Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/18

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? --From Picture Books to YA is a weekly meme started by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers. This is a chance for bloggers to recap their week of reading and share their plans for the next reading adventures they will take. Visit the host blogs for a list of great blogs participating in this meme and a whole bunch of titles to add to your to-read lists.

My mind is swirling and whirling during these weeks before school starts.  Much of my reading this week has been articles and rereading snippets of favorite professional books.  I am trying to remember what worked for me in 4th grade and to figure out what I will do differently now that I have 5 more years of experience and a wealth of knowledge from being connected the last few years. There have been some great articles in the Edutopia back to school series.  I definitely started thinking differently about classroom design after watching some videos there and then popping over to Choice Literacy and looking at their resources about it.  Anyway, here is my list of books for this week.

Books I Finished This Week:

The I Survived series is one that I have been meaning to read for a while.  I had heard of it as a series for reluctant readers.  I know the one that I had in my classroom definitely piqued the interest of one of my readers during last school year, but I had not read them yet.  I ordered the whole set from Scholastic.  I decided to read them in chronological order of the year in which they take place.  I read about the Battle of Gettysburg and the earthquake in San Francisco in 1906.  Both books were fast paced and full of information.  I can see how reluctant readers could be very interested in this series.  The books were very quick reads for me and while they aren't  amazing literature, I am glad I will have them to add to my 4th grade class library.  

When I read The Testing, I liked it, but had a few reservations about the book because it was so similar to The Hunger Games.  Reading Independent Study changed my mind.  I really got into this series and cannot wait to read Graduation Day soon.  This is a great series, full of adventure and the dystopian element will make you think.  What does it take to be a great leader? Cia is trying to find out.  I highly recommend this one. 

I enjoyed reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. She is really funny and the book was entertaining as well as having great advice for writers.  I would recommend this one to any adult who is a writer or wants to be one.  

I loved Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff.  I knew I would like it because so many people I admire had said fabulous things about it.  This book would be a great one for a discussion of the mindset of the main character and the messages that we sometimes give ourselves.  I felt so bad for Albie and his learning difficulties.  I also wanted to go into the book and smack some sense into his parents.  This is definitely a book you should read if you have a middle grade classroom.  

I also did some picture book reading this week.  Nighttime Ninja and Interrupting Chicken were both cute books that would be fun to read with kids.  On a Beam of Light was amazing! I love how this book celebrates the life of Albert Einstein, but does it in such a way that kids will understand.  I can't wait to share this book with my students.  

Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci is bursting with great advice about how to bring about a growth mindset culture at a school.  I appreciated the chapters about how having a responsive and differentiated classroom is important to having a growth mindset stance.  In chapter 8 of the book, she gives a ton of ideas of lessons and activities you might do in the classroom to help students gain a growth mindset.  She also gives some ideas for how to involve parents and help them learn about this concept.  I will definitely be using some of the ideas from this book to supplement some of the things I already was doing to promote growth mindset.  I highly recommend this one for your professional reads.  

Books I am Currently Reading:

I started reading Comprehension Going Forward and am really loving the ideas that are pushing my thinking.  I also am still listening to The Clockwork Princess and have started reading The Beggar King and In a Sunburned Country.

What's Next?

I will probably read the rest of the I Survived series this week.  Other than that, I will have to see where my moods take me.  I can get into my classroom starting tomorrow so some of my time will be spent setting up.  

What are you reading this week? I would love to hear from you in the comments!


  1. Woot Woot for love of Absolutely Almost! :) Think I'll dig into The Testing now after reading your thoughts... Thank you... Happy reading to you!

  2. My third graders love I, Survived, so I am always on the look out as new titles are finished. (It looks like a word or more is missing in your last sentence; I'm curious what your critique was.)

    If only Absolutely Almost was a book you could get parents to read! I know some who could see themselves in that characterization, but I wonder if they would even realize...

    1. Thank you. I went back to fix that sentence. My dog was interrupting my thoughts this morning ;)

  3. Thanks for the updates on those two series, Andrea. I'll note them on my list. Glad you enjoyed Absolutely Almost. I liked it a lot. Thanks for sharing about Mindsets In The Classroom, too. Have you read the Peter Johnston books? I do love what he says too. Thanks for all & enjoy your time getting ready!

  4. Love your picture book reading this week! I must get to Absolutely Almost. hearing so many wonderful things.Wishing you a positive start to your year!

  5. The I Survived series is one that I use to help try to get my struggling readers to enjoy historical fiction. I read the Titanic one to my kids one year. They are such fun and informative stories. Absolutely Almost is on my MUST READ list. I just have to get it!

    Happy reading this week! :) And happy start of the new year!

  6. Bird by Bird is one of my absolute favorite books. I read it while in the writing project, and I think of it often. I could read it again and again. It is so inspirational! Thank you for reminding me of its beauty!

  7. Hello there Andrea, I've read so many great things about Absolutely Almost - it does sound like an important book that would resonate with a lot of readers who may be struggling in school. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about The Testing series - was really intrigued by a lot of the reviews I've been reading.

  8. I love Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and her advice about writing that shitty first draft :)

  9. I've been recommending I Survived for reluctant readers at our store- and lots of nonfiction. It seems those who are reluctant to read tend to like fact-based fiction more than straight out fantasy. But that could just be a random observation.