Reading Response

Twenty Better Question for All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kelly

1. What character(s) was your favorite? Why?

Rashad was my favorite character. I related to Rashad because he likes to draw, and I also like to draw. I also felt sorry for Rashad that he had to endure what he had to endure during this story. He is just a kid who is trying to stay out of trouble, but is thrown into trouble because of his skin color. I enjoyed Rashad’s voice in All American Boys because it was very easy to read.

2. What character(s) did you dislike? Why?

I disliked Paul and Guzzo. Paul is a lying police officer who just wanted to take his anger out on someone, so he found the first chance to beat up a black kid. He makes Quinn feel like crap for standing up for what is right. He twists his little brother, Guzzo’s, head to make him think that he is the hero while Quinn is a traitor. It is very straightforward that Paul is a racist, bad cop. He was a good guy for Quinn while he was growing up, but he is not a good cop. He put Rashad in the hospital over a bag of chips. My feelings for Guzzo are not as straightforward as my feelings for Paul. Loyalty is an amazing quality to possess, and Guzzo takes loyalty to heart. He wants to stand up for his brother because he wants to be loyal to his brother. He gets mad at Quinn because Quinn is not loyal to his brother. However, I think sometimes you have to remove your feelings from a situation to realize what is right. Guzzo probably saw the video of Paul beating Rashad, so, instead of staying loyal, he should have realized what was right.

3. Does anyone in this work remind you of anyone you know? Explain.

No one in All American Boys really reminded me of someone I know. There were aspects of some of the characters that I could relate to myself or someone I know. I can relate to Rashad’s love of drawing. I can relate Quinn’s obsession with basketball to my boyfriend’s obsession with basketball. I can relate Rashad’s mom’s  strictly cussing only when she is very upset to my mother.

4. Are you like any character in this work? Explain.

I like to draw like Rashad likes to draw, though it seems to me that I am probably not as good as him. I can’t draw people very well. I can also relate to Quinn’s realization that he lives in privilege.

5. If you could be any character in this work, who would you be? Explain.

If I had to choose a character in this book to be it would probably be English. First of all, how cool of a name is English?! Also, he is a cool, sleek basketball player who is very popular. I might choose Rashad for his drawing abilities or Spoony for his confidence, but English seems to be the whole package of smooth.

6. What quality(ies) of which character strikes you as a good characteristic to develop within yourself over the years? Why? How does the character demonstrate this quality?

Spoony’s confidence strikes me as a good characteristic to develop within myself over the years. Spoony displays his confidence just by being who he is. Rashad describes it as a respect that everyone just automatically has for Spoony because of the way he carries himself. He is a leader and he does not back down. Spoony is loyal to Rashad, and organizes a protest against police brutality. Spoony tells it like it is because he is not afraid of being wrong. He tells Rashad what the world really is like.

7. Overall, what kind of a feeling did you have after reading a few paragraphs of this work? Midway? After finishing the work?

After reading a few paragraphs of this work I was immediately interested by Rashad’s unique voice telling the story. I became more interested when he said pay attention and then described the details of his arrest and beating. Midway through the work, I was mad that Guzzo and Paul were treating Quinn so poorly and I was mad that Paul hadn’t been punished for what he did to Rashad yet. After finishing All American Boys, I was left with a lot of questions: what was the outcome of the trial? Did Quinn and Rashad ever talk? Did Quinn and Guzzo make up? Will Paul be punished? Did Rashad get with Tiffany? Did Quinn get with Jill? Did anything happen as a result of the protest? What changed Rashad’s father’s mind about going to the protest?

8. Do any incidents, ideas, or actions in this work remind you of your own life or something that happened to you? Explain.

Quinn’s realization that he lives in privilege reminds me of my own life. As I grew up, I realized that my parents were pretty well off, that I was never discriminated against, and that I really got a lot of chances to succeed through-out my life. It was around 15 that I realized I was spoiled compared to a majority of the people on this planet; that I had never really endured a real struggle. I had never really even been discriminated against or treated differently (that I can remember) because I am a girl. It was a stunning realization to realize that not everyone is given every chance of succeeding in life like I was (for this, I am very grateful to my selfless parents) and this realization does make you feel guilty like Quinn felt guilty.

 9. Do you like this piece of work? Why or why not?

I really enjoyed this piece of work. It brings up so many issues that our country faces regarding discrimination based on race. It makes you question our own justice system as well as police officers. I enjoyed this book because it shows a side of the world that some people never see.

10. Are there any parts of this work that were confusing to you? Which parts? Why do you think you got confused?

I was confused as to why they ended the book where they did. I had so many questions, and most of all I wanted to know whether Paul was going to get punished at all for what he did to Rashad. I enjoyed the ending because it was beautiful with Quinn and Rashad finally connecting in a small way, but I wanted to know more!

11. Do you feel there is an opinion expressed by the author through this work? What is it? How do you know this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

The opinion expressed through this work is that just because something bad does not directly affect your life, that does not mean that you can just do nothing about it. If you choose to ignore a problem, then you are feeding the problem. If you do not stand up for the oppressed, then you are taking the side of the oppressor. We have to actually talk about these hard issues like police brutality and race in order to address the real problems in our country.

12. Do you think the title of this work is appropriate? Is it significant? Explain. What do you think the title means?

The title of this work, All American Boys, is very appropriate and significant. Both Rashad and Quinn could be seen as all american boys. Rashad has a cop for a father and is in ROTC. Quinn’s father died in the military and he is a basketball star.They are both trying to live up to the all american boy standard set by Quinn’s father giving his life in service and Rashad’s father pressuring him into the military.  However, despite Rashad and Quinn both being all american boys, they have very different lives and receive different treatment. In a lot of ways, the two boys are very similar except their skin color, and this makes all the difference in the world.

13. Would you change the ending of this story in any way? Tell your ending. Why would you change it?

I would change the ending to give the reader more of a resolution. I would end it happily, of course. I would have Quinn and Jill get together. I would have Rashad and Tiffany get together. I would have Quinn make starter of the basketball team despite skipping practice to go to the protest. I would have English and Quinn get attention from basketball scouts. I would have Paul get fired and put in jail for assault after a successful trial. I would have Guzzo realize that Paul was guilty and make up with Quinn.

14. What kind of person do you feel the author is? What makes you feel this way?

I feel that the authors, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, are very creative people. I wonder if one wrote the voice of Quinn while the other wrote the voice of Rashad. They organized the book in a way that kept the reader interested. I enjoyed getting two perspectives on the story. They created the characters so that they were very easy to relate to and were very three dimensional. I liked both of their writing styles.

15. How did this work make you feel? Explain.

All American Boys made me ask myself a lot of questions. Had I ever been discriminatory towards someone based on their race without realizing it? How do we stop police brutality and racial discrimination from occurring?  Why are these beliefs that black people are less than white people so deeply held? Had I ever been dismissive of an issue within our country because it did not directly affect me?

16. Do you share any of the feelings of the characters in this work? Explain.

I share Quinn’s feeling of guilt when he realized that he can just step away from this issue that Rashad is facing. He does not have to be a part of it because he is white. He does not have to face certain struggles just because he is white. He does not have to fight for his own civil liberties because he is a white male. He feels guilty that he could just turn his back on another person because of a difference of skin color. He realizes that he does not want to step away from the issue anymore and goes to the protest.

17. Sometimes works leave you with the feeling that there is more to tell. Did this work do this? What do you think might happen?

YES! There were so many questions, as I have already stated. There was no retribution for Paul. We never found out about the basketball starters or the relationships that Quinn and Rashad hoped to form. We never know if anything happens because of the protest. We don’t know if Rashad ends up going to court. We don’t know anything!

18. Would you like to read something else by this author? Why or why not?

I would read other pieces of work by these authors because I liked their writing style. I read this book very quickly, and enjoyed reading it. The words were simple. The character’s had different voices.

19. What do you feel is the most important word, phrase, passage, or paragraph in this work? Explain why it is important.

When Quinn is questioning whether to go to the protest because he is scared of the military tanks, Jill gives him a flyer with a quote by Desmond Tutu that says: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” I think this is the most important phrase in the book because it shows the whole moral of the book. Just because injustice or discrimination does not directly affect you, that does not mean you can remain neutral. If you remain neutral, then you are just as bad as the people doing the injustice. We can help fight against discrimination even if it does not involve us, and we should, as decent human beings, stand up for our fellow human-beings. We can fight hate and ignorance with education.

20. If you were an English teacher, would you want to share this work with your students? Why or why not?

I would want to share All American Boys with my students. People may not be aware of the kinds of discrimination people of color face, especially in rural communities like small town Nebraska. This book can be a way to open student’s minds to the struggles that other people face, and may motivate them to stand against injustice even if it does not involve them directly.

Teen Reading and Social Media

Featured image by Sean MacEntee.

I enjoyed going through the best literary hashtags on twitter blog. I recognized a few of the hashtags, but a few I did not remember seeing. I liked going through the hashtags on twitter, and seeing so many people discussing literature. Anyone who says reading is a lost art simply has to look at these hashtags to see that literature is still a major part of people’s lives. I liked the writing prompt hashtag because writers who are struggling can get ideas from an entire twittersphere to get them back on track. There was a hashtag going around a few months ago that I found very interesting: #sixwordstory or maybe #sixwordshortstory (I’m not sure). I loved reading all the create six word stories from people around the world. Twitter and other social media sites allow us to engage in discussion about literature with experts, other lovers of the books, and the author of the book!

While researching social media and teen reading, I found that teens use many social media sites for their own literary purposes. Pinterest has many (MANY!) boards about books and literature. There are want-to- read boards, book discussion boards, and writing prompt boards. Facebook allows the user to see posts from the author, message the author, and share one’s own thoughts about a book. Twitter has many literary hashtags the prompt a discussion of literature, and allows the user to connect with other readers and the author. WordPress is used to blog about books, and can easily be used in an English classroom to respond to books. Teens use social media to discover books that they want to read, engage in discussion about literature, and share their thoughts on books. There are both pros and cons to using social media in the classroom. Social media can create many distractions, but it can also make learning easier. It all depends on the way that the teacher approaches social media. Social media should be used in the classroom as a learning tool, and should be monitored for distractions and inappropriate behavior.

Reading Response

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway is a fantastic love story with a twist. Emmy and Oliver are best friends until the second grade, when Oliver’s father kidnaps him. Oliver returns at the age of 18 with a load of issues, and Emmy and Oliver have to get to know each other again. Tweet to an author:

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Reading Aloud to Students

Featured image by U.S. Embassy

Before the 18th century, and the rise of the middle class, reading out loud was common practice. Reading used to be a special occasion where people came together and engaged in a story together. Bards told stories, read poems, and sang songs. Though reading out loud was common before the 18th century due to illiteracy, reading out loud can still be beneficial to us in a time of literacy. I used to love it when my parents read me bedtime stories, and in high school I enjoyed when my college English teacher read out loud to the class.

I enjoyed Hinds’s blog “A Curriculum Staple: Reading Aloud to Teens” because Hinds shows that reading out loud can create more interest in stories and reading. Sometimes students do not like reading because of the level of energy that reading takes, however, listening to someone read out loud does not take much energy. Another benefit of reading to students out loud is that the students can stop the teacher to have him/her explain a word or a portion of the text. The teacher can gauge the students’ interest level and comprehension level of the book when they read out loud. The teacher can also have the students read the book out loud in order to increase their reading abilities and comprehension levels. Reading out loud builds the students’ listening skills and helps the students to connect with the teacher and with the story.

I learned from Gassaway’s blog post, “Ten Realizations I’ve Had Or Remembered While Reading Aloud to Middle Schoolers This Year” that reading out loud to students is a guess-and-check process. Gassaway says that not reading the book before reading it out loud can be bad because there could be words which make the class lose control. But she also says that reading the book before can cause the teacher to lose interest or give away the story to the students. I really enjoyed her statement that if students are not interested when they are being read to that it is not reading aloud that is wrong; it is the book. Reading out loud to students can create an interest in stories and reading. I will be reading out loud to my students in my classroom, and I WILL be doing crazy voices for each character. No one wants to listen to a monotone teacher, and doing voices for different characters can create interest in the story.

Reading Response for Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I decided to do the mind mapping reading response for Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I chose to map the thoughts of the main character, narrator, and protagonist, Melinda Sordino. I chose to draw lips because Melinda struggles through-out the book to make her lips move so that she can speak up. Melinda’s anxiety causes her to pick at and chew on her lips until they bled.I chose the word “speak” in association with the lips because, not only is it the title of the book, but Melinda cannot speak up to anyone about her worries or about being raped.

Secondly, in the dark parts of her brain, Melinda is always thinking back to when she was raped. I chose a “no” sign and the word “rape” because a major theme of this book is rape. Melinda Sordino is raped at the age of 13 by a popular senior, then she is outcasted by her friends for calling the cops on the party after being raped. Melinda struggles with whether she was actually raped or not because she could not actually bring herself to say the word no. However, through the book, Melinda comes to grips with the fact that, since Andy covered her mouth and held her down, she was indeed raped.

Finally, I chose the word tree and an image of a tree because Melinda’s favorite teacher, her art teacher, assigns a year-long project where Melinda has to make an artist project of a tree mean something. Melinda struggles with the project through-out the book until she visits the tree where she was raped. Once Melinda visits the tree where she was raped, she realized that trees, like people, are not perfect. At the end of the book she finally aces the project by creating an imperfect tree that shows that it has been through life. In doing this, Melinda also comes to grips with her own imperfects and can begin her own life.

This is simply an amazing book. I plan to reread it every year, and recommend it to anyone who needs a good book. It is inspirational and real. IMG_1681

Diversifying my Reading

Featured image by Chris Devers

Diversifying my reading means reading outside of my comfort zone. To me, reading books from different genres is diversifying my reading. I tend to stick to the fantasy genre, and reading books from other genres will broaden my views on different people and situations. Diversifying my reading also means reading books by different authors that I may not have heard of, and reading books with characters from different cultures. A diverse reading life, to me, is reading many different books, about different cultures, and written by diverse authors.

My goals for diversifying my reading for this semester include: reading at least two nonfiction books, read many different authors, read books on the banned book list, and read books recommended by classmates about diversity. I stick to fantasy books a lot, so reading nonfiction books will get me out of my comfort zone and may teach me a few things. I tend to only read books by authors I know; I read Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Darren Shan, J.K. Rowling, and a few other fantasy authors. Reading books from authors that I have not heard of or have not read books by may give me more reading experiences and give me more favorite authors. Reading books from the banned book list will introduce me to many different experiences and many diverse characters because books about diversity and adult situations tend to be the books that are banned. I will expand my reading by reading books that my classmates like about diverse characters or written by diverse authors.

Due to the resources that I have gotten from blogs for this class, I have not had troubles finding titles with diverse authors or diverse characters. I have added many of the books that are listed in blogs about diversity and diverse publishing to my want-to read list on goodreads. I do not foresee any challenges in finding or reading books about diverse characters or written by diverse authors.

It is important for students to have a diverse reading life so that they are introduced to a variety of different people, situations, and cultures. Reading can open student’s minds to people of different races and to different cultures. Diverse reading helps students to step out of their comfort zone, and learn something about the world or about themselves. In order to promote diverse reading in the classroom, I would include many books about diverse character or written by diverse authors on my classroom bookshelf. Students would be encouraged to read any of the books on the bookshelf that interest them.

Twenty Better Questions Reading Response

Featured image by jennyrobot

Twenty Better Questions

Reading Response for Little Peach by Peggy Kern

1. What character(s) was your favorite? Why?

Michelle, the protagonist, was my favorite character. Michelle is young and in search of a place where she feels like she belongs. When that place turns out to be a nightmare, Michelle is strong enough to be able to try to find her way out of her situation. The reader’s heart breaks for Michelle because she is so young and she falls into a situation that takes away her innocence. Michelle’s grandpa was also one of my favorite characters. He was the only person in Michelle’s life who cared for her; even Michelle’s mom sent her away.

2. What character(s) did you dislike? Why?

I disliked Devon because he makes little girls feel like he is saving them, and then he traps them into a horrible lifestyle. Devon lies and give Michelle food when she is in her time of need. He gives girls who have nothing else a place to stay and food, and then he takes advantage of them for his own use. Michelle believes he is her savior until she realizes that he is a monster. He gives girls who have no one hope, and then traps them.

3. Does anyone in this work remind you of anyone you know? Explain.

No one in this work really reminded me of anyone I knew. I could relate to some of the struggles that Michelle goes through with trying to find somewhere to belong. Don’t we all go through a stage where we are trying to find out place with people who care about us? The way that Michelle’s grandpa teased her reminded me a little of my own grandpa when I was little, but, other than that, no one in this work reminded me of people I know.

4. Are you like any character in this work? Explain.

I do not think I am like anyone in this work simply because I was raised in a very good situation. Michelle was not raised in a good situation, and as a result she had to seek out a home that lead her to dangerous things. I was never a runaway or experienced the devastating things that Michelle endures in this book. So, simply because of how and where I was raised, I do not think I am like the characters in Little Peach by Peggy Kern.

5. If you could be any character in this work, who would you be? Explain.

I would not choose to be any of these characters in this book; they all have very hard lives or are simply horrible people. I would not have wanted to go through what Peggy went through with the death of her grandpa, being kicked out, and being trapped into prostitution. I would not want to be a pimp like Devon, or in a gang like all of his associated. I would not want to be like Baby who is too young to understand what Devon is making her do. All the characters in this book have very hard lives or are in very hard situations, so I would not want to be any of them.

6. What quality(ies) of which character strikes you as a good characteristic to develop within yourself over the years? Why? How does the character demonstrate this quality?

Michelle shows real strength when she calls the police on Devon and escapes to the hospital. She seeks help from a nurse. Michelle struggles with trusting the nurse, or anyone really. Somehow, even in her difficult situation when she had nowhere to go and no resources, Michelle still finds the courage to call the cops on her pimp. She finds a way out of her situation and has the strength to trust again after everything she has been through. I would like to have the kind of strength that Michelle has in the ending of this book.

7. Overall, what kind of a feeling did you have after reading a few paragraphs of this work? Midway? After finishing the work?

Peggy Kern writes beautifully, and in a way that really gets the reader engaged in the story. I was hooked after a few paragraphs. The writing is simple and it flows in a way that the story goes by in a flash without the reader even realizing he is reading. I read this book quickly. Halfway through the book, my heart was broken for Michelle, for Baby, and for any other woman or young girl that finds herself in such a desperate and horrific situation. After finishing the book, I felt a little bit of hope that Michelle would be able to move past this stage of her life and make something of herself. Michelle got away from Devon. There are implications that Devon may simply find her and kill her for snitching on him. But, there is also a shred of hope that Michelle has escaped Devon completely.

8. Do any incidents, ideas, or actions in this work remind you of your own life or something that happened to you? Explain.

No incidents, ideas,o or actions in this work really reminded me of my own life or something that happened to me. I never really faced these hard of situations in my life or went through stuff like in this book.

 9. Do you like this piece of work? Why or why not?

I really enjoyed Little Peach by Peggy Kern. It opened my eyes to the struggles that some young girls face. It was sad, and it was heart-breaking. It was real, and it showed me a culture that I will never (I very much hope) get to experience in real life. It is easy to read, and I was really engaged in the story.

10. Are there any parts of this work that were confusing to you? Which parts? Why do you think you got confused?

There were not really any parts in the book that confused me. Peggy Kern writes very simply, and gets the story across in a clear way. I understood the story very easily.

11. Do you feel there is an opinion expressed by the author through this work? What is it? How do you know this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

I do not know necessarily if there is an opinion that is being expressed in this book; obviously Kern isn’t advocating prostitution in the book. I think maybe Kern is just trying to show a horrible facet of this world that many people do not know about or do not want to think about. The book calls on young girls to be strong for themselves and to protect themselves. The book makes the reader want to take action against prostitution. It made me sad, and it made me want to save all the girls in this world that are in that situation.

12. Do you think the title of this work is appropriate? Is it significant? Explain. What do you think the title means?

The title of this work, Little Peach, is very appropriate. Little Peach is the name that Devon gives to Michelle; it is her prostitute name. Devon forces Michelle to get a tattoo of a peach with “Devon’s girl” written under it to show that he owns her. The tattoo makes it clear to other gang members on the street that she is part of the group. The tattoo protects her from men on the streets, and gives her protection from gang members.

13. Would you change the ending of this story in any way? Tell your ending. Why would you change it?

I do not think I could come up with a better ending than Kern’s ending. For my own selfish reasons, I would have wanted the book to end happier. I would want Michelle’s mom to come find her, quit drugs, and care about her. Or I would want the caring nurse to decide to keep and care for Michelle. I would want Michelle to escape Devon forever. I would want Devon to get arrested for what he does. I would want Baby to be saved and placed in a good home. However, all those things are not real life. The way that Kern ends the book is realistic.

14. What kind of person do you feel the author is? What makes you feel this way?

I think the author is smart and cultured. She understands the struggles that young girls who do not have caring parents face, and she understands the lifestyle that she portrays in Little Peach. 

15. How did this work make you feel? Explain.

This book broke my heart. It is a very sad book about a young girl being put in a horrible adult situation. Michelle does not even know what she is getting herself into or what she is doing. She is scared, and she is alone. It is a depressing book.

16. Do you share any of the feelings of the characters in this work? Explain.

Michelle feels like she is alone and needs a place to belong. Michelle is alone in a very real sense; her grandfather died, and her mother does not care about her. She does not have friends to turn to, and she does not have resources. I have felt like I was alone before even when I had many people who did care about me. However, my loneliness was in a much less real sense where I simply felt like no one understood. I have also yearned for a place to belong in the sense that I looked for a group of friends that I belonged with in high school.

17. Sometimes works leave you with the feeling that there is more to tell. Did this work do this? What do you think might happen?

The book ended with a little bit of hope, but not in a way that the reader felt like Michelle had things figured out. I felt like Little Peach could have used a little more of a resolution. Did Devon find Michelle? Was the nurse able to help Michelle? What happened to Baby? Did Devon kill Kat?

18. Would you like to read something else by this author? Why or why not?

I would read other books by this author because I really liked her writing style. It was simple enough that I understood everything easily. But the subject matter was challenging enough to keep me intrigued in the story. Peggy Kern writes very well.

19. What do you feel is the most important word, phrase, passage, or paragraph in this work? Explain why it is important.

The most significant passage of Little Peach by Peggy Kern is when Michelle calls the cops on Devon. Michelle realized that Devon has gotten rid of, probably killed, Kat, and she calls the cops on Devon while he is in the shower. Devon throws her into a coffee table, cuts her leg up, and beats her up. Michelle is lucky she lives, and gets to the hospital. Michelle escapes Devon’s grasp in this passage.

20. If you were an English teacher, would you want to share this work with your students? Why or why not?

I would want to share this book with my students, but I would chose which students to offer it too carefully. I would only recommend this book to very mature students who enjoy books about real life, adult situations. I would be worried about parent’s reactions to their children reading a book like this, so, though I really enjoyed this book, I would be careful about whom I gave the book to.