Monday, December 31, 2018
Fittingly I am squeezing in my #mustreadin2018 post on the last day of the year. I feel like that sums up my reading year - a lot of it was squeezed in or done quickly. Since I started tracking my yearly reading in 2014, this past year, 2018, I read the most amount of books I've ever read. And while that should be an accomplishment, I think back to how many books I read through so fast so I could get on to the next one, and how many books I don't even remember much about. I'm hoping to change that next year. I want to spend more time, especially on picture books, thinking about how they can be used by teachers. 2018 was also a funny year for me because I feel like I didn't "fall" into as many books as I usually do. There were some definite stand outs, but I felt like I had more reading slumps than usual. I'm hoping 2019 will be an end to that, and judging from some of the ARCs I've already read, we've got some great books ahead!
Thinking about my #mustreadin2018 list, I got to all of my books except one! I started something new two years ago - instead of making a list of must reads, I assigned books each month. Somewhere within the month I would read those books. I did that because I have a stack of books I just don't get to and I know they are books I want to read. I stopped putting upcoming books that I knew I would probably read whether they were on a list or not, and focused on my towering TBR towers and to get books off of that! That worked out better than a list except I was adding 2-3 books each month. Sometimes I only have time for a middle grade book each week. When you add the new releases I try to get to in a month plus these others, I fell behind quickly. So last year I changed it to one book each month, except I had 13 books I really wanted to read so I figured June would be a good month to read 2 books. Wrong. I actually just finished one of the titles from June yesterday! But, I read twelve books that have been sitting in my house... some for a very long time! Here's the recap:
X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Quick thoughts: I really didn't know much about Malcolm X before I read this. And I was happy to find out that this really concentrated on his earlier life. Interesting read, definitely for the older crowd.
March trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Quick thoughts: Again, what was briefly mentioned in my history books became so much more fascinating and understandable by reading these books. I wonder if in conjunction with mandated textbooks, if classes offered readings from books like these and from my first book, if students would have a better understanding of history and be able to change the future...
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Quick thoughts: This was a book I added because I had the first book on my #mustreadin2017 list. A book that was celebrated by so many readers, I didn't love it until the end. I had a better time reading the second book, maybe because the world building was complete, so the action happened faster? I'm glad I came back to the series and completed it.
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Quick thoughts: I've been slowly getting through this series, reading one each year. So far Scarlet has been my favorite. I found the character of Cress to by whiny and complaining. I like the twists and turns this book brought to the overall plot line.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Quick thoughts: So this is a book that I've owned for years. My 13yo was a very little girl when I bought it. Another book that has had a lot of love by readers I trust, I really had a hard time with it. I did not enjoy any of the characters that much and even though I liked it more at the end, definitely not enough to continue the series.
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
Quick thoughts: My daughter has read all three books in the trilogy and she is not one for historical fiction. There is a reason for that - these books are absolutely amazing. The plot lines are tightly written and correctly match history because of the amount of research Anderson has put into each story. I enjoyed seeing how the quote that starts each chapter will have an effect on the storyline. I also spent just as much time reading the backmatter because it was so interesting to see how she added history into the story.
Scythe by Neil Shusterman
Quick thoughts: This is the mustread for this year that blew me away. I had put off reading this book because of the subject matter (killing people) but after hearing everyone say how good it was, I knew it was time to read it. I still don't like the premise, but once you read it, you can't help but understand and care for the characters. That's what amazing writing will do. I devoured this book, told everyone I knew to read it and then made sure to get the next one in the series read. Now if Mr. Shusterman could just finish book three that would be great...
Bounders by Monica Tesler
Quick thoughts: I'm really glad for science fiction like this that draws readers in and gets them excited about the topic. Science fiction can be a hard sell for younger readers and it's not the first genre many pick up. Writing this makes me think about how I want to for sure do a #firstchapterFriday on this series and genre in January!
The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Quick thoughts: Another book I've owned for a really long time but just hadn't gotten around to reading. This is one of those books that I think is better for an older audience than my school (we go up to 4th grade). With the density of the book and range of the book titles, I can see older readers appreciating it more. My daughter has read through the entire series, but she did so at an older age (6th-7th grades).
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Quick thoughts: Yup, another book that has been on my TBR for a really long time and I've owned the book for quite some time. I can see why this book has been celebrated and well loved by readers. One that was book talked by many teachers at one point, but maybe needs some more love again. I can see a whole new generations of readers wanting to get to know Bud.
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
Quick thoughts: See why making these must read lists are so important? Everyone but me has read this book, now it's crossed off my list! This book is quick to read with characters to love. I can see why it's a hit!
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
Quick thoughts: Not my favorite of his, but I think this is one of his very early books which makes me see how his writing has gotten even better over time. However, the books he writes, the way he writes, absolutely speaks to this generation of readers. I'm so glad we have his voice to share with kids today. And after hearing him speak enough times, I can hear his voice when I read his words.
Well, that wraps up 2018! Check back tomorrow and see some of the books I'm reading in 2019!
Sunday, December 30, 2018
It's been awhile since I've blogged. Not intentionally, just a lot going on. At some point last year, I really started reflecting on how busy my life was. Busy, stressful and too much of being too much. There were some physical side effects. Mental ones, for sure. I've tried to think about what can be "taken off my plate". Really, nothing. But maybe the balance needs to shift. Sometimes, I feel like the picture above. It's balanced, but there's a lot of things to balance. And a lot of times it feels like there is no order to things. Lots of balls in the air, but they are uneven. Unbalanced. And I'm the stone on the bottom, one stone, holding lots of things up.
I have not chosen a "One Little Word" for a year in a long time. I don't like New Year's goals, and while a word is different from a goal, nothing felt authentic.
But this year, I need to strive for more balance. Whether it's as a One Little Word, or just something I'm going to keep in the back of my mind. Like I said earlier, I can't take things off my plate, but maybe I can arrange them differently. So maybe the stones in the picture above can become more orderly. I want to be present more. I want to do what I enjoy doing, but maybe how and where I allot time to will look different week to week, month to month. I want to do something and do it fully, not just a little bit because it's all I have time to do. I'm not going to feel badly about saying no. It's ok to cut back on something to make time for others. People first.
And I'm going to think about myself. I don't like being stressed all the time. I don't like the physical feeling it gives me. If I can make some changes to feel a balance, that's what I am going to do this year. If I need to blog less, that's ok. If I need to take a social media break, it will be there when I get back. If I don't get reading done, I can't let it bother me. To get good at something, it needs to be a focus. So maybe I'll take on less projects and concentrate on something. This won't be done in a day. I'll still fail at balancing it all just right. But I'm going to try.
Let's do this.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Artwork by Sarah S. Brannen ©2017
Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.
This year I decided to try NCTE's Mock Orbis Pictus as a way for students to read and critique nonfiction picture books. I wrote about our decision to try this here and shared the how and our list of books here.
I can't tell you the number of times I was stopped in the hallway by young readers who wanted to tell me their thinking about one of our nonfiction picture books. This definitely showed me that nonfiction reading has a needed and regular place in our read alouds.
Yesterday our students voted on their favorites. They could vote for the book they felt should win the award, one they felt should win an honor and a recommended title. These are the same categories the actual Orbis Pictus Committee uses. Their votes were weighted to help us see a clear winner. I love seeing what nonfiction made an impact with readers. Out of our five winners, four were picture book biographies and our winner was expository nonfiction. Two of the picture books featured athletes, one featured revolutionary girls and one featured explorers. If you talk to our students, they had clear feelings as to why certain books should win and while we used the Orbis Pictus criteria when discussing these books, for eight to ten year olds, it's still which book they enjoyed the most.
Without further ado, here's our selections:
Meadowview School's Mock Orbis Pictus Recommended Books:
Shaking Things Up
by Susan Hood
by Annette Bay Pimentel
Meadowview School's Mock Orbis Pictus Honor Books:
Otis and Will Discover the Deep
by Barb Rosenstock
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Meadowview School's Mock Orbis Pictus Award winner:
Cute as an Axolotl
by Jess Keating
We're looking forward to hearing what the real committee selects at Saturday's NCTE Awards Luncheon!
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
One of my favorite things we do at our school is celebrate books. While we do this year round in many different ways, it's the Mock season that is the most fun. We have finally whittled down our list and have our 2019 Mock Caldecott selections ready to read with our 2nd-4th grade classrooms! Here's what we'll be reading this year:
by Yuyi Morales
The Day You Begin
written by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael López
written by Juan Felipe Herrera
illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Thank You, Omu
by Oge Mora
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
written by Minh Lê
illustrated by Dan Santat
Otis and Will Discover the Deep
written by Barb Rosenstock
illustrated by Katherine Roy
What Do You Do With a Voice Like That?
written by Chris Barton
illustrated by Ekua Holmes
a house that once was
written by Julie Fogliano
illustrated by Lane Smith
Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse
written by Marcy Cambell
illustrated by Corinna Luyken
by Sophie Blackall
Alma and How She Got Her Name
by Juana Martinez-Neal
Julián is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love
written by Randall de Sève
illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
written by Samantha Berger
illustrated by Mike Curato
When I cultivated our list this year I took in consideration:
- number of female illustrators vs male
- illustrations that are representative of diverse readers
- diverse illustrators
- stories that young readers will enjoy
I'm really excited about this list and can't wait to get started with our readers at school!
Monday, November 12, 2018
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.
As I was getting ready to work on my posts for the upcoming week last weekend, I received the unexpected and unwelcome news that a very special family friend passed away. It took my breath away and I needed time to grieve and be with family. I knew writing posts could wait.
I've got some posts for this week, including sharing our Mock lists. I'm going to take next week off again. It's Thanksgiving week and I think spending time with family is just what is needed.
I hope you've found some books to read and are cuddling up and staying warm. That's what we're doing in the Midwest. Here's what I've found to read this past week.
Last Week's (or two weeks ago...) Adventures
Some new picture book biographies for you.
Have you heard about Scholastic's upcoming "Acorn" line of books?
Stop, Go, Yes, No! A Story of Opposites
by Mike Twohy
A follow up to his Geisel Honor winning book, this is another fun book to read and figure out the story. Told completely in opposites, we get the story of a cat who just wants to be left alone and a dog who really wants a playmate. I think it's fun to read and discuss these stories that have a storyline that is told not just through the text.
by Tomie dePaola
A book that probably resonates more with me right now than our young students. dePaola reminds us to take the time and sit and listen and hear and be quiet. A good book to add to your mindfulness set.
I Don't Want to Go to Sleep
written by Dev Petty
illustrated by Mike Boldt
I think this one is my favorite Frog book! I giggled the whole way through! Frog doesn't want to go to sleep, but really he doesn't want to hibernate. I know many young readers who are going to laugh at Frog's many reasons!
The Case of the Missing Chalk Drawings
by Richard Byrne
This will be fun to read to the younger crowd. It's a mystery - who is erasing the chalk's drawings? Could it be.... eraser?? Perhaps predictable, the ending is still fun.
The illustrations are done in chalk on black paper which really makes the colors pop!
written by Randall de Sève
illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
With illustrations that go back and forth showing two different perspectives, we see the idea's of the main character and what she thinks is happening next door and compare them with what is actually happening with the neighbor. Beautiful illustrations!
Maybe a Mermaid
by Josephine Cameron
This upcoming middle grade (April 2019) is a beautiful coming of age story that has friendship and family at the heart of the story.
Anthoni just wants to find a True Blue Friend, but that's hard to do when you're always on the move. Mom is in promotional home sales (think Mary Kay/Avon type sales) and is always looking to sign up her next worker. They are headed on a much needed vacation, but the Showboat Resort in northern WI doesn't quite measure up to the memories mom has from her youth.
Once they get up there, things go from bad to worse. Anthoni isn't sure she can find her True Blue Friend and she discovers that mom's business isn't doing as well as she thought it was.
Readers will fall in love with Anthoni and cheer for her quest of friendship. With a dash of mermaid magic, Anthoni discovers that sometimes a True Blue Friend might be right in front of you the whole time.
This is a cannot be missed read for 2019!
How to Steal a Dog
by Barbara O'Connor
I can't tell you how long I've owned this book.... yet it has remained unread. That happens to the best of books - I own more than I'll probably ever be able to read. It's a problem...
So, it went on my #mustreadin2018 list. So glad that it did! I was thinking of readers that would want this book next and also classrooms that may want to use it as a read aloud! I can see readers falling in love with these characters.
by S.E. Hinton
There are a few "classics" in the canon that I have not read, this being one of them. When my 8th grade daughter came home saying she had to read it, could she talk to me about it... I knew this was my opportunity to read the book finally.
I can see how this book was so popular years ago and how, even though it's older, I see how it can still be seen as relatable now.
I didn't love the book. Not sure why. I liked some of the characters. The plot was relatable. Maybe too predictable? Maybe because there are so many current books that have similar topics that are better written (in my opinion.....)?
Regardless of the reason, this one was just ok for both my daughter and me. I thought I would watch the movie after I read the book, but I really don't have a desire to do that. I'll probably go read instead :)
by Barbara O'Connor
Looking forward to reading this one - everyone has loved it so far!
Happy Reading this week! I hope I get the chance to see many of you in person at NCTE this week!