Today during the long assembly block, as part of the new summer reading program, students in Classes III and IV participated in small group discussions led by faculty and staff volunteers. In the spring, students and group facilitators were asked to identify a book of their choice; discussion groups were determined by those selections with community building in mind. The titles were suggested by the faculty and staff leaders.
The book groups were the result of a lot of hard work, investigation and research by the Summer Reading Committee, formed two years ago and co-chaired by librarians Emily Tragert and Talya Sokoll, and English Department Chair Shannon Clark, with the goal of examining and redesigning the program. The objectives that emerged from this research included building community, providing a common starting place for upper-level electives, limiting the amount of summer work for students and encouraging reading for fun. Tragert explains, “In the past, students were required to read a book for each English or history class they were taking, as well as one or two ‘choice’ books from a list curated by teachers.” Now, under the new program, students are able to enjoy more time reading for fun during the quieter months of summer vacation.
This morning, small groups of students from Classes III and IV gathered in classrooms to discuss their summer reading books. Faculty and staff facilitated discussions on texts such as On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, Beartown by Fredrik Backman, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and others. Thoughtfully and enthusiastically, students reflected on their reading from the summer, making insightful connections and observations. The new reading program has provided a unique opportunity for students at Nobles to discuss a diverse selection of literature and topics with faculty from across disciplines, with staff, and with students from other grade levels, all while strengthening community.
“Allowing students to choose a book they felt excited about that may not be part of the curriculum was a way to share a new part of themselves,” said history faculty member Sara Masucci, who co-led a discussion of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl with librarian Ella Steim. “They approached the conversation in a different way, without being assessed, and with more of an opportunity to interact. Both adults and students were able to have a more personalized experience with a wide range of books outside the grade-specific curriculum, and to see what others were passionate about.”