I was researching websites for the Film and Literature class when I first heard about the “17 Minute Rule;” a rule that suggests the real plot is revealed to the audience 17 minutes into any film.
So when I noticed students picking up books for independent reading and discarding them after the first few pages, I wondered if they were giving the book a real chance. Could a 17 page rule apply to books student might choose to read? And, if the rule applied, would a student become more engaged once he or she reached page 17?
In a short experiment, I grabbed three books off the top of the book cart, and noted the rule was working for books from the canon:
The Hobbit –The Dwarves and Gandalf invade Bilbo’s home;
Little Women -Marmee gives Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy their Christmas gifts with her words of encouragement to survive the difficulties of life;
Lord of the Flies-The boys Ralph and Piggy discover they are on their own in a hostile environment.
Later that same afternoon, I was working with a “reluctant reader” who had selected James and the Giant Peach as a guided reading text. I glanced at page 17 and noticed the wonderful passage where James finds the entrance to the giant peach.
Not every text has a page 17 moment…sometimes the dilemma is posed on page 16 or page 18 or 19. I suspect the rule holds up because the 17 minute rule/page 17 is part of a pattern in storytelling, and stories always follow a pattern. Sharing this rule with students gives me another “tool” in my teaching toolbox, so when I see a student toss a book aside after reading only a few pages, I casually remark, “Did you get to page 17 yet? There’s a rule about page 17…. on page 17, something important always happens.”
I may get a quizzical look, but several minutes later, I have seen that same student engrossed in the text.
“The book got better,” says the student.
“Well, you got past page 17,” I respond.
FULL POST: http://usedbooksinclass.com/2014/04/15/the-17-minutepage-17-rule-what-the-book-will-really-be-about/