I’m a former teacher and an author. I started Loose Canon™ when I wanted to create a culture of excitement around reading in my own classroom. I believed then (and still do) that creating book lovers is one of the most important missions English and ELA classrooms have. I also believe the right tool can make a fundamental change in the way we teach.
Loose Canon™ works best when it’s iterative: students get most excited about new books when their friends have read and recommended them–just like we do. One round of lit circles or independent reading builds momentum for the next round, when they can choose that other book (you know, the one that those guys on the basketball team were talking about). And if someone missed reading “The Nightingale” the first time around, she can choose it the next summer. But she can’t choose it twice.
The site also provides some 9000 teacher-curated book recommendations. If a book is on our sortable list, it’s because other teachers in this country have already read it and are using it in their classrooms in some capacity. The list started as an aggregation and continues to be modified by teachers. If your students have found success with particular titles, let us know, and we’ll add it. The sortable booklist is free, but we rely on educators to help us keep it current.
We try to recommend a grade level for each title. Unlike publishers, who will typically recommend their books for a very wide age range, we think it’s more helpful to provide a target range. We know, of course, that some students will want to read above grade level, and some students will be reading below it. We presume that teachers, who know their own students better than we do, will adjust their assignments accordingly, based upon the abilities and sensitivities of their own students. Books with the most controversial subject matter are usually classified as “college plus,” and those with no controversial bits at all can be found with that filter.
Our aim is for kids to discover their own tastes and their own favorite authors. We want everyone to graduate with a personal reading habit, maybe even an obsession.
– Julia Franks, Founder of Loose Canon™
You can read more about my teaching journey in this NCTE article. Click here–> Click here.