Choice from a Good Heap

This summer, I am lucky to have the opportunity to read a book one-on-one with several of my students. It’s been widely written about how choice can significantly effect a student’s interest in reading. I concur wholeheartedly and yet I understand how overwhelming it can be to choose with absolutely no direction.

I consider it my job to offer them choice from a good heap. I collate a diverse offering from books I like, books other students have liked, and from what I know of their past likes and dislikes. If from this heap they can find one or two that they truly seem interested in reading, I happily declare success.

Here’s an example of a heap I created for a rising 8th grader.

  • The Outsider
  • The Thief
  • The Lost Years of Merlin
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go
  • The Pearl
  • Winger
  • The Chocolate War
  • The Port Chicago 50
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Sabotage. The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb
  • A Northern Light
  • The River Between Us


After about an hour of reading and discussion, my student chose seven of these as books he would like to read!

Ultimately, he chose Winger to take home and read on his own and The Port Chicago 50 as a book we would read and discuss in depth together. Hopefully, both books will be read and enjoyed with more to follow. I’ll provide updates as the summer progresses.

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