Lit up

Lit up

One Reporter, Three Schools, Twenty-four Books That Can Change Lives

Book - 2016
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"It's no secret that millions of American teenagers, caught up in social media, television, movies, and games, don't read seriously-they associate sustained reading with duty or work, not with pleasure. This indifference has become a grievous loss to our standing as a great nation--and a personal loss, too, for millions of teenagers who may turn into adults with limited understanding of themselves and the world. Can teenagers be turned on to serious reading? What kind of teachers can do it, and what books? To find out, Denby sat in on a tenth-grade English class in a demanding New York public school for an entire academic year, and made frequent visits to a troubled inner-city public school in New Haven and to a respected public school in Westchester County. He read all the stories, poems, plays, and novels that the kids were reading, and creates an impassioned portrait of charismatic teachers at work, classroom dramas large and small, and fresh and inspiring encounters with the books themselves, including The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, 1984, Slaughterhouse-Five, Notes From Underground, Long Way Gone and many more. Lit Up is a dramatic narrative that traces awkward and baffled beginnings but also exciting breakthroughs and the emergence of pleasure in reading. In a sea of bad news about education and the fate of the book, Denby reaffirms the power of great teachers and the importance and inspiration of great books"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2016
Characteristics: xxiv, 257 pages ; 25 cm
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780805095852 (hardback)
Call Number: 807.1273 DENBY


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Jan 29, 2017

Following the progress of a 10th grade English class through a year of books was interesting from the perspective of both an avid reader and a parent of children in either side of that grade. The author inserted himself into the narrative more than I expected in a work of non-fiction, questioning the choices and strategies employed by the teachers. By the end of the year, the students from these schools were truly engaged in reading and learning. But these students were not enrolled in typical schools and their teachers were truly extraordinary. The book left me wondering whether the author is a parent, and outside of this project how much interaction he has with teenagers. I'm not sure what else I was expecting, but in the end the book left me feeling meh.

Jun 13, 2016

I graduated high school two years ago and, while I enjoy reading, I despised my French literature class. I loved reading the assigned books (I'm actually the only student who read them all, including the optional material)l but I just didn't understand why I had to do so. Lit Up completely changed that perception and made me understand why we need and have literature classes as a part of our education system. Though I found some of the events and thoughts related in the book not believable, Denby manages to make 200 year old classics as attractive as modern blockbusters while writing about teaching methods that should frankly be explored in every classroom. Literature is truly a gateway to philosophy.

My only complaint is that Denby and Sean Leon are very one-dimensional in the way they view other forms of media (which is strange, considering Denby was a film critic). Some movies, video games and pieces of music are truly thought provoking if you take the time to understand their message and art form . The author also seemed oblivious to how the school system works in the afterword. Denby supposes that STEM classes are much more valued in modern high school. As a math student, I find this claim outrageous and erroneous: nowadays, you can graduate high school without taking math or science in your last year while literature is compulsory. A better balance of the two would be preferable.

Mar 14, 2016

I tore through this--I love the different schools, teachers and students Denby highlights in this book about the power of literature to educate, enliven and ennoble students (and readers in general). Reading challenging books can wake up a reader, and one of Denby's theses is that technology and social media take life and presence away from young people who need a quiet mental place to learn about other lives and other ways of thinking. (And all readers need that space.) Inspiring.

CMLReads_Robin Feb 18, 2016

This is a great read for everyone and especially for people who love books and reading. I was amazed that kids were still moved by great lit and gave me hope!


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