel with literary value) per quarter. Some students graciously accept this challenge, but many don't. During first semester, when I noticed how few students were reading classics, I decided I needed to actively pursue a solution to this problem. One student in my 7th period class, Iliana, simply asked me to recommend a classic to her. Our conversation went like this:
Iliana: Ms. Deahl, I know you want us to read classics, but I don't know which one to read. Can you recommend one to me?
Me: Did you take a look at the list I gave you? Do you have anything in mind?
Iliana: Yeah, I picked out a few titles. The one that sounds the most interesting is The Catcher in the Rye. Do you have a copy?
Me: I love The Catcher in the Rye! Holden is the ultimate sarcastic pessimist. I think you'll like it. Let's check my shelves of classics... Looks like I do.
Iliana: Okay, I'll check it out then.
Me: You do realize you will have to do extra work with this book, right?
Iliana: I know, but I also know that I need to push myself to read something more challenging. I think I'm ready for that challenge.
Me: I do, too. Here's what I'd like you to do while you're reading...