I have been trying to read all of the books in the Read 180 library, so that I can discuss them with my students who are reading them. I recently finished Slam! by Walter Dean Myers. Slam is a teenage boy who has a really messed up life. His father is an alcoholic, his best friend is a drug dealer, he does poorly at school, and his teammates are jealous of him. The only place he excels is on the basketball court. Slam! is not my normal type of read, but I could see its appeal to my students, most of whom come from similar backgrounds as Slam.
Each of my students is required to pick a book to read for 20 minutes each day during class. Most of them picked really small books initially, but one student chose Slam!. He worked diligently at Slam! for months until last week when he finally finished. He proudly informed me that it was the first book he's read without pictures. It's those moments that make me really love teaching.