Monday, June 17, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

If I Was the Sunshine by Julie Fogliano

This is a beautifully poetic book. It's a celebration of nature and love. The illustrations give this book a joyful and cozy feel and the clever metaphors will give readers something to ponder. 

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

Jamie, who has broken a major school rule, has been assigned to do community service at the library and she's less than thrilled about it. Despite her disinclination, she learns about the library and the staff and regular patrons who make it feel like a community. This is a heartfelt book that will delight book lovers or librarians, but there are lessons that middle grade readers can take away from it as well. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.


Recent Reads...


Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris

While being curious about the river, Bear accidentally falls in, starting off an adventure in which other woodland animals unexpectedly join in. The animals' adventure has a moment of suspense, but ends in fun. This is a charming book that shows the positives of connection with others. There is humor in both the text and the illustrations. The use of color is interesting, too, as the book starts of with mostly grays and browns and gets increasingly more colorful. I shared this with first graders last week and they enjoyed it and had great ideas about the lesson of the book.


The Peculiar Pig by Joy Steuerwald

Penny is quite different from her pig siblings. Although Mama Pig loves the little dachshund as much as the others, the piglets find Penny very peculiar. To the piglets' surprise, it turns out that peculiar saves the day. This is a sweet book with a lesson about how differences can be strengths. The illustrations are the cutest. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.


Untitled by Timothy Young

A coatimundi and a capybara are waiting for the author to start writing and liven up their story. While they wait they imagine the adventures they would like to go on. A twist at the end gives them an unexpected surprise and has them hoping for a sequel. The book is funny and will likely lead readers to want to research the two types of animals featured in the book. Thanks to the generosity of the author, Timothy Young, I received a copy of the book to share with my students.


Finding Orion by John David Anderson

Rion Kwirk feels that he doesn't fit in with his quite unusual family. Even the funeral of Rion's grandfather, Papa Kwirk, proves to be unconventional. It leads to an adventure as the family goes on a scavenger hunt through which they discover more about Papa Kwirk's life. This is a quirky, but heart-warming story about family and forgiveness. I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book, thanks to Nicole at Bluestocking Thinking and the publisher.

Monday, June 3, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...


The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes

A boy is beginning his first day of kindergarten. From the moment he wakes and throughout his day of learning and interacting with friends, the boy exudes confidence and enthusiasm. Showing the delights and possibilities that the first day of school can bring, this book can help to ease first day jitters. The book reads like poetry and the illustrations are bright and joyful. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of the book. The book publishes in July.

Awesome Dog 5000 (Book 1) by Justin Dean

Marty and his friends discover a robot dog which leads them to an adventure in which they are battling the evil super villain, Dr. Crazybrains. There is lots of action, but also lots of kid humor. The short chapters and illustrations will also make this a book that appeals to many kids. It publishes in July. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy.

Sea Sirens (A Trot and Cap'n Bill Adventure) by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee

While Trot surfs with her cat, Bill, she keeps her eye on grandfather who has dementia. When a wave takes them under, Trot and Bill find themselves in a magical underwater world ruled by the Sea Sirens. The kingdom of the Sea Sirens is enchanting and beautiful, but also dangerous as they have been at war with the Serpents for years. Trot and Bill must face the Serpents when grandfather's life is put at risk. This graphic novel is gorgeously illustrated and the ending promises a future adventure. 

Refugee 87 by Ele Fountain

In an unnamed country, the military has taken control. Shif's mother has hatched a plan for him to escape, but before he can do so he's captured by the military along with his friend Bini and they are both thrown into a prison. This is a story of courage, survival, and friendship that is heart-wrenching, but ends on a note of hope. The book is marketed as appropriate for ages eight through twelve, but I think readers at the younger end of this range may find Shif's situation frightening. It's a gripping, honest read that gives insight into the refugee experience.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Summer Professional Reading

I try to stay current on best practice and research related to literacy instruction all year by reading as much as I can on the topic. The school year can be extremely busy, so I find I don't always have as much time for reading professional books during these months as I would like. With more flexible days, summer provides the perfect opportunity to delve into professional reading. These are the books that are on my to-be-read list for the upcoming summer.

Books I Plan to Read...


The Art of Comprehension: Exploring Visual Texts to Foster Comprehension, Conversation, and Confidence by Trevor Andrew Bryan

I have gotten to talk with Trevor about his book and with a teacher who has implemented some of his ideas and I am really intrigued. Many of the books I read on literacy instruction confirm a lot of what I know about teaching kids to read and write, but I'm thinking this book will give me a perspective I haven't thought about before.

Brain Words: How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching by J. Richard Gentry and Gene P. Ouellette

I am fascinated by how the brain is able to learn the complex process of reading. This book is on my summer reading list because I want to know more about the research concerning the brain and how children learn to read.

Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen

I have read Sonja and Dana's previous books and seen them present and they always have practical suggestions for enhancing literacy instruction. I am looking forward to their thoughts on implementing book clubs.

Building Bigger Ideas: A Process for Teaching Purposeful Talk by Maria Nichols

Engaging students in authentic conversations that drive their literacy learning can be a challenge, so I find books about classroom talk useful. I'm hoping to read this book for some new ideas.

Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms by Paula Bourque

Students need frequent opportunities to write to build their writing fluency and to grow their skills as writers. Providing opportunities for students to engage in "quick writes," low-stakes writing, is something I've always wanted to incorporate more into my lessons. I'm hoping this book gives me the jumpstart I need.

Understanding Texts and Readers: Responsive Comprehension Instruction with Leveled Text by Jennifer Serravallo

This book is on my list because I bought it months ago and still have not gotten around to reading it. Leveled texts are great tools when there is thought and care put into how they are used within literacy instruction. This book is sure to enhance my thinking around the use of leveled texts.

Monday, May 20, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Camp Tiger by Susan Choi

While on a camping trip in the mountains with his family, a boy reflects on his worries related to growing up including starting first grade and having to do things on his own. As the family sets up their camp site, a tiger suddenly appears. The boy forms a bond with the tiger who accompanies them on family outings. With the tiger at his side, the boy accomplishes what he thinks he can't and learns to become more independent. This is a poetic and whimsical story about growing up.

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker

Olympia's father has suddenly taken off to France and her mother is no longer getting out of bed. As Olympia tries to figure out why her father left, she is also trying to live her life as normally as possible even though she knows something is wrong with her mother. Olympia's story is one of a girl dealing with her mother's depression, but it's also the story of a girl who, with the support of those around her, finds her way. There is also an interesting story line about art and her father's involvement in an art-related mystery. The book publishes in June. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with a review copy.

Camp Average by Craig Battle

This is a fun book about summer camp and sports. Mack has just arrived at Camp Avalon and is looking forwarding to chilling with the other campers and engaging in a lot of water sports.  He is totally fine with the fact that the camp is known as Camp Average because the sports teams never win. This year turns out to be a lot different when a competitive camp director decides the campers are going to start winning and assigns them each a sport to play. Mack is not a very happy camper when he finds out he will only be allowed to play baseball while at camp, but he involves the entire team in a plan to ensure they keep losing and hopefully get back the right to make their own schedules. I think middle grade readers will enjoy this story about kids standing up for themselves and learning life lessons.

Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers by Pseudonymous Bosch

Oliver is not very good at magic, but his friends got him a gig as the magician at a classmate's birthday party. While at the party, one of the birthday boy's presents has been stolen and Oliver and his friends become suspects. They promise to find the real culprit, but must do it before the final magic performance which only gives them thirteen minutes. With a silly plot and interesting characters, including a talking rabbit, this is a book kids will find humorous. It's on the shorter side with lots of illustrations. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for a review copy.

Monday, May 13, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds

Every time I read a recently published book by Peter H. Reynolds, it becomes a new favorite. This inspirational book shows the many ways to use one's voice to make a difference in the world. I love this book because I think it will be useful to start discussions about the power of voice and the necessity of working to make the world a better place and also because it has such an empowering message.

Harold and Hog Pretend for Real! by Dan Santat and Mo Willems

Fans of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems will appreciate this book. Elephant and Piggie find a book about an elephant and a pig. They read the book in which the elephant and pig, otherwise known as Harold and Hog, are pretending to be them. Like the Elephant and Piggie books, it's told through dialogue and easy to read. It's a lot of fun, but also highlights friendship.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Jay's cousin, who lives in the Philippines, has been murdered. He's not only devastated, but confused as to why no one will tell him what really happened. In his search for the truth, he travels to the Philippines where the story of his cousin's life and death unravels piece by piece. This is a story about grief and the desire to find the truth, but it also explores the struggles with understanding one's identity. It's a compelling read, but also one that gave me insight into the culture and politics of the Philippines. Thanks to the publisher for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in June.

Monday, May 6, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Hair Love by Matthew Cherry 

Zuri is proud of her beautiful hair that makes her feel like a princess and a superhero. It's a big day for Zuri and she needs her hair to be really special. It's up to her father to figure out how to give her the perfect do. This is such a charming story. Both, Zuri's confidence and her father's patience getting her hairstyle just right, are delightful. Vashti Harrison's illustrations are full of love. Thanks to the publisher, Kokila, for sending my book review group, #BookExcursion, a review copy. The book publishes in May.

My Papi Has a Motorcyle by Isabel Quintero 

This is another book that celebrates the love between daughter and father. As Daisy journeys through her neighborhood on the back of her father's motorcycle, it's also a tribute to the city, Corona, California, where the author grew up. This slice of life story shows a girl experiencing the joys of a beautiful city and a lively community. With the details of the comic-book-like illustrations and the inclusion of Spanish words, it almost feels like one is along for the ride with Daisy and her father. This is a sweet, joyful story. Thanks to the publisher, Kokila, for a review copy. The book publishes in May.

Bruce's Big Fun Day (World of Reading Level 1) by Ryan T. Higgins

I was very excited to see a beginning reader book featuring Mother Bruce, a character who my students love from Ryan T. Higgins's picture book series. Bruce is grumpy, as always, and Nibbs has a plan to cheer him up. The two friends engage in a variety of activities, but nothing seems to please the very disagreeable Bruce. Although one likes fun and the other likes being grumpy, Bruce and Nibbs end their day on a positive note. The illustrations are hilarious. Thanks to the publisher, Disney Hyperion, I read an advance reader's copy. The book publishes in June.

Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

Mina has been chosen to be a storm guardian, one of the kids who control the weather in the community of Alorria. She is surprised to find out that her beast, which she will guide to produce the weather, is a lightning beast. Lightning guardians are loud and brave and Mina does not see herself that way at all. She is excited, but unsure of herself as she leaves her family for her training, but when she takes action to right a wrong she proves she is braver than she thinks. This is an adventurous and imaginative book with a great message about believing in oneself and learning to be strong. Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy. The book publishes this month.

Monday, April 29, 2019

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 or follow on Twitter at #imwayr.

Recent Reads...

Dandy by Ame Dyckman

Anything by Ame Dyckman is sure to be funny and this book does not disappoint. Daddy spies a dandelion, a weed that must be gotten rid of. Sweetie, on the other hand, has made friends with what she sees as a flower and even named it Charlotte. Daddy tries hard to get rid of the dandelion, but Sweetie always seems to be around, napping, reading, or eating with the flower. Daddy finally gets the perfect opportunity, but by now even he is seeing the plant as more than just a weed. The illustrations are very humorous. This book will have readers laughing, but the relationship between Daddy and Sweetie (and Charlotte) is sweet, too.

The Great Indoors by Julie Falatko

Julie Falatko is another author I love for her humorous stories. In her newest book, the forest animals are taking a vacation inside the house of a family who are away on vacation themselves. With a roof over their heads, the animals relax and engage in many human activities. They have dance parties, eat ice cream and casseroles, and take advantage of the cell phone reception. Although they find some peace, they also realize life in the great indoors is not so simple. This is an amusing read.

Just Like My Brother by Gianna Marino

Two giraffe siblings play a game of hide-and-seek. As the younger giraffe asks other animals if they've seen his brother, he expresses the admirable traits of his bigger brother. The illustrations are fun, clueing in readers to a surprise that's coming for the young giraffe. This is a sweet tribute to big brothers.

Home is a Window by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard

The lyrical text of this book describes the many things that a home is. From a hug to the washing, rinsing, and drying to a book before falling asleep, home is everything that is familiar and warm and cozy. The illustrations also tell the story at the heart of this book by showing a family moving to a new place. This is lovely story that explores the true meaning of home and celebrates the joy of making a new place one's home.

Tree of Dreams by Laura Resau

Coco loves being at her mother's chocolate shop and concocting her own chocolate delicacies. Now that a donut shop has opened up nearby and the chocolate shop has less customers, her mother is likely going to close it up for good. When Coco dreams about an ancient tree in the Amazon rain forest, she thinks she has found a way to save the shop. Coco then gets the opportunity to travel to the rain forest so she can search for the tree of her dreams, but where she ends up learning a lot about the destruction and harm that's taking place there. This book, highlighting the environmental issues surrounding the rain forest, shows the importance of caring for our world and also how it's possible to make a difference. It's also a story of friendship and hope. At the end of the book, the author describes her extensive research of the Amazon and the inspiration for her story.

Monday, April 22, 2019

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 on Twitter at #imwayr. 

Recent Reads...


I Will Race You Through This Book! by Jonathan Fenske

Book-It Bunny is racing the reader through his book and he has plenty of tricks up his sleeve to try to take the lead. This book brings readers along for an adventure and has plenty of humor. Early readers will have success with the short text. I'm looking forward to sharing it with my first graders because I know they will love it and want to read it again and again. Thanks to the publisher, Penguin Young Readers, for a review copy.

Papa Put a Man on the Moon by Kristy Dempsey

Marthanne's father has gotten a job making the fabric that will be part of the Appollo spacesuits. While her father thinks of it as just a job, Marthanne knows what he is doing is special. This book honors the small contribution of an everyday person that helped to put the first man on the moon. It also is a sweet story of young girl who is proud of her father.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Having both read it and heard him recite it, I think Kwame Alexander's poetry is amazing and this book, written as a poem, is nothing short of that. It's a powerful tribute to black Americans who have triumphed throughout history. Kadir Nelson's illustrations, full of strength and hope, are gorgeous. There's a glossary at the end of the book providing some additional information about the historical figures and events that are featured throughout the pages of the book.

The Story Web by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Like Megan Frazer Blakemore's The Firefly Code books, I was hooked on this one from the beginning. Alice's father has gone away and she believes it's her fault. She doesn't talk about him much, but she remembers his tales about the story web. When animals in the woods of her town start acting strangely, Alice realizes the story web is more than a tale. This is a magical book about how stories connect us and the importance of honoring the truth. It's also the story of a girl who knows the power of being brave, bold, and fierce. Thanks to the publisher, Bloomsbury, for an advance reader's copy of the book. It publishes in June.

Monday, April 15, 2019

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 on Twitter at #imwayr. 


Recent Reads...

The Little Red Stroller by Joshua Furst

Luna has a little red stroller to go to school, the playground, and the shops she visits along the avenue with her mother. When she outgrows it, she passes it on to a neighbor. The red stroller continues to be passed from family to family. This book is a celebration of sharing and community and highlights the diversity of families and neighborhoods.

¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market by Raúl the Third III

Follow Little Lobo and his dog as they deliver supplies to the market. They make many stops at the busy Mexican market, which is both warm and inviting, where they interact with the various vendors throughout their day. This book offers insight into the Mexican culture and an introduction to the Spanish language. The illustrations are very detailed. This book will be read again and again and readers will notice new details every time.

Flubby is Not a Good Pet! by J. E. Morris

Flubby is a rather unmotivated cat. He doesn't sing, catch, or jump like other pets do. He doesn't even run when it starts to rain. Flubby doesn't seem like a good pet, until the storm makes Kami realize just why they need each other. Told with short sentences and dialogue, this is a book that early readers will find success with and help build their confidence as they build their reading skills. There is an additional book in the series, Flubby Will Not Play With That. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for providing my book review group, #BookExcursion, with review copies.

Greytone Secrets #1: The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Siblings, Chess, Emma, and Finn, learn that three children who live states away, but share the same birthdays and first and middle names as them have been kidnapped. The next day their mother mysteriously leaves for a work trip. The situation gets even more mysterious when Chess, Emma, and Finn begin to realize their mother isn't coming back and they discover a tunnel in their house that leads to an alternate world. The story keeps the reader guessing as the mystery of three children and three strangers to whom they may have a connection unfolds. There is suspense and action and an ending that leaves the reader wanting to read the next book.