Tag Archives: professional reading

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? 4/27/15

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.

After quite a while of reading and listening to a lot of YA and adult titles, I was happily mucking about in middle grade books last week 🙂

Last Week’s Books:

I had the great fortune of finding a Barnes and Noble gift card in my old fine box that still had a tidy sum on it! I took the opportunity to order a few books that have been rumbling around Twitter and blogs I read lately, and I read two of them this week!

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson has been called “the next Smile” by more than one person lately, and I whole-heartedly agree that fans of Telegemeir’s work will enjoy this great new graphic novel. In the summer before junior high, Astrid’s mother takes her and best friend, Nicole, to see a roller derby match. Astrid falls in love with the sport and decides to give junior camp a try, only to be crushed by Nicole’s choosing dance camp instead. Jamieson captures the essence of worrying about friendships, fitting in, and falling down (both literally and figuratively) in a way that will resonate soundly with middle grade readers. I consider it an absolute must-purchase for all middle school libraries, and I’ll bet Scholastic is trying to get those paperback rights for next year’s fall book fairs.

I have also been hearing great things about the comic, Lumberjanes, created by a cast of women writers and illustrators, headed up by Noelle Stevenson. I purchased the first trade paperback, Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy, which compiles comics #1 – 4. It tells the story of a group of five campers at Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp (for hard-core lady-types) who have become fast friends and boon companions. Their counselor, Jen, does her best to give them fulfilling experiences with nature and to help them work on their badges; however, all the magic happens at night while Jen is sleeping or when the campers get separated from her (accidentally on purpose). In this volume, the girls meet and battle, among other things, talking wolves, fierce statue guards, yetis, and zombified boy campers, and there is an underlying current that there must be a magical explanation that ties together why all these bizarre creatures are around the camp. The book is action-packed, and students will love these fierce girls who never back down from a challenge. This book counts for my 2015 Read Harder Challenge (written by someone under 25).

I reviewed Flying Cars for Andrew Glass for Library Media Connection, so I cannot yet share my full review. However, I must point out that this is the first information book I have seen about people’s attempts to combine cars and airplanes throughout history, and the author has certainly done his research on the subject.

It has been quite a while since I have read a professional book about the history and criticism of children’s literature rather than about its use in the library and classroom. Bird, Danielson, and Sieruta are all big names in this area of research and writing, and their essays treat readers to behind-the-scenes information about books and authors on such topics as censorship and banned books; celebrity authors; LGBT authors, illustrators, and works; and children’s literature pre- and post- Harry Potter. This is more of an entertaining than a scholarly read, but it still provided much food for thought.

Finally, early in the week I intended to skim a bit of Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep in order to write a review for its release on Tuesday. I wound up rereading the whole thing, as described in this post.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 6/23/14

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.

Well, I knew I was motivated by challenges, and that really showed last week! Since I joined the Book-A-Day challenge I have read more books in one week than I have in a long time–and a smorgasbord of books as well. Ahhhh, summer 🙂

Last Week’s Books:

mrpenumbrasI don’t read adult books very often, and very often I claim that MG/YA books are so good that I don’t feel like I am missing much. However, I am very glad my friend, Kari, gave me Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan. I found myself completely wrapped up in the story of Clay Jannon, an unemployed web designer who finds more than he bargained for when he takes a graveyard-shift job at a quirky bookstore and lending library. It is the library and its patrons that intrigue Clay, and he quickly becomes involved in the race to solve an ancient puzzle, using modern means and friends to do it. Although I have not read The Da Vinci Code, I know enough about it to say people who enjoyed and the National Treasure movies would especially enjoy this book. In addition, Clay’s recruitment of a Google employee, a special effects designer, and a video imaging guru will make this Alex Award winner appeal to fans of Cory Doctorow as well.

bookloveI was serious when I tweeted that Penny Kittle’s Book Love is filled with so much truth and beauty that it brought tears to my eyes. Kittle not only makes an iron-clad case for independent reading at the high school level, but she also gives readers proof of how it has turned non-readers in her classroom into book lovers with life-long reading plans. This book should be required reading for literature teachers and, especially, school administrators.

battlingboyAll those who said the graphic novel Battling Boy by Paul Pope was a perfect choice for middle grade readers were absolutely right. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of students I know who will love this origin story of a new superhero coming to Earth from a distant planet. It’s great that Battling Boy is unsure of himself, hasn’t yet mastered his powers or knowing how to use them most wisely, and makes mistakes–just like the kids who will read it. And the illustrations? Monsters and battle scenes and lightning–oh, my!


I finally read The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt, after hearing so much about it. This home-spun tall tale about the legendary Sugar Man, raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah, and Chap Brayburn and his family’s sugar pies just begs to be read aloud. These swamp-dwellers “battle” the forces of evil, in the form of a greedy landlord, a female alligator wrestler, and a gang of wild hogs. The cast of characters is unforgettable, and readers will enjoy cheering on the good guys and see the bad guys get what’s coming to them.

trappedAlthough Trapped by Marc Aronson is an information book, readers will still find themselves rooting for the 33 miners buried in a mine in northern Chile in August 2010–and the international team of rescuers. Aronson’s book tells the story of not only what was happening above the surface of the earth but also how the miners worked together to keep themselves alive until their rescue. It was a fascinating read, and the photographs, diagrams, and charts did much to improve understanding of the events and the people involved. The book also has top-notch back matter, including Aronson’s “How I Wrote This Book,” which should be required reading for student researchers and their teachers. I love how Aronson explains that many of the results a Google search returns are thin and flat–telling the same information again and again and that real research much stretch far beyond that.


Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, was published this week, so, naturally, I had to buy it. The book started out as an experimental multimedia presentation at the Sydney Opera House’s Graphic Festival, where Gaiman read his story accompanied by illustrations by Eddie Campbell and the FourPlay String quartet. You can hear Gaiman talk about it (before it happens) here. The book, itself, is a creepy tale of revenge set in the hills of Scotland. A small, strange man hires Callum MacInnes as a guide to a cave of gold, but that’s not what either one of them is really looking for. The illustrations  make this part picture book but the comic panels make it part graphic novel as well. The content of the story makes this a book for adults–and a haunting one at that.

queenfussyI came across Queen Fussy by Mister Tom (Tom Neely) in my favorite used bookstore. When I saw the face on that cat, I just had to read it. This picture book from 1973 is a tale told in rhyme of Queen Fussy and the castlecats she forces to clean her castle from dusk til dawn. When a small speck of dust appears, the catlecats and then Queen Fussy herself go to extreme lengths to get rid of it, and Queen Fussy ends up getting her just desserts. The message of the book is thinly veiled, the rhyme is sometimes forced, and the book doesn’t even appear on Goodreads (yet 🙂 ) but it was still an amusing read on a summer afternoon.

Currently Reading:







On Deck: (among others)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/10/14

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:

I did a little better than last week–I finished one book. And it was the “on deck” one I started fresh and hadn’t been already reading the week before!?!  Last week, I identified part of the problem as spending  too much time on fb and twitter.  I decided to dust of the Nook Color and try reading on that soon to see if that would help me stop “checking things” online like I do on the iPad. Of course, one of my current books is on the iPad, so I am going to try turning off the WiFi to see if that works.

SummerReading-AllingtonSummer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap by Richard L. Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen gave me lots of food for thought. Summer reading loss is an alarming problem that needs to be addressed by schools everywhere. Even though the two communities my students come from both have amazingly successful summer reading programs offered by their public libraries, many of the children who need summer reading most don’t take advantage of those programs.

Allington urges that it is the schools which must take measures to push books to their students during their months away and gives examples of successful programs. I have to admit I felt somewhat ashamed when Allington mentioned all the books just sitting unused in libraries all summer because librarians are afraid they won’t come back. I am currently talking with one of the Lit teachers at my school about a spring/summer book club that could be kicked off with her World Reading Night book distribution and would meet every week or two. Opening my library’s doors and getting books into the hands of kids is definitely a goal of mine. Stay tuned.

Currently (still) Reading:

On Deck:

Not committing to anything new right now. Gotta get my head back in the game!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2/24/14

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:

Oddly, both of my finished books were adult books this week!

closereadingI have been reading Falling in Love with Close Reading by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts (2013) a little at a time over the last few weeks. I think it serves as an excellent introduction to the topic–because I was a newbie going in and I feel that I now have a basic idea of what close reading is. In fact, given my newbie status and the fact that I teach interventions, I must admit that I am not quite ready to implement the practices and lesson ideas included here. However, I know a few literature teachers to direct to this book, and I know I can go back to it when I am ready.

no-impact-man-bookI must confess that I never planned to read No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (2009) this week or anywhere in the near future. It’s a book that I heard about probably more than a year ago and then requested on Paperback Swap. My request was fulfilled a couple of months ago, and it had been sitting on my bookshelf since then. What happened? Well, I left my iPad at school Friday night and couldn’t read my e-book (tried to get it on another device with no luck (long story)) And then I had a leisurely Saturday morning in which I finished reading No Impact Man.

Anyway, this book is about author Colin Beavan and his family’s one-year project in which they would strive to make no waste. Why? The short answer: so he could write the book. The somewhat longer answer: because Beavan worries that we are killing our planet and that he wants to align his way of life to not contribute to the problem. It was interesting to read about the ways in which Beavan, his wife Michelle, and their toddler daughter completely changed their daily routines, habits, and more over the year. More interesting is the way in which these changes made their lives richer and their relationships stronger. Although I could never go to the extremes the Beavans did, there is much food for thought in this book. And in addition to Beavan’s engaging narrative, the book’s back matter is filled with fascinating information and resources for further study.

Currently Reading:


The e-book on iPad left at school.

archiveralongI am excited to be participating in Batty About Books’ Virtual Book Club, where we are reading The Archived by Victoria Schwab. There’s still time to join us–start here.

On Deck: