Monday, September 26, 2016

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 MentorTexts and Unleashing Readers.

What I Read This Week...

Archie the Daredevil Penguin by Andy Rash

Archie is considered to be quite brave by the other penguins, but he's keeping a big secret: he is afraid of swimming. Archie invents many contraptions so he can fly instead of swim to the fish fry to which the penguins have invited him. His inventions don't work and one inadvertently causes him to face his fear of the "briny deep" waters. This picture book is written in a comic book style as the entire story is told through the illustrations and speech bubbles. The book is humorous and has an important message about overcoming fears.

Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale by Josh Funk

This book is written as a series of letters between two pen pals, George Slair and Blaise Dragomir. As they read their letters, they imagine each other, not realizing that one of them is a human and the other a dragon. The misunderstandings between George and Blaise are humorous and the rhyming letters are fun. The author, Josh Funk will be skyping with the first graders at my school next month. I'm looking forward to sharing this book, and his others, with first grade teachers and students. 

Ned the Knitting Pirate by Diana Murray

The crew of the pirate ship, the Rusty Heap, are all fearsome and tough. They don't appreciate Ned, who likes to knit. Ned's knitting comes in handy when an ocean beast threatens the pirates' ship, giving the message that being different is not such a bad thing. This rhyming tale is sure to be entertaining for young readers, especially those who love to read about pirates. This picture book reminds me of Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crimi because of the similar plot. In Crimi's book, Henry is a pirate who is different because he enjoys reading and although the other pirates disapprove his reading saves them in the end. 

The Dino Files: A Mysterious Egg by Stacy McAnulty

This is the first book in The Dino Files series, which is a series new to me. I am always looking for great books that will interest my second and third grade readers who want to read chapter books, but aren't quite ready for longer books that require sophisticated understanding. I think this series will be enjoyable and accessible for many readers at this age level. In this book, Franks' grandmother has found a fossil of a dinosaur egg. When the egg hatches, Frank and his cousin, Sam must work together to keep him safe. I will definitely add this and the others in the series to my library.

Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit by Cece Bell

Rabbit is excited to surprise his friend, Robot, with a visit, but is surprised to find that Robot already has a visitor. Rabbit quickly becomes jealous of Robot's friend, Ribbit. The characters are humorous and the plot is interesting in this transitional chapter book. I think both the story and illustrations will amuse my early elementary readers. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

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 MentorTexts and Unleashing Readers.

What I Read This Week…

Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

This picture book begins, "Yelfred and Omek have been best frints since they were little blobbies." The story, of two best friends who get into an argument, is a familiar one, but the use of inventive language gives it an amusing and playful twist. The cartoon illustrations are fun, as well. I plan on reading this to students soon and I think they will enjoy trying to figure out the meaning of the invented words.

How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln: A Story About the Nation’s First Woman Detective by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk

Abraham Lincoln may never have been inaugurated as the 16th president if not for Kate Warne. This biography tells the story of the first woman detective who discovered the details about a plot to attack Lincoln and played a key role in ensuring he arrived safely in Washington, D.C. The book provides insight into an historical event and also shows how a woman was able to accomplish something so hugely important at a time when women had limited opportunities.

The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford by Suzanne Slade

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were both curious and had dreams to become inventors. Edison’s inventions were a success, but Henry’s seemed to flop. Throughout the story Henry asks himself, “What’s his secret?” The secret, finally shared between the two over dinner one night, helps Henry learn the power of perseverance. The end pages provide additional facts about Thomas and Henry and their inventions.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas

I have been anticipating the release of this picture book because I loved, both the story and the writing in the author's chapter book, The Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier. This picture book was just as imaginative and beautifully written. It's a story about the Uncorker, a lonely man living above the ocean whose job it is to deliver bottles found at sea. The Uncorker is unable to deliver a message, and although he feels quite sorry about this, the outcome ends up bringing him much more happiness than he expected. This is just a lovely story about togetherness and celebrations.

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

As a young child Lonnie Johnson loved to build and create. He later achieved his dream of becoming an engineer even in the face of challenges. When he invented the super-soaker water gun, he again did not let challenges get in his way as he tried to make it a success. This true story of an inventor shows the benefits of effort, problem solving and persistence.

Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang by Victoria Coe

I have been looking forward to reading this sequel to Fenway and Hattie. Thanks to the author, Victoria Coe, I received an Advanced Reader Copy last week. In this story, Hattie has a new pet, a bunny who Fenway thinks is evil. Fenway's confusion about the bunny soon grows into jealousy that leads to trouble for both Fenway and Hattie. As in the first book, the story is told from the perspective of Fenway giving the reader insight into the mind of a dog. The emotions that Fenway expresses give this book heart and the imaginative look at how he tries to figure out the human world makes it an interesting read. 

The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore

The science fiction, dystopia genre is not usually one that I choose to read, but I received this book at the International Literacy Association when I attended a meet-up with a group of middle grade authors. I probably would not have read this book if I had not met the author and been given the book, but once I began reading it I could not stop. There is so much imagination in the pages of the book and there is a bit of a mystery, as well. When I got to the end of the book, I still wanted to know more about the characters so I was glad to hear from the author on Twitter that there will be a sequel.

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

This graphic novel is a blend of realistic fiction and fantasy that tells a meaningful story of two sisters, one who is unhappy about moving to a new town and another with a life-threatening disease. It's about ghosts, but also family, friendship, and courage. The graphics are wonderful, pulling me into the foggy, ghost-filled atmosphere and the Day of the Dead celebration to enhance my experience of reading the story. This story is both engaging and touching.

Wish by Barbara O'Connor

Charlie, whose own parents are not able to give her adequate care, has just moved to a new town to live with an aunt and uncle she hardly knows. She desperately wants to go back to her old life and her temper often gets the best of her. A stray dog and an unlikely friend help her learn about family and kindness. There was not a character in this book I did not like and the plot was interesting. Although Charlie's situation will pull at your heart strings, this is a sweet and heart-warming story.

Monday, September 12, 2016

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 MentorTexts and Unleashing Readers.

What I Read This Week…

How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett

This book explains the process that an author goes through when creating a book. The book weaves factual information about the process along with a lot of humor and exaggeration. The reader will learn about the process of book creation and the persistence and effort necessary to be a writer. The story is amusing and fanciful, as well, as there is a tiger, pirates, and an eagle all involved in the creation of the book. This is an informative and fun look at how a book is made.

Quinny and Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen

Quinny is unhappy that her family has just moved, but soon learns there is a boy her age living next door. Although they are very different from each other they soon become friends and begin working together to solve a problem. When the school year begins, they must work through difficulties in their friendship. There are amusing parts to this story of friendship and characters to which many students will be able to relate. There is a sequel, as well. 

The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder

This is a twist on the Cinderella tale bringing to life the story of the rats, from the original version, who were turned into coachmen. The story alternates between the perspective of Prince Char, rat prince of the Northern Kingdom, and Cinderella. The rats, in this version of the fairytale, have much more than a minor role in Cinderella's adventure as she attends the ball and finds her prince charming. This is fun, magical, and enchanting retelling.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Slice of Life: Sharing My Summer Reading Life

Imagine learning to knit from someone who has never picked up knitting needles. Or imagine learning to ski from an instructor who has never put on skis. Or learning to drive a car from an instructor who has never been behind the wheel. I imagine these are not the instructors any of us would choose if we wanted to knit, ski, or drive. When learning a skill, I’m sure we would all prefer someone we consider an expert because they themselves know the skill. They’ve learned it, practiced it, and spent hours engaged in it. A few years ago, I took tennis lessons. I considered my instructor, someone who played tennis, watched others play, and studied the sport, to be an expert. Because my instructor had experience with the game of tennis he could teach me the skill, but in addition, he also had an enthusiasm for the sport that made me eager to learn and get better.  

I was once talking with a second grade teacher and the subject of reading came up. I expected the conversation to take a turn in which we shared what we were currently reading and exchanged must-read titles. I always love a conversation about books, but this one was cut short when the teacher expressed the fact that she doesn’t read. I managed to stifle a gasp, but I don’t think I could hide the expression of disbelief on my face. I have always been passionate about books and reading and up until this moment assumed that all those who teach students to read have this same love. I believe that students who are learning to read also need experts, those who engage in reading themselves and have passion for books, much like my instructor who taught me to be a better tennis player. This to me, is a necessity for developing readers.

This school year just began and I am excited about sharing the titles I have read throughout summer vacation with my students at my school. I have read a handful of books every week so I can talk about books with my students and make recommendations. Just a few days into the school year and I have already started to put books into the hands of students. I was talking with a student who has read and enjoyed Dork Diaries so I gave her a book in the author’s newest series, The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero. When I asked a student who is new to our school about her reading interests and she stated she likes comics and books with action, I went right to the basket labeled “graphic novels” and pulled out Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth. As she walked away with the book tucked under her arm I said, “I think you are really going to like it.” I have every confidence that she will because I myself have read the book and know it matches with her reading interests.

Every student learning to read should have a teacher who reads. As a reader, I have insight into the reading process that helps me better teach students skills and strategies. As a reader, I am a model for my students. Through the experiences I share about my reading, my students can see what it means to have a reading life and begin to understand the joy in having such a life. Because I read I also have expertise that enables me to match books with readers. I can talk up books that I have read, leaving students wondering about the plot, to hook them into wanting to read them. There are quite a few books that I want to share with my students this year because they are books that I loved and books that I think my students will love (Here is a padlet with some of the books from my summer reading list.) As the beginning of this school year rolls on, I will continue to have conversations with students about their summer reading. In these conversations, I will share with students what I have read during the summer in hopes that they will become excited about books, add titles to their reading lists, and see possibilities for growing their own reading lives.