Tag Archives: informational texts

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/8/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

So droves of other people and I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this week. I have not spent an abundance of time reading other people’s review/opinions of this play; however, from what I have read, it seems that readers either love it or hate it. I am planted firmly in the “love it” camp. I picked up the book and after a few minutes of acclimating to the play format, I found myself completely immersed in Harry’s world once again. I found the plot and the characters engaging, and there were just the right amount of dashes of peril and fun. An, most importantly, I know that when school starts I will have many junior high readers eager to talk to me about it or to get their hands on a library copy. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016 (category 23 – a play).

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko is an informational picture book about a lesser known area in the struggle for civil rights. In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter wanted to marry, but their home state of Virginia did not allow interracial marriage. So they crossed into Washington, D.C. for their ceremony and went back home to live. Not long after, police broke into their home and jailed them for “unlawfully cohabitating.” The couple were forced to leave Virginia, but in 1966 they missed their families and hometown and hired lawyers to fight against the unfair law. Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court and won! This book is a great way to introduce this civil rights achievement and the idea of marriage equality for all to readers at a variety of age levels. The text is simple enough for elementary students, but the topic will provoke discussion among middle and high school students who experience it as a mentor text or read it on their own . Alko and her husband, Sean Qualls, collaborated on the illustrations, which are a mixture of painting, collage, and colored pencil and are a great accompaniment to the narrative. The author’s note, list of sources, and suggestions for further reading will inspire interested students to continue to learn more.

I read Drones in Education to review it for School Library Connection. I cannot provide my full review here, but I will say that it is a comprehensive guide for educators interested in exploring the use of drones in the classroom, written with the newbie in mind.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/13/1513/

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

This week I read the four titles in the Great Moments in Media series in order to review it for Library Media Connection. Although I cannot reproduce my review before it is published, I will say that I would not purchase the books for my middle school library because I think they assume too much background knowledge.

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron is a thoroughly entertaining piece of (mainly) science fiction. It tells the story of Boy, who is the created (by them) son of Frankenstein’s Monster and The Bride. They live and work in a New York theater with other mythical and fantastic creatures who put on “The Show” for none-the-wiser humans. When his father tells Boy of his plan to send Boy to the University of Geneva and to live with the Frankenstein family, Boy refuses to do so and runs away into the human world. His new life is first made better and then extremely more difficult by the artificially intelligent computer virus Boy created, let loose, and then lost track of. It seems that “Vi,” as “she” calls herself, not only is hunting Boy across the country but also figuring out to take over human bodies. Boy enlists the help of others, including Sophie/Claire, the granddaughters of Jekyll & Hyde, and even the Invisible Man. But this story is far from a wild road trip and chase. it has much to say about the responsibilities of creators for that which they create. I heartily recommend this book for high school libraries and public libraries’ YA collections.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

Winter Olympics Fever

sochi2014I am sure that I have previously mentioned my intervention classes at some point. This strange snow-day-filled start to the semester means that I am just now starting up with some new groups. The intervention model I will be following at this time is Assisted Writing, which is a combination of reading, word work and writing. Since the reading consists of articles, poetry, and other short pieces, I felt that it would make sense to choose a theme to guide my resource selection. At a recent training, someone mentioned that the Winter Olympics were coming up soon–and there was my theme 🙂

Below are just a few sources of informative, interesting short texts I found to share with my students. Have a look. You might be able to use them, too–either with your students or just to enhance your enjoyment of the games.

  • Team USA – Each student is picking an athlete to follow during the Sochi games. We started out just by writing their name, hometown, and sport, but there will be other days where students will read about and write a summary of their performance. The Team USA site has short bios for each athlete as well as tweets and blogs from the athletes themselves.
  • Sochi 2014 Olympics – News – The official site of the 2014 Olympics has a news section that includes press releases and promises daily summaries once the Games begin.
  • NBC Olympics – Daily updates include brief news items about athletes, teams, and all things Olympics. I have already found several pieces that predict winners and performances that we can read now and discuss when we find out what really happens.
  • Newsela – This news websites features articles from newspapers and other new sources that have been re-written at a variety of Lexile levels. So far, I have found an article about bobsledder Aja Evans and one about security concerns for the Sochi games. You do have to sign up for the site, but then access is free.
  • TIME for Kids – This special feature includes such articles as Q&A’s with hockey player Julie Chu and snowboarder Jamie Anderson.
  • SI Kids Guide to the 2014 Winter Olympics – There are a few interviews up now, but the site promises to add more interviews, stories, photo galleries and videos over the course of the Olympics.
  • Origins of the Olympic Winter Games – Although this piece from Encyclopeida Britannica is at a higher reading level, I will share parts with students so they have some background information.
  • First Winter Olympics – This History Channel explanation would be a little easier for students to read themselves.

Of course, I am also using quite a few print resources from my collection as well. I might feature those in another post.

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? 12/9/13

IMWAYRIt’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Book Journeys. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Thanks to my #nerdlution goal of reading at least 30 minutes a day, I was able to finish three books this week.

Last Week’s Books:


This week I finally read Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool. And I have to say I have mixed feelings about it.

Shortly after World War II and the death of his mother, Jack Baker is uprooted from his Kansas home and sent by his Naval officer father to live at a boarding school in Maine. There he befriends Early Auden, a misfit of a boy who has a penchant for numbers and a drive to find his brother, Fisher, a soldier who was declared dead in the war. In Vanderpool’s author’s note she says that by today’s standards we would say that Early has a high-functioning form of autism.

On a school break, the two boys head out on a quest to track a great Appalachian Bear, but not really. It is really about Early searching for his lost brother and recounting tales of the journey of Pi (the number), and about Jack dealing with his own loss and grief.

This book is intricately plotted and has so many instances of truly beautiful language. There is so much loss, grief, and regret in this book, and Vanderpool encourages the reader to think about it all, rather than push an agenda or teach a lesson. Each character is carrying a heavy burden, and each in his or her own way.

So now for the “mixed feelings” part. I really wanted to love this book, but I fell a bit short of that. I know that the book has elements of magical realism and that, as such, it demands some suspension of disbelief. However, there were so many coincidences, and everyone Jack and Early met on their journey tied into the master plan that allowed Early to find his brother. However, I think it was Gunnar’s connection to Miss B., the librarian, that finally did me in–the book just didn’t seem to need one more connection so neatly wrapped up at the end–at least not for me. Ultimately, I am glad to have read the book, but I think Vanderpool might have taken things a little too far–as far as Early tried to take the digits of Pi.

That said, I would be really interested to see how children are responding to this book. After a few months, it has not yet been checked out of my school library. I will try to think of a reader with whom it might resonate as I am really interested in whether a young person would be bothered by or would embrace how neatly it is all wrapped up in the end.

cover38474-mediumThis week, I also read the e-galley of Stephen G. Gordon’s Expressing the Inner Wild: Tattoos, Piercings, Jewelry, and Other Body Art, which will be published in January. The topics in this book are certainly a large part of popular culture, and judging by what my students look at in the Guinness World Records books, they would enjoy reading it. 

The book focuses on today’s trends of body decoration in the United States, but it also includes information about other cultures’ practices both in the past and the present. There are plenty of intriguing pictures of celebrities and others who exhibit extreme dedication to decorating themselves.

There were a few instances in which the text flow was interrupted mid-sentence by a nearly full-page side bar or illustration. A more careful layout would have prevented readers from having to flip back and forth to keep their train of thought. I am really starting to hate it when books do that. On a positive note, the back matter includes source notes, an extensive bibliography of print and online resources as well as a healthy index.

Because of its very heavy inclusion of current celebrities, I think that Expressing the Inner Wild, while an interesting book, would become dated more quickly than I would like for my library. However, it would make a high-interest addition to larger collections.

It Cant Be TrueI will spend my 15+ #nerdlution minutes writing a review for It Can’t Be True: The Book of Incredible Visual Comparisons for Library Media Connection. I am not allowed to share my review until it is published by LMC. Suffice it to say that DK has created yet another visually stunning book that will engage readers who enjoy “gee-whiz that’s a cool fact” books.

Currently Reading:


I just started The Clockwork Three  by Matthew J. Kirby. In fact, in my current chapter I am meeting Hannah, the third of the book’s main characters to be introduced.

On Deck: