How to start a novel:
Talk about theme of book. Relevant and beautiful discussion takes place, human nature is revealed. Suspense for book is built, slowly and deliciously. Read aloud the poem that inspired book title. Discuss what the book might be about, what can we know about this book? Pass out novel reverently. Have students examine cover picture and read back cover. Suspense for the novel steadily climbs. Open book together worshipfully and read together the first line. First lines matter (thank you, Kristen). Write first line on the board for examination later. Read first chapter aloud. Own the class. Lament the ringing of the bell, for when the bell rings, we get another class and examine another topic...
How never, ever, to start a novel:
Talk about theme of book. Students argue over whether or not the film watched for background was "stoopit". Suspense for Ms. Educat's sanity is built. Will she remain calm and smiling? Poem that inspired book title hangs on poster in the room. Poster falls. One student throws it at another. Debate discussing the symbolism thereof. What might this book be about? "How whites hate blacks?" "Partially". Begin to pass out the books. Argument breaks out!!! No less than five students are called "Punk ass bitch" before all the books make it out. Walk two students to office. Pray for peace. Hand out remainder of books. Begin to read chapter one, opting for a solo read of opening line but noting that it might be important later. Fighters return to class. Referrals have been written. Things seem to be ok. Begin to read again...Someone farts...gain control again...peace is tentative...until...
"Oooooohhhh, make him quit lookina me!!!!"
Begin to draw breath to request all eyes on the book when evidently someone is once again a "punk ass bitch!!". This time it's a girl. She stands to fight, throwing gang signs. Draw her out of the room by voice spirit her to principal. Remove her accuser from class. Walk him through cafeteria, slip and fall in puddle of god knows what.
Return to class so haggard, so limping, so pathetic, that classroom is managed either by pity for teacher or fear of also being called a "punk ass bitch". Weakly request class to read silently. Pray for peace. Accomplish exactly half of the reading done by the previous class.
Go home. Order pizza. Blog. Curl into fetal position. Lather, rinse, repeat.