In The Classroom: 8th grade teacher fosters a love of literature, one abandoned book at a time

Today we are IN THE CLASSROOM at Summit Middle School, where 8th grade language arts teacher Brittany Wilson is building her own library.

If took a wrong turn, you might mistake her classroom for the SHS library. Almost every wall has a bookshelf, and those bookshelves are filled with titles from authors you might not expect in 8th grade: Ray Bradbury, Jodi Picault, Khaled Hosseini, the “New Kid” graphic novels by Jerry Craft, where a 12-year-old wunderkind struggles with culture shock at a private school.

“I really want the kids to have access to any book that they might want to read,” Wilson says. “I always have featured books displays that change every few weeks. I’ll do women’s history month, black history month, and support authors and stories in those categories so kids really focus on a variety of books.”

She scours Facebook for new titles and bookshelves, which she spray paints black to match (the bookshelves, not the books). She’s been amassing her collection for 14 years, since her first day teaching at SHS. By now her in-class library has more than 1,350 books.

“Two years ago, I organized it by genre so it’s a lot easier for the kids to navigate areas of reading that they like,” Wilson says.

And what are the 8th graders liking?

“These days fantasy is actually the highest requested middle school genre,” she says. “That and humor. They love ‘The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.'”

This love of literature does not end in the classroom. Coming up soon is the annual Summit Middle School Poetry Slam, a live poetry reading.

“These kids will pour their hearts out in these poems,” Wilson says. “It’s not easy to get up and say those things in front of your peers. But they are so supportive of each other.”

Wilson was nominated by Krystal 93 Listener Mark McConnell. He tells us, “She is one of the hardest working teachers, if not the hardest, in the area and state. I wish I had a teacher like her when I was growing up.”

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Thanks again for going IN THE CLASSROOM, proudly presented by Heavenly Times Hot Tubs and Billiards, and The Summit Foundation Bright Futures Fund.