Monday January 8th, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I didn’t share a #IMWAYR post over the holidays as I was busy blogging many of my year end lists:

Nonfiction Favourites of 2017 : 10 favourites

Year End Update: #MustReadin2017

Favourites of 2017: My 17 top picks

My Must Read Novels of 2018: 30 titles I want to be sure not to miss

More information about the #MustReadin2018 challenge. Please join us!

This post will include a handful of photos from the last weeks of December in the classroom and a selection of titles I read in the last few weeks.

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. Here are a few.

We have a bit of a Katie Woo obsession going on in our room. I just purchase about 20 new titles so that everyone can have a few on the go!

Many students in the classroom love wearing noise cancelling headphones. We have five sets and they are always in use.

Can you spot the reader? Next to the plants, behind the book . . .

Our #classroombookaday titles in the final weeks of December were all about winter and snow with some fairy tales and other tales mixed in.

Classroom Highlights 

Our beloved daytime engineer Parm is moving to another school. The children wrote him heartfelt letters. We will all miss him a LOT.

During our last few weeks, the primary classes participated in Winter Stations with small groups moving through our rooms for various activities. In my room we did an art activity and when students finished, they quietly found a spot on the carpet and read. It was pure reading joy.

All of the Winter trees we finished were used to decorate the gym for the Winter concert.

I received many lovely notes and cards before the winter break. Children offer so much with their words.

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

Books I enjoyed:

Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli

This is one of the most clever wordless titles I have come across  – ever!

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

A sneak peek at a love letter to his new son about this living on the planet we call home by the brilliant Oliver Jeffers.

Rot, the Cutest in the World! by Ben Clanton

Yep, this is the cutest potato in the world. No contest. A delightful little read.

The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate (The Princess in Black #5) by Shannon  and Dean Hale

If you teach a primary classroom, Princess in Black is where it’s at! This title will be devoured by a number of little readers in my room.

Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade (Princess Posey, #1) by Stephanie Greene

Another lovely transitional chapter book series – this one honours the fears involved in growing independence as we move up the grades.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Gripping. If you can – I suggest reading this book in one sitting. It’s in verse, so very possible.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Timely. Relevant. Captivating.

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

A fairy tale retelling like you would never have imagined. Set in New York City during the 1920s, this is Snow White like you have never seen.

Up next? I am almost finished The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

My reading goals have shifted a little this year. As I have not met my Goodreads goal for two years in a row, I am trying to anticipate how I can do a lot of reading but still allow for the busy aspects of other parts of my life. Checking in here regularly helps keep me motivated.

Reading Progress updates:

2018 Chapter Book Challenge: 1/60 complete

2018 Transitional Chapter books: 1/40 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 5/300 books read

Progress on challenge: on track

#MustReadin2018: 0/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 0/40 titles

Diverse Books in 2018: 0/40 books read


For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books that you want to commit to reading in 2018.

10? 20? 30? more? It’s up to you

Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and from any category: adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc. titles.  All that matters is that they are books you want to be sure not to forget as that TBR list continues to grow! These aren’t the only titles you will read over the year, but a list to help guide your reading. A list to lure you back to a reading path you have set for yourself. Many, many new books will tempt you! Go ahead and read them but having a list like this ensures you will not forget some titles you were determined to read. At least that’s the plan 🙂

If you would like to create and share a list, contact me on twitter (@CarrieGelson) or leave a link in the comments and I will add your list to the #MustReadin2018 lists below. Everyone is welcome! I will update regularly so if you are just seeing this now – go make a list! We’ll be waiting for you.

If you want to use the image above in your sidebar, here is the image URL code:

Three updates seemed to work best so we will continue this again. If you also leave me your twitter handle (if you are on twitter) I will send you a reminder. For those not on twitter, please mark these dates in your calendar. Update posts can be shared on or around these dates – just leave your link in the comment section of my post and share it on twitter using #MustReadin2018

Spring update: Thursday April 5th, 2018

Fall update: Thursday September 6th, 2018

Year end update: Thursday December 27th, 2018

Update posts are purely optional!

They can take whatever format you wish: highlighting your favourites, reasons for not reading, simply a list of what you have read, etc. Here are last year’s update posts on my blog as an example: springfallyear-end. Other bloggers do much more creative things than me.

Ready for some inspiration?

Check out the lists.

Mine (Carrie Gelson) is here: My Must Read novels of 2018

Aaron Cleaveley shares a long Must-read-in-2018 list

Lisa Maucione shares her list here: Books I Plan to Read in 2018

Michele Knott shares her efficient system in this list: #mustreadin2018 list

Linda Baie shares her list here: #MustReadIn2018

Laura Mossa joins us for the first time with her list: My Must Reads in 2018

Jill Merkle shares a list of 2018 releases here: #mustreadin2018

Kendra Limback shares 40 titles on her list: Must Read in 2018! The Fabulous 40!

Two lists in one place from Kellee and Ricki of Unleashing Readers: Kellee and Ricki’s #MustReadin2018

Crystal Brunelle has a fantastic list inspired by this list 46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018   Crystal’s list is here: #MustReadin2018

Hannahlily Angus shares a detailed list here: Must Read in 2018

Leigh Anne Eck joins us again with this list: #MustReadin2018

Holly Mueller shares her list here: #MustReadin2018

Akilah from The Englishist includes her #MustReadin2018 as part of her wonderful Goals for 2018 post

Tricia Pfeil shares her smile worthy list here: #MustReadin2018

Cheriee Weichel shares her comprehensive lists here: #MustReadIn2018: Fiction, Nonfiction and Indigenous Authors

Dani Burtsfield joins us for the first time with her list: #MustReadin2018

Michelle Simpson shares her longest list to date: Must Read in 2018

Jennifer Green joins us this year with her list: #MustReadin2018

Bev Baird adds her #Must Read in 2018 list

Christina Carter (CeCe Librarian) joins us this year with this list: Must Read in 2018

Elisabeth Ellington contributes this list: #MustReadin2018: A Crowd-Sourced List

My Must Read Novels of 2018

For those readers and list makers, nothing is more exciting than January! The time to make an amazing list of books to read for the year!

Where will our reading lives take us? What adventures and emotions will we experience through the books we read? Always, there are endless possibilities.

So many books. Limited time.

New books to distract us from other books.

A must read list ensures not all are forgotten!

My Must Read Novels of 2018

Join the #mustreadin2018 community!

To read more about the challenge and add your list, read here.

Here are the 30 titles I am going to try and read over this year. As always these titles will represent only a portion of my reading. My goal? To read most of these. I use this list like a a road map of where to turn next when I come to a pause in my reading choices. It is always waiting to guide me. But it also waits patiently when I am distracted by new books.

Making a list like this – a To Read list – also allows us to reflect on the reading that we want to do. I know I want to emphasize middle grade novels. I also want to ensure that I am reading from various genres but honour that I will typically gravitate to realistic fiction.

This year I split my list in two. Half of these books are titles published in 2017 or earlier and the rest published in 2018. Hopefully, this will be a nice balance of newly published titles and titles that I have discovered from my fantastic PLN as not to be missed.

2017 or before

These first two titles are from my #mustreadin2017 list that I still want to read

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

WishTree by Katherine Applegate

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser  Read January 13th 2018 5/5 stars

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Titles published in 2018

Grump by Liesl Shurtliff 

The Jigsaw Jungle by Kristin Levine

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Loser’s Bracket by Chris Crutcher

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Breakout by Kate Messner

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi

Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai

Sunny by Jason Reynolds

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Knock Out by K.A. Holt

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

What novels are at the top of your TBR list? Please share! 

Favourites of 2017

Which books stand out from an entire year or reading? Titles that didn’t leave me. Books I have wanted to share. To reread. That I have particular plans for. Books that I have read to multiple audiences. Books full of the beautiful and the hopeful. Wonder. Inspiration. Humanity. Sorrow and hope. Books I recommend highly. Books I am pleased to celebrate here.

The 17 books that made the final cut? I chose everything from picture books to young adult novels. Middle grade novels. Transitional chapter books. All of it. (except for nonfiction titles – they got a list all their own)

17 books and no more than 17 words of raving. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2016 (16 books, 16 words) Each year it has been the same: Favourites of 2015 (15 books, 15 words), Favourites of 2014 (14 books, 14 words), Favourites of 2013 (13 books, 13 words) and (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. Each year, I get one more book and one more word to play with!

Favourites of 2017 There's a Book for That

17 favourites of 2017

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

Nearly wordless. All about important things. Kindness. Trust. Simplicity.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Town is by the Sea written by Joanne Schwartz and illustrated by Sydney Smith

Daily life in a Cape Breton mining town. Illustrations that literally freeze place and time. 

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Our voices cannot be silenced. Timely and timeless.

the-rooster-who-would-not-be-quiet Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin

Wordless and wonderful. Rich with kindness and longing for how we connect.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for ThatMy Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo

How can we leave one life to begin another? A refugee experience full of sadness and hope.


The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

A creative and inspiring journey that celebrates how what goes wrong is equally exactly right.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Now by Antoinette Portis

Being in the moment has never been celebrated with such lovely wonder and beauty.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

Out of Wonder Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjorie Wentworth illustrations by Ekua Holmes

Oh this book of poems and art. Kind of speechless.

Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy (Charlie & Mouse, #2) written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Emily Hughes

Endearing and lovely. Sibling antics. Silly stories. Hilarious illustrations. Reading gold.

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold 

Bat, his family and a little orphaned skunk make up a cast of characters that you must meet.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

So I kind of love everything about Clayton Byrd.

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King (A.S. King) 

I can’t get Obe and Marvin Gardens out of my head.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

Suspend belief. Be uncertain. Allow yourself to get lost in this story. Incredible writing.

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

I adore Alex Petroski. His journey to capture the essence of Earth reveals his vulnerable,  complicated existence.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

An isolated setting. Unique characters. Mystery and intrigue and simplicity that makes a can’t put down story.

Refugee by Alan Gratz.

You will cry. Shake your head. Fret. Dream terrible things. Read this book. Hand it to everyone.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Necessary reading for anyone who happens to currently be human. Deserving of all the hype.

Please share your own favourites of the year . . .

Wishing everyone a 2018 full of new favourites and lots of reading!


Year End Update: #MustReadin2017

In January, I had 30 titles on my #MustReadin2017 list and the intention to read at least 20 of these books. Distractions always happen and sometimes certain books are not to be read. Some books are in the pile and just haven’t been read yet. The year isn’t over – perhaps I will be updating this update in the next few days!

Making a list like this is about being enthused about a year of reading ahead. It is also about building community. 30 other bloggers joined me in making #MustReadin2017 lists of their own. Many people remained connected all year, posting (purely optional always) updates.  Others only occasionally glanced at their lists. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about being excited about an ever growing and changing book list.

I started teaching Grade 3 again this fall and ended up reading numerous transitional chapter books which pulled me away from MG and YA novel reading but I still finished 25 out of the 30 titles on my list!

I have posted updates all year so will include just a few words about the last books on this list that I finished. Our last update was in early September. I finished these four titles since that date.

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

So much here – this books explores the amazing and the challenging about family and friendships and allows us to question what matters when it comes to home and security. What is important enough to wish for? As always, I adore Barbara O’Connor.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Oh my goodness me. This book is fantastic. Creepy. Gruesome. Lots of blood and gore but lots of suspense and great story telling (and retelling) Despite the creepy and violent parts, this is definite middle grade material! Fairy tale sharing at its finest.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

I was so excited to finally have the chance to read this book and I couldn’t put it down. It was full of surprises and the ending just about knocked me over. I now feel like my students who read Mighty Jack last year and then whined all year about the second in the series not yet being published. Just wondering . . . when is Book 3 coming?


Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

This book is beautiful and really quite brilliant. I loved hearing Matt Phelan talk about this title in Bellingham last spring and treasure that my copy happens to be signed. A fairy tale retelling like you would never have imagined. Set in New York City during the 1920s, this is Snow White like you have never seen.

snow-whiteWant to know more about #MustReadin2017? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read in 2017 lists.

Thinking about joining us for 2018? Please do! Make a list and read some, none or all of the titles on it. Reading is amazing but reading plans are pretty wonderful too! Just reading all of the lists is a great reason to pour a big cup of coffee and do some book dreaming! I am always in awe of the creative ways people plan and think about their reading lives.

We will be sharing lists beginning January 2nd 2018! Please join in using the twitter hashtag #mustreadin2018 or by leaving me a comment on this blog (when the post is up) and I will add your list.

Nonfiction favourites from 2017

I haven’t read as many nonfiction titles as I would have liked to read this year. There are still titles on my To Read list that are likely to become favourites, perhaps even making their way on to this list. I definitely haven’t posted many #nfpb2017 posts.

Bur I have been reading and sharing and appreciating. Books from my nonfiction picture book collection are always well used and well loved. There have been some pretty amazing titles that I have had the pleasure of reading and I am sharing them here.

Here are my top ten of 2017 (published in 2017). Listed alphabetically by author.

Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton

Follow along as a reluctant bee enthusiast becomes convinced of the wonder and importance of bees. Entertaining and informative!

Penguin Day: A Family Story by Nic Bishop 

This title allows us to follow a penguin family through a typical day. Incredible photographs by Bishop of Rockhopper penguins in the Falkland Islands.

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Jason Chin is incredible. I believe that more and more with each book I read. Take a journey back and forth through time as you hike down, up and around the Grand Canyon.

What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures written by Jess Keating and illustrated by David DeGrand

The second title in this series by Jess Keating. So. Much. Fun. Keating makes learning an adventure in the wow and wild!

This is How We Do it: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe

What do you eat for dinner? What is school like?  What is your daily routine? What do you do for fun? How do you help your family? These details define us and unite us. They make us realize how we all have similar routines even though things in our day can be vastly different. Based on the lives of seven real children from around the world.

Gift Books 2017: 25 Picture Books to Gift this Season There's a Book for That

If You Were the Moon written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Jaime Kim

What would you do if you were the moon? A poem travels line by line, page by page on one side of each two page spread and on the other, more information about the moon. Incredible illustrations by Jaime Kim accompanies a lyrical poem.

Can an Aardvark Bark? written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Created by nonfiction royalty, this book is a winner! Animal sounds. And many other cool things you might have wondered. I recently listened to Melissa Stewart talking about this book with Matthew Winner on an All the Wonders Podcast.

The Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler

A photographic journey of the life cycle of the toad. Clear specific language, lots of essential vocabulary and incredible close up images.

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams

A nonfiction title exploring ecosystems and the importance of keeping oceans healthy. Children will develop an understanding of food chains and how living creatures are interconnected in specific environments.

The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zana Hadid by Jeanette Winter

Zaha Hadid had incredible vision but having her designs come to life was a struggle. Learn more about the architect’s life in this nonfiction picture book biography. Images by Winter are spectacular.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2017. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

Monday December 11th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Sharing reading and learning from the past 2 weeks.

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. I love this photo of Ms. B who works in my classroom (and her helpful page turning assistant) reading a book to a group of avid listeners.

Proud Mama and new reader of the chapter book series Heidi Hecklebeck. These moments 🙂

Our #classroombookaday titles last week were all about persistence and working to solve a problem.

This week we highlighted sibling relationships.

I loved reading student writing about these books.

Again, we noticed the importance of persistence!

Classroom Highlights 

My Monday posts now also contain some sharing from our week in the classroom.

We did counting collections this week and used lots of spaces and containers to count a myriad of things: seashells, buttons, bread ties, bottle caps, etc.

As we have explored addition and subtraction equations with unknown numbers we have used numerous materials including Cuisenairre rods, unifex cubes and number charts to help us visualize and represent problems.

We did lots of learning in these past two weeks and lots of playful explorations with our classmates. So much creativity is expressed through play.

In case you missed it – I have compiled my list of gift book recommendations for 2017: 25 amazing titles! Read about them here.

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

Books I enjoyed:

The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein

One boy. One whale tangled in a fishing net. Should the boy disobey his father and risk potential danger to save the whale? Such a story.

Sleep Tight Farm: A Farm Prepares for Winter written by Eugenie Doyle and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

Such interesting details and routines are involved in putting a farm to bed for the winter. A family works together to complete each important chore.

Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam

A breathtaking wordless title.

You’re All Kinds of Wonderful by Nancy Tillman

A celebration of finding our gifts and honouring what is unique about each of us.

Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton

What a fun way to learn about bees! Follow along as a reluctant bee enthusiast becomes convinced of the wonder and importance of bees. Entertaining and informative! A must have for school and classroom libraries.

Things to Do by Elaine Magliaro and illustrated by Catia Chien

Read to celebrate the wonder of the world. Use as a mentor text for poetry writing. This book will be read again and again. So excited it is now part of our classroom collection.

Chasing Augustus by Kimberly Newton Fusco

I adored Fusco’s earlier middle grade novel Beholding Bee and have now met another memorable character in Rosie. After her Dad has a stroke, Rosie finds herself living with a grandfather ill prepared for a granddaughter. She also finds herself without her loveable dog Augustus. Determined to find him and bring him home, Rosie battles the world.

Up next? I am reading The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan