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Caroline Huntoon: Reading and Passion

Nate2More and more research tells us that reading for pleasure is an important activity. It has clear academic benefits, allowing students to develop strong vocabulary, greater understanding of complex grammatical structures, and good writing style. Beyond that, reading for pleasure increases empathy and social skills.  In short: reading is good for you.

Years ago, Peggy Hubbard and I took a look at the 7th grade curriculum and decided that the only way to genuinely promote reading for pleasure was to make time for it in our classrooms. Now, we ask that students read between two and four additional books each marking period. Students have a lot of choice when it comes to what they read (though, from time to time, we ask students to stretch their boundaries and read books that are a little out of their comfort zone).

We also give students the option of creating a project based on their reading. Students can create anything from a book trailer or a travel brochure to a new narrative or a diorama. Some students ask to design their own projects. This past marking period, current 7th grader Nate Burke did just that. After developing a passion for outdoor survival, Nate opted to read The Ultimate Bushcraft Survival Manual by Tim MacWelch.  Inspired by the content, Nate asked if he could apply the information from his text and create his own shelter!

He explains: “I started off by finding four trees that were somewhat in a square pattern, and then I found four long and sturdy sticks and tied them each to two trees with some fibrous twine to make a square frame attached to the trees about four feet off the ground. I used lots of relatively straight sticks and laid them across the frame to make a flat roof. I picked up lots of local dead vegetation (dead leaves and dead grass) to add sort of a rain barrier and create insulation. With my structure done, I decided to add some luxuries: a fire place, a makeshift stool, and some additional protection from the elements. (There were lots of cracks and divots, so I dug up some local clay and mixed it with water from my pond near my woods and fixed everything in.) I hope to add some more luxuries in the future!”

It is exciting to see students use reading to develop personal passions. We can’t wait to see what our students do next!

—Caroline Huntoon, English Department


Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.