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Seventh Grade

May 22, 2012

On Thursday I get to interview an actual teenager, a seventh grader at the school where Jennifer is the librarian. All I know about this girl is that she loves the library, and I think loves to read. My job is to learn more, maybe recommend a book? Or two?
The thing about taking a class in the young adult genre fiction, that I keep running into, is that it’s fiction that I love and would probably read anyway. Mysteries! Fantasy! Historical fiction!

I get happy about the story and enthusiastic as a reader who wants to make sure other people are reading the same great book that is making me wave my arms and speak in exclamation points. The assigned reading for today is a perfect example. I couldn’t resist The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson, which I’d already read a month or two ago. (Read my review that is more of a gushfest.)
So the toughest part about this class is learning to talk like a librarian, to think about genre appeal and how to classify a mystery as a mystery, or a suspense as a suspense. There’s overlap, both between books and readers who like them, but class discussion centered on what are true examples of the genre. It’s all very grad school… Which feels weird, because it’s books that I would already love to read on my own.
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t love to read. I remember being too busy to read what I wanted to read, or resenting books I had to read for school. (Far from the Madding Crowd comes to mind.) Interviewing this teenager for class, I need to remember, it isn’t like meeting my younger self. I need to listen, and learn.
What was I like in seventh grade? I just started a new school, and I was confused and overwhelmed. (That sounds familiar…). They were taking Latin! In seventh grade! Mind-boggling. I especially remember feeling bewildered in history class, because I swear my elementary school history classes did units on the Revolutionary war and the first European settlers for three consecutive years, and never went near the battle of Gettysburg. I remember there was a lot of homework, but I still really liked reading, even the books we had to read for class. Though I think there was a shoebox diorama involving late-night homework, artistic attempts and my mom and Laura’s mom being just as perplexed by the assignment is we were. And during the summer, there was required reading. I wonder what required reading is for seventh graders now.

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