Reading Pen Pals      

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As teachers, parents, and readers, we're always looking for good books to read and to recommend to our students, their parents, and other teachers. We've also found that writing letters back and forth with our students about the books they read is a great way to encourage them to analyze literature and develop stronger writing skills, while enriching our relationships with them. Reading Workshop, especially as described by Nancie Atwell and Lucy Calkins, and the mentoring that homeschoolers often seek out inspired us to develop the Reading Pen Pals project.

Justine Henning has been teaching students individually and in schools for twenty years in Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, and New York City. Her recent work with homeschoolers inspires her to expand her own horizons and those of her students beyond what she'd once thought possible. Teaching herself to draw and watching a third grade student work through algebra programs designed for much older children reinforced her conviction that the possibilities of education are limitless. Through Reading Pen Pals, she hopes to help students have fun while reading and analyzing excellent books.

In addition to reading her RPP letters, you can read Justine on Slate here, here, and here and check out some of her favorite young adult novels here at the New York Times. Or check out Groupe Play Bac's Homework Helpsters (Grade 5, Grade 4, and Grade 3), on which she worked as a curriculum consultant and writer. Contact Justine with any questions or suggestions about the Reading Pen Pals project at

Erik Nauman is the middle school technology coordinator at The Hewitt School. He has been an avid reader since childhood, when he especially enjoyed fantasy, such as A Wrinkle in Time, LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea trilogy, and, of course, the Lord of the Rings. He especially loves to read books aloud because other people always notice things that he hasn't thought of. He composes electronic music and designs Web sites (he made this one!). See Open Blackboard Web Design for his other design work. Contact Erik with any questions or suggestions about the Web site at