I have been subbing in lots of school libraries recently. I have enjoyed the chance to work in several jr. high libraries. I like the energy and "relative" maturity of the students.
Wandering though a library book fair yesterdayI noticed there were several modes of students. The majority of the kids were clustered around the hardcover world record books and Ripley's Believe it or Not. Others were thumbing through the software and the "toys."
A handful of kids were pulling books off the shelves and reading the back cover. I struck up a conversation with them and began pointing out several titles I knew and gave them a quick book talk. Before long we were wandering the book cases trading, "oooh have you read THIS one?" comments. Two girls decided to split their purchases, "you buy this one and I will get this one and then we can trade." One young man had read Artemis Fowl but did not know about The Supernaturalist.
All in all a very satisfying day.
Kids in jr. high and high school want to talk about the books they are reading. They are not interested in matching wits with a computer and answering arcane questions about the color of the door knobs on page 67. They don't like looking for metaphors and listing them, discovering allusions or expounding on "voice." They WILL talk about characters, plot twists,descriptions and make predicitions about future installments with enthusiasm. They also like suggesting new books to read.
I know so many kids who loved Holes by Louis Sachar but now dislike it (sorry Louis) because it has become the class novel unit. As one 6th grader I know put it, "They RUINED it!" Reading and English teachers, I guess you have to teach literary elements but could you do it with passion and enthusiasm? There is more to descriptive language than worksheets.