My experiences of reading during High School were mixed. As many secondary students across America do, I read many books that captured my imagination and encouraged me to seek out other works by the same author (Wells, Huxley, Hersey, Shakespeare). However, like secondary students across America, there were plenty of authors that I would not have sought out on my own (doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate reading them), but didn’t encourage me to read more of their works (Thoreau, Chaucer, Hawthorne). I’m not saying that those fine pieces of literature shouldn’t be taught, merely that different readers have different tastes and often need different forms of writing and a diverse range of authors’ voices to connect with. Hence the offerings I give you for the last “March is Reading Month” post (have you had enough of them already).
Wet Ink Magazine
An online literary, visual arts and multimedia magazine published for and by teens. Or rather, published by Canadian teens. While that may deter several teachers in the States and other countries from visiting the site, and block potential authors in non-Canadian schools from publishing, anyone is free to read the poetry, short fiction, and other offering by young writers. The caliber of the writing is quite high, and the magazine has a built-in engagement for many students as the work being published is written by their peers. Published quarterly, bios are included for each of the submitting authors, and many helpful links are provided for other student-submitted publications, teacher resources, and youth programs encouraging the literary arts. The main draw of this site is that high school students get a chance to see that their work can and is valued by a professional audience outside of their classroom. They can read highly polished, well crafted, publishable literature written by their peers that they often don’t get while reading some of the more casually written pieces on MySpace.com or another social networking sites.
If you’ve ever read the True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf or are a fan of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Fractured Fairytales, then you’ll enjoy Retold Tales. Found in the teen writing section of About.com, the page was originally set up as a student submission site for rewriting classic fairy tales. Some are quite well written and stick to the original plot lines, but with updated characters and modern situations (Puss in Boots meets with Bill Gates and delivers him the gift of Windows from his master, the President of Intel). Others fall a bit short, but manage to turn otherwise happy endings like Jack’s vanquishing of the Giant at the top of the beanstalk into tragedy; Jack’s mom chops down the beanstalk before he can make it back down and then collects the insurance money from her dead son and destroyed house in order to pay off all the debts. This site is a good way to introduce creative writing assignments as well as read a wide range of teen writing on the web.
Much like the ReadPrint site, Project Gutenberg was the original “we want to catalogue the world’s literature” site. With over 17,000 eBooks, this site has all the classics and then some. While it doesn’t provide material that much different than ReadPrint, it does offer the books in a variety of formats including plain text, HTML, and zipped files for easier storage. By far the most impressive feature of Project Gutenberg is the audio books. Many different recordings of the titles are offered in MP3 format for download to a computer, iPod, or other digital music player. Handy for students in classrooms with listening labs, but also useful for students that may need spoken quotes and excerpts from books for multimedia projects and presentations.
And that’s it, the last exhausting “March is Reading Month” post. Hopefully one of the sites I’ve posted during this “mini-series” of postings have proved useful in your classroom, as I know several of them have been handy to use in mine. If you missed any of the “March is Reading Month” posts and would like to check out all of them just type, “march reading” in the search box and search away.