Forget the Civil War or Rainforest. Guide advanced ELLs to self-select and read narrowly and deeply in content-areas based on whatever they loved during Free Voluntary Reading.
Children who love science fiction and have a strong background in FVR may decide they are ready for a unit of study in space exploration.
Maybe they’d rather stick to their beanbag chair with a comic book in hand. Maybe they are waiting for you to conference with them one-on-one to share that they have a hidden passion for photography (what middle schooler isn’t an expert at selfies?).
Maybe they’ve read Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel, Drama, and are inspired by the main character to read about theater arts so they can join the drama club. Maybe books will help the language minority students in your building take on leadership roles or dream about future careers. Maybe books can satisfy a burning curiosity, slowly build confidence in academic text, and make students feel like experts.
Letting kids come to the books they love autonomously opens up a whole world of maybes and possibilities.