As you end the year and begin to requisition materials for the new year, I encourage you to consider reading novels in class. Whether a part of your silent reading library or as a full class novel study, having kids read a WHOLE NOVEL gives them a huge confidence boost as they prepare to move to the next level and tackle authentic literature.
How do I choose the novel that’s right for me? Start with a cultural topic you already know a lot about! You will be more confident teaching and supplementing the novel if you already have a passion for the topic! Some great novel themes (that tie in well to AP and IB themes) include
Environmental Issues and Ethical Questions- Robo en la Noche/Noche de Oro,
Family Structures, Alienation and Assimilation- Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha,
Human Rights, Language and Identity, Leisure and Sports Felipe Alou,
Nationalism and Patriotism, Leisure and Sports (bullfighting), Family Structures Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos,
Human Rights, Peace and War, Alienation and Assimilation Esperanza…
Once you have a novel in mind, consider adding the Teacher’s Resource Guide. These guides are full of cultural information, performance based assessments, supplemental readings and slide shows… everything you need to feel successful teaching the novel in class!
Check out the ACTFL/NCSSFL Can-Do statements: http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/ncssfl-actfl-can-do-statements
Which do you want to target and how can you use the novel to draw out those can-dos? In Robo in la noche, Mackenna travels to Costa Rica to work with her father in a bird sanctuary. It is the perfect setting for some travel can-dos! In Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos, Bianca’s father is a bullfighter. It is the perfect novel to work on can-dos that deal with asking for and depending opinions! What do your students think of the art/torture of the corrida? In Esperanza, the family is torn apart by the violence in Guatemala in the 80s. The focus on family makes it a great novel for tackling the family relationship can-dos!
No matter the curriculum you’re bound to, a novel is a great way to increase literacy, build confidence reading, and develop that important cultural foundation!