Romeo and Juliet is a complex, and rather daunting, text, which is why I do so much of the reading aloud with my students. They need time to familiarize themselves with the style and language. Plus, the play was written to be heard; it deserves class attention. In order to break up the pace and to give them a break from Shakespeare, I assign an outside-reading project, much like I did at the beginning of Great Expectations.
I only give two stipulations for their outside read: the text must be age-appropriate (RL.9-10.10) and there can't be a movie version, unless I give permission. The final product of this project is a book trailer, which we will create using iMovie. I want the trailers to be fresh and uninfluenced by Hollywood scenes.
Before we head to the school library, I address options and protocol. I start by reminding my students of all the library's resources. We have an extensive section of both fiction and nonfiction books, and it is so easy to find interesting texts because they are arranged by genre: historical fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, horror, biography, etc. Moreover, the librarians have worked tirelessly to give access to digital texts, so students can check out a book for their kindle or iPad. We even have some Nooks available for check out.
I will remind everyone that other classes are studying in the library and deserve quiet. We will spend about 30 minutes in the library, but if they find a book early, they should check it out, and then sit down to read until everyone else is ready.
Once in the library, I try to direct students toward books they might enjoy, especially the ones who "hate to read." We have been to the library before to select books, so I have a better idea which students will need more direction, and which ones will be deciding among 10 books they want to check out. Of course, this time will be a bit more complicated because we have been here before, so I've used up many of my "go to" books. I'm also not sure how much my "no movie" stipulation will affect their selections, but I bet that it will limit our options a bit. Nonetheless, I love seeing where each student gravitates and which books get them excited. I also love matching students with books I think they will like, so I'm up for the challenge.