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Kenai Alternative students discover literature doesn’t have to be boring:::A good read

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2006

 

  Landon Beatty listens as Kenai Alternative High School teacher Tad DeGray, top left, reads an interview with author Han Nolan from Nolan's book "Born Blue." The title is one of three donated to the school through an American Library Association grant. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Landon Beatty listens as Kenai Alternative High School teacher Tad DeGray, top left, reads an interview with author Han Nolan from Nolan's book "Born Blue." The title is one of three donated to the school through an American Library Association grant.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Books you get assigned to read for school are boring, right?

Not always.

“I didn’t expect this kind of book in school. It’s something I’ve never read before,” said Carolanne Small.

“This book definitely captured my attention. I think I read it twice while we were reading it (in class),” said Audie Mahaffey.

Mahaffey and Small, students in Tad DeGray’s language arts class at Kenai Alternative High School, were talking about the book “Born Blue,” by Han Nolan.

“Born Blue” is about a girl who grows up in a tough environment, and the novel delves into subjects such as drug abuse, neglect and teen pregnancy — not quite what you’d expect in a typical high school literature class, and certainly much more relevant than “Moby Dick.”

“Especially here at the alternative school, my biggest challenge is finding literature that they’re interested in,” DeGray said. “I’m constantly looking for books like this.”

Corey Hall, the youth services librarian at the Kenai Community Library, obtained copies of “Born Blue,” as well as “The First Part Last” by Angela Johnson and “Stuck in Neutral” by Terry Trueman, through a grant from the American Library Association.

Hall said she came across the grant on an Internet listserv group she belongs to, and submitted an application.

“What caught my eye was first, they were giving away free books,” Hall said.

“The American Library Association picked the books, and geared it toward at-risk teens. The grant had to be a partnership between a public library and a facility that serves at-risk teens.”

“Corey came and said, ‘I’ve got this grant, I’ve got these books, would you like them?’ I jumped on it,” DeGray said. “I’ve only done one so far, but it’s been a resounding success. I assume the other two will go the same way.”

Mahaffey said she enjoys reading, but “Born Blue” was a departure from her usual fare.

“It’s a switch for me — definitely a good switch,” Mahaffey said. “I definitely want to thank Corey for expanding my horizons.”

Small said she starts a lot of books, but frequently loses interest and doesn’t pick them up again.

Small said what made the book compelling was the subject matter.

“It’s so much like real life. It has stuff happening that goes on in the community,” Small said. “It is one of my favorite books I’ve read.”

“School books are boring. Last year, we read some good books, but they weren’t books you wanted to read,” Mahaffey said.

“With this, I’m sure everybody in the classroom can relate to this book in one way or another.”

Will Morrow can be reached at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.



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