Let the Story Begin


Florence Bruns, News Writer

Many students get to class and are tired and overwhelmed and then find out it is time to read a book. For some people, this is exciting, but for others, this is game over. 

How do teachers do it? How do they choose books that bring interest to their students? Why do we have to read books? These are questions that often present themselves. 

It turns out the teachers do not have much control over the literature. 

All information and major deciding factors come from the school board. The Idaho state standards play a big part in it, too. 

“There is a collection of book options for each grade level that I am able to choose from,” said Delaney Gorton, English teacher at Lakeland High School.

The state provides the books that meet the requirement that the school board determines. Teacher Michael Pitassi adds that books are chosen on their literary merit. 

“I choose the book that I think the students would like to read and I would enjoy teaching, then build thematic units around the novel that meet state education requirements,” said Gorton. 

Teachers can make suggestions, but Gorton says that she is happy to use what is available to her. 

“I love breaking down exactly what the interpersonal relationships between characters are and why a character might be doing what they are doing,” Gorton added. This helps the student to understand the characters better, and there are times when she adds in a video clip to help set the scene and background.” 

“For the most part, books that have stood the test of time and that contain universal themes and challenging concepts,” Pitassi said. 

All teachers have different types of teaching ethics. Pitassi works best with Shakespeare, dystopian novels, and any book that tackles the big existential questions. 

With the given options, teachers work with what they are provided. 

“I prefer books that are tied-and-true, these books tend to be older, but I think that’s a good thing,” said Pitassi. 

“Students often think the present day is the only thing that matters, but a classic book can show the power of the universal theme,” Pitassi added. 

He mentions that it can be a struggle to make it fun for students a lot of the time, but it can be a fun challenge. 

Jimmy Hoffman said that the biggest process is having the school board be in charge. 

“The school board has ultimate control. They will let us know what the requirements are and when we can and cannot use things,” Hoffman said. 

Whenever there is a novel, the school board will go through it and make sure it meets the requirements of the state of Idaho. 

School board members did not respond to questions by press time. 

“Students, find books that interest you and start reading. As someone once said, ‘books are the training weights of the mind,’” Pitassi said.