Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/30

Every week Jen and Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts host a meme for people to post about the young adult and kid lit reading they are doing.  Go on over and check out their blog!

I did not get to post last Monday so I will be talking about my last two weeks of reading.

Nonfiction books I read:

Even before the Common Core, I knew I had to bring more nonfiction into my classroom.  Now that I have had more time to really dive into these standards, I know it will be crucial to have students doing more nonfiction reading.  I enjoyed both of these books and will recommend them to students.

Fiction I read:

Bird by Angela Johnson is a short and easy read.  Bird has run away from home because she is following her step-dad who just left one day.  She can't understand why he left.  She is camping out in a barn and sneaking food from the farmhouse when the family is gone.  I love Angela Johnson's ability to get into the minds of young people and to deal with very difficult subjects in a straightforward way.  I will recommend this one to reluctant readers this fall.

Whirligig by Paul Fleischman is a book about retribution.  When his classmate Brianna rejects him at a party, Brent feels humiliated.  In his intoxicated state, he drives erratically and decides that he doesn't want to live anymore.  His attempt at suicide actually causes a fatal crash that does not kill him, but kills the young woman in the other car.   He is surprised in the trial when the woman's mother suggests a way for him to make retribution for the crash.  He sets out on a road trip around the country.  Meanwhile, the reader is given glimpses into the lives of the people who are affected by the gifts he leaves in different spots throughout the country.  This is a book about how a rash decision and stupid mistake can forever change your life.  I was pleasantly surprised by the uplifting feeling that I had while reading this book about a very serious subject.  I was reminded of Touching Spirit Bear while reading and could possibly see doing a unit about justice using these two texts.

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer is a great realistic fiction book.  Hope has lived all her life with her aunt who works in restaurants.  They have moved multiple times and Hope has had to adjust to many places.  In the latest move, Hope and her aunt are moving from Brooklyn to a small town in Wisconsin.  Joan Bauer does an excellent job with characterization in this book.  I loved Hope and all of her friends.  I will definitely recommend this book to students this year.

I was looking for digital books to borrow so that I could just bring my Kindle on my trip and I was pleasantly surprised that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs was available for check-out.  The cover of this book is so intriguing and I have almost bought it multiple times.  The book is an interesting story which mixes mystery with fantasy and science fiction.  I enjoyed the book but it was different from what I thought it would be.  I will be interested to see where the author takes the story in the next book.

I started reading this book at 9pm on my last night in Denver.  I expected to read a chapter or two and then go to sleep so I would be able to get up bright and early the next morning.  Instead, I stayed up until 2:30am finishing this book.  This does not happen to me often anymore.  I was sucked into this book and just had to know what was going to happen.  I am excited to read the next book to see if it will have the same effect on me.  I appreciated the realistic, not-very-optimistic look at what a post-apocalyptic world would be like.

Hound Dog True by Linda Urban is a great middle grades novel.  It is a cute story and I enjoyed reading it.  I would recommend it to students in grades 4-5.

I moved this book up to the top of my to-read pile because of the multiple times I read recommendations from Colby Sharp.  I really enjoyed Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson.  This story is a riveting story of a young girl who moves to Montana to try to prove up a homestead claim.  Hattie is a courageous and big-hearted character who has wonderful friends and neighbors.  This historical fiction novel is an excellent glimpse at what live in the West was like in 1918.  I will definitely recommend this book to students this year.

I enjoy John Grisham thrillers and have been curious about this book since it came out.  I enjoyed reading this book and I think that Grisham did a pretty good job getting in the mind of this 8th grader.  The premise is a little unrealistic, but Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer was an entertaining read and I will recommend it to my students.

The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L Going is a book about being brave and standing up to bullies.  It is set in the time of integration and Gabriel is best friends with the one African American girl in their class, Frita.  This causes him to be the victim of bullying by boys who have racist parents, but he has had a break from the bullies this year because they moved on to fifth grade in the upper school.  Gabriel decides that he does not want to get moved up to fifth grade if that means that these boys will be in the same school with him again.  Frita works to convince Gabriel that it will be okay and that he needs to move up to fifth grade.  Over the summer they work to overcome their fears...some of their ideas work out and some don't.  This is a good look at some of the hate that existed during this trying time in history.  It is a short read and I would recommend it to students grade 5 and up.

I finished listening to Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.  I had not heard of this book or this author before.  I was glad to get this free download and enjoyed listening to this story.  I will definitely look for more books by this author in the future.  The mystery was fun and I know kids will enjoy the creepy ghost story.

Professional Books Finished This Week:

Chris Tovani has many great ideas in her books.  I had to read Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? because in her newest book about assessment she references some ideas from this one.  I love the way she keeps track of group discussions and helps students learn how to have effective discussions.  

Books I am currently reading:

A Step From Heaven by An Na---I officially have stopped the Newbery challenge and decided to work on Printz books instead.  I will read all the books I have that are on that list and then look for the rest.  

Real Revision by Kate Messner---This will be an excellent resource for the coming school year.  

Clock Watchers by Stephanie Quate and John McDermott---I was lucky enough to be in a session with these two dynamic authors.  Their ideas are very much aligned with what I believe in my classroom and I am enjoying reading about some new ideas to incorporate.  

Books on the horizon:  Whatever strikes my fancy from my numerous to-read choices.

Bookaday update---In 46 days so far of summer break I have read 65 books:  19 picture books and graphic novels, 7 professional books, and 39 novels or nonfiction chapter books.


  1. I love so many of these books. Hattie Big Sky and An American Plague are two of my favorite Newbery honor choices. Can't wait to read Anna Dressed in Blood although I've heard the audibook is iffy.

  2. Definitely visit Nonfiction Monday, and look at the Cybils Middle Grade Nonfiction lists. There were some that I absolutely loved-- Blizzard of Glass was really interesting, and I still don't know why. I've pushed nonfiction for years, just because I like it, but now we have Common Core to make it even more important.

  3. That's a whole heck of a lot of books. Good for you! (I'm trying really hard to just make my way through a 500+ pg. novel right now while taking care of everything else.)

  4. What a great couple of reading weeks! I love Jim Murphy's nonfiction books and I really want to read Chasing Lincoln's Killer- I had a student a couple of years ago that LOVED that book.

    As for your fiction books, I still have a bunch of them I need to read, but I loved Hound Dog, Hattie, Hope, Forest, and Anna- they are so different, but all very good.

    Happy reading this week! :) I haven't read any of the ones you plan to read- looking forward to hearing about them.