Each year, the 8th grade advisors get to select a book for each of their advisees which is given to them at their 8th grade graduation. This is always a daunting but satisfying task, figuring out which book to give to each. There have been years when I have given my entire advisory the same book, like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, parts of which we have explored in class.
This year, however, I went for diverse and differentiated titles. What makes this selection difficult is that I work to be clear exactly what I want the book to do for each of my students. Will my book push them? Meet them right where they are? Will it be a book they won’t be ready to read for many years to come?
This year’s selections are: Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, History of Love by Nicole Kraus, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, Massive Change by Bruce Mau, Bradbury Stories: 100 of his Most Celebrated Tales, Bel Canto by Anne Patchett, Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, What it is by Lynda Barry, and three novels by the Bronte sisters- Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey.
I have tried to connect these books with an aspect of each student’s personality and desires, who they are and what I believe they are capable of, and will detail this connection in the note I will write to each inside their book.
As I pulled the books out after school today to inscribe, one of my advisees burst into the room and I quickly ushered him out into the hallway.
“Hey, what’s the rush? What are you doing? Does this have something to do with graduation?”
“C’mon, let me look.”
Then I went back into my room and locked my door, got out my pen, and opened the front cover of What It Is.