I am always on the hunt for engaging books to add to my classroom library. There is nothing like seeing a student who can’t put down their book! One of my goals this school year was to create a strong reading community and to ensure every single student found a book that kept them wanting more.
Last summer I read A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. It was hilarious, gory, suspenseful, creative, and kept me on the edge of my seat! I knew that this was something I needed to read with my students! It did not disappoint as a read aloud and I found that all of my readers (even the ones who have a hard time keeping with a book) never wanted it to end.
Gidwitz has a great balance between extremely violent and utterly hilarious. For example, if a character gets their head cut off, it magically is put back together in the next page. So if you’re worried that it’s too violent for your students, I would still give it a preview first because it balances quite well.
As we finished A Tale Dark & Grimm today, applause and ferocious shouts echoed throughout the room! Students shouted “that was the best book ever!” And “that plot twist blew my mind!” How lucky are we that tomorrow morning we get to share these great reactions with the author?! @adam_gidwitz we are ready for you!! #kidsarereading
You know you found a great book when students are asking for more! I did a little research on author skype opportunities and sure enough, Adam’s publicist got right back to me and helped me schedule a skype with Adam himself!! My students were thrilled and came up with hundreds of questions to ask him. We took time to research about him and his books, and debated about which questions were the best. It’s these authentic learning opportunities that truly engage students.
If you’re ever wondering who to choose for an author skype, please choose Adam Gidwitz! He was fantastic with my students. He told us about himself, let my students ask tons of questions, inspired them, and was extremely authentic. A big message from him was to just write. Write whatever you want! We forget about the freedom of writing when we’re trying to juggle standards and state testing, but he truly inspired my kids to just write.
We skyped with him in the morning and you know what we did the rest of the day? We just wrote! My kids were filled with so much excitement and inspiration that so much creativity just poured out of them for the rest of the day and I loosened my reigns!
Another added bonus: it was free! I just needed to promote his other titles which, of course, I was already doing! We worked with a local bookstore to get his titles for my students and he even autographed them.
Giving students the opportunity to interact with authors allows a truly global community to come together. Learning extends beyond the four walls of our classroom and students realize that reading and learning is not confined to a school. These are the moments that truly count!