Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gateway Books

In celebration of today's release of Eclipse, I want to praise the Twilight saga.  Now, this is not meant to be a forum to debate Stephenie Meyer's writing skills (we all know there are passionate feelings on both sides of the spectrum).  Instead, I want to focus on her books from the viewpoint of a high school English teacher.

As writers, it's easy for us to question why some books get published, especially when we feel adamant that we are better writers.  But as an English teacher, I've learned to appreciate any book that my students read.  My job is to get my students to read.  And to enjoy reading.  If it means they read a Twilight novel rather than Shakespeare, I'm okay with that.  Because at least they're reading.

We've all heard the term "gateway drugs."  (If not, Dictionary.com defines it here.)  But have you ever heard of gateway books?  These are the books that turn non-readers into readers.  I see that happen every school year. 

That's why I put every book I buy (or win in a contest or obtain as a donation) on my classroom shelf.  Because I never know which book will be the next gateway book for my students.  If I can help at least one non-reader become a reader, I'll feel like I've done my job.  

Let's be realistic as writers.  We need readers.  How else can we make a living as writers?  I applaud those writers, the ones like Stephenie Meyer, who can spin a great story and create energetic teen readers.

Here's my question to you: What were your gateway books?  Which ones helped you to become readers and/or writers? 

9 comments:

Aubrie said...

Wow, you're a great teacher. I totally agree. At least they are reading a book.

My gateway books: Secret of the Unicorn Queen series. And all those scary books by Christopher Pike.

Jennifer Shirk said...

yes, so true. I get excited when I see kids reading and excited about books, too.
and those Stephenie Meyer books are THICK. :)

MT said...

I'd have to say the Narnia books did it for me. I love those things!

Crystal Cook said...

You are an awesome teacher! And I totally agree with you :)

My gateway books. . . I don't know I've just always been a huge reader. But I guess it was the last Harry Potter book that really inspired me to get serious with my writing.

Lisa and Laura said...

I LOVE the concept of the Gateway book! That is completely my new goal for us as writers.

Gateway books for us include anything by Christopher Pike or Stephen King. We also LOVED Lois Duncan growing up. God, I love books.

Debbie Barr said...

I always have loved reading pretty well, but I think it was The Pit Dragon Trilogy by Jane Yolen that really got me into fantasy, which is my genre of choice.

Aubrie said...

I just saw Eclipse last night and it was amazing! Better than the first two movies. A little darker, but had more depth. And I loved the back stories of the other vampires.

:)

Jen said...

I'm going to remember this, I'm going to school to become a High School English Teacher and I think this will be very helpful. It is very important to know what your students read, what a brilliant idea!! You sound like one amazing teacher.

For me they were oldies, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye and it was all thanks to my High School English teacher, she taught me the love of reading and writing. I didn't use it until years later but deep down I think I always knew!

Palindrome said...

I agree! It's good to get teens to read no matter what the book is. I went through a teen romance phase. As long as kids are reading, I say read whatever inspires you.