Talks promote countywide literacy push


Olivia Summons, Editor-in-Chief

As an idea launched by English department chair Jason Bowman, the first book talk premiered Sept. 25, initiating a week’s worth of discussion, where students had the opportunity to dive into the deeper meaning of their chosen book with the sponsoring teacher.
English teacher Maria Hiaasen shared her experience sponsoring “Stiff” and how it impacted her talk’s participants.
“I think whether they realized it or not, there’s this bond between people who have read something,” Hiaasen said. “It’s not just that you show up and have materials, but that you have some sort of relationship with your students.”
Baltimore County super intendent Verletta White discussed her support for a literacy push in the school system. According to The Baltimore Sun, White says her vision for the system is to make it the best in the nation in developing students’ literacy — meaning their ability to gather, understand, analyze and synthesize information across disciplines in ways they will be required to do in the 21st century.
Social studies teacher Ms. Swam reiterated this thought.
“I think literacy is obviously an important topic in schools, but it’s one social studies teachers are already incorporating a lot of,” Swam said.
But there were students who felt that the book talk appealed to a limited range of individuals, lacking a sense of diversity.
“They picked a lot of popular books this year but in the future, they should work on reaching out to more people and gaining a wider audience,” junior Lucia Qian said.
Looking forward to the possibility of next year’s book talk, and hoping to address student concerns, Bowman voiced his focus on the inclusion of a wider range of books that cover a variation of topics.
“Personally, I think we want to get books that represent a more diverse experience, make a deliberate attempt to try to get more books that appeal to a wider range of students so they can all feel like they have something,” Bowman said.
Literacy push aside, both teachers and students agree that all classes and subject areas require literacy in some form whether verbally, or through reading or writing.
“Reading is essential to be a life-long learner, whatever you major in. To be a citizen of the world you’ve got to read,” Hiaasen said.