Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1/28/13

This weekly meme is hosted by the lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.  Head over there for more great ideas of kid literature and young adult books to add to your TBR.

Books I Finished This Week:

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson.  I have an advanced copy from netgalley and will publish a more in-depth review closer to the March publication date.  Let me just say that I LOVE 19th century literature...I gobbled up the Romantic novels of that period when I was younger.  Gothic novels were so popular during this time period in literature and I have read every last one I could get my hands on.  Had I gone on to get a PhD in English, this would have been my focus for research and publication.  Jane Nickerson wrote a book that could fit right in with the classics such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights for the Gothic elements included.  This book is a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale and is told in such a way that it made me immediately want to dig out my copy of Jane Eyre to reread that classic.  Not everybody is going to love this book as much as I did, nor will everyone appreciate the gothic elements as I did when reading, but I think this author deserves recognition for what had to be a very intentional decision to write using these elements.  I will absolutely be buying this one when it comes out and sharing it with everyone I know.

*This one gave me a bit of a book hangover so my list is a little shorter this week :)

The gruesome pictures on the cover of this one caught my eye.  I am working on a research unit with my students and I have a student who is interested in Forensic Science so I will definitely be bringing this one for her to use.  Forensic Identification:Putting a Name and Face on Death by Elizabeth Murray is a (somewhat gruesome) non-fiction picture book.  The book presents case studies and describes the way that investigators go about positively identifying bodies.  I found some of the writing a bit dry but I was very interested in the information and learned quite a bit about the process.

This one is part of the Printz challenge I am doing.  I was intrigued by the cover of Stolen: A Letter to My Captor and picked it up at the last Scholastic warehouse sale.  Gemma is kidnapped from the Bankok airport and wakes up in the middle of the desert.  Over the next days and weeks she gets to know her captor and realizes that she is in an impossible situation.  The book is written as a letter Gemma writes to her captor.  This novel is an exploration of what it might be like to be a kidnap victim with Stockholm syndrome.  I would highly recommend this book to adolescents and adults alike.

Books I am Currently Reading:
The Runaway King is definitely starting to pick up...I am sure I will be done with this one soon.  I am still reading Energize and Adventures in Graphica as well.

What's Next?
Whatever floats my boat this week.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Printz Challenge: Stolen

Title: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor
Author: Lucy Christopher
Publication: May 4, 2009
Source: Bought at Scholastic Warehouse Sale

Goodreads Summary:
It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

My Thoughts: This book was compelling. I was caught up quickly in the action of the story and suffered with Gemma as she woke up in the outback. I liked the point of view in the story. The format of a letter written to her captor really brings the reader into the action of the story and gives the reader a glimpse of her emotional struggles. I agree with the summary that the Australian Outback becomes almost a character in the book and it made me want to see this amazing desert for myself. It was disturbing to think about the lengths that someone might go to in abducting another person. I love the way that the author revealed a little at a time to the reader just as it was revealed to Gemma. I absolutely recommend this book to teens and adults alike--it is a look into the complex emotions of a victim with Stockholm syndrome.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Supporting Adolescent Readers: Small Victories Keep Us Moving Forward

     As a reader, I understand the importance of the lessons learned from books.  I read to learn about life and to travel the world.  I read to improve my craft in whatever area I am currently interested in.  I read in Spanish to keep up my fluency in Spanish.  I get a lot from books and I work very hard to share that with my students.

    As an 8th grade teacher, I work to set up a workshop approach in my classroom.  I advocate for what I know to be the best support for my students in reading---time to READ.  Every year, I work to establish our independent reading time and to make my students understand that reading is power and they need to read.  I work hard and think of myself as a book dealer, because I am always pushing books into the hands of my students.  I watch and notice and talk to students and can tell you the exact moment that a student loses interest in a book.  I cajole and book talk and wax poetic about the virtues of the awesome books we have in the class library. Sometimes it gets frustrating because I have to work so hard to get these kids to read, but then I take a step back and remember to celebrate the small steps and feel better.

Some recent small victories that I have had include:

    "I didn't understand it so I am reading this book now."  This simple sentence started a party in my head the other day.  The student who spoke these words was one who I have been coaching since the beginning of the year.  He consistently has been choosing books that are too hard for him.  He gets about twenty pages in and he decides the book is "boring" and abandons it.  I have had numerous conversations with him about his book choices and why he thinks he starts to get bored with so many books.  We have talked about monitoring comprehension and he always comes away from the conference determined to keep track of his thinking, but pretty soon I see the book set aside and a new book in his hands.  The only books that he has finished this year are graphic novels.   This is fine with me, but he continues to want to read other books that are too hard for him.  So now, in January, I was ecstatic to hear him admit to me that he did not understand a book.  I see this as a huge step in the right direction for him.  Slowly but surely he is learning to monitor his comprehension so that he knows when he understands. This is a dormant reader learning to enjoy reading instead of going through the motions but always missing the boat.

    Another student came back to school after winter break and told me she had bought books with her iTunes gift cards over the holidays.  This student had only finished graphic novels so far this year and had abandoned every other book she picked up.  Now, in January, she has finished 2 novels on her iPod.  I was thrilled with the accomplishment and we celebrated together when she finished each one.  The decision that this student made to buy books when she could have bought music or movies showed me that her mindset has changed and she is becoming a reader.

     "I have read 5 books this year.  Before I had never finished a book.  I didn't used to like reading but now I am coming around to reading more." These are lines from a letter to me about reading from a student who did everything in his power to avoid reading at the beginning of the year.  This is powerful stuff.  Maybe he won't finish the 40 book challenge this year, but he is becoming a reader who is making plans for his next book and learning his book preferences.

    And then there are the three girls that have this determination to meet the goal of reading 40 books this year.  Two of the three have learning disabilities and IEP goals in the area of reading.  All three are devouring books this year and sharing with each other.  We have had conversations about how overwhelmed we all feel with all the great books that we want to read.  I have watched as the books they are reading have started to get thicker and a little harder.  They recommend books to each other and to the class.  They all have siblings that they are starting to influence to read more also.  They eagerly discuss the books they are reading with me and rate their books as they go.  These are three voracious readers that will continue these habits into their adult lives because they have figured out that there is magic in reading.

All in all, I have a class of 28 urban 8th graders of whom 2 were avid readers when the year started.  Now, there are 4 that are still waking up from being dormant readers and 24 who are avid readers.  I will celebrate the success and continue to work to find the book that will wake up the few that remain.

What small victories have you had lately? Don't forget to celebrate the small steps so that you won't be bogged down with what there is left to do.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: What We Saw At Night

Title: What We Saw At Night
Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard
Publishing Date: January 8, 2013
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads Summary:
     Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.”
     On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.

My Thoughts:  I was really excited to see this title on the shelves in Netgalley.  I remember when The Deep End of the Ocean was first published because my mother went out and bought it right away.  She had been reading Jacquelyn Mitchard's columns in our local paper for years and was really excited to read her first book.  This was the first time I saw my mother that excited for a book release.  I read that book right after my mother did and was impressed with the depth of character and suspense in her debut novel.  When I saw that she had written a young adult title, I just had to try it out.  I love that this also reminded me about a great author who has written many novels that I need to look for now.

     This book really appealed to my love of murder mysteries and psychological thrillers.  I was really drawn in by these teenage characters who seek thrills to feel alive.  The mystery behind the secrets that they have seen unwinds a little at a time and had me hooked.  Allie is definitely a teenager and annoys the adult in me by not seeking help sooner, but I know that teens will identify with that.  All in all, this was a fantastic read and I will be desperately waiting to find out what happens next.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

This weekly meme is hosted by the lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.  Head over there for more great ideas of kid literature and young adult books to add to your TBR.

This was a slow reading week for me.  I was focusing on school towards the beginning of the week and then I got an awful stomach virus and was unable to do much reading.  I also tackled a big book so there are less books but maybe a similar amount of pages.

Books I Finished this week:

I have had this book since the cover caught my eye at a library sale a few months ago.  Then, while on Twitter, I realized from what someone said that it is a novel in verse.  I knew I could get through the book quickly and wanted to read more novels in verse so I picked it up.  All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg is a beautiful novel.  It tells the story of a young boy who was airlifted out of Vietnam and now has an adoptive family in the USA.  It is so haunting to think of all the people that were psychologically damaged by that war and the author treats this subject in such a beautiful way.  I love that with a little bit of background knowledge young people will learn about this really important part of history.  I highly recommend this one.

What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard is a fun thriller.  I got this one on netgalley and will be seeking it out to purchase for my class library.  The main character in the book has XP, a rare disorder in which she is allergic to sunlight.  She and her friends go out after dark because that is when they can be outside.  The three of them start to do Parkour for fun and enjoy their stunts until one night they see something they shouldn't have seen.  This book has twists and turns and keeps you on the edge of your seat.  It also is the start of a series and now I am chomping at the bit for the next one!

I enjoyed reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  I loved reading about the Southern town and their particular ways of thinking.  I also loved the fantasy element and the mystery involved in the story.  In a lot of ways this book reminded me of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.  I will definitely recommend this one to fans of Twilight and others who just want a good mystery/fantasy to read.

Books I am currently reading:

I am still reading Energize: Research Reading and Writing by Chris Lehman.  There are so many great ideas in this book.  I needed to slow down and take some notes with this one.  I am also still reading Adventures in Graphica by Terry Thompson.  There are a lot of good points in this one about how graphic novels are a great medium to help teach comprehension.  I also just started the book Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson.  It is also a netgalley book which has a publishing date of March 12, 2013.  So far, I am really liking this retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale.

On the Horizon:
I am not sure what I will choose to read this week.  I was just approved for a netgalley of The Runaway King so I will most likely read that but otherwise I will see what I feel like reading.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1/14

This weekly meme is hosted by the lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.  Head over there for more great ideas of kid literature and young adult books to add to your TBR.

Books I Finished This Week:

I was really interested in reading Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi both because of the Printz challenge and because the cover was so interesting.  This book is well-written and beautiful while at the same time quite disturbing.  It took me quite a while to get into the story in part because the world in the book is so bleak.  Once I was invested, the story picked up for me and I found myself reading quickly so that I could see what would happen to Nailer.  This is definitely a dark vision of a post-apocalyptic world.  I will certainly recommend this one to teens and adults alike, although it wasn't exactly my cup of tea.

Thanks to netgalley I was able to read Bruised by Sarah Skilton which will be released on March 5th, 2013.  I highly recommend this book for teens.  Imogen is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  She was the youngest student in her dojang to reach this belt level.  She has dedicated her life to the study of martial arts and she is quite proud of herself.  Then one day she is in a restaurant at closing time and a gunman enters the place to hold it up.  Imogen feels like she did not do enough to help the situation and is living with the guilt she feels after this traumatic situation.  This is a really interesting look at what a trauma like this can do to a teenager.  I was fascinated with this story throughout the entire novel.  I will absolutely be looking for this book to buy it for my class library as soon as it comes out.

I ordered this series from a Scholastic catalog for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  This is a fun book about middle school and getting in trouble.  It is a perfect book for students who might be below level and it mixes graphic and text really well.  I enjoyed this story and will certainly recommend it to students, especially those students looking for easier texts.

I have had Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin on my TBR shelf for quite a while.  If I had to think about book gaps, my weakness would involve books that I think may be heartbreaking in some way.  I am the same way with movies.  If I think it is going to be a sad story, I avoid the movie.  So suffice it to say, I was avoiding reading this book.  I thought the premise sounded really good but I was afraid of heavy crying.  I should not have worried so much!  Elsewhere is about the afterlife.  Specifically, Liz has been hit by a car and wakes up on the boat taking her to her new life (death?) in the afterlife.  The adjustment to being in Elsewhere is tough for Liz and she wants to spend her days spying on her family and friends on Earth.  This book is about the process of letting go.  The original idea about how the afterlife might be for people is both beautiful and troubling.  I will definitely recommend this one to my students and will be curious to hear what they have to say about the ideas presented in this novel.

While looking for ideas for my unit teaching American Born Chinese, I stumbled upon a preview chapter of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom by Katie Monnin.  I was intrigued by the lesson idea so got on Amazon and ordered the book.  This book is full of interesting ideas and strategies for teaching with graphic novels.  I definitely appreciate the first chapter which has examples and handouts for helping students understand terminology unique to graphic novels.  However, some of the strategies and graphic organizers suggested are quite complex and confusing.  I will need to reread the lessons to determine if I want to use those ideas.  Overall, this book is helpful but a little disappointing.

What I am Currently Reading:

Energize: Research Reading and Writing by Christopher Lehman has already given me great ideas for starting the informational/expository research projects I will be doing.  I will be finishing this book soon so that I can begin to use the practical ideas and strategies to help my middle schoolers learn to research well.  I am also reading Adventures in Graphica by Terry Thompson because I was curious about the ideas I would find in this book for teaching graphic novels.  I love the ideas in this book so far and will be able to apply them in my 8th grade classroom even though the book is written for younger grade level teachers.

On the Horizon:

I want to read All the Broken Pieces this week.  I will probably also pick up Before I Fall and Beautiful Creatures.  I also should read Unenchanted on my Kindle because I have a student who just finished it and wants me to talk to her about it.  I have Ashes, Ashes on audiobook that I will listen to during my workouts this week.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 1/7/13

Books I Read This Week:

I absolutely LOVED Nancy Drew when I was younger so I was excited to see how the stories translated to graphic form.  As an adult, the mystery is not as intense as I remember them being when I was young and impressionable.  I will enjoy sharing this graphic novel with my students and will look for more to buy.  I am now curious about the Nancy Drew, Girl Detective series and will pick one up from my class library to read.

The Baby-Sitters Club was another favorite series from when I was younger.  I love the way Raina Telgemeier interpreted this story in graphic form.  You can tell that she also was a fan of the series because the things that I remember being important were highlighted.  Kristi's Great Idea was a great read and I loved being able to spend time with old friends again!  I especially love that I will be able to share this series with another generation of teens.  I highly recommend this graphic novel and can't wait to read the rest of them.

Resistance is the story of some resistance fighters in France during World War II.  I loved that this story was told in graphic novel format.  It would be a great book to pair with Maus in a study of the war.  I am excited to recommend this one to my students.

I was very excited to get my hands on this book.  I had read many lists that recommended the book as a read aloud for middle school and did not get a chance to read it yet.  I have to say that I really found the supernatural references in the book to be a bit unbelievable and I would think that my students might also.  The book does portray slavery in a realistic way and that is always an important lesson for students.  I will recommend it to students who enjoy historical fiction.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle is one of my all-time favorite books.  I have read it dozens of times and was so excited to see how this one was adapted to graphic novel form.  I have to say that I completely agree with what others have been saying about this one.  Hope Larson did a phenomenal job with this book and conveyed everything that I found to be important in the story.  I cannot wait to share this one with my students!

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver is an excellent book!  The only thing that I was sad about was the absence of a certain character that I was hoping would show up in this one.  I am really looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy.  I hope that things can work out for everyone involved.  I highly recommend this series to fans of dystopian fiction.

I flew through Rebel Heart by Moira Young in one sitting.  The world in this series is amazing and the characters are so complex.  The way that Saba and Lugh were having such a hard time communicating was infuriating as the way that Saba treated Emmi in Blood Red Road.  In this book there is a new regime taking over and people are losing their land.  Saba and her family end up mixed into the struggle and they go through a lot together.  I will absolutely recommend this series to my students and I am anxious to read the third book.

I read this one because one of my students RAVED over it after reading it and told me I HAD to read it.  I will definitely steer her toward more books by Lisa Yee.  I really liked this book also.  It really portrays that awkward time when girls and boys start to see each other differently and it is a little difficult for friends.  I have to say also that my student was absolutely ecstatic to get a message back from Lisa Yee on Goodreads after she sent a fan letter.  Yay for authors!

Books I am Currently Reading:

I am reading a netgalley of Bruised by Sarah Skilton and Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Books on the Horizon:

I don't really have a plan for what I will read next.  I will try to finish the books I have already started but then will probably be re-reading some other books for planning my next reading unit.

Have a great reading week!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Bookish Influence

     Over winter break, I had the opportunity to visit The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles.  I had seen a blog post about this amazing store recently and asked my brother-in-law to help me find this treasure when I was visiting.  My husband, my brother-in-law, and I traveled to downtown LA so that I could go there.  The store did not disappoint!  It is an incredible shrine to books.  I love how the store owners really celebrated the beauty of books by making the decorations from books.  Every piece of art in the store was some sort of celebration of books.

   As I wandered through the second floor, I felt overwhelmed by the place.  I stumbled through this amazing place with awe and quickly realized that I could spend HOURS in this place.  There is something about the smell of books and the endless rows of selections that brings out a secret desire for the treasure hunt.  Standing there, I felt like many treasure seekers must feel before going off on an adventure.  Unfortunately for me, I was there with two other people so I had to condense the looking down to only a few shelves (I also had in mind the flight back to Wisconsin and knew I could not take a ton of books with me).  My husband, knowing the bookish nature of my soul, looked at me and said, "You could spend a long time here.  This is like heaven for you."  And he was so right about that and I love that he understood so thoroughly how amazing just being in that place was for me.

A tunnel made from books!
     While meandering through the space and smelling the used book smell, I started to think about my grandparents.  My grandmother and my grandfather were instrumental in creating the book monster that I am today.  While growing up, I had the good fortune of living very close to my grandparents and being the oldest grandchild by 5 years.  This meant that I had a lot of time alone with these two wonderful people.  Both of my grandparents were readers.  My grandfather was really interested in history, specifically Civil War history.  He belonged to the Civil War Round Table and went to the conference every year.  The shelves in their living room were filled to the brim with gigantic tomes that chronicled the battles of the war as well as biographies of key people.  But my grandfather did not stop there, he read newspapers, magazines, and anything left out on the table in your house.  I am absolutely certain that if he had chosen to go on Jeopardy, he would have been a big winner.  He knew so much about so many things!  My grandmother also was a reader.  She was a mystery reader.  It is because of her influence that I hold a special place in my heart for mysteries also.  She introduced me to Agatha Christie when I was ready and inspired me to read all of Dame Christie's novels as she had done.  I remember when an independent book store called Booked for Murder opened in Madison.  My grandmother waited to visit the store until I could go with her because this is something we shared so deeply.

      My grandparents would have LOVED The Last Bookstore.  Both of them loved a good bargain on a book and hardly ever bought new books.  They introduced me to used bookstores and library sales and the three of us would go on a hunt each time we entered one.  There were multiple times in my childhood in which I spent a few days with my grandparents in Florida.  Part of the magic of those vacations was discovering used bookstores in the area.  We would go into the store and disappear from each other for a little bit while we each hunted down what we were looking for.  My mission became looking for Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books to fuel the love of mysteries that had started for me.  My grandparents taught me the art of hunting books and enjoying the spaces where book lovers roam.

     While I was reminiscing about these experiences, it really dawned on me how lucky I was as a child.  I have known it all along, but this was a different kind of epiphany.  I was amazingly lucky to have been brought into a bookish family.  Not only did my parents love to read, my grandparents were even bigger bibliophiles and I had the luck to be the grandchild who most directly benefitted from that.  This made me think about the unfortunate statistic that more and more adults are spending less time reading.  I work every day to help my students learn to love reading as much as I do, and I always have an uphill battle.  My students most likely do not have grandparents or parents who teach them to love books, and that puts them at a horrible disadvantage.

     I work in an urban school.  At my school about 65% of the students are on free or reduced lunch.  This is considered to be a high-poverty situation.  The kids at my school are not as bad off as other students in the city.  The majority of them have a roof over their heads and food on the table every night.  They have clean clothes and school supplies.  However, most of their parents do not really have extra money to spare.  They do not have book shelves full of books at home, many do not even have a library card or they owe money for fines so cannot use their cards.  When they do have extra money, many of these families spend it on game systems and video games for their children not on books.   When we talk about test scores and failing schools, we need to talk about these things.  My students do not have the same opportunities that I had growing up.  It isn't even really about the money.  It is about the role models.  We need to have adults who read and enjoy books and teach kids to do so also.  There are so many great teachers out there that are working on this and cultivating a love of reading in their classrooms.  However, there are also many teachers out there who "don't have time to read"--how can they say this when their students are depending on them?

     I wish sincerely that my students and the kids all over the United States were as lucky as I was when I was their age.  I wish that they had parents and grandparents that loved books and taught them to love books.  I wish that they had parents and grandparents who read them bedtime stories from when they were too young to remember them until they were teenagers (or at least as old as possible).  But the sad reality is that many of these students do not have these things.  As a teacher, it is my mission to provide as much book love in my classroom I can and I do this every day.   However, what I really want for my students is to be able to give them the experience of walking into a bookstore or a library and feeling at peace.  I want them to feel that excitement that only a good book hunt can give me.  I want them to want to see that Scholastic box arriving in the classroom.  I want them to see adults in their lives that are excited about books.

     This is why what we do in the classroom is so important.  If I can influence my students to become life-long readers, I can provide a new generation with the incredible luck of growing up in a bookish family and that is a very lucky thing indeed.


Friday, January 4, 2013

BookFlix Friday

BookFlix Friday is a weekly meme started by David Etkin at Eat The Book in which we share trailers that we will be sharing with our class.  I have quite a few new books to add to my library so I have focused on books I read recently and want to share with my students.  

Legend by Marie Lu is an action packed book that takes place in futuristic LA. 

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer is an important and amazing book.  This is a video of the author talking about his book and the research he did.  

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is a book about finding love in unusual circumstances and breaking through the layers that we all surround ourselves with. 

Brain Camp is a fun graphic novel about an experimental camp.  It is a science fiction adventure!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goals and Challenges for 2013

I can't believe that I read 236 books in 2012!  This is the first year I kept count and I am super impressed with myself.   I didn't keep track of the types of books I was reading so I can't break that number down unless I go through my Goodreads shelf manually to count and I don't really have time for that.  This year I will keep a spreadsheet of my own to help me keep track of how many of the different types of books I am reading.  

My goals for 2013:
  1. Get healthy by changing eating habits and working out regularly
  2. Enjoy reading without putting pressure on myself to finish books at a neck-breaking speed
  3. Blog more often and write reviews 
  4. Write more and work to brainstorm an idea I can start developing so that I can be more of a participant and less of a lurking presence in Teachers Write 
  5. Get my financial picture in order and stay on top of it better
  6. Keep up with class website and gradebook online for better parent communication
My reading goal for this year is to read 200 books.  I will make it a point to continue to read more non-fiction books.  I also want to slow down and read some of the adult books I have on the shelf as well as completing these challenges.

2013 book challenges:

I will be continuing the NerdPrintz challenge this year which is hosted by Kathy at The Brain Lair.  Last year, I was very excited when I stumbled across this challenge.  I am reading Printz books as I obtain them, not in any special order.  I will try to finish the list of books during 2013, including the books that are announced at the end of January.  You can see my list of completed books here.  The titles in red are ones I have read.

I really like all the dystopian/post-apocalyptic young adult novels so I decided to join this challenge in 2013 which is hosted by Bookish Ardour.  I am going to attempt the Contagion level to read 15 books.  Find the list of books I will read on my 2013 challenges page here.

I had never heard of Steampunk until last year when I was at the Key West Literary Seminar and their theme was Speculative Fiction.  The authors there did an excellent job of defining Steampunk and I realized that I had read many of these books.  This challenge will help me to continue to expand my horizons and read some books that are outside of my normal reading.  I will attempt the Geared level reading 5 books in this genre.  This is another one hosted by Bookish Ardour.  You can find a list of the books I will read for this one on my challenges page.  

What challenges will you participate in this year?  What are some of your goals?