Let teens read what they like and they will like to read. The tenet of reading evangelists was in evidence Aug. 28 as US students and faculty spent an hour avidly chatting about their summer reads. Launched last spring by US librarians Sue Smith and Lauri Vaughan, the ReCreate Reading program sought to emphasize reading for pleasure and allowed students completely free choice in their selection of a title. To help build enthusiasm for ReCreate Reading, Smith and Vaughan leveraged the US faculty’s passion for books to encourage students. Teachers were asked to sponsor a particular title or be willing to facilitate a discussion group in which all students came prepared to talk about a different book. The latter, referred to as the catch-all option, permitted students to preserve their choice of a book to something that struck their fancy sometime during the summer break.
Students in Gr. 10-12 were given the option to select from over 35 teacher-sponsored titles or participate in the catch-all option. Freshmen were asked to read a title of their choice which they discussed with their advisories. Teacher-sponsored titles ranged from fun reads such as Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series led by Butch Keller and Jane Keller, US head and math teacher, respectively, to discussions on Fareed Zakaria’s “The Post-American World” facilitated by history teacher Ramsay Westgate and “Godel’s Proof” by Ernest Nagel and facilitated by math teacher Misael Fisico.
A highlight of the day was a visit by Matt Richtel, author of the psychological thriller “Hooked.” Sponsored by psychology teacher Naomi Schatz, the title drew the interest of over three dozen students and several faculty members who enjoyed an hour-long discussion with the Bay Area author in the Nichols auditorium.
“ReCreate Reading was a resounding success!” said Vaughan. “Folks tend to think of reading as an individual pursuit, but in many ways it’s very social. Anyone who’s read a great book loves to share it – in fact that’s how most of us figure out what we’ll read next. Not only did ReCreate Reading provide enthusiastic readers with a convenient outlet, many of them have a list of books they want to read next.”
Other titles discussed included non-fiction books such as “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff, “The Endurance” by Alfred Lansing, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston, “Bringing Down the House” by Ben Mezrich and two Michael Pollan titles, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food.” Fiction ranged from poetry (“The Autobiography of Red” by Anne Carson) to science fiction (” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams and “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson) to realistic fiction (“Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult) to historical fiction (“The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing”) by M.T. Anderson.