Interp Tip – Read Something NEW! by: Colin Rust

I met Colin quite a few years ago, ironically on the set of one of my favorite classic literary pieces, A Christmas Carol. Like all good cast mates we keep in touch over social media. I knew Colin was the guy I needed to go to when I needed help inspiring my Lasting Impact! Community to READ! I saw so many speeches last year that have been done before. Sure, it may be classic literature, but it left nothing for my imagination. I know those stories. Colin is constantly reading! People take note… if you want to have a fresh, new, inspiring Interpretive Speech – take Colin’s advice… Read Something New…

When you are standing in the fiction section of the local library or bookstore, it can seem almost impossible for you to make a choice. There can be thousands of choices, all beckoning you to open their covers and gobble up every story they have to offer. With so many choices, a person just might go back to their comfortable little nook and reread “Huckleberry Finn” because that was the book that “changed the way the saw the world,” even though the world has changed a tad since 1883. No hate towards Mark Twain, because legends can be legends, but it can be difficult to move on from what is comfortable to you in the world of reading. It is imperative to move beyond the comfort zone of reading and into the beautiful world of varying book choices.

When launching oneself into the book choice-o-sphere, it can seem very complicated and complex. How to find a new book can be a journey that will force you to cross rivers, trek through jungles, and climb to the highest peaks of literary fortitude. I am here to be your guide and give you an (unofficial) handbook on how to find a great book to read among the millions of books out in this world.

Disclaimer: my viewpoint comes exclusively from a young adult standpoint. As a fourth grade teacher, I believe it to be my duty to read books for the fourth grade super stars that I teach.

Anyway, without further ado, here is an Unofficial Handbook for Finding Excellent Books to Read:

Book Series: Book series is the first place I usually start when looking for a great book to read. My very simple viewpoint is if there are multiple books in a series, then it has to be worth reading. If you are looking for a new book to read, start with a book that is the beginning of a series. It has lasting power, it has a following, and when you finish it, you automatically have another book to read.

Social Media: One of the strongest and most surefire ways to find a book that you will like is to find a blogger or a “book influencer” that has some serious Barnes and Noble street cred. I personally recommend Mr. Schu, a Naperville-based book pusher, who goes around and promotes reading to youngins’. As a teacher I look to people who live in the world of books to choose great new books for me. I follow them on Twitter and other social media platforms. Here they are also rather open to communication with little peons such as myself. Social media is also a great place to talk to your favorite authors and see what they recommend as well. Use these platforms to follow publishing houses and small bookshops as well.

Community: Along with social media, one of the best ways to find new books is to develop a reading community. Talking to friends and families about books can be life-changing. Building a reading community is one of the coziest things you can do. Honestly. Have you ever sat and talked books with someone? It sends a warm feeling throughout your body. My reading community just so happens to be my fourth grade students. They have conned me into reading so many amazing books over the years, that they can be trusted with book recommendations. Now, I’m not telling you to find your own group of 9-10 year olds to hold book meetings with, but talk to people about books. Believe me, it’s worth the social interaction points.

Just Get Out There and Read Something New: The last tip I have is to just get out there and read. Read books that challenge your beliefs, read books that challenge the way you see the world, and read books that make you laugh beyond measure. There isn’t a better way to expand your reading repertoire than to try something new. We live by a code in my classroom, the Reader’s Bill of Rights, and one of them states you can always abandon a book. There is literally nothing to lose. You need to get out there and read new books, new genres, and new authors. You will not lose anything by trying a new book, and you may find a new love. The positives outweigh the negatives. Get. Out. There. And. Read. New. Books.

So there it is. Your unofficial guide to choosing new books. Now, go out there and try something new. Go beyond your comfort zone and read books that challenge you, books that expose you to new cultures, and books that you couldn’t find yourself in if you tried. When you are out of your comfort zone, that is when your world will be enriched. So the next time you are about to pick up “Huckleberry Finn,” think about what other worlds could await you.

Colin Rust is a 4th grade teacher in Naperville, IL. He is an avid reader of middle grade literature and collector of penguins.

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