Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 9.01.14

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.

Happy September!  Oh, I felt my reading get interrupted this week!  This was our first full week of school and my reading was really interrupted.  I quick read 4 books on release days this week, but the rest of my reading happened over the long weekend.  I crammed it in!

Picture Books

Uni the Unicorn
Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
3/5 stars
My initial reaction is where was the story?  I felt like the entire story was a buildup to the main story.  The main story just never happened.  But if you go back to the tagline of the book "a story about believing", then you think a little bit more and realize that's what it's about.  Believing.  There is no other story needed.  The standout of this book for me was the illustrations.  Very reminiscent of the artwork of Mary Blair (Disney's it's a small world).  Stunning.

Little Elliot, Big City
Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
5/5 stars
I'm in love with Elliot.  Beautiful story about friendship, helping each other, and how sometimes you can feel really small.  Loved it.

Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks (Fly Guy, #14)
Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks by Ted Arnold
4/5 stars
Fly Guy is such a great hit for younger readers.  And this one includes the word Booger in it, you know kids will love it!

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
4/5 stars
I actually thought this would be a great picture book to use in an older classroom.  I think the concept of self-worth could be explored with an older group of students.

Wordless Picture Books

Quest by Aaron Becker
5/5 stars
Yeah, he really is that good.
Love this book for questioning, figuring out what the whole story is about (don't let kids get wrapped up on each page, they miss the whole picture!).

Informational Texts

A Baby Elephant in the Wild
A Baby Elephant in the Wild by Caitlin O'Connell
5/5 stars
I wish there were more and more informational texts like this one.  Written by the Elephant Scientist author, this book zeroes in on a baby elephant and gives important information about her life and how she survives but is written on a level for primary students.  I love the "Scientists in the Field" series and wish there were more like this book for the younger students.  Authors like Jenkins and Bishop have written books for younger grades and we need more like them to make science come alive for young readers.

Middle Grade

The Summer of Letting Go
The Summer of Letting Go
 by Gae Polisner

5/5 stars
What a great read to finish on Labor Day weekend, the close out weekend of summer!  I loved the story of Frankie and Frankie.  The book explored such tough topics - the feelings of failure and of hope.  Not knowing the future, not knowing what isn't being said.  This is a book my middle grade/teenage self would have loved reading.  This is a book that is full of soul and hope.

Currently Reading

A Million Ways Home
A Million Ways Home by Dianna Winget
I'm more than halfway done with this book and love it.  I think middle graders will really enjoy Poppy's story!

The Time of the Fireflies
The Time of the Fireflies by Kimberley Griffiths Little
It's a mystery and a ghost story.  Kids are going to love it!

brown girl dreaming
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This book is beautiful.  Absolutely savoring it.  I'm reading it just pages each day because I don't want it to end.  It's not full of action and adventure, it's not plot driven.  It's driven by the soulful and beautiful verse.  Love it.

The Literacy Teacher's Playbook, Grades 3-6: Four Steps for Turning Assessment Data Into Goal-Directed Instruction
The Literacy Teacher's Playbook, grades 3-6 by Jennifer Seravallo
After reading Seravallo's Small Groups in Reading book, I thought this would be a natural progression.  I think having a strong repertoire of assessments that can be used to drive small group instruction is important.  I am excited about reading this because I am reading this version and my reading counterpart is reading the K-2 version and we're comparing notes via google docs.  Here's to more learning!


  1. A Million Ways Home is something that students will really want to read, and there's been some interest in Time of the Fireflies. I just finished Brown Girl Dreaming: excellent book, but I wonder about appeal to students.

  2. So so so many great books this week! I don't even know where to begin! :)

    I'm so glad you loved The Summer of Letting Go. That was definitely one of my favorite YA books of 2014 so far.

    I'm currently reading Brown Girl Dreaming and I agree that it needs to be savored. Trying hard not to rush through it.

  3. I loved The Summer of Letting Go also, Michele. Sweet story, nice ending! There are some good books you've shared today, must reads I think. I'll pass Zero on to our math teachers, & must find Quest. It does sound wonderful. I just got Brown Girl Dreaming, looking forward to it! Thanks & have a terrific week!

  4. Wasn't Brown Girl Dreaming phenomenal?! I can't stop talking about it!
    I need to read Summer of Letting Go--everyone says such wonderful things about it.
    I have Quest and Little Elliot, Big City on my need to read list :)

    Happy reading this week, and happy back to school!

  5. I need to read Otoshi's book. Zero seems to be getting lots of mentions recently!

  6. Great books! I just ate up Brown Girl Dreaming this weekend (no time to savor - have to give it back to the school library on Tuesday). Amazing! I'm curious about Uni the Unicorn - do you think students would "get" that believing is the story or would they just be confused/disappointed?

  7. Isn't Summer of Letting Go just incredible? We need books that highlight hope. I can't wait to "read" Quest and Brown Girl Dreaming. If I could just calm down and focus and not stress about this teacher's strike, I should have a lot of time to be reading. Love your list this week. So many great titles. I so agree with you about titles needed for our younger readers.

  8. Wonderful books this week! I almost made that mistake with Quest myself--spent too long trying to "figure out" the early pages. Then decided to push on and dive in--enjoyed it much more then. Definitely one to read and reread. Just gorgeous! I have a feeling I'm going to be caving very soon and purchasing Zero and Little Elliott, Big City!

  9. I see you read QUEST this week, too. I love that line: "Yeah, he really is that good." ;-) I, too, loved Summer of Letting Go and Brown Girl Dreaming!

  10. Hi Michelle! I also have adorable Elliot on my list this week. I LOVE this book! I think your Baby Elephant book would make a wonderful companion read with Little Elliot. I'm hearing so much about Brown Girl Dreaming - and love how you are only reading a few pages per day because you don't want it to end! Quest is AMAZING - equally as good as Journey I think! Katheryn Otoshi's new book "Two" comes out in a few weeks! I can't wait to see it! Thanks for your list!

  11. I just received Uni the Unicorn from a friend, so I will have to read it! I like how you call brown girl dreaming soulful. That is a terrific choice of words. I savored it, too. I hope you enjoy the rest!

  12. Zero is definitely one that can work with older students too. I also loved Quest, brown girl dreaming, A Bably Elephant and Little Elliot. So many wonderful books! I read Uni the Unicorn and will be buying it. I can never have enough unicorn books for my students. It's a sweet one though you are right, not a lot of action.

  13. There are so many great things being written down about Brown Girl Dreaming. I can't wait to find and read it. :) Lots of great books here. I am also excited about Quest - as I loved Journey last year. :)