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.

IMG_4271-min

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!

fullsizeoutput_4b8

 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!

 

 

#ISWAYR–Week 3

So if you’re just joining this blog thread, I’ve posted about the first two week so summer reading here and here.  This makes the third installment, and it’s been fun to watch all the books I’ve been able to log so far.  There is much more of a variety that I’ve noticed in my lists this year compared to past years (2011, 2013, 2014), including many more picture books than previously–probably because I’m now teaching a primary grade, as well as have two kiddos of my own at home with whom to share great titles! (By the way, I just came across this post again, from a few years ago that I thought was interesting…)

Ok, so this week, this is what I (or we, if it’s a picture book!) read (oh, and in some cases finished):

One of my goal this summer was to start collecting read alouds to share with my new 1st graders, and this week’s books had many that I will add to my school year TBR pile.  So many good ones, though, I’m not sure we’ll have time to do anything else but sit on the rug together and READ!  Oh, well, I guess there are worse things we could spend our time doing, huh??

Oh, and one more thing.  Last week I shared how my TBR pile had shrunk and was only half as tall as the week before, but alas then I took another trip to the library.  And this happened:

Not a surprise for a book nerd, though, I guess, right??  Luckily there’s a vacation in my very near future and I will have even more just-sit-around-and-read-time!

What have you been reading?  What do you suggest I add to my pile? Have you read anything on my list? 🙂

 

#ISWAYR–Take 2

Last week I finally decided to update my reading progress after I had had actual time to sit and digest some really good books.  I changed the typical meme It’s MONDAY What are You Reading to SUMMER and jumped in.  My favorite picture was the one where my TBR pile was up to my knees! Remember?  As of last night (when I finished a book in a half hour!), my pile is half as tall.  LOVE seeing the progress.

 

So, to update you, this week this is what we read…

This year I have more picture books in my piles than I usually do.  Partly because since I’m in primary again I need to try out some new titles for my class this fall, partly because picture books are awesome, partly because I have had many great ones recommended to me lately, and also partly because they are quick. 🙂

When I was at the Scholastic Reading Summit a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded (by Colby Sharp) of a book I had meant to read, but hadn’t yet.  And since I had first been introduced to it, it had become a Caldecott winner and so there was another reason why I needed to enjoy it.  It was kind of a long story, but Colby told a great story of how his class does its own Mock Caldecott unit, where they vote for their favorite, and they were SURE that this book should win.  And then it did!  He even shared a heartfelt video from the winning illustrator herself, Sophie Blackall.  I was already sold on the book, but this just added to my interest.

And in case you don’t know, that book was Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear.

IMG_2450-min

What a joy to be able to read a book with that shiny gold sticker!!

This one was instantly a hit with my kiddos, and somehow it was a story I had never heard!  I guess I had never been a huge Winnie the Pooh fan, so perhaps that’s why, but whatever the reason, this was a great story to learn.  And of course, the pictures were BEAUTIFUL.  I think that’s possibly what I liked the best: the story and the illustrations were equally magical, making for a beloved book that we will surely return to again and again.  This book was made to be reread over and over and over.

And so on today’s list of to-dos: another trip to the library to see what new treasures we can find!

What have you been reading? How tall is your TBR pile?? 🙂

 

It’s Summer, What are You Reading?

Yep.  It’s that time again.  Summertime!  And of course, as a teacher, it means I have time to READ!!  Ok, I am reading all the time, but this is prime sit-and-read-a-whole-book-in-one-sitting time!  So, I thought I’d share what I’ve been reading with you, and then I’d love to hear from you about what you’d suggest!

What I’ve read…

What I’m reading…

In my TBR pile…

Is there anyone who ever has time to read everything in their TBR pile?  I have the problem that mine keeps getting taller (from great suggestions) before it gets shorter (by me finishing something)!  It is totally silly, but at this point it’s up to my knees! See?

FullSizeRender 2

Oh, wait–you probably want to see the spines…here’s another version (sans me!):

IMG_2415

Bets on how long it’ll take?  I’m sure there’s a great math opportunity in there somewhere, but I’ll save that for another day!

Ok, now it’s your turn! What are you reading?  What do you suggest I read? 🙂