Comfort in Books #sol20

Last week, Elisabeth wrote about the books she returns to for comfort   As we end our month long writing,  this It’s Monday What are You Reading,  I write about what I am reading and also what I recommend to you.  I write in the community of writers brought together by Two Writing Teachers in our March 31 Day Writing Challenge.  This is slice 30/31. 

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 6.28.56 AMComfort in Books #sol20

March 30, 2020

In the first days after school closed, before we developed our first phase of our distance plan, I came home and escaped into a book.  Books have always been a comfort to me in sadness, in change, in fatigue.  No matter what else might happen, books can be depended upon.  Since childhood,  I have gathered books around me and turned to them in transitions.

As many literacy coaches,  I have a very large to-be-read pile.  The first book on the pile was one I won in a Goodreads give-away,  Susan Wiggs’ The Oysterville Sewing Circle.  This is the kind of book my friend calls a ‘vacation book‘.  These books can be read in an afternoon, you’re relatively sure that every thing will turn out in the end, and you can fully escape into the setting, the characters, and the story arc.  This same friend reads a mystery at the beginning of the summer, Louise Penny, her author of choice,  to give her mind a rest.  That first book in the chaos of the first days was just a rest for my mind.  I have a stack of those book club books at home.  My former book club mate, now retired in Wisconsin, sends me her read book club books.  I have an unopened box in my library waiting that she sent last week. She keeps me up-to-date with current best sellers.

Coincidentally, I had been reading Reader Come Home about reading in the digital age when we were plunged into our virtual learning.  This book brings home the idea of how now more than ever, we must encourage lap reading for all of students and families, the opportunity to have family read alouds comes to mind.  Now is a wonderful time to get lost in a series together. Our local librarians is rereading all of the Harry Potter books.  One of my favorite teachers has started Sisters Grimm with her student, reading aloud a chapter on video each day for students to listen to after lunch.  So much comfort there.

Switch, Quiet Leadership, Dare to Lead, Atomic Habits, Leading Well and Mary Oliver  live in a basket in my bedroom to be picked up whenever needed.  These books, while diverse reads, are mentors for times of struggle, each in their own ways.  Treasured books,  in turn I reread from the beginning and other times, drop in to read a chapter or a dog-eared passage.  What books are ones that you return to as trusted mentors?

What books do I recommend over and over?  For respite, I often recommend a historical fiction or a fully quirky book that defies definition.  In historic fiction, recently (last summer) I  liked The Gown and The Editor.  In the quirky category, a book I’ve been sharing is Sourdough. (read Robin Sloan’s other book too, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore) I also have favorite long time authors.  From my own young mother book club days,  I still read every book Elizabeth Berg ever writes.  Not challenging, these books tell a tale of persevering and are as familiar as a favorite sweater. Likewise,  I am loyal to Erica Bauermeister (before Reese Witherspoon) whose recent book Home Lessons is in my queue at Amazon and Libby.  Who are those authors whose work you always read?

The act of reading itself is comforting.  I love to read books recommended by adult friends and child friends.  Currently, I am reading Breakout recommended by humbleswede.   This middle grade novels tells a story in letters, text messages, and drawings of students developing a time capsule in a small town when a disruption changes their every day lives. Slipping seamlessly into the reality of a book gives us a respite from our current reality whatever that might be.  Since childhood, books have always been my constant companion and comfort.  They aren’t disappointing me now.

 

Yesterday… a History #sol20

I am slicing every day in March along with my fellow writer in our community organized by Two Writing Teachers.  Today I use at Lanny’s suggestion, Brittany Butler’s clever Browser Mystery as a mentor text.

Screenshot 2020-03-26 at 9.04.06 AMYesterday… a History #sol20

March 26, 2020

The idea of tracing back how my mind worked over a course of an evening through my browser history sounded hilarious,  so this morning I thought I would make that trip myself.  First problem,  I was on three different devices yesterday searching, not to mention the random questions I call out to our Google Home.  For example, I asked the Google Assistant how old Chaka Khan was yesterday… she’s 67 in case you were wondering.  This random question brought to you by The Masked Singer.

First thing yesterday,  I looked up the Sourdough Starter recipe from King Arthur.  Since the classroom teacher I was working on the fungus project with retained custody of our starter,  I’ve been trying to get one going here at home using ‘wild yeast’.  It’s not going so well.  I hear our starter at his house is lonely too.

When I read an article about difficulties that restaurants are having now, so I looked up all the local restaurants that I could think of and their take out menus and hours.  Do I dare take-out?  I can barely go to the grocery store.

After beginning to watch Tiger King on Netflix (Yikes!) on the recommendation of older son,  I started wondering about tigers in these crazy home-grown ‘zoos’.  Did you know that there about three times as many tigers in these ‘zoos’ just in the US than are in the wild?!?!  That made me think of Siegfried and Roy.  While they don’t perform anymore, they still have tiger in a Secret Garden in Las Vegas.   This internet search stops here.

These all are just ‘after work’.

Considering what to make for dinner, I checked on a meatloaf recipe, just make sure I was going down the right road.  I ended up putting in whatever I wanted anyway, a recipe is just a suggestions, right?  You know some breadcrumbs, an egg, ketchup, spices, the usual.  Comfort food at its best.  I checked on some spaghetti squash recipes too,  Maybe that will make it onto tomorrow’s menu.

I have about 15 tabs open on my laptop right now related to work, but let’s leave them there for now… or just clear all.

 

 

Summer BookaDay Update #IMWAYR

Summer #bookaday Update #IMWAYR

June 23, 2019

As usual,  I stuffed my book bag with a load of books on my way out the door last Friday.  It’s a hodgepodge of professional texts that have been languishing on my shelves and kid lit that are reads and rereads.  Also don’t tell Mr. K how many times the Amazon van has dropped by our house as Pernille’s Global read aloud books trickle in.  I seriously need to make better friends with my local library.  They mostly seem to be titles I need.  So here is week one’s round up of summer book a day.

Screen Shot 2019-06-24 at 8.18.31 AM.png  Some Places More Than Others This is my #1 book right now for novels. A charming story about a middle schooler searching for her roots and wings.  Imbedded in the story is a wonderful family history project ripe for the trying.   I want to give this book to everyone I know to read and treasure and pass on.  Full disclosure:  I read about this from Colby Sharp.  He says ( and I agree) this will be a Newberry contender.  When Angelina and I went to Wellesley Books educator appreciation,  I snagged the ARC of this book, so it’s going to her next.  See my Goodreads profile for an amazing quote from this book.  Sidenote:  this book has a connection to several biography picture books I read last year, so I see it sliding into a quick read aloud.

 

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Next up is this amazing, much anticipated book,  How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, art by Melissa Sweet.  I ordered this book in February and it was worth the wait. Everyone is writing about this book and for good reason.  Visually beautiful, it’s lyrical prose will put in a lot of categories in my professional library,  beginning of the year, how to’s,  and literary life.  I can’t wait to read and share this book with many adults and students.  It will be the book I give to our new principal to welcome him to our learning community.

 

Screen Shot 2019-06-24 at 8.34.37 AM.pngScreen Shot 2019-06-24 at 8.35.13 AM.pngThe next two books Little Night Nochecita and Viva Frida are not new books.  Viva Frida was a Caldecott honoree and a Pura Belpré award winner in 2015.  Yuyi Morales is an author study pick for this coming Global Read Aloud.  (September 30, 2019)  This year I am determined to be ahead of the game and have these books read and book talked throughout our learning community before then.   I have read and own the other books in this picture book study.  Viva Frida will work best when the author’s notes at the end are read first.  There is an audio of these notes as a preview on Amazon.  Little Night Nochecita has bilingual text which only adds to the magic of the beautiful dreamy illustrations.  I love that the picks for this picture book study are varied.  I have a vision of using them to show young authors that you can write about many different things in many different ways.

Screen Shot 2019-06-24 at 8.47.15 AM.pngAfter listening to Booksource’s webinar on diverse books for classroom libraries,  I tried out a trio of mysteries with Lark and her brother.  The second in this series,  Lark and the Diamond Caper features this brother and sister duo finding their place in their social group and celebrating their uniqueness.  This book, by Natasha Deen, an own voice author, isn’t my favorite mystery, but I want to add more mirrors to our selections in the Nate the Great/Cam Jansen category.  It will be interesting to see if the students are drawn to these titles.

 

Monday,  Tammy Mulligan read us Astro Girl,  a charming story that includes girl power Screen Shot 2019-06-24 at 8.57.14 AMreferences and a can-do mindset.  As Tammy said,  this is a great book to encourage I-got-this.  I love how the father gently discusses what might be involved using affectionate displays and the little girl responds with I can do that.  The surprise ending might be a connection to a book collection to read and display. This book is also soon to be published. Screen Shot 2019-06-24 at 8.56.04 AM.png

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-06-24 at 9.08.45 AM.pngMy last book of my Monday-Monday run is also an older book,  The Fabled Fourth Grade of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming.  It has been kicking around in my random novel basket for years.  I must have acquired it in a collection somehow.  I was thinking that it would add to my poetry novel set, but it really isn’t a novel in verse.  What it is a twist on Aesop’s fables.  Each chapter has a story about something that happens to this fourth grade class with a bad reputation and the corresponding Aesop lesson learned.  It’s dated for sure, published in 2005, but I am thinking it might work for a read aloud during a folk tale unit if you had it in your collection, perhaps as a mentor text twist for students.  Truthfully some of the language and situations are not current, but like other older titles might be fresh for a new audience.

Up for this week are some professional texts and a few more short novels.  All suggestions welcome.

5/31 Monday Book Shelf #sol19

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 8.32.28 AMFor the month of March, I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.  This is day 5. 

 

5/31  Monday Book Shelf #sol19

March 4, 2019

If you are reading this, you might have the same problem I do.  Bookshelves bursting at the seams and an organization system that works one day, but not the next.  Welcome to my Monday bookshelf, where I will organize a stack of books in the whim that strikes me that day.  Hopefully this stack will resonate.

Stack #1  Mirrors and Windows for Shared Reading and Read Aloud

Providing for reflection of the school experience for some and empathy creating conversations and reflection for all through shared reading and read aloud can be a multipurpose tool in the classroom.  With so much content, wise choice of books help us discuss Social Emotional Learning goals along with decoding and comprehension skills. 

These book provide a glimpse into the lives of children who are struggling to find their place in this world.  Isn’t this true for many? 

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.57.09 AMA Boy Called Bat was this year’s Global Read Aloud pick for the younger students’ read.  What to say about Bat?  Bat struggles are in some ways universal and in others particular.  He is sensitive to sound, loves routine, has objects for comfort, avoids eye contact, and is incessantly inquisitive.  When Bat’s mother fosters a baby skunk, Bat learns a lot and by sharing that moves closer to friendship.  What I love is that everything isn’t smoothly resolved in the end. A beautiful read aloud for any class perhaps first through third grade. Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.57.40 AM

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.55.22 AMBeatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker is much more in-your-face kind of reading.  Beatrice’s classmates and teacher can get frustrated with her ways.  This is a book about her trials and missteps, her attempts and successes.  Again,  I like that everything isn’t perfectly resolved.  I am wondering if reading a chapter or a book talk might spark an interest in a small book club in grades two through four.  Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.56.02 AM

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.51.27 AMStuart Goes to School and Stuart’s Cape are particularly new books, just new to me. Stuart is starting to school and has some real and exaggerated fears about what might happen.  Unlike the my other choices,  there is magic involved here.  The magic, however, is not necessarily responsible for  Stuart’s change in thinking.  An easy chapter book for reluctant transitioning readers, possible shared reading text for second graders, a book reviewed book for a book club.  Many possibilities for this short series.  Also magically written by Sarah Pennypacker, a perennial favorite. Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 8.06.35 AM

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.53.56 AM.pngFox the Tiger, a book award winner for 2018, is a charming beginning reader about a Fox that decides to be a tiger.  His plan,  his friends’ reactions make for a surprising deep well for character change and feeling discussion.  Perfect for shared reading in a late kindergarten and any time in first grade.  Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 7.54.19 AM

I might label this bin.  Be Unique, Be You.

 

 

 

What I Took Away from It’s All About the Books #IMWAYR

9780325098135 Ten Things I Took Away from It’s All About The Books

April 20, 2018

Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan’s new book, It’s All about the Books is a wake up call to every elementary classroom, school book room, literacy specialist, and administrator.  Buy more books and figure out how to redistribute the books you have so that every book is getting into the hands of students.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned or been reminded of by this amazing book.

 How many guided reading sets do we need? 

Break up the guided reading sets and make them into more interesting groupings. Keep the sets that will help teachers teach specific genres or specific skills in strategy groups.

Level, but don’t make it about the level 

It’s true at the beginning reading levels, students should and need to be reading at level.  However, making the level how we identify books,  identifies readers too.  Those kiddos don’t want to read an ____ level book,  they want to read a book about tarantulas or dolphins or whatever.   Make those groups be fun and funny and interesting.  Some book bin labels from our revolving bin collection:  Fun, Fun, Fun,  We Go Out,  99 Problems, I Got a Dog.   Our books are leveled A/B,  C/D, E, F/G,  H/I, but those level aren’t how we identify them.  IMG_1182

 

Move those books around!

Bring them to faculty meetings.  Make a bin swap date once a month for K-2.   As a coach, tote them to collaboration meetings, PLC, and whenever you meet with teachers.

 

Involve everyone in the DIY

Just because I live in the literacy center,  I don’t own it.  Involve everyone.  Ask questions:  What do we need?  What do we have?  What organization would help? What’s hot?

Find out what is out there in the building

Do a complete inventory.  Find out what you have to work with.  Include classroom libraries that were purchased by the district, mentor texts, classroom sets, EVERYTHING.

Organize a book swap 

Organize a book swap for teachers.  What books do you have in your room that your students consistently can’t read, don’t read, are too high,  too low,  ready to move on.  Maybe those books are just what someone else is looking for.

Organize a book swap for students

Have student bring in outgrown books.  Set up shopping tables by general grade level or interest.  Have kids take however many you can spread out.

Create a shared document 

Create a shared document for recommendations, for groupings, for books.  What would be a good next purchase?  What should a classroom teacher build up?  What is a must own?

Start in one place to organize

Let’s say your teachers all want to work on folk and fairy tales.  Create a section in your book room that is especially for those titles.  Same with animals.  These are always needed and popular.  Think about what you need organized as a group and start there.

Encourage everyone to switch up their offerings 

A good time to switch is over breaks or at the end of units.  Keep some from the last that didn’t quite get around to everyone or to use for transition.  Another good time to switch is after assessment time when you want to match readers with books that are more right for them.

School favorites

Think about vertical focus.  Is there a title that wants to move from grade to grade.  Picture books are not just for kindergarten and first grade.

Help Given

Hang a sign in the door of the book room, Help Given.  Have kiddos come by to discuss book groupings with you and help put away.  Have PLCs meet where the books are.

 

These are just a few of the amazing ideas inside Clare and Tammy’s great book, It’s All About the Books.  This is a must read for all teachers of reading because it really is all about the books.

 

 

Books for the Kids in Front of You #sol18

Books for the Kids in Front of You  #sol18 #IMWAYR

Immigration Edition

March 5, 2018

I am thankful for our school librarian for being my tireless exploration partner in book acquisition.

Our school in multicultural.  Perhaps yours is too.   We were exploring topics for our historical book clubs in grade 4,  I questioned what topics could students relate to without a significant amount of historical knowledge.  Can we learn about social justice in our modern times in elementary school? Many books I have purchased this year and wrote about before carry a growth mindset and empathetic message, but what about the experience many of our students have of immigrating from another country.  Here are some of our current favorite picture books.  51kqn6wGIcL._AC_US218_.jpgThis may be my current favorite book.  While it doesn’t specifically discuss immigration, these young bear brothers seek shelter from the storm.  Asking each animal neighbor one by one,  they are turned away by all.  Remaining positive, the bear brothers create their own shelter using the one gift received from a young fox, a lantern.  When the fox’s home is threatened, they come asking for aid from the brothers and are warmly welcomed into their small shelter.  So many wonderful messages in this beautifully illustrated book.

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We debated this book purchase as the book doesn’t turn away from tough information.  This book has photographs of children many in situations that we often want to shelter each other from,  sleeping on the streets,  asking where will we live.  In a school where we do meet and nurture students in transition, this is a delicate topic.  This book examines this in a gentle, unflinching way

816jNphsaIL._AC_UL320_SR270,320_.jpgThis book takes a different approach to the immigration experience in a intimate family way.  In a moment that many children may have, fishing with their families,  a father tells the child how he fished in his home country.  Beautiful illustrated and simply told. A Caldecott nominee.

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I hope reading and enjoying this book will give children I know an idea about welcoming those new to our community.  One girl, adrift and awash in experiences that she can’t understand meets another girl in the park. She smiles in greeting and the new girl is distrusting at first.  Over days, she looks for the smiler and then finally see her again.  The welcomer teaches the new friend to swing.  As the book continues,  the welcomer begins through objects to assist our new settler in learning the words she speaks.  I love this story full of everything we hope from community.

81pXXl2ZebL._AC_UL320_SR288,320_.jpgThe simplest of this set,  I’m New Here is a straightforward book about arriving fresh in a new spot.

Not reviewed here, but worth a mention are some lovely novels including.

Same Sun Here

Inside Out and Back Again

Esperanza Rising

Day  of 31 days of writing. Thank you to my fellow bloggers for inspiration and encouragement and toTWO WRITING TEACHERS for creating this opportunity.  Read more amazing blogs and join the writinghere.