Monday, April 30, 2018

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.  To find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow the posts of other bloggers at #imwayr on Twitter.

What I've Been Reading...


If Wendell Had a Walrus by Lori Mortensen

Wendell wants a walrus and comes up with a plan to get one. He never gets a walrus, but what he does get is even better. Wendell is a charming and fun character as he imagines what he'd do with his walrus and tells walrus jokes. If readers look closely at the illustrations, they'll notice a hint of what will happen at the end. This is a delightful story of friendship.

Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman

A shark appears while an underwater show is being filmed. Shark is told not to eat anyone, but he claims he never intended to do such a thing. Shark sounds sincere, but is he? This is a humorous story with shark facts included. Those readers intrigued with sharks will be amused.

Lulu Is Getting a Sister (Who WANTS Her? Who NEEDS Her?) by Judith Viorst

Previous books in this illustrated chapter book series have been well-loved by many students, so it's exciting to see another Lulu book. Lulu believes her life has been ruined because she's getting a baby sister so her parents send her to Camp Sisterhood to learn how to be a good big sister. Lulu is convinced she will never have any sisterly feelings and she can neither tolerate or get along with her temporary siblings. Lulu is rude, spoiled, and short-tempered, but also funny and entertaining. In spite, of her undesirable qualities, Lulu redeems herself when she learns what it means to be a big sister. Those with siblings will be able to relate and find Lulu's situation amusing.

The Boy From Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis

Alec and Josie are both twelve years old, but they are separated in time by one hundred years. Alec lives in the house Josie and her family lived in previously and when they discover they can communicate with each other they form a friendship. Both Alec and Josie learn about each other's family situations and their friendship changes their lives. This is a unique time travel story with magic and some suspense.

Monday, April 23, 2018

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.  To find out what other bloggers are reading check out the host blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. You can also follow the posts of other bloggers at #imwayr on Twitter.

What I've Been Reading...


A Chip Off the Old Block by Jody Jensen Shaffer

Rocky wants to do something special like others in his family, but he is told he's just a pebble. Rocky goes on a journey across the U.S. to find a way to make a difference. With a hero to root for and lots of puns, this is a fun book. Young readers can also learn about rock formations. Great lesson about never being too small to matter.

Power Forward (Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream) by Hena Khan

Zayd loves basketball and is determined to improve his game so he can impress his coach and move up to the gold team. Zayd's parents prefer that he practice the violin rather than basketball and he gets grounded from basketball when he lies to them. In spite of these obstacles, Zayd will not give up on his dream. This book is the first in a new chapter book series published by Salaam Reads. This book will appeal to sports fans and is accessible for those readers who need shorter books. Zayd is a fourth-grader with interests and problems that young readers will be able to relate to. The story also shows a glimpse of Zayd's family life, giving insight into his Pakistani-American culture. This is a series I am excited to share with middle grade readers who like to read realistic stories centering on sports. Thanks to the publisher for sending my book review group, #BookExcursion, an advance reader's copy of the book.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia is a ten-year-old helping her parents manage the Calivista Motel, owned by Mr. Yao, a crooked business man, who takes advantage of the family's financial situation. This book gives insight into what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant in the 1990's, but also addresses issues related to poverty and racism. Because she is poor, Chinese, and learning English, Mia faces challenges fitting in with her peers at school. Mia is also conflicted because her mother would rather she improve her math skills than spend time reading and writing, but Mia wants to perfect her English and be a writer. Mia has many admirable qualities. She is resourceful, dedicated to her family, and stands up for what she believes is right. She proves the usefulness of her English and writing skills when she makes a positive difference in the lives of others through writing. There are many layers to this story, but what I loved the most is that it shows the power of community and the importance of caring about others, even those who may be strangers. This book is part autobiographical as the author spent a chunk of her childhood helping her parents manage motels. This is an engaging story with a main character who will serve as a role model for middle grade readers. Thanks to the publisher, Arthur A. Levine Books, for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy of the book.

Monday, April 16, 2018

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...



Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes

Rescue is training to become a service dog and really wants to do a good job. Jessica has just become an amputee and wants to be strong for her family. Rescue and Jessica find each other and change each others' lives for the better. This is a book tells a story of hope, strength, and resilience. The illustrations are gorgeous and those local to Boston will recognize a few landmarks. Both authors of this book were injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and their service dog, Rescue, provided the inspiration for the book. Last week, the authors and illustrator were at the Massachusetts Reading Association conference where I heard a little about how the book came to be. The illustrator, Scott Magoon, mentioned that he is running this year's Boston marathon which is today. Good luck to Scott! Watch this CBS Evening News clip, featuring Jessica, Patrick, and their service dog, and you will fall in love with Rescue, and then buy the book because it's one you'll want to read and share with children.

Big Foot and Little Foot by Ellen Potter

Hugo, a Sasquatch, lives in the North Woods of Widdershins Cavern, but he longs for an adventure in the human world. When he runs off one day, he makes an unlikely friend, a human boy. Hugo is a friendly and curious character who I think young readers will enjoy. This is the first in a series with an ending that leaves readers wanting to know more about the adventures of Hugo and Boone. Thanks to the author for sending my book review group, #BookExcursion, an advance reader's copy of the book.

The Creature of the Pines (The Unicorn Rescue Society) by Adam Gidwitz

Elliot is at a new school and his class is going on a field trip to the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The day is quite eventful as Elliot makes a new friend with whom he discovers a mythical creature. When the creature escapes, Elliot and his friend enlist the help of their quirky professor and they become members of his Unicorn Rescue Society. This is an interesting beginning to a series that promises to be adventurous and imaginative. The chapters and the book itself are on the shorter side which will appeal to readers who are new to chapter books.

The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George

Anthea, an orphan, or so she believes, is once again shipped off to live with a different relative. This time she is sent beyond the walls of Coronam where she learns that much of what she has believed about her family is not true. Anthea also learns she has a gift, The Way, and can communicate with horses, which are forbidden animals. Anthea, determined and headstrong, is putting together the puzzle pieces to figure out who she is and where she belongs. She shows her capabilities when she is sent on an important quest to make things right. This is an engaging story for those who enjoy fantasy, but also those who love horses. I received an advance reader's copy of the book thanks to publisher, Bloomsbury, at the National Council of Teachers of English convention. The book publishes in May.

Professional Read


It's All About the Books: How to Create Bookrooms and Classroom Libraries That Inspire Readers by Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan

I was fortunate to attend a session with Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan at the Massachusetts Reading Association Conference last week in which they shared ideas from their recently published book. Their book, It's All About the Books, celebrates and honors books as the tool to teach and motivate students to become life-long readers. This book shows teachers how they can create classroom libraries that are student-driven and promote student choice to increase engagement with books. There is also useful information about designing bookrooms and making them teacher friendly to support teachers as they provide their readers access to engaging, quality books. This book covers the ins and outs of classroom libraries and bookrooms from budgeting for books, to choosing titles that students will want to read, to organizing books for easy access and everything in between. This book is not only practical and full of useful ideas, but it's also gorgeous. The color photographs of classroom libraries and bookrooms allow readers to step into actual classrooms and schools to see the possibilities for designing book spaces that are both appealing and accessible. I found this book to be a refreshing read because it aligns to my beliefs that it is not only important to support students in becoming proficient readers, but it is also necessary to help readers experience the joy of reading, that comes from reading books that engage them, so they will choose to read both, in school and outside of school, and for a lifetime.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Books I Planned to Read in 2018 Update


In January, I made a list of "must reads" for 2018 along with Carrie Gelson of There's a Book for That and a community of other bloggers. Now that we are a few months into the year, the #MustReadin2018 community is sharing the progress they have made on their reading lists. I am sharing my progress along with them. Check Carrie Gelson's blog or the Twitter hashtag to read about others' reading and get ideas to add to your own to-be-read list.

My #MustReadin2018 List



Middle Grade Books

The twelve middle grade titles on my list this year are all 2018 releases. So far I have read nine of them. 
  • Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender is a beautifully written book about a young girl in the U.S. Virgin Islands dealing with struggles with friends and family. 
  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani, The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson, and Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O'Connor are all historical fiction books with important and relevant themes. 
  • Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana Arnold is as wonderful as the first book in the series. 
  • Maggie & Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort by Will Taylor is magical and clever. If I was a kid, I think I would build a pillow fort immediately after reading this one. 
  • Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers is an fun and imaginative story for early chapter book readers. 
  • Breakout by Kate Messner, written completely in letters, text messages, poems, and other short forms of writing, is a compelling read that addresses prejudice and racism. 
  • You Go First is anther fantastic book by Newberry Award Winner Erin Entrada Kelly. It's a book about the challenges of friendship in middle school that many readers will be able to relate to. I enjoyed all of these reads for various reasons. 

Professional Books


This year, I put four professional books on my list. I read the following:

Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes by Jimmy Casas

The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads by Daniel Willingham

I am currently reading:

Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners by Regie Routman

Still on my list to read:

Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers by Ruth Ayres

Monday, April 2, 2018

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...


New Shoes by Sara Varon

Written in a graphic novel format, this is a charming and funny story about a donkey in a South American jungle on a mission to find tiger grass so he can make shoes for his favorite singer, Miss Manatee. There is also information about the plants and animals of the jungle included throughout the book. The illustrations are bright and colorful and amusing. The author included photographs of Guyana that she used for inspiration at the end of the book. This is a fun book, but it also has a message about doing the right thing and will help readers understand another part of the world.

Cody and the Heart of a Champion by Tricia Springstubb

Cody is dealing with a lot of changes in her life. Her friend Pearl has joined the soccer team. Her brother Wyatt is spending more time with his girlfriend. Spencer is making a museum under his porch and Cody doesn't know why. As in the previous books in the series, Cody navigates the ups and downs of childhood and learns life lessons. This series is realistic, relatable, and interesting and it has been popular with some of my students. Thanks to Candlewick Press for sending my book review group, #BookExcursion, an advance reader's copy of the book.

Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers

Whatever Polly writes in her new turquoise leather notebook comes true. She becomes invisible, turns her little sister into a banana, and makes her house into one that is much bigger. Polly learns that what she writes is not always exactly what she wants. As a teacher, I loved Polly's character because of her imagination and love of words and writing. This is a transitional chapter book for readers who like magic, imagination, and a little bit of silliness. I received an advance reader's copy of this book, thanks to the publisher, at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention. The book publishes in May.

Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O'Connor

In this thought-provoking story told entirely in letters, eleven-year old Reenie Kelly is determined to save her brother from the Vietnam War draft. This is also a story of unlikely friendship as Reenie writes letters to a recluse who lives on her paper route. This book gives insight into the conflict occurring during the time period while also telling a story about family. I received an advance reader's copy of this book, thanks to the publisher, at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention.