A Love Letter to Orca Soundings (Teen Fiction for Reluctant Readers)
Dear Orca Soundings,
I’ve loved you for awhile now but can no longer resist publicly professing my love by blog.
Y’see, I didn’t always feel this way. When I first found out I’d be opening a new high school library, I wanted books that screamed ‘quality,’ ‘award-winning,’ ‘best-selling,’ ‘classic,’ or ‘modern classic.’ Y’know, like the books you see proudly displayed front and center as you enter Barnes & Noble or the book section of Target - not the thin, little dime-a-dozens you see down on the bottom shelves or stuck back in a dark corner. The first time you caught my eye was when I flipped through BookBop magazine, and your blurry covers and sinister titles like Bang, Grind and Rat sneered attitude at me. Exactly what kind of student were you trying to hook up with? And then there was the whole high interest/low level thing. I saw that ‘low’ and sucked my teeth. I saw grade level 2.0-4.5 and shuddered. Shouldn’t I be challenging all my students with books targeted above a *cough* elementary level? Because ALL students can and love to read to read, right? Right?!?!!
Fist pound, O-Sound, because YOU know better. You know that not every 15-year-old can read above a third grade level, and even a lot of those who can, think reading an actual book is equal to pulling out all of your teeth…with pliers…while strapped to a bed of nails…that are hot from a fire burning down below...in the bowels of book hell. So you’re smart and cunning. You find topics any and all kids can relate to – bullying, abusive relationships, beating the odds, surviving heartbreak, death and loss – and keep the action popping and the dialogue flowing and authentic. Before the reader even knows what hit him, he’s turning the last page – usually page 100 or 101, because you also get that whole ‘choose a book at least 100 pages long for your book report’ teacher rule – and guess what? After he’s done with that first one, he decides to read another…and then another…and then, it’s a full-on love affair with O-Sound. The librarian takes note of this, so she encourages the student to keep reading and, with time, even guides him toward more challenging reads on similar topics, which really makes that librarian love you so hard.
So, thank you, O-Sound. Thank you for understanding and providing a market for those kids who HATE or STRUGGLE to read. You are the John Green/Sarah Dessen of some of my kids’ worlds.
P.S. I just peaked at new titles you’ve got coming out this fall and can’t wait to see them held in my students' arms…
If you’re not familiar with Orca Soundings and work with kids who struggle to read, seriously consider trying some titles. They’ve truly been a godsend to the reluctant readers at my school, and one of the most rewarding parts of my job is having a conversation with a student that begins, “This is the first book I’ve ever really read…” *heart swells* You can preview all of Orca Books available titles and divisions (such as Orca Sports and Orca Spanish) at http://www.orcabook.com/ .