Monday, June 26, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

What I've Been Reading...

Barkus by Patricia MacLachlan 

This is the first in a series about Barkus, a loyal and loving dog, and Nicky, his owner. Five short chapters tell the tale of how Barkus became a part of Nicky's family and how that family grew to also include a cat named Baby. Each chapter is amusing and sweet. In one, Barkus follows Nicky to school. In another, Barkus's dog friends join him at his party where they eat cookies and dance in celebration. In the last chapter, Nicky tells Barkus the story of how he came to live with here, which is a retelling of the events that took place throughout the book. The illustrations are colorful and capture Nicky's joy and Barkus's energy. I'm always looking for new early reader chapter books and this one is perfect.

Elly and the Smelly Sneakers: A Rags to Riches Story by Leslie Gorin 

Elly does not like her royal life very much. She never gets to have any fun and, worst of all, she can't play baseball. Elly's dreams finally come true when she is visited by her fairy godfather, Lefty Lou. But when she races away to be home by noon, she loses a sneaker. Similar to the story of Cinderella, she is visited by a prince charming, of sorts, who is looking for the owner of the sneaker. This is a fun twist on the story of Cinderella and is a great addition to my collection of fractured fairy tales. I was lucky to receive a copy of this book from Michele Knott, who hosted a contest on her blog, Mrs. Knott's Book Nook

The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall

Josie immediately falls in love with a pig her brother has rescued and brought home. Josie's large family is already crowded in their city apartment so her parents will only let her keep the pig, which she names Hamlet, until she finds him a home. The story of Hamlet is charming, with many connections to the book Charlotte's Web. The story is also about Josie, who being a part of a large family, often feels invisible. This is a lovely book about family and growing up. It won't be available until October, but it is definitely one to keep your eye out for. Thanks to T.P. Jagger who writes for the blog From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and the author, Jodi Kendall, for an advanced reader copy of the book.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

What I've Been Reading This Week... 

Fergus and Zeke by Kate Messner 

This is a wonderful transitional chapter book. The book is divided into four chapters, telling the story of Fergus, a classroom pet, who sneaks into a student's backpack so he can go with them on their field trip to the Museum of National History. While there Fergus meets another mouse, Zeke, who is not so good at following the rules. There are lots of colorful, interesting illustrations throughout the book. The ending is sweet and will leave readers looking forward to the next book in the series. 

Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson

The book alternates between the story of two middle school girls, Emmie and Katie. Emmie is shy and quiet and would like to be more like Katie, who is outgoing and popular. When Emmie unknowingly drops a note and it gets into the wrong hands, the stories of Emmie and Kate intertwine. The book also alternates between a diary-like text format and a graphic novel format which will attract readers of books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder 

I read this book quickly because it was quite engaging and beautifully written. The plot, nine children living alone on an island, and the setting, a charming and picturesque, but mysterious island drew me in and captured my imagination. The book addresses themes such as loss and change and is one that makes you think about and question the choices of the characters. The ending does leave questions unanswered, so hopefully Laurel Snyder will write a sequel.   

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

What I've Been Reading This Week...

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins

Most know about the first lunar landing, but few probably know about the scientist, Margaret Hamilton, who had a huge part in its success. As a girl, Margaret studied hard, asked questions, and found solutions to problems. Margaret discovered computers, taught herself to code, and got a job at NASA. Her expertise in coding is what helped the first spacecraft land safely on the moon. This is an interesting biography told with just enough detail to make it accessible and interesting for elementary readers. Margaret's story shows the importance of hard work and problem solving. 

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Arturo is determined to save his family's Cuban restaurant, which they've owned for many years in their Miami neighborhood, when a developer wants to take over the lease. He is also confused about his feelings for Carmen, an old friend who moves into his apartment complex. The author has created an interesting character in Arturo, but also in the characters who make up Arturo's large, close-knit family. This is a wonderful story of family, community, love, and courage. 

You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis

Olivia yearns for a better life. One in which she has more money, one in which her dad will be present, one in which her mother takes more responsibility for caring for her and her sister. In spite of this, Olivia does her best to do the right thing and take care of her family. I had to read this book carefully because there are times that the story switches from what is presently happening to what is happening in Olivia's imagination. Olivia's strength and determination in the face of challenges will make you want to root for her and keep reading to find out if it all works out for her and her family. This is a sweet, hopeful story about family and community. Look for this book in July.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth Giveaway

One of the titles that has been on my book radar recently is Sputnik's Guide To Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce. This book is published by Walden Pond Press, which has also published a few of my favorite middle grade reads of the last few months. After reading a few reviews of Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth, I put the book on my to-be-read list. I look forward to reading it in June when it is published. 


Award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce returns with another one-of-a-kind story of heart, humor, and finding one’s place in the universe.

Prez knows that the best way to keep track of things is to make a list. That's important when you have a grandfather who is constantly forgetting. And it's even more important when your grandfather can't care for you anymore and you have to go live with a foster family out in the country.

Prez is still learning to fit in at his new home when he answers the door to meet Sputnik—a kid who is more than a little strange. First, he can hear what Prez is thinking. Second, he looks like a dog to everyone except Prez. Third, he can manipulate the laws of space and time. Sputnik, it turns out is an alien, and he's got a mission that requires Prez's help: the Earth has been marked for destruction, and the only way they can stop it is to come up with ten reasons why the planet should be saved.

Thus begins one of the most fun and eventful summers of Prez's life, as he and Sputnik set out on a journey to compile the most important list Prez has ever made—and discover just what makes our world so remarkable.

About The Author

Frank Cottrell Boyce is the author of Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Cosmic, Framed, and Millions, the last of which was a New York Times bestseller and was made into a movie by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. His books have won or been nominated for numerous awards, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and the Whitbread Children's Book Award. Frank is also a screenwriter, having penned the scripts for a number of feature films as well as the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. He lives in Liverpool with his family.

TWITTER: @frankcottrell_b


Seven winners will receive a copy of Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth. 

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My Summer Professional Reading Plan

The time of year when I start talking to my students about making a summer reading plan is fast approaching. I encourage my students to make summer reading lists of book titles they would like to read. It only makes sense for me to have my own list of titles I would like to read. Part of my summer reading always includes at least a few professional books. I find, in the summer months, I have more time to reflect on what I am reading and I feel energized to make plans about how to implement new strategies and ideas into the upcoming school year.

Last year, I participated in #cyberpd for the first time. The #cyberpd community is a group of educators who read and discuss one professional book during the month of July. You can find out more about #cyberpd here and here. Before a book is chosen, educators are encouraged to share the professional must-reads in their summer reading stack. There are a few professional books in my summer reading "stack."

Creating Cultures of Thinking: The Eight Forces We Must Master To Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart

This book is first on my list because it was the one book in my summer reading stack from last year that I did not get around to reading. I don't know why I have put it off for so long because it sounds like it has some powerful ideas about how to enhance students' thinking and understanding.

Joy Write: Cultivating High-Impact, Low Stakes Writing by Ralph Fletcher

This book is on my list because I love everything that Ralph Fletcher writes and agree wholeheartedly with everything I've ever heard him say about writing instruction. I don't know how this book could be anything short of inspiring.

What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? Fiction, Grades 3-8: Your Moment-to-Moment Decision-Making Guide by Gravity Goldberg and Renee Houser

I recently read the nonfiction version of What Do I Teach Readers Tomorrow? and found it insightful. The authors give practical advice and lesson ideas, but also provide insight into their decision-making process in order to empower educators to effectively plan next steps for instruction.

Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation by Kara Pranikoff

I am always looking for advice and ideas about how to support students during discussions so they build on their literacy learning. If there is a book on the subject of student conversation, I am sure to read it because I believe students' talk plays a huge role in learning.

Currently Reading...

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst

In addition to the professional books on my must-read list, I am currently reading and will be rereading Disrupting Thinking. There will be a book club discussion of this book starting in June. Anyone interested can join the Facebook group page here. This is an amazing and important book that will hopefully lead to shifts in how literacy educators perceive the task of reading.

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

This is What I've Been Reading...

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar

Private I has a mystery to solve when 6 comes into his detective agency and claims that 7 is coming to get him after eating 9. Private I investigates, questioning other numbers around town, until he finally puts two and two together to reveal the truth. The illustrations of the numbers with faces and tiny arms and legs are amusing. The book is also filled with number-related puns. This is a fun book that would be a great read for anyone who loves numbers or just enjoys a clever story.

The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff

Winnie and nine of her friends go to war against their parents. They all decide to live in Winnie's treehouse and refuse to come down until their parents meet their demands. This book, with its outlandish plot is humorous and entertaining. But, there's actually more to the story than just a silly plot line. Winnie finds a way to deal with her parents who, after their recent divorce, are at war with one another. Winnie also proves a remarkable friend to her nine treehouse roommates. The book also has some different types of texts interspersed throughout such as maps and instructions. Definitely a fun read. 

Posted by John David Anderson

Reading this book brought me right back to my middle school years. Even though it was many years ago, it's hard to forget how it felt to be that age. Middle school is full of awkwardness and confusion, especially related to fitting in and the desire to make real friends and to find a group to belong. John David Anderson seems to get all of that. He has written a book that I think all middle-schoolers should read. The book addresses friendship, bullying, and the pain of not feeling like one fits in. The message about the power of words and the impact of those words when we let them out into the world is an important one. This is a book middle school students will be able to relate to and learn from. I thank Melissa Guerrette, of Educate-Empower-Inspire-Teach, and Walden Pond Press for my signed copy of this book.

Monday, May 8, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a community of bloggers who link up to share what they are reading.  For more information and to find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

What I've Been Reading...

Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton

This picture book is the perfect blend of information and humor. The narrator is trying to convince her friend Edgar to love bees, in a similar comic style of the author's previous book I'm Trying to Love Spiders. Barton's style is a fun and engaging way to present an informational book. The information about bees will fascinate readers and, hopefully, also help them to see the importance of bees.

The Unlucky Lottery Winners of Classroom 13 by Honest Lee and Matthew J. Gilbert

Ms. Linda wins the lottery and agrees to share it with all the students in her class. Each chapter is about a student (or in one case a hamster) and tells what that student did with the winnings. Each chapter is quite funny, showing that winning the lottery isn't always lucky. This is a fun and silly book of stories about a class of children, which reminded me of Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Because the stories are short, interesting, and funny, I think this book will appeal to my reluctant readers and those transitioning to chapter books. This book publishes in June.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Crow, now twelve years old, has been living on a small island where she washed ashore when she was just a few hours old. Crow is curious about her past and convinces her adoptive father and neighbor to investigate her past and the island where she believes she could have been born. This is a story about family and finding one's place, but it also contains a mystery as Crow tries to put together pieces of her past and the present to figure out her past. I enjoyed the setting of this book since I live in Massachusetts and the book is set on islands off the coast of Massachusetts. I also thought the writing was beautiful and there is something to learn about history, as the book is set in the 1920's.