It’s Summer–What Are You Reading? 2018 edition

If you’ve been around the block on EduTwitter, or even if you’ve been around for a while on this blog (when I used to post regularly!), you probably know about #IMWAYR–It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?  I have written about with highlights from my classroom , and also many times with my own reading.  This usually happens during the summer (which seems to be the only time I have time to both read and write!).  So here we are again, and I have a big ‘ole list of good ones to share. 🙂

It’s summer, and here’s what I’ve been reading!

Sprinkle Sundays, Mia’s Boiling Point and Smart Cookie:  I think I’ve written before on this blog about how I have a strange love of the intersection of cupcakes and books, and I started by summer reading headed down that road.  These all focus on middle-school girls and the first two also include their “tribes,” as well as at least one “mean girl.”  That whole structure is predictable, and as a 40-year-old mom/teacher it was a little silly (although I’m sure I acted exactly the same way when I was 12!), but I enjoyed them nonetheless.  I loved the way the girls were empowered to do their own thing, to become entrepreneurs, and also how they showed how cooking/baking can provide a powerful avenue for stress-relief and creativity.  Each of these stories has a strong family element, and show complicated relationships and problem-solving.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for a sweet book, but these did not disappoint. 🙂

Masterminds Trilogy by Gordon Korman: Without giving too much away (in case you haven’t read these yet but want to!), this trilogy tells the story about a special group of teenagers who discover just how special they are and then work (against most of the adults in their lives) to find answers to the questions that arise.  These books are all page-turners and I breezed through them!  They are the first that I have read by Korman, but I am interested in the countless others he’s written now. 🙂 . Thanks, Rachael, for the recommendation!

IMG_4274-min Epidemic by Reid Wilson:  So far this is the only non-fiction book I’ve read this summer.  I am a big fan of the NPR show The 1A, hosted by Joshua Johnson, and recently heard Reid Wilson, the author of this book, talking about the Ebola outbreak of 2014.  Unlike when I was a hypochondriac child (and would have been surely convinced I HAD ebola), I was interested in this topic and grabbed the book recently at the library.  It’s definitely science-heavy and also filled with way too many acronyms (which he thankfully explains), but was both interestingly written and informative.

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Who Stole New Year’s Eve? by Martha Freeman: I have read many other of the mysterious adventures of Alex Parakeet and Yasmeen Popp on Chickadee Ct, and Who’s Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? is one of my favorites.  I have read it so many times on my own, and also to my students.  This one followed the same structure and involves most of the same familiar characters.  Loved it, too!

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 Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant: This one represents an old, favorite author I haven’t read in a long time, and who I really know mostly as a picture book author.  I have long been a fan of Cynthia Rylant, and so when I saw this on in the NEW section at the library, I snagged it.  Might add it to my class read aloud list for this year.

 

IMG_4269-minMoo by Sharon Creech:  I had to admit my hesitation of this book to Sharon Creech when I started reading it.  For some (dumb) reason, the fact that it was written in verse scared me.

I know–that makes NO SENSE, but it did. Can’t explain it.  But, as I told her, I should have trusted that EVERYTHING by Sharon Creech is amazing, and that since some of my favorite books were written by her, this would be a quick favorite, too.  And indeed it was.  Who knew I liked cows so much?

IMG_4709-minOne Hundred Spaghetti Strings by Jen Nails: See how I mentioned that I love books about food?  This one was definitely a “judge-a-book-by-its-cover” moment and I picked it just because it looked like it would be a story about a girl who cooks.  And it was.  I loved the way the character used food to figure out problems in her real life; this reminds me of how my husband uses cooking as his outlet, and also how I sometimes bake when I am in need of some “me” time to think things through.   I liked how all the recipes she made in the story were included in the back of the book.  Didn’t try any of them, but they looked tasty and like they might actually work!

The last four I’m going to mention were not the ones I read last, but I am mentioning them last because of the impact they had on me.  They are from authors I already love–Kate Messner and Katherine Applegate–but were titles that were new to me and that were about topics that were timely and hit on “big” ideas.  It’s one of the things I love about middle-grade fiction–helping kids work through important ideas and hard topics in the midst of a good story.  I am excited to try at least of these with my class this year; even first graders can handle deep conversations about big things.

IMG_4273-minWishtree by Katherine Applegate:  I know Katherine Applegate because of Ivan, and had heard the buzz about this book a few years ago but hadn’t yet read it.  And in full disclosure I didn’t actually “read” this book either–it was an audio book in my car on our recent family vacation.  (On a side note, this is one of our favorite things about traveling–sharing great stores together as a family.  Last summer it was Roald Dahl themed, previous years we devoured all of Christopher Paul Curtis’ books (we are HUGE Mighty Miss Malone fans), some years its just a mishmash of different ones none of us have heard.  Regardless of the author or the book, everyone loves this routine!).  So…the first big surprise was that the book is told by the tree.  Ha!!  I would NEVER have thought of that as a storyteller, but of course it makes perfect sense.  This one had some important things to say about being different, accepting others (specifically refugees/immigrants) and standing up for what’s right.  It’s a new favorite for sure!

IMG_4268-minThe Seventh Wish by Kate Messner: Here’s another title that I was SUPER late to the game on.  Sometimes teaching primary means I don’t always get to novels I want to read because I live in picture book world for much of the school year.  Sorry to have waited so long, but this one was TOTALLY WORTH THE WAIT!  I knew that this book dealt with the topic of addiction, and it did not disappoint with the reality of the story.  I have not personally been affected by drugs, but I can see how easily and quickly it can happen–even in “good” families with “good” kids raised by parents who did everything right.  No one is immune and I liked how through a sweet family story I got a peek into that world.  At first I wasn’t sure about the magic fish part, but now I’ve convinced that somehow that fantasy element balanced out the depth of the “hard” parts of the text.  I am SO glad I got to this one, and would recommend it to anyone. Ok, everyone, really! 🙂

fullsizeoutput_4b7-minHome of the Brave by Katherine Applegate: Oh my goodness.  Kek may be my new favorite character.  And remember how I was afraid of Moo written in poetry? This one was too, and was also had cows.  I LOVED the insights into immigrant life we got in this one, too, and how the story was told in such a real way.  Being able to see Kek’s bravery and spunk in the story was heartwarming and I love the way the story really dug into the definition of what home is, and where you find it when it seems so far away from where you are.

 

fullsizeoutput_4b6-minExact Location of Home by Kate Messner:  I found this book (which I had never heard about previously) after I read The Seventh Wish and decided I needed to check out all the rest of her books.  I loved the geocaching element of this story, as it’s an activity I learned about a couple of years ago in an after-school club I lead with a friend (plus there just aren’t many geocaching stories around I’d say!).  The “big” topic is in this book is homelessness, and the reality of how 1) quickly it can happen to those who least expect it, 2) it can happen to anyone, and that we probably know someone who is homeless (or as in this story living in a shelter) and might not even know it, and 3) homeless people are not crazy, weird, wrong, dangerous–often it happens because of things out of their control and they deserve the same respect as EVERYONE else.  People are people.  As I read this one, and connected it with the “home” theme in Home of the Brave, it got me thinking about a possible theme for my classroom this year….I’m excited to explore that topic with my students: what does it mean to them, how can we create stronger connections between home-school, and how can I make our classroom an extension of home.  I might try this as a read aloud this year, too, because like I mentioned in the last one, even little kids can tackle big topics.

And…right now I’m reading two more.  I feel a little funny putting them together in a picture here because of how completely opposite they are (one about Hurricane Katrina and the other about middle school girls who take a cooking class–ha!), but hey–variety is the spice of life, right?

I’ll share more when I finish. 🙂 . Come back to check it out, will you?

So I’m wondering a couple of things…

  1. What are you reading or have you read this summer (or whenever!) that I should check out?
  2. What topics/themes do you like to read about?

PLEASE leave a comment and let’s chat about books!!  There’s still a lot of summer left and I can’t wait to hear about what you’re reading!

 

 

#classroombookaday: Happy New Year!

Oh, you poor, neglected blog.  Been a whole month since I’ve written.  And more importantly, poor, neglected blog READERS–I’m sorry!!  For some reason, the last year it has been so hard for me to keep a regular posting routine.  I need to get back in the game!

I figured the easiest way to do that was to start with books.  I had grand plans of sharing our last pic of the year, and update you on our goal of hitting 300 before 2018.  Well…we didn’t quite make it, but we did get to 300, but we made it to 287, which is great!!  And like I say all the time, look how pretty that wall is!! 🙂

Then…we returned and I wanted to tell you all about it, but did you know that the beginning of the year is busy?  I know–all the parts of the year are busy. 🙂  So when we came back, we got to 295!

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Then….

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See that new red arrow?!  We hit 300 books!!  As of Jan 12 we were at 308!

And FINALLY the latest update, from this past Friday, January 19:

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321 🙂

I LOVE how this is still going, and how students, teachers and parents alike in our school are still commenting on it!  Hope I never leave the hallway we’re in, because it’s the PERFECT space to share our #classroombookaday story!

Speaking of story…there is lots to tell about the books we’ve added to that magnificent wall, but I’ll save those for another time and another blog post.  Thanks for hanging in there, blog friends, and I hope to be nicer to you in 2018! 🙂

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 10

Somehow, even though we only had 3 days of school this week, we read more books than all of last week.  Maybe because I wasn’t happy with the fact that we only read 10 and we had to catch up a little?  Who knows, but we were busy readers and added some great titles over the last few days.  Here’s our wall as of October 20.  We’re up to 155 now!!

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This week’s books were varied and fun.  Check them out!

See those Mem Fox books?  Yep–Global Read Aloud is still rocking and rolling!  We are beginning a pumpkin project in reading so had to read those two books about pumpkins, and some were just for fun!

Mrs. Sisul came by on Friday to share Monster Trouble with us, and you know Principal Read Alouds are always a big hit!

This one was so great and we were all surprised with how the little girl tricked the monsters with KISSES!!

What would you like to see us read?  What recommendations do you have for us that you have read lately or that you just really love?  We’d love to hear about books we don’t know about yet. 🙂

#classroombookaday 2017 UPDATE: Week 8

What a SUPER week for reading in first grade!  Ok, well it’s always great, but when we’re doing #classroombookaday AND the Global Read Aloud at the same time, it’s extra magical. 🙂

Our count is up to 132 and here’s what our wall looks like:

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Isn’t it beautiful?  I mean, really?! I could stand there and study it all day long–and I’m sure many Robinson kids could (and would!), too, if we’d let them. 🙂

This week we read these books:

As I have written briefly about (and even mentioned here!), we started the Global Read Aloud this week, and have loved beginning our study of Australian culture and Mem Fox’s books.  Along with the “assigned” GRA books, we have also added in a nonfiction book about koalas (to help us understand Koala Lou), as well as two other Mem Fox stories.  We ended our week on a sweet note as we read about how Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge shared memories with Ms. Nancy and helped her remember. 🙂

As is usual in my classroom, we added in some beloved authors’ books to add to the collection.  This week it was another Todd Parr book (yep–there are still some we haven’t read yet!) and another Ame Dyckman, because well, she’s awesome and why not?  I also shared King Baby by Kate Beaton this week because we had also read The Princess and the Pony earlier this year.  That one got lots of laughs. 🙂

Ok…and now let me tell you a story about some books we didn’t love.  In some ways I feel bad about writing this.  Feel like we’re supposed to just read “good” books, so to speak, and/or find something that I like in every text we read.  But then again, reading is personal and everyone likes different things, right?  It might have just been that the timing of when we read them was not ideal.  One afternoon this week I had a “we-just-need-to-sit-down-and-enjoy-a-book-together” moment, after a really rough morning.  I explained how reading with people I love, experiencing a good book together makes me feel better.  And then….we read Pig the Pug.  And Pig the Winner.  And, oh my goodness…no one felt any better!  The looks on the faces of some of my friends was priceless as we read about how greedy and mean and inappropriate Pig’s choices were.  He would NOT make a very good Roadrunner and his books were FULL of unexpected behaviors.  Ok, so at least we learned some things we should NOT do.  There–I found something positive to say. 🙂  Oh, and we didn’t add it to the wall yet (because Ms. Turken hasn’t read it), but we then had to read The Grandma Book (by Todd Parr) and How to Find a Fox (both very funny) to make up for those first two.  Then we could move on. 🙂

We read Jabari Jumps this week and enjoyed finding parts that we could relate to, as well as encouraging him on as he tried something that he was scared to do.  I was so happy as my friends were telling him, “No, don’t stop now!” and how we could discuss positive self-talk that we can use when we’re nervous about something new.

Only One You and Animalogies were both used as prompts for learning activities–one with Mrs. Berger and another for an art project that we’re doing for a school celebration in a couple of weeks.  We read Even Superheros Have Bad Days.  We were a little worried–after those yucky books the day before–and because the title seemed to signal bad news.  BUT, we read this one and LOVED it!  It was a perfect connection to another book we have read,  We Can Get Along.  It had some SUPER examples about how superheroes COULD do some pretty terrible things when they’re upset, but then INSTEAD they could also choose to respond in more appropriate, expected ways.  This book ended up being EXACTLY what Roadrunners do–use breathing strategies and Peace Places and other things to help them get back to center.   Whew!

And then there’s One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree…  I read this one last year, and I know it’s great, but this year it was perhaps an even greater read, because Mrs. Sisul came to share it with us as her principal read aloud.  She was very excited about it, and her love of both the book and reading to kids showed.  And this made us love it even more!

I didn’t get a recording of the whole thing, but I had to get at least a little so you could hear what it sounded like. 🙂

See?  Told you it was good. 🙂  Oh, I forgot to tell you, but first graders made some predictions about what kind of book she’d bring with her to share with us, and we predicted something by Todd Parr or Mem Fox because that’s who we’re studying.  Good guesses, first grade. 🙂

 

You Can Read EVERYWHERE!

Last week we read a great book called You Can Read by Helaine Becker (as we practiced Read-To-Self and talked about the 3 ways to read) and it was quickly a first grade favorite.  The kids in the story are reading in all sorts of (funny) places, including the bathroom, the backyard, the bus, the car and maybe even in a tree.

If you’ve been around 20somethingkids for a while, you know that reading and books and literacy is a BIG deal for me and my students.  So what better way to spend our first 1/2 day of the year than enforcing that YOU CAN READ EVERYWHERE idea by making take-home t-shirt book bags??

We had been collecting t-shirts for a couple of weeks and finally we were ready to do something with them!  Because we are on this co-teaching journey together, Ms. Turken and I had planned that both rooms would be doing this today, and that we’d use both of our rooms for the work.  Kiddos spread out and got busy knot tying!  Besides being fun, the job of creating this bag for themselves enabled them to practice some important fine-motor skills and also helped get them SUPER EXCITED about filling up their new bag with books to read at home!

The smiles when they were done, as well as the SILENCE in the room as they worked (alone and by helping friends!) was inspiring! 🙂

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#FDOFG2017–Readers Gonna Read (Part 2)

Before you read more about what’s going on with books in first grade right now, be sure you’ve read the first part, where we got started in our classroom library, began our #classroombookaday challenge, spent some quiet time during our day and visited the Robinson library. 🙂

As I mentioned in the last part of my last post, figuring out what kids like and who they are can happen in many ways–books are one of those ways.  Aside from just paying attention and taking note, we wanted to be able to share our favorites with friends, and so Ms. Turken and coordinated a Favorite Book Museum.  Each kiddo brought in (or checked out at school) their favorite book.  The reason it was their favorite could be for anything–someone special read it to them, it was a favorite from when they were little(r), they could read it themselves, it was funny–whatever.  I was able to take a picture of each kiddo smiling brightly with their favorite, and these fabulous pictures will grace many parts of our room (book boxes and our outside bulletin work-sharing board to name a couple).  I took them in front of our giant map, because reading takes you places!  Before I even go any further, I know you’ll want to see those so here they are.  And yes, they are precious. 🙂

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Aside from just being able to enjoy our books ourselves, we wanted to share them with our classmates–both from Rm. 111 and Rm. 112.  We did this in a format called a Favorite Book Museum.  In the past I’ve done this with bigger kids and called it a Reading Museum (which had a little bit of a different feel and protocol).  This time around, kiddos put together an “exhibit” with their book, a picture of their favorite part and a card with their name (just like exhibits have in a real museum!).   Children were given a chance to walk around to view other kiddos’ exhibits, looking for connections as well as for books they might like to read in the future.  We started in our own classroom and then traded rooms so we could see everyone’s favorites.

Before we could visit the museum, however, we needed to make sure that we knew how we were supposed to act and what we were supposed to do.  I think in the past I have taken for granted that all of my kiddos have been to a museum and understand what I’m talking about when I mention using a quiet voice, not touching things, only using eyes to look and not fingers, as well as just connecting the whole museum idea anyway.  This time I decided it would be a good idea to find a video that might help anyone who needed some support in this area.  We watched this short little video with our Rm. 112 friends first:

After we were sure we were all on the same page, we go busy with our visit!

This was another great, positive literary-focused community experience that we will build on throughout the year.  We will probably even hold Favorite Book Museums again throughout the year, watching how our tastes change and grow.

Have you ever been to a book museum?  If so, we’d love to hear about your experience!

#FDOFG2017–Readers Gonna Read (Part 1)

Oh goodness.  Reading.  It’s one of the most important (and one of my favorite!) things that happens in first grade. Ok, well, in any grade, but the beginning of the life long journey often starts in first grade, and I want to make sure it starts out in a positive way. 🙂

We do that in a number of ways, and one of those is by starting the #classroombookaday challenge.  Listening to, talking about and enjoying LOADS OF BOOKS is such an important piece of the literacy puzzle.  Reading (and lots of choice inside that reading) is another one.  And so we begin to read, read, read early in the year, and provide many positive experiences around books.

Almost on the first day of school, we have a conversation about how our classroom library is organized, and what they notice about how it looks, as well as how we will use it.  We talk about the kinds of things we like to read, and begin to fill our book boxes early on.  I always enjoy putting the library together when I’m setting up the room…

…but there’s nothing better than when there are actually READERS in it!

Besides being able to read during choice time and actual reader’s workshop, we’ve also begun our year with some necessary “quiet time” after lunch and recess.  During this time, kiddos can make a choice to read/write/draw or rest quietly.  Really it’s a chance for kids to be alone (which is hard but also necessary for many–me included!), as well as wind down a little after a busy morning.  It’s a time of day that many kiddos have a chance to finish up work or a project (usually of their choice) that they started earlier in the day.  Eventually this time will fade away, as we get more into our “real” schedule, but for now it’s a nice brain break before we get into hard thinking again with math.

One more exciting place first grade readers got to visit was the ROBINSON LIBRARY!!  We have library in our specials rotation now, so it took until we got to an “E” day before it was our turn.  Kiddos only go for 25 minutes and normally wouldn’t have been able to check out until the 2nd visit, but GOODNESS that would not have been fair so we stayed a little later so we get our hands on some new books!!  Kiddos got to meet our new Library Media Specialist, Mrs. Davis, and also hear a good story.  Before we went, I also read a library themed book. 🙂

It was SUPER fun to watch the kiddos work their way through the library and see what treasures they would find.  Finding out what kids like to read is just one more way of building community and getting to know them as readers and as little people. 🙂

Looking forward to TONS more fun and learning happening in the library this year!