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.

 

Reading in Isolation #sol20 (IMWAYR)

Writing in my slice group with Two Writing Teachers in our 30 day challenge.  Today is Day 16.  Today, I’m inspired  by Elisabeth Ellington’s Quarantine Reading

Reading in Isolation #sol20 #IMWAYR

March 16, 2020

Truth is I need inspiration these days.  I feel like a bear at the beginning of hibernation.  My brain feels sleepy and I have a strong tendency to just curl up in my chair and sleep.  It’s too quiet here.  For three days I’ve had the TV on and now I realize that it’s contributing to the numbness.  But also, I’m not used to this.  I am accustomed to talking over lessons with teachers from before 7 until school starts and then meeting, teaching, collaborating with students and teachers until school ends.  After that I prepare for the next day.  I want to go to my office.  I want to touch books and make plans.  However, that’s not possible so here based on Elisabeth’s plan is my isolation plan for books.

Books to read for the first time

I have several bags full of books to read for the first time but I’ll divide these between student books and professional books.

Student Books

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 9.00.10 AMThe stack is tall.  I brought home to TBR bag from school.  It’s a good mix: picture books, intermediate novels, biographies, some graphic novels.  I finished City Spies on Sunday.  I’m wondering if James Ponti would like me do a first chapter on my blog.  Next I think I might read The Vanderbeekers  by Glaser and mix in some picture books.  Dangerously, Amazon is just a couple of clicks away.  I hear I can still order and go pick up from our independent books store as well.

 

Books to Reread

I brought home all the current units of study that we were working on.  Now of course, knowing that we will have three weeks off and not one,  that might change things.  I was hedging my bets about content creation.  I can still create some mentors, small groups, shared reading and such with them.  I also brought home  A Teacher’s Guide to Reading Conferences.  Amazing providential as Jennifer Serravallo is going to rerun her web series about this text in a watch party, but the videos are available on Heinemann at this link.

Series to get into 

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 9.01.06 AMI want to read the Vanderbeeker Triology.  I think I might be able to check it out on Libby.  I also stuck in my bag The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.  Again I think I might be able to check out the rest of them.  Stella Diaz Never Gives Up is in the pile and Beveryly, Right Here.  Series books to catch up on during the hiatus.  I have a few ‘starters’ in series as well, Comic Squad Lunch, Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Fenway & Hattie, Flubby is Not a Good PetThe Seventh Wish.

Projects to Work On

Today, I’m going to organize some online distance learning resources to recommend to our district.  I’ve been keeping in contact with my mentor/coach and talking over content with her. Over the next weeks, I also want to work on some small group lessons, writing mentors, and do some curating of my at home collections, which have been sadly neglected.   I’m going to watch Lucy Calkin’s webinar on Wednesday, and pick up Kylene Beer’s professional development today.  I want to keep learning as well.  I

Feeling a little energized now that I’ve put some ideas out there in the universe.  Hope you are too.

 

(Un)Solicited Reviews #sol20

(Un)Solicited Reviews #sol20

March 9, 2019

What happens when a second grade class of book reviewers find out that I don’t have the latest book in Jory John and Pete Oswald’s series, The Cool Bean?  They set out to convince a literacy specialist in the best way they can… they write a stack of book reviews.  So here straight from the second grade is the reason that I (you) should run out and buy this book.

This was pretty convincing until I read this line.

Why are you still reading this go and buy this book!!!!

It’s difficult to say what I love most about this situation and why after nearly a month, these reviews are still traveling back and forth in my teacher bag.

Another thing that I like (in) this book is that after they were nice to Little Bean he starts to be kind to other(s). Another reason I think this book is good is that there (they’re) get(t)ing along again… it teaches you that everyone is cool and sometime people are nice and kind.

Straight from my teacher bag into my heart and into my mentor text files.  These second graders don’t know it yet, but they have the makings of some literary essayist.  Quick retell, character traits, lessons learned, they are putting it together.  So is their teacher.

These showed up on my desk silently one day without notice.  Just a sweet little stack of writing gems.  I know you wish you could read them all again and again as well.

Here’s one final picture to tide you over.

For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol20) 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 9.

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.

Monday Bookshelf: Smaller Bite Books #sol19

For 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.

Monday Bookshelf:  Smaller Bite Books  #sol19

March 25, 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 within a category.  Hopefully this stack will resonate.

Living in Character Studies across the grades and working on book clubs.  Some novels take a lot to get through, a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, a lot of time.  We are also deep within pretest season where short and dense are definitely the stars.  How to teach deep into character, climax, solution, lesson, and story arc while keeping the reading and talk more management.  Denser picture books may be the answer.  I find myself returning to picture books more and more as a strong contender when I am looking for mentors both for teacher use to keep lessons short or student use to keep engagement and learning high.

When I sat down with one of the third grade teachers a few weeks ago,  we brainstormed books high in character work, perfect for considering in mini literary essays.  Now encouraging teachers to use familiar books seems right.

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Some of these book are well known for character work in third and in the lower grades.  Considering them for literary essay work when students are familiar, lightens the comprehension work and increases their ability to consider the story.

As an extra push, consider having the students make connections across books are to thinking about situations in their own experience that are similar in change or life lesson.  That makes for some really strong essays.   I also like narrative nonfiction biographies for this thinking, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Jabari Jumps, front and center, has become a go-to book for many grades.  I often carry it in my conferring bin.  If you are unfamiliar,  Jabari faces the dreaded high dive.  He thinks he is ready to jump, but is he?  The stretch out of the story heart with illustration elaboration will fit nicely to teach into how an author shows us what is important through craft, illustrations as a craft move, and the social emotional aspect is a wonderful bonus.  Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 5.05.51 PM.png

The Rough Patch, a Caldecott honoree,  is an emotional wringer for adults, though I find students are pragmatic about the crushing blow our fox friend takes near the beginning of the story.  His reactions are great food for discussion and the turning point helps illustrate how authors teach us.  Be ready for a grand conversation with this book.

If the Shoe FitsThose ShoesA Bike Like Sergio’s , Stand Tall, Molly Lou MelonThe Invisible Boy are standard fare for whole class talk in character change and lesson learning.  Turning these familiar books back on the students for their consideration in small group shows them what they already know about this genre work.  They stand the test of time.Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 5.32.34 PM

For students who deserve a challenge consider, Beekle, The Last Stop on Market Street, and Come On, Rain.  While story arc might be clear here,  lessons and character change require deeper thinking. For students that need a simpler text, consider No David.

Think about your class, students, or school focus,  books like Ruby the Copycat,  The Recess Queen, and The Bad Seed, The Good Egg, and There Might Be Lobsters have the lesson and the characters front and center to show clearly the work of the author we are considering.

Some of these books are shifting at this time of year from other earlier year bins.  Keeping a story across grades and across the year shows the students how the work weaves together and how we can look at craft with new eyes.

Monday Bookshelf: (Un)Flat Characters #sol19

For 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.

Monday Bookshelf:  Character Study in Intermediate Edition #sol19

March 18, 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 within a category.  Hopefully this stack will resonate.

We meet up on Friday mornings at 7:30 and co-teach with each other through the reading (writing) block each day.  Sometimes we chat on the fly before I go to my first class at the beginning of her planning.  Sometimes she stops me on my way down the hall.  Sometimes I drop in as I am walking by.  We talk a lot.

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.50.31 PMThis week we are talking about what it means to be in a book club and the dreaded flat characters.  I won’t mention the flat characters.  You know who they are.  They lurk around in easier chapter books or series where the author keeps that main character as flat as a pancake. When you say something brilliant like

develop a theory about a trait of your main character and use evidence to grow that idea, 

that darn old flat character really won’t give up one single thing.  He or she just sits there on the pages moving forward with not a real emotion one.

Help me!  I have some real emotions. 

So here we sat with this problem along with another problem… Harry Potter.  Now I love Harry Potter, not as much as the next person, but I do think he’s pretty special.  HOWEVER,

itsgoingtobenearlyimpossibleforthatnineyearoldtopickonecharactertraitandevidencefromaSEVENHUNDREDpagebook. 

First my recommendation for books with characters for third graders who love Harry Potter.  patentpending

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.49.30 PMBeastologist.   Ok, the actual title is Flight of the Phoenix (Nathanial Flood, Beastologist)  This book is short.  This book is easy.  This book is filled with villians and twists and surprises and magic and… an orphan.  I know,  WINNING.  Also a series.

Another similar short book is Spiderwick.

If you want something in the same vein, but a harder read,  Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos will fit the bill.  Again a series.  Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.49.13 PM.pngThese books are for your HP lovers.

The flat character lovers need something else.

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.49.00 PMFor Lovers of the flat character books,  perhaps Ellray Jakes is Not a Chicken.  The character isn’t much less flat, but he does learn something.   This is also a place where I might insert Alvin Ho or Calvin Coconut who seem much less flat.  I insert male protagonists here because I am thinking about certain flat characters.  If your flat characters are perhaps fairies,  I think Spiderwick might work or perhaps you could work in some strong girls like,  Lola Levine or  Dyamonde DanielsJasmine Toguchi, or Sofia MartinezScreen Shot 2019-03-17 at 8.47.35 PM

definitely a theme here

All these books are not expensive.  They are relatively easy to read and find.  They are part of a series.  And… we will be book tasting them very soon in a third grade near me.

So my teacher colleague and I read and talked about some books.  Some fresh books will come and be loved by her friends.  Some old flat friends will stay and we’ll work through those skills with short text and picture books.  We will pick up that story another time.

Monday Bookshelf: Fairy Tale(ish) Edition #sol19

For 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.

Monday Bookshelf:  Fairy Tale(ish) Edition #sol19

March 11, 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 within a category.  Hopefully this stack will resonate.

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 4.31.28 PM.pngStack 2:  Fairy Tale, Folk Tale, Fable, Traditional Tale… Any Book with Strong Archetypes and a Lesson

Being a little tired of most fairy tales where the female character is at the whim of the male power character,  I branch out to other books that have a traditional tale feel without actually being one.  All except The Three Little Pigs, which could be either gender and seem to work with every demonstration lesson ever.  (Don’t believe me.  It’s Tammy Mulligan’s theory.  Give it a try)  For that story,  you don’t need a book.  Every single person knows what happens.  Here is a collection of books with a strong lesson, strong characters, and character change. 

 

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.28.17 PMA Camel in the Sun inspired by a retelling of a traditional Muslim hadith, or account of the words or actions of the Prophet,  this is the story of a camel whose owner only realizes his selfish ways when the Prophet appears and tends to the camel humanely.

 
Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.27.05 PMThe Wolf, The Duck, and the Mouse   This is a crazy tale where the victims change the tables on the villain.  Who is the bad guy in this story?  Perfect for the student who loves a twist.

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Little Tree  The little tree stubbornly refuses to let go and faces the consequences.  There is a strong message here about change.   Very simple text and beautiful illustrations.

 

Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.24.39 PMThe Uncorker of Ocean Bottles   I’m not sure what kept me from this book until now.  The Uncorker has the solitary job of retrieving bottles from the ocean and delivering them to the appropriate persons until one day…

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Horrible Bear   As in many of Ame Dyckman’s books,  the obvious bad guy just isn’t.  Misjudged,  the bear isn’t the one with the lesson to learn  See also  Wolfie the Bunny and Misunderstood Shark

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Chopsticks  I kind of want to include an AKR book into every category I make.  They can be used for so many.  Chopsticks think they can only work together, until… See also Spoon and Exclamation Mark.

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Bloom  is a fairy tale with an anti-hero.  She’s the solution that no one wants.  She doesn’t have to be the one to save the day,  she can give her powers away. Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.20.31 PM

 

 

 

 

Also in the Stack:    Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.58.55 PMThe Princess and the Pit Stop a delightful mashup of many tales where the heroine definitely makes things happen  Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 3.59.55 PM

After the Fall    a familiar tale with a much more satisfying ending

 

 

and  Screen Shot 2019-03-10 at 4.01.26 PM.pngWe Don’t Eat our Classmates

I have never seen this problem in a classroom and yet, I think we can all relate