Miami High School has begun a new elective class this semester, "Reading for Personal Pleasure," taught by the school’s librarian Debbie Friend.
"I learned about the class at a workshop last year and thought it would be a good thing for Miami High School to try," Friend said.
It was created by Norman North High School English teacher Claudia Swisher.
Currently, the class has nine students.
Friend sees the students in the class eventually ranging from those taking advanced placement classes to those who are struggling readers discovering for the first time that reading can be fun.
"I think everyone will enjoy reading, you just have to hook them," she said. "Most of the students who enjoy reading were read to by their parents or a teacher."
It was Friend’s fourth grade teacher who read "Johnny Tremain" to the class after recess that hooked her to reading.
The class is designed for students who enjoy reading and never have time to read for pleasure.
Friend stressed that the class is not designed for "Napping for Pleasure" or "Browsing through Magazines for Pleasure."
The choice of books the students read is up to them, but French will inform a student’s parents if she questions the appropriateness of the book.
Each of the students is required to write a paragraph at the close of the class about what they had read that day. When they complete a book they are asked to write a more elaborate essay to keep them accountable for what they read. "I love seeing the students come in here," Friend said. "They all seem to go off to their own space and take their books out and start reading.
"Even the students who are more on the quiet side love sharing their books."
Friend plans to close the semester with each student trying to "sell" their book to the group.
"In this class I want the student to feel comfortable taking risks and sharing together," Friend said. "I see my job as creating that environment of safety and to whet their appetites for reading."
As part of "creating an environment," the library at Miami High School was recently repainted.
Most adults entering the library might be a bit surprised by the color choices.
"I first did the one door way and I liked it," Friend said. "It was in beige and tans.
"But, then I thought about it and realized it would be good for adults or a college not necessarily high school students."
She did some research and discovered teens are more drawn to bright colors.
She got a group of students together and showed them color swatches and they picked the bright colors.
"Once I had the colors, I consulted with art teacher Dawn Hill about what to do with them," Friend said. "She told me to put them up like a rainbow."
Friend also considered having the art students paint the walls in murals, but feels she came up with something better.
"We bought canvases and the art students painted them," Friend said. "At the end of the school year we’ll take them down and the students can take them home. We’ll have new canvases for next year’s students to paint.
"Not only are they decorative, they show the students’ work off and people have actually offered to buy them."