Thursday, April 6, 2006

Suggestions Welcomed!

This post is primarily for teachers and parents. If you have written on this topic before and have suggestions listed somewhere on your blog, please consider putting a link to it in your comments, and I'll put it in this post.

My principal was so happy with the summer reading lists I developed for high school that she's asked me to do the reading lists for elementary and middle school too. I've put together a tentative middle-school list, which I've sent to the middle-school teachers for their input. It was just this afternoon that I was asked to put together an elementary-school list.

I'm planning to send a request for suggestions to all of the elementary-school teachers, but I thought I'd ask some of you as well: What books do you suggest, for either middle school or elementary school? I'm looking for books that (1) are classics; (2) are good literature (I guess #1 and #2 are kind of redundant); (3) will not provoke the ire of parents, some of whom are very conservative fundamentalist Christians. (If you haven't figured it out, I teach at a very conservative Christian school in the Bible Belt.)

I don't want to put specifically "Christian" fiction on the list if it's also bad fiction (read: I will never, ever make anyone read the Left Behind books); however, I would like to include Christian books, or books by Christian authors, that are good literature. Some examples that come to mind are Christy by Catherine Marshall, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Oh, and the books don't necessarily have to be fiction; history, biography, etc., are good, too.

I am not, of course, limiting the list to overtly Christian materials. I want to list books that are good literature, that will make students more culturally literate, and that kids will (hopefully) enjoy. I'm including classics such as Tom Sawyer, The Three Musketeers, Great Expectations, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc., for the high school (for example), and things like Number the Stars, Bridge to Terabithia, and Little Women for middle school.

So, now that you have an idea of the types of books I'm looking for, I'd appreciate any advice for books--either for the not-yet-finalized middle-school list, or the as-yet-nonexistent elementary school list. Fire away!

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