The Changing Landscape of BHS Reads


Catherine Galliford ’18

     On Oct. 20, students and staff came together to participate in the 4th annual BHS Reads book discussion. The event, started and spearheaded by members of the English department, Ms. Wismar and Mrs. Troetti, serves as Bethel High’s summer reading program.

     Every year, the BHS Reads committee selects a variety of titles ranging from different genres from which students can select the one they want to read over the summer. Shortly after school resumes, student leaders — typically honors and AP students — conduct an hour long discussion with their peers who selected the same title.

     “BHS Reads is a program that we have here that is truly just meant to promote literacy. Real people read. Adults read. Our students read. Our faculty reads. Everybody reads,” said Mrs. Troetti, Bethel High’s literacy specialist. “Being a literate adult is a necessary component in this world.”

     Titles this year ranged from works of prose like Virginia Wolff’s “Make Lemonade” to a selection of poems by Tupac Shakur to a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang titled “American Born Chinese.” One popular title was H.G. Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights,” the novel on which the popular TV series was based.

     “For BHS Reads, what we’re really trying to get out of the whole program for students is to get them to understand that you can read not simply for an assignment but for enjoyment, and life, and trying to find those books that you can connect to,” said associate principal Mr. Lawlor who, alongside Mr. Gill, helped lead the discussion on “Friday Night Lights.” “It’s a sports book on football, and a lot of the kids we had here were athletes — I think they chose the book because they thought connecting to high school athletes would be good. The key is to get them to read.”

     In addition to the ten titles selected by the BHS Reads committee, fifteen staff members selected some of their favorites as faculty picks. There was no shortage of titles to pick from for students of Bethel High — Mr. Ciparelli’s pick, “Freakonomics” by Levitt and Dubner, is a discussion on economics based on the principles of incentives while Mrs. Ciskowski’s choice,  “Something Borrowed” by Emily Giffin, is a more light-hearted romantic comedy. Students who did not read participated in a discussion about a short story led by Ms. Lerz.

     The inclusion of Faculty Picks marks just the beginning of potential future changes to summer reading. Mr. Sarrazin, a BHS Reads coordinator and English teacher, envisions a program very different to the current one.

     “The future of summer reading might end up being an advisory-based summer reading, where it’s not necessarily summer, it’s a throughout the year type thing, where an advisory might maybe pick a book where they all want to explore and then throughout the year, there’s some book talks, book discussions, for different advisories. It could be something totally different,” said Mr. Sarrazin.

     As more feedback is collected, BHS Reads will continue to adapt to the needs and suggestions of students. For now, the committee will soon get back to work selecting new and diverse titles for next year’s book discussion.