Although The Lord of the Rings trilogy has had immense success since its publication, you will find that some students are still pretty reluctant to embrace their inner elf (or perhaps some that are too eager). Here are some pitfalls to look out for – and how to sidestep them gracefully.
Yes, it's true. There are some students who cringe at the thought of reading something longer than a tweet. That said, 398 pages looks pretty daunting (especially that first chapter or two, which often sound very professorial and lack action). But don't despair. You can alleviate size worries with a two-pronged approach: make sure you assign manageable bits every night and require nothing more than lively and interesting conversation for the first half of the book. Allow your students to concentrate on the text and make friends with it. It won't take long (after they leave the Shire) before they're hooked.
Another astounding truth: there are young people who don't like fantasy fiction. Heck, some don't even like reading stuff that isn't "true." Get used to it. In our standards- and product-driven world, there is precious little encouragement of anything that doesn't (l)earn you something. And let's say nothing of reality TV culture.
Take a breath. This desire for reality can work for you in the literature classroom. The fact is, behind the pointy ears and the magical objects lies a greater, more prosaic truth. You can appeal to these students by discussing the big universal themes that run through the narrative: good versus evil, friendship and betrayal, industrialization versus traditional ways of life, destruction against creation. Remind your students that the author (a real guy) fought in a truly horrible war and those experiences helped shape Middle-earth.