If you spend any time with teachers, librarians or authors on Twitter, then you’ve probably heard of #IMWAYR (It’s Monday What are You Reading?). It’s a great way to both share books you’re enjoying as well as to learn about new ones that you might want to try. I’ve even done it in my classroom with previous groups as a way to document the books they’re reading, how long they’re spending in a book, what/when they’re abandoning books, etc. It’s quick and easy.
Well, no, it’s not Monday, and honestly I don’t really plan on this being a “quick and easy” kind of post. But then, well, when are my blog posts ever quick and easy? LOL (Oh, come on, you know you like it that way!?).
As we voted on the timeline image for our 7th book (and we’re already in the middle of book 8), I realized that I haven’t done much writing about what we’re choosing to read as 2nd graders (we’ve got a big job to do this year after all of the AMAZING things we read together last year!). I figured that should change. 🙂 So here we go!
This year so far we’ve chosen 8 books together. We have somehow gotten into a pattern where I choose one then they choose one, and so on (and actually then I guess I had too many good ones because I chose two in-a-row and then they did, too.). It’s been kind of fun to see how their tastes have changed since last year when they were a year younger. And yes, I’d like to think that the choices we made together (or the titles I introduced them to) have helped make them more sophisticated readers. I guess the verdict is still out on that, but for sure they are enjoying stories that are beyond what I read the last time I taught 2nd grade!
- We started the year with an old favorite from 1st grade, as a way to ease into the year and introduce our new friends to the way we do read aloud in Rm. 2o2 (which is honestly very different from what happens in many other classrooms). Together we agreed upon The Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta. We loved The Lunch Lady and her crazy antics last year and this one did not disappoint. It was great to connect with the author visits we’ve had with Mary Cassanova and Betty Birney. I have loved sharing graphic novels with my students; before Babymouse and Lunch Lady last year, many of them had never heard or or read one. It’s been a great way to get readers interested in things that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. And as far as I’m concerned (and no, it’s not an original idea), if you find a kid who says they don’t like reading, it’s probably because they just haven’t yet found the right book. 🙂
- Next we went WAY back to my childhood and were introduced to Ramona Quimby. It was my choice and I had great memories of reading and hearing the many beloved tales from Beverly Cleary when I was a second grader myself, so our next book was Beezus and Ramona. As far as I could tell it was the first of the Ramona stories that was written, so it made sense to start there. And while I was totally excited about being the first to share this funny girl with my students, I quickly remembered the movie made from this book a few years ago. Oh well, it was a great read anyway, with many situations and experiences that were easy for us to make connections to as we listened. And as we had gotten into the habit of doing last year when we read The Wizard of Oz, kiddos kept track of those connections by taking notes as we read. Because the book was longer than some (like the Lunch Lady, for instance), writing and drawing about it every day made it easy for us to remember what had happened in the story every day.
- What do you read after a great Ramona story? Another one, of course! Book #3 this year was Ramona the Pest. This one was especially fun because of all of the crazy things Ramona did at school. We kept laughing as we tried to imaging doing some of those same things in our own classroom–like “boinging” a friend’s curl, leaving school in the middle of the day, staying home because your teacher doesn’t like you, and being late to school because you don’t yet understand what a “quarter after the hour” means. This book brought lots of laughs to Rm. 202.
- The next read aloud found us smack dab in the middle of learning about how to use our new Writers’ Notebooks. I knew the PERFECT book to read during that time would be one that showed someone else’s Writers’ Notebook and ideas from when they were a kid. And if you know me at all (or at least a little about me as a writer), you know that Ralph Fletcher is one of those authors that I LOVE! I have read his books over and over and appreciate both his style as a fiction author and his insight and expertise as a writer of professional development titles for teachers. This book, a memoir, gave us both funny stories of childhood to enjoy as readers, but many pieces of text to examine as writers and consider what they would have looked like as a WNB entry. This one was a great title to help push us to make connections between reading and writing.
- The me-them-me-them pattern was broken when I made the decision for our next read aloud. Hey, I had a good reason, though, as we were about to start participating in the Global Read Aloud and needed to choose a title that was on the list. The book I chose to read was actually one I had heard of earlier in the year but hadn’t yet tried. We read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes (yes, the same Kevin Henkes we love because of his beloved mouse characters!) along with many other classes around the world! While we did not participate in the GRA like I would have liked (with collaborative activities and Skype sessions), we did have great conversations among ourselves, and dug pretty deep into Billy (who is a 2nd grader!) and the other characters in the story (which was great because this fit in with the focus of our Readers’ Workshop study at the time). While we didn’t share our work with the rest of our GRA group, we did follow along and do the suggested activities on our own. If I’m invited to join again next year, I am sure we’ll be better able to share our thinking in a more global setting.
- The next book was kids’ choice and they went with another favorite from last year. Well, sort of. We enjoyed reading all of the Mercy Watson series, and so when I found a book that focused on a Mercy character–Francine Poulet–I figured it would be one we’d enjoy, so we read Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon. I was right and they liked making connections between what we knew about her from last year and what she did in this book. I wasn’t there on the day they finished this sotry, but if I remember correctly, the last scene is around the Watsons’ dinner table and included toast with lots and lots of butter (just how Mercy likes it!).
- Kids’ next choice was holiday themed and actually included two books at the same time. No, I’m not crazy–they were meant to go together. 🙂 If you’ve ever read a Magic Tree House book, then you know that Mary Pope Osborne has written Fact Tracker texts to accompany the adventure Jack and Annie are experiencing in the story so readers can learn more about the real thing. I’ve been interested in them for a while, and this year was the year I had committed to trying to read one together with a Jack and Annie story. So…when Thanksgiving came along it seemed like it would make sense. And Rm. 202 kids agreed! We read Thanksgiving on Thursday and Pilgrims, then, during November. It was great to be able to cross-reference parts of the story with the information given in the Fact Tracker. We didn’t read the NF one front to back, but instead used it on an as-needed basis when we had questions. I liked the way it worked and will definitely try it again!
- That brings us up to our current book. I don’t have tons to share about it yet, except that it was my choice and is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE read alouds. I have read it with almost every class I’ve taught over the last 10 years–mostly 4th and 5th graders. So, trying to decide if the text was right for 2nd graders took some thought. But 1) it is an author they know (Ralph Fletcher!), 2) it goes along with Marshfield Dreams and works great to make connections again between how entries in our notebooks can be turned into stories, 3) I like it, 4) I read it to my son when he was in K or 1st grade and he loved it so I figured these friends could enjoy it, too, 5) it’s about a family, and 6) I like it. LOL But hey, that has to stand for something, right? So far I’ve been right on and they LOVE it. They are making great connections between the true stories from Ralph’s life and the variations on those stories that happen to Cliff and his family in the book. If you see a friend of mine, ask them what a “yidda yadda” is, ok?
So what are you reading? Have you read any of these titles that we’ve enjoyed this year? What did you think? What recommendations do you have for us? We are definitely voracious readers in Rm. 202 and we lvoe to try new things! We’d love to hear from you. 🙂