Last year, Sheryl Mayers, a middle school teacher at a Behind the Book school in East Harlem, mentioned she was interested in learning how to incorporate e-readers into her reading engagement strategy. She figured that some of her students would be more likely to read and to read more if they could do so on an e-reader.
Behind the Book is always game to try new ways to engage students in reading and writing and prepare them for the challenges of the real world.
Thus, an idea was born: A Behind the Book program focused on digital literacy, using kindles to read and blogs to write. Perhaps it was an idea whose time had come because shortly after that conversation we met author Jewell Parker Rhodes at the Brooklyn Book Festival.
We’d had her book Ninth Ward, about a young girl in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, on our bookshelf for several years, and we’d admired her from afar for some time (she lives in Arizona). Jewell mentioned that her book was available for kindles, that she’d be willing to fly into NYC to work with us and that she and her husband would lobby their friends to buy a kindle for a student so we could get a class set. Destiny?
Fast forward several months to today. We’ve already delivered both kindles loaded with Ninth Ward and a hard cover version of the book to Ms. Mayers’ class.
The students have read the book, alternating between the kindle and the book version, and have logged how much they read on each. They also wrote short blog posts about whether they liked reading on a kindle or the book better. Read their posts here and join the kindle vs. book debate!