Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.18.14

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

Ahhh, it's the Back to School edition of #IMWAYR!!! How did that happen?

Before I show you some of my reading from this week, I'm going to do a quick recap of what I think is the best of the best summer reading 2014.  Here are my summer reading standouts:

Picture Books
Hooray for Hat!     Three Bears in a Boat     Ninja!      The Most Magnificent Thing     My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.)

Informational Texts

Grandfather Gandhi     A Boy and a Jaguar

Graphic Novels

Comics Squad: Recess!

Middle Grade

Absolutely Almost    The Great Greene Heist     The Enchantress Returns (The Land of Stories, #2)      This Journal Belongs to Ratchet     How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are UntiedSpirit's Key     The Night Gardener     Gaijin: American Prisoner of War     The Fourteenth Goldfish

Young Adult

We Were Liars


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

I hope you found some of these books this summer as well!  Now onto this week's reading!

Picture Books

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
5/5 stars
I love the cleverness is Lizi Boyd's wordless picture books.  There is so much to look at, in what seems to be simplistic illustrations.  Most of the book is shown in black, white and gray drawings, with the colored part of the picture shown from the light of the flashlight.  Using small cutouts, readers guess what will be seen and then what the cut out shows once the page is turned.  Boyd's books are ones you need to go back and reread.  Read them for the story, then reread to closely look at the illustrations, then reread again to see the details in the cutouts.  Then you might want to reread one more time to see if you added anything in your understanding of the story!

The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House
The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin
4/5 stars
Litwin does amazing work for the PreK-1st grade crowd.  This will be another crowd pleaser.  Cute story about the Nut family and the two little Nuts that won't go to sleep.  Big Mama Nut has her work cut out for her!
Cute story but once I saw the video of Litwin performing it with a young audience, it had me hooked!  Cute, infectious song that definitely enhances the story.

Beach by Elisha Cooper
5/5 stars
The story is simple enough - tells all the happenings of a day at the beach. The author does a great job of capturing everything that happens - the busy-ness, the playing, the relaxing, having fun, doing nothing, being in the water, out of the water.  This is a great mentor text for writing.  I would pair this book with Baseball Is... by Louise Borden and see how the authors take their knowledge of a subject, and use it in writing.
Thank you, Elizabeth, for showing this book on your blog!

One by Kathryn Otoshi
5/5 stars
I'm so glad someone wrote about this text because it is a great one to share in regards to bullying, as well as sticking up for yourself!  I liked Otoshi's simple illustrations used to get the point across.  Looking forward to Two this September!

Press Here
Press Here! by Herve Tullet
5/5 stars
I read this a few weeks ago, but somehow had not reviewed it.  Easy and simple concept that turns into something fantastic.  This book is going to be devoured by readers this fall!

Listen, Buddy
Listen Buddy by Helen Lester
4/5 stars
Lovely book to use when talking about active listening with your young readers.  What is causing Buddy to not hear the correct items?  What could he do to fix this?  What do we learn as a class from this?  Thanks to @mariapwalther, she gave me the idea to pair this book with Telephone by Mac Barnett, which comes out on Sept. 9.  Lots to learn and discuss with these two books!

Informational Texts

The Truth about Poop
The Truth About Poop by Susan E. Goodman
2015 IL Bluestem Award nominee
It's a book about poop.  Kids will love it.  It is disgusting!

Can We Save the Tiger?
Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
5/5 stars
This may be the most gorgeous nonfiction picture book I have ever read.  Thank you, Carrie Gelson, for another stellar recommendation!
I will be using this book as a nonfiction mentor text for 4th grade.  I love how the author organized the book.  I felt like the author was talking directly to me, the reader, which is uncommon in a nonfiction picture book.  Just beautiful. 

Middle Grade

The Night Gardener
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
5/5 stars
If I could give this book 10/5 stars I would!!  This book and Absolutely Almost just gripped me this summer. It's after you read books like this, it makes it impossible to start another book.  You just need to think and talk and think about it more!
I cannot say enough about the writing in this book.  I loved the characters' dialect.  The way the story moves.  I actually had to stop reading it at night because it made my heart pound so much!  It was brilliant.
My two favorite lines: pg. 213 "Stories don't have to do anything; they just have to be."
pg. 278 "A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens 'em.  And a lie does the opposite.  It helps you hide."

Paperboy by Vince Vawter
5/5 stars
This has been an amazing summer for reading.  I can't believe the wonderful stories I read this summer.  This book was no exception to the wonderful part.  I can see why that shiny sticker is on the cover of my book.
I think this book would be a fantastic book to use with upper middle school kids for a study on character and setting.  The main character, Little Man as we come to know him since his first and last name give him so much trouble to say as a result of his significant stuttering, is multi-faceted and gives the readers so many sides to talk about.  We of course know him as a stutterer, but what does that mean?  What does that do to him?  What happens as a result?  The setting is quietly placed in the book, but what implications does it have to the story?  Would the story be the same if it was during a different time period?
This book had me interested in the beginning, and I was gripped by the end. 
This line made me pause and think, "Two kids don't have to say words because they can say all they need to sometimes with their smiles." (pg. 165)  That would be an interesting line to talk about with kids.

Professional Reading

Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading-Writing Workshop
Read, Write, Teach by Linda Rief
5/5 stars
I really enjoyed reading this book and talking about it in an online group.  The book's focus is the reading/writing workshop.  While the author is a middle grade teacher and all of her examples and ideas are from that grade level, the ideas can easily be adapted for younger grade levels.  I felt the book had a heavy emphasis on the writer's workshop.  Rief includes some great ideas for setting up the writers/readers notebook (WRN) and what her students are expected to include in them.  I really liked reading about some of the ideas she uses in the beginning of the year to give students ideas of what to write about throughout the year when they are stuck.  Also loved the quick write concept.
This book also included a link to the Heinemann website that has handouts, write ups on ideas and student examples for each chapter.  I printed many of them up and hope to use them at some point this school year.

Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Differentiated Instruction for Building Strategic, Independent Readers
Teaching Reading in Small Groups by Jennifer Sarravallo
5/5 stars
I'm so glad someone suggested this book because this book really helped me wrap my head around using strategy based grouping.  I've thought about it for years, but always went back to using leveled readers.  This book helped me make sense of it and did so in an easy to read and understand manner.  I love that the author is on Twitter and I was able to tweet her questions!  I'm anxious to give this a try this year.  I think this could be a missing link for our groups!

Currently Reading

The Summer of Letting Go     Big Little Lies

I have quite the stack lined up from my did-not-get-to-summer-reading-pile, but it will take me a bit longer now that school has started.  But at least I know I have great books to look forward to!  And have you seen the Aug. 26 book releases??  I have several coming to me on that day, can't wait!


  1. I think you will love The Summer of Letting Go. I listened to it on a recent trip and loved it. I laughed, cried, and got mad. True signs of a good book! Enjoy.

  2. Loads of good ones here, Michele. I must get to The Night Gardener-sounds so good & you keep mentioning it! I loved Absolutely Almost, too, have passed it to several teachers already. I also like the ideas you have for Beach-will look for it too. I've seen others who have enjoyed it. Have a great week-back to work, right?

  3. Quite the list, and I like the idea of going back and sharing favorites from the whole summer. I am next in line at the library for Flashlight, so looking forward to that one! I assume you have also read "Zero" to go along with "One" ?

  4. So many great books here! I also read so many terrific middle grade titles this summer and didn't get to even a quarter of what I had planned to read (which leaves many books that are vying for a spot on my #MustReadin2015 list!) Elisha Cooper's Farm is one of my favorite mentor texts for writing. There are so many sentences that just stop me in my tracks! He is a terrific writer. I had big plans for reading lots of PD this summer, including the Linda Rief, and I didn't get to anything. Thanks for reviewing Teaching Reading in Small Groups. Looks like one I need to read.

  5. Where do I start? SO many great titles here, Michelle! From your "best of summer" titles - I have many of the same on my list - Three Bears in a Boat and Magnificent Thing - among my favorites. From your list this week - I ADORE Flashlight - it was on my 10 for 10 list a few weeks ago! The Night Gardener and Beach are the two that stand out for me that I want to read NOW! Thanks so much!

  6. Isn't ONE amazing? It's ONE of my favorite picture books of all-time. :)

    How are you liking THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO? It's one of my favorite YA reads of 2014.

  7. Pinned this list because there are so many I need and want to read. It seems like there are always more and more books I need and want to read--too many great authors writing great books!
    I loved Can We Save the Tiger? and The Most Magnificent Thing. I am glad you liked them both.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  8. I love your 2014 list! I couldn't agree more with your YA and Adult titles. I think you and I are reading soul mates. I ALWAYS agree with you! Because of your review, I've added Absolutely Almost to my nightstand pile. I can't wait to read it! :)

  9. Gah, thank you for the reminder. I really need to get my hands on The Summer of Letting Go. It's one of those lingering titles for me--one I want very much to read, but it keeps getting shuffled because it's audience is probably not my 4th graders! (But I can read for myself, right? ;) )

  10. Hi there Michele, I borrowed The Night Gardener from the library, and I am looking forward to reading it soonest. It does sound like my kind of read. Thanks for sharing your top reads in 2014 - most titles are familiar to me. I also am trying to find the time to read AJ Fikry. Sounds like a book for bibliophiles. :)

  11. Thanks so much for your quick "favorites" list. That reminded me of a few titles I meant to order that weren't on my list yet.

  12. It's like we're book kindred spirits with your summer picks! Some of them are titles I'll be recommending tomorrow for Educator Night!

  13. Enjoyed looking through your summer favourites :-) Some really wonderful titles. I hope you love The Summer of Letting Go - it has been a favourite of my summer for sure. I am also thrilled that you loved Can we Save the Tiger? I can't wait to share this with my students this fall.