Monday, October 29, 2007

Cirque Du Freak and Letters To A Young Teacher

What would it be like to find horror books, right up the alley of Stephen King, but appropriate for fifth and sixth graders to read in school? It would be like discovering Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak books. I've only finished the first book, but it was really scary, and bloody, and suspenseful. Yikes. I wouldn't want any kid younger than 10 reading it at night. I'm quite interested in continuing the series myself, and I'm super optimistic about lots of students getting into them as well.

Jonothan Kozol's Letters To A Young Teacher was a great, inspiring read. I was, as I've already mentioned, frustrated at some points when he we wrote about teacher-led activism. But, overall, I found his words comforting, motivating, and helpful. It also helped me realize that there are lots of fabulous things about working for the Salt Lake City School District. Our schools are somewhat segregated, with the whole East and West side divide, but certainly not as segregated as many cities across the nation. And our district services the whole city so overall we have a huge range of demographics. Even little old Washington Elementary has a nice blend of racial, ethnic, and economic diversity. I wish there was more economic diversity, but we do have some variety, ranging from extreme, homeless levels of poverty, to making-ends-meet poor, to a few families who are comfortably middle class.

Kozol provided a whole chapter on the voucher debate, which is a very hot issue here in Utah right now. We are going to be voting next week on whether to keep and implement the voucher program that the state legislature created last year or to dissolve the legislation and continue Utah's oddly progressive history of strongly supporting public schools. (When you have family sizes like ours, what choice do you have but to keep the public schools strong??)


sarah said...

I also discovered Cirque du Freak this year. The boys in my 6th grade class are devouring the books! Everyday a new boy comes up to me and says, "Miss M, this book is so disgusting and scary! It's AWESOME!"

AMY S. said...


Way cool. Any other titles your 6th grade boys are luvin?

I had to step back and wait a few weeks after finding these books, before they took off in my class, but about mid-December one kid started reading them, and then recommending them, and then, well, the rest is history. I'm making sure I have plenty of copies when we come back from winter break.