Every semester, I must convince two thirds of my high school students that poetry is worth reading. First, we cover the most common mistake with poetry: Do not read it like you would prose. A newspaper article that doesn’t

yield its meaning on the first read means the journalist hasn’t…


Why people avoid short fiction

The most common reaction among high school students at the end of a short story is, “Huh? I don’t get it!”

Adults often have the same opinion.

People often don’t enjoy “short stories” because the term is a misnomer. Like most novels, a short story has a beginning, middle, and…


Millennials find it a bore

The Great Gatsby is no longer great. Maybe it never was. I first read it in high school in the 1970s and recently taught it to high school juniors. …


All the News that Fuels Your Worry

If news coverage of COVID-19 is getting you down, read on…

That unstoppable anxiety generator, The New York Times, is once again covering a singular event with such breadth and depth that it’s hard to know what news angle its staff is missing…


Maybe COVID-19 comes with a positive.

Photo by McKaela Lee on Unsplash

I’m a high school English teacher. I’ve been teaching on-line for 10 days. Some classes have been surprisingly productive; others decay because of technology fails and student temptation to multi-task.

My students arrive in Google Meet for their 80-minute class having read a text…


Luca and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Birthday

A tale of the worst birthday party ever — if you’ve had worse, my hat goes off.

Story by Judith Voirs; illustrated by Ray Cruz; Atheneum Books for Young Readers

My son, Luca, was turning thirteen. He stated in no uncertain terms he didn’t want a party — neither with friends nor family…


My students viscerally relate to the protagonist’s integrity, savvy, generosity, and even hatred.

As a high school teacher, I find new novels to teach by reading The New York Times obituaries. That’s how I discovered Fumiko Enchi’s The Waiting Years (1957), which has, in my opinion, one of the most…


Don’t over-react when your teen doesn’t give a hoot. Things change.

Want to better understand the teen rebel under your roof? Look no further than Alan Sillitoe’s “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” (1959).

Colin Smith lives in an English working class neighborhood and turns to petty crime after…


A Rockefeller Center tree on its way to holiday glory.

My grandparents had a neighbor named Anna Lanza. She was lonely because her husband worked evenings as a waiter at Sardis in Times Square. He was home late. She was so lonely, in fact, that on some evenings, she turned on her radio and danced around her apartment with a…


Miss Virginia C. Bullock (1910–84) was fussy, cranky, and anxious. But she kept her family in one piece during trying times.

(This article, under the title “The Piecing of Her Past,” first appeared in The New York Times on October 26, 1997.)

SHE handed me the shopping list. This is…

Mrvescovi

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