Category Archives: Reading in Grade 8

For Those Who Want to Lead, Read by John Coleman

This is an interesting blog post that I found in the Harvard Business Review (online) by the author John Coleman. He makes some strong connections between leadership and reading, along with some good recommendations on how to read.

“When David Petraeus visited the Harvard Kennedy School in 2009, one of the meetings he requested was with author Doris Kearns Goodwin. Petraeus, who holds a PhD in International Relations from Princeton, is a fan of Team of Rivals and wanted time to speak to the famed historian about her work. Apparently, the great general (and current CIA Director) is something of a bibliophile.

He’s increasingly an outlier. Even as global literacy rates are high (84%), people are reading less and less deeply. The National Endowment for the Arts (PDF) has found that “[r]eading has declined among every group of adult Americans,” and for the first time in American history, “less than half of the U.S. adult American population is reading literature.” Literacy has been improving in countries like India and China, but that literacy may not translate into more or deeper reading.

This is terrible for leadership, where my experience suggests those trends are even more pronounced. Business people seem to be reading less — particularly material unrelated to business. But deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.

Note how many business titans are or have been avid readers. According to The New York Times, Steve Jobs had an “inexhaustible interest” in William Blake; Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that in it you have to take off your shoes and bow; and Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman called poets “the original systems thinkers,” quoting freely from Shakespeare and Tennyson. In Passion & Purpose, David Gergen notes that Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein reads dozens of books each week. And history is littered not only with great leaders who were avid readers and writers (remember, Winston Churchill won his Nobel prize in Literature, not Peace), but with business leaders who believed that deep, broad reading cultivated in them the knowledge, habits, and talents to improve their organizations.

The leadership benefits of reading are wide-ranging. Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight. Some studies have shown, for example, that reading makes you smarter through “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills.” Reading — whether Wikipedia, Michael Lewis, or Aristotle — is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. Many business people claim that reading across fields is good for creativity. And leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to their organizations are more likely to innovate and prosper.

Reading can also make you more effective in leading others. Reading increases verbal intelligence (PDF), making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others — traits that author Anne Kreamer persuasively linked to increased organizational effectiveness, and to pay raises and promotions for the leaders who possessed these qualities. And any business person understands that heightened emotional intelligence will improve his or her leadership and management ability.

Finally, an active literary life can make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health. For stressed executives, reading is the best way to relax, as reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%, and some studies suggest reading may even fend off Alzheimer’s, extending the longevity of the mind.

Reading more can lead to a host of benefits for business people of all stripes, and broad, deep reading can make you a better leader. So how can you get started? Here are a few tips:

Join a reading group. One of my friends meets bimonthly with a group of colleagues to read classics in philosophy, fiction, history, and other areas. Find a group of friends who will do the same with you.

Vary your reading. If you’re a business person who typically only reads business writing, commit to reading one book this year in three areas outside your comfort zone: a novel, a book of poetry, or a nonfiction piece in science, biography, history, or the arts.

Apply your reading to your work. Are you struggling with a problem at work? Pick up a book on neuroscience or psychology and see if there are ways in which you can apply the lessons from those fields to your profession.

Encourage others. After working on a project with colleagues, I’ll often send them a book that I think they’ll enjoy. Try it out; it might encourage discussion, cross-application of important lessons, and a proliferation of readers in your workplace.

Read for fun. Not all reading has to be developmental. Read to relax, escape, and put your mind at ease.
Reading has many benefits, but it is underappreciated as an essential component of leadership development. So, where have you seen reading benefit your life? What suggestions would you have for others seeking to grow their leadership through reading?”

How Important is Reading?

How important is reading? Simply stated, it is the most important activity that you can do during your school career. It is the key to success in all subjects because personal reading promotes a wide range of skills and dispositions that enhance learning across all subjects. At ISM, the expectation is that every student pursues a consistent reading program outside of homework time every evening. As an engaged grade 8 student, you should be read at least 30 minutes every night, and this includes both in English and your home language.

Tips to start and maintain a good reading program at home:

Make it a habit by doing it at the same time every evening: Reading is not a punishment or a chore; it is a natural habit that you just do, no matter what else is going on in your life. Choose a time and stick to it. One night’s reading will not make a difference because it takes time and consistency for change to happen.

Find the right place to read: You need a good light, a comfortable place, and an upright position. Lying on your bed or in front of the TV doesn’t make for good reading; find the perfect place that promotes focused and active reading.

Do it with your family: A family that reads together… has something to talk about. Parents who read with their children are setting a good example by showing that reading is important to everyone, and not just students. It is enjoyable and worthy of being part of a full family’s routines.

Turn off those pesky computers, phones, TVs, and radios: Active reading needs concentration; you should not be interrupted by calls, texts, favorite TV shows or on-line surfing. Turn your devices off, move to a quiet place, and focus on the act of reading because it deserves your exclusive time.

Read to each other: Young children love to be read to, and just because you are older doesn’t mean that you should not practice it. Reading aloud to people improves oral fluency and can generate great conversation. Students can read to parents and vice versa; you are never too old to have a story read to you.

Talk about what you read: Discussion and reflection are keys to fulfilling reading. Talking about what you have read allows you to make inferences and connections, and to better understand a text. Discussion and reflection allow for socially constructed learning and deeper thinking. It is also an enjoyable part of the full experience of reading.

15 Points to a Good Reader

(As compiled by Carrie Ekey, literacy specialist and consultant for the Colorado Writing Project)

Research says that good readers…

1. Enjoy reading, read often, and read a wide variety of genres to meet multiple purposes.

2. Successfully select texts that match their reading levels, interests, and purposes.

3. Are confident about their ability to read, are aware of their strengths as readers, and are goal-directed.

4. Read appropriately leveled texts with a high level of accuracy, monitor meaning, and use fix-up strategies to quickly self-correct miscues that interfere with meaning.

5. Read quickly in longer, meaningful phrases with effective expression.

6. Review texts by making predictions about what is likely to happen or identifying topics and information that may be included.

7. Ask themselves questions prior to and during the reading of a text.

8. Uses text features (e.g. charts, graphs, headings) and graphic organizers.

9. Comprehend what they read (silently and orally) and are able to use their own language and key vocabulary from the text to identify and organize important information into an adept written summary.

10. Understand what is explicitly stated in the text.

11. Interpret what they read by making inferences and making connections.

12. Support their responses (inferences and connections) with information from the text.

13. Reflect and determine significance, and/or evaluate what they read.

14. Support their responses with reasons, and personal or text examples.

15. Are aware of the strategies they use to construct and monitor meaning while reading.

A short list of books that work for many grade 8 students

One of the most common questions we get as language arts teachers is about reading recommendations for our students. This is a difficult question because so much about choosing a book depends on the student’s reading level and preferences. To get students thinking more about reading, I have put together a few options that will help students and parents alike to find good books that are just right for the reader.

A Gathering of Days by Joan Blos
A Long Way from Chicago or A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
Acorn People by Ron Jones
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
American Hero: the True Story of Charles A Lindbergh by Barry Denenberg
A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Year Down Under by Richard Peck
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
(The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code and The Opal Deception)
Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Behind the Bedroom Wall by Laura E. Williams
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Cat Crafts by Linda Hendry
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun by Rhoda Blumberg
Cousins by Virginia Hamilton
Captain’s Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
Dealing With Dragons Series by Patricia C. Wrede
Dog Crafts by Linda Hendry
Field Trips by Jim Arnosky
Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
Guts: the true stories behind Hatchet and the Brian Books by Gary Paulsen
Gutsy Girls: Young Women Who Dare by Tina Schwager
Half Magic by Edward Eager
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
Iggie’s House by Judy Blume
Invincible Louisa, the Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created The Lord of the Rings by Michael Coren
Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson
Jackie and Me by Dan Gutman
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key Series by Jack Gantos
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
Lilies of the Field by William J. Barrett
Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, publisher,
The Magic Never Ends: The Life and Works of C. S. Lewis by John Ryan Duncan
Millicent Min: Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
Miracle on 49th St. by Mike Lupica
Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Notes from a Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick
Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Path of the Pale Horse, by Paul Fleichman
PS Longer Letter Later or Snail Mail No More by Paula Danziger and Ann M. Martin
Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary
Rimshots: Basketball Pix, Rolls, and Rhythms by Charles Smith
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Ryan White: My Own Story by Ryan White
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief Series by Wendelin van Draanen
Shiloh by Phyllis Naylor
Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins
Someone is Hiding on Alcatraz Island by Eve Bunting
Sounder by William Armstrong
Stand Tall, Harry or Sequel Harry Scores a Hat Trick by Mary Mahony
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
Superfudge by Judy Blume
Ten Queens: Portraits of Women of Power by Milton Meltzer
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
The Duplicate by William Sleator
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series by C.S. Lewis
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
The Man in the Ceiling by Jules Feiffer
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
The River by Gary Paulsen
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene DuBois
The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
The Wave by Todd Strasser
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl
These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury
What Could Go Wrong? by Willo Davis Roberts
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Woodsong by Gary Paulsen
Zlata’s Diary, a Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic,with Christina Plribichevich-Zoric

Short Stories:

“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry
“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs
“The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Split Cherry Tree” by Jesse Stuart
“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe

How to Choose a Good Book to Read

If you haven’t found a book yet:

Ask your librarian… or teacher…or friends… or parents… or principal for a recommendation on a book you have not seen; then ask yourself if you have heard rumors of a great bestseller out there that may be just right for you?

Do an on-line search about your favorite genre or a topic that really interests you.

Look for the newest books out… or books about people your age… or books from your favorite genre… or books from a genre that you want to explore… or cool characters… or famous authors… or award winners.

Read…a review in a magazine… or at an on-line site… or recommendations through our library.

When you find a prospective book (one you may choose to read):

Ask your fantastic librarian… or understanding teachers… or sympathetic friends… or encouraging parents… if they have read the book and would they recommend it?

When handling this book (because you may want to read it):

Check out the cover~ do the book’s details interest you?

The summary~ does it catch your fancy?

The title~ is it catchy?

The comments from people~ what do others think?

The first few pages~ how does it start?

The text size and drawings~ does it look as if you could read this book?

Look at the cover~ what do you think it could be about?

Look at how thick the book is ~ can you read it? Can you finish it?

Look at the author’s name ~ are you familiar with his or her other works?

 Look at the chapter titles~ do they make you want find out what is happening?

Do the 5-Finger Test:

 Read one page out loud; raise a finger every time you come to a word you don’t understand. 1 finger~ too easy, 3 fingers~ just right, 5 fingers~ too hard