Independent Reading at BHS

As we approach the first interim grading period, students and teachers are invested in the work of their English classes. Freshmen are exploring high school writing and literary analysis. Sophomores are considering the necessity of understanding different perspectives through literature. Juniors are investigating the American identity through imagery. Seniors are crafting personal narratives in a variety of forms. There is a lot happening. Perhaps the most exciting work going on in the English Department, however, is the promotion of reading for joy.

Mrs. Janovitz’s Recommended Reading Shelves

Mrs. Janovitz’s Recommended Reading Shelves

Teachers across the department have been building their classroom libraries, filling them with texts they feel their students will enjoy, and introducing independent reading projects to encourage students to develop habits of lifelong reading. These projects highlight student choice and the role that reading plays in living a fulfilling life. While research clearly indicates that voluntary reading positively impacts student achievement, it also suggests that contemporary students are not reading on their own very often (American Association of School Librarians). As lovers of reading ourselves, we are partnering with Ms. Graham, BHS’s Teacher Librarian, to promote independent reading.

Ms. Graham has been conducting book talks in the library since the first week of school. After collaborating with English teachers to craft goals and expectations for these sessions, she introduces students to books of interest connected to topics prevalent in the coursework. From showcasing nonfiction text sets for AP Language to facilitating Speed Dating with Books activities for sophomores, Ms. Graham has been showcasing high interest, relevant texts to inspire reading exploration.

Ms. Smetana’s students exploring different titles in their “Speed Dating” book search.

Ms. Smetana’s students exploring different titles in their “Speed Dating” book search.

Students looking through the stacks for a Reading Challenge book.

Students looking through the stacks for a Reading Challenge book.

We have also partnered with with the BHS Library to launch our second annual BHS Reading Challenge. Participants choose books that fit into the specific categories identified in the challenge, and then share their ideas about the books they are reading. Those interested in participating can register for the challenge by completing THIS GOOGLE FORM.


Shannon Janovitz