Whether I'm teaching elementary or middle school or I'm at home, I surround myself with books of all types!
But, I digress... my point is I LOVE books! I especially love TEACHING with books and raising readers! Any chance I have to talk to kids about books or read books with kids, I jump on it! The district I teach in has gone away from novels studies (insert sad face here) and bought an anthology series. It's not bad, but anthologies suck the joy out of reading in my opinion. So, I teach the curriculum I'm given, but I still squeeze in a few novels throughout the year because kids get absorbed in full stories- not just excerpts! They also love being read to, so I do that as often as I can, too.
One way I squeeze in books at school is by using picture books in my lessons...even with big kids! Middle schoolers probably won't admit it, but they still like picture books. Since I don't get to read picture books as much as I'd like to with my own kids at bedtime anymore, I read them with my middle schoolers as parts of bigger lessons!
For example, I start my year off teaching elements of plot (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution). But instead of jumping into a novel right away, or just having kids copy down definitions, we read a variety of picture books and create plot diagrams! It is really easy for kids to see the elements of plot in a book that is only 32-pages long!
I especially like using Owl Babies by Martin Waddell for this lesson. It cracks me up when middle schoolers start repeating Bill's line: "I want my mummy!" over and over again!
Just recently, I read But I Read it on the Internet by Toni Buzzeo to my 8th graders. It is a great book to read before starting an Internet-based research project! This book tells the story of a boy named Hunter who believes that the only place to find true facts is inside a good old-fashioned book, while his classmate, Carmen, is a believer in anything she sees on the Internet. They enjoyed the opportunity to be read aloud to - a few even came up and sat on the floor like younger kids do! I chose to read this book to my kids as a kick-off lesson to teach about evaluating websites. The students have been learning about argumentative essays (arguing comes SO naturally to 8th graders!), and will soon be crafting their own research-based argumentative essays. We head into the library tomorrow to begin our research on various topics, so before I set them loose on the Internet, I want them to know how to determine which sites are reliable and which aren't so good.
Check out my full review on my "Book Reviews" tab!
Don't be afraid to use picture books with your older students! There are so many great books out there and a clever teacher can find ways to tie them into larger lessons! Happy reading!