Monday July 9th, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week.

Here are students completing lists of their favourite books of the year. We created this list  together.

Buddy reading with the Grade 1 class and some of my students from last year who came to visit.

#classroombookaday titles included some of my favourite nonfiction titles.

Classroom Highlights 

Working on symmetry with square tiles and pentominoes.

How cute is this book worm handmade for me by a student?

Nonfiction titles that shaped our year.

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 loved

Islandborn written by Junot Díaz with illustrations by Leo Espinosa 

This is definitely a title that will be part of my Mock Caldecott list for 2019. Lola needs to draw a picture of where she is from but she doesn’t have any memories. So she asks family, friends and members of the community to talk about images of the Island where she was born. What results is a vivid journey into memories and stories. Longer text and stunning illustrations. One of my favourites of the year.

Drawn Together written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat

I always love texts that portray intergenerational relationships. A special story about how grandson and grandfather find a way to connect

Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynold

Bursting with hope, inspiration and reassurance. Lovely little book.

Flashlight Night written by Matt Forrest Esenwinewith illustrations by Fred Koehler

What might you see when you point your flashlight into dark spaces? Gorgeous and imaginative.

Dude! by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat

One word tells this story of two little friends – a platypus and a beaver encounter a shark. What you think might happen doesn’t. Pretty cute.

Love Is by Diane Adams with illustrations by Claire Keane

One duckling and one girl that cares for her over a year. Sweet.

I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein 

Kitten meets big cats – the big cats. He is not like them, they each point out. But little Simon clearly is cat enough.

Olga #2 We’re Out of Here by Elise Gravel

Elise Gravel has a wonderfully weird mind that allows her to come up with odd and quirky books. High student appeal – the only reason I got to read this one is that summer happened and it ended up back on the shelf. The second in a series – full of humour and fun. And lots of unexpected.

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Beautiful writing takes us through the hard and heartbreak of the grieving process – sometimes so muddy and muddled we need a lot of guidance getting through. Loved Klee and all of those guiding him through. Polisner is one of my favourite YA authors. I will read anything she writes! 

Up next? I am almost finished Amal Unbound and then will be starting Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Reading Progress updates:

2018 Chapter Book Challenge: 26/60 complete

2018 Transitional Chapter books: 8/40 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 123/300 books read

Progress on challenge: 32 books behind schedule

#MustReadin2018: 15/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 15/40 titles

Diverse Books in 2018: 20/40 books read

Favourites of 2016

Which books stand out from a year of reading? It’s a difficult list to make. The turmoil is sweet though as I get to revisit favourite books and the memories I have attached to them. I made this list quickly this year. No second guessing. Quick and determined. These books are especially wonderful from the list of many that I loved this year.

The 16 books that made the final cut? They showcased beautiful words and imagery. I got lost in the sounds, in the text, in the beauty of the language and in the wonder of the illustrations. These titles also spoke to my heart. All of the emotions are here. Especially hope. Hope feels particularly important this year.

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

 Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

This year I chose 8 picture books and 8 novels. (Nonfiction favourites will be in another post)

First the picture books!

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies 

A sweet, colourful adventure that allows us to talk about loss in a gentle, imaginative way.

Grandad's Island Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Ida, Always written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso

Full of love. This book honours relationships and reveals all of the emotions in letting go.

Ida, Always  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell with illustrations by Rafael López

Art can change a neighbourhood and pull together community in some beautiful ways.

Maybe Something Beautiful  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

What is poetry? Open your eyes to the world and you will find it.

Daniel Finds a Poem  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato

Love is love. Love is love. Love is love.

Worm Loves Worm  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

When Green Becomes Tomatoes Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Poetry that lets us meander across the page picking words and images to celebrate. Perfection.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and illustrated by Julia Kuo

The search for silence. Be in awe of the calm and simplicity.

The Sound of Silence  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

 Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith

Follow a little penguin through a largely pessimistic day. Then some perspective happens (mostly) . . .

 A Penguin Problem  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

These novels completely absorbed me.

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

A lone bee buzzing in your ear. A story wrapped up in history and magic. Believe.

hour of the Bees  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

A title that celebrates family, community, resilience and strength of character. And one very amazing boy.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Captivating. Root for a kid that has much against him and can run like the wind.

ghost  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Hope wins. An emotional story of a family coping with cancer treatment and holding it together.

Counting Thyme  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

A 9/11 story. In the midst of loss, shock and pain is connection, hope and love.

 The Memory of Things  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

When Friendship Followed me Home by Paul Griffin

There will be tears. Sadness. Bits of your heart will break. Worth it. So worth it.

when-friendship-followed-me-home  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Full of adventure, wartime atrocities, human kindness and connection. Incredible historical fiction.

Salt to the sea  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Beautiful, emotional and raw. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

Pax  Favourites of 2016 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . .

Wishing everyone a 2017 full of new favourites and lots of reading!

Monday December 12th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. I love finding readers perched everywhere during Reading Workshop time.

Monday December 12th, 2016 There's a Book for That

There was also some amazing art produced by my students this week. So many self-portraits were incredible. So I thought I would choose the one that belongs to that reader on the small stool above. I am in absolute awe of the artists in my room.

Monday December 12th, 2016 There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. This week we explored unexpected friendships and belonging.

Monday December 12th, 2016 There's a Book for That

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.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

25 books: 2016 Picture Books to Gift this Season Is some picture book shopping on your list? #GiveBooks

gift-books-2016

Books I enjoyed:

The Big Snow by Jonathan Bean

Yes, waiting for the snow can feel endless but when the world is blanketed in white then . . . wow. This book captures exactly that.

 Big Snow Monday December 12th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

While I still don’t love the idea of tattoos personally, this is sure a beautiful book of the many stories that make a life.

tellmeatattoostory

The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien

Oh blobfish, 2016 seems to be your year in picture books! This is very amusing and informative.

 The Blobfish Book

Your Alien Returns by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Goro Fujita

There are friends and there is home. Both have lots of appeal. A playdate that involves leaving the planet? Well, that is beyond exciting! But other places can make us feel literally like the other. Thankfully, our friends know how to make us feel at home. Home and away are both celebrated here in this sweet little story.

 Your Alien Returns

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes

The illustrations here are incredible – I am hopeful that another picture book is in Homes’ future (looks like there is one in Spring 2017: Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets). This is an incredible picture book biography told through poetic and lyrical language. Fannie Lou Hamer’s life is captured here – her struggles, her triumphs and her many inspirations.

voice-of-freedom-fannie-lou-hamer

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner

Just an incredible read. Beautiful writing. A story about loss and hope and connection. Like a spotlight shone on one family when the world seemed to shut down. Highly, highly recommended. Gae Polisner you are a wonder. This story of 9/11 is unforgettable.

the-memory-of-things

The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill  

In so many ways absolutely beautiful – what a story! That fantasy and nature intertwined was probably my favourite aspect. The only thing keeping me from giving it 5 stars was the idea of audience. Some themes seemed too dark for a middle grade audience. When I think of my Grade 4 & 5 class even as readers next year, I can only think of one child who would totally devour this on her own. That being said, I would have read it to my children when they were 10 or 11 and we would have loved the experience. The characters are wonderful – I adored Luna.

the-girl-who-drank-the-moon

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 61/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 324/400 books read

Progress on challenge: 53 books behind! Can’t break that 50 mark!

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 44/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 47/50 books read

Up next? Reading Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

Sad books: Slice of Life #15

Be warned, I am about to rant a little. Yikes and oh my, I think we need to be so careful with how we talk about books we don’t like.

I just read a comment about how books about grief are boring. Okay, sure, not every reader loves every kind of book. Personal preference reigns supreme in the literary world. I just don’t understand why some people bash emotional books. If a book explores death, grief, sickness, pain or suffering, it is painted with a wide sloppy brush saturated in black paint: too dark, too sad, too depressing, to be avoided.

It is “too easy to write about grief” the criticism continued. Grief seems, to me, one of the most complicated things to write about. At least to write well. It is comprised of such a range of feelings: anger, sadness, guilt, confusion, pain. To hit all of these things correctly for a character. Believably. Honestly. This is not easy.

Grief and hope are intertwined. When a character stands balanced precariously between them, that is when the reader feels the most. Achieving that balance in life or in words, is not even close to easy.  But it is truly beautiful.

Sad Books #sol16

Readers seek out what they need. When we find books that allow us to experience emotions we can explore vicariously and from a distance, a book can really be the right book at the right time.

Stories let us choose our vantage point: witness, companion, fully immersed. That choice keeps us safe. That choice lets us have the experience we need.

I know I have avoided highly emotional books out of fear of my own strong reactions. Books that especially scare me? Books where children die, go missing or contract an incurable disease. But honestly, when I finally pick up emotional titles and let myself be surrounded by the story, it is here, where I feel the most human. Sometimes, turned inside out and raw but sharp and clear and wiser.

Not that I am an advocate for only sad books. Hardly! Different readers want different experiences and they seek out books looking for a myriad of things: adventure, action, humour, drama, escape, high fantasy, etc. No one genre makes us more or less of a reader.

For a while I thought amusing stories were fun but kind of forgettable. Then I began sharing silly, funny and absurd stories with my students. There is nothing like the amused joy of a room full of children sharing a story together! Laughing deep and contagiously? It doesn’t get much better.

Lots of books. Lots of genres. Available for lots of readers. This is how it should be. If we are in the business of helping books land in the hands of readers, we should not be painting any genre with a dismissive sweep. Instead, we should be polishing the shelves and helping them all shine.

And since I feel the current need to be champion for highly emotional stories (of the middle grade/young adult variety), I am going to share ten of my favourites.

Read one or all ten.

Cry a little and feel big.

The older I get, the more I realize that every time your heart breaks a little, it heals a little stronger with room for more.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Bird written by Crystal Chan

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

See you at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

The Summer of Letting Go written by Gae Polisner

The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Each Little Bird That Sings written by Deborah Wiles

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out

I am celebrating the characters in middle grade and young adult novels who make strong impressions. When you read a lot of novels, there is the wonderful opportunity to “meet” many incredible characters. First, it was these 25 boys that I wanted to highlight. Now, it’s time for the girls!

These are the female characters who have stayed with me. I sometimes worry about them. I stop and remember their actions. The big and bold things and the quietly brave. I admire their choices, the way they move on from mistakes, their soul searching. I honour these 25 girls who live beyond the pages of the books they live in.

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Sophie in Endangered written by Eliot Schrefer

Endangered In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Francesca Schnell in The Summer of Letting Go written by Gae Polisner

The Summer of Letting Go In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Flora Belle Buckman in Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo

flora and ulysses In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Marlee in The Lions of Little Rock written by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock  In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Jewel in Bird written by Crystal Chan

Bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Comfort Snowberger in Each Little Bird That Sings written by Deborah Wiles

each little bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Fern in See you at Harry’s written by Jo Knowles

 see You at Harry's In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Vera in Please Ignore Vera Dietz written by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgie Burkhardt in One Came Home written by Amy Timberlake

one came home In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

May in May B. written by Caroline Starr Rose

May-B In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hattie Brooks in Hattie Big Sky written by Kirby Larson

hattie-big-sky In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Calpurnia Virginia Tate in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate written by Jacqueline Kelly

Evolution-of-Calpurnia-Tate In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucy in Half a Chance written by Cynthia Lord

Half a Chance In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Josie in Out of the Easy written by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Stargirl Caraway in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

stargirl In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gloriana (Glory) June Hemphill in Glory Be written by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gabi Hernandez in Gabi, A Girl in Pieces written by Isabel Quintero

Gabi A girl in pieces In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Turtle in Turtle in Paradise written by Jennifer L. Holm 

 Turtle in Paradise In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak

book thief In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgina Hayes in How to Steal a Dog written by Barbara O’Connor

 how to Steal a Dog In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hayley Kincain in The Impossible Knife of Memory written by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossible knife In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Rose in Rain Reign written by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Carley Connors in One for the Murphys written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

OnefortheMurphys In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Piddy Sanchez in Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass written by Meg Medina

yaqui In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Willow Chance in  Counting by 7s written by Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting by 7s In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

Favourites of 2014

Here are my favourite titles of 2014! Another wonderful year of reading – always in awe of the amazing authors and illustrators out there that give us the important gift of stories.

The best of the best (published in 2014) for me?

14 favourites and no more than 14 words of raving about each title. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2013 (13 books, 13 words) and in 2012 (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. This year I get one more book and one more word to play with! 🙂

This year I chose to spread my book love evenly between picture books and novels. 7 and 7. I will be sharing my nonfiction favourites in a post of their own this week so I focussed a little more on fiction here.

In no particular order – my 7 favourite picture books of 2014:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth.

Sparky Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Dream. Be courageous. Such messages.

 Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

ivan Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

A cover that hints at mystery and strange happenings and . . . ? Tender. Sweet. Kind

 The Farmer and the Clown Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

Persistence and love wrapped in brown, green and a little brother’s smile.

 The Girl and the Bicycle Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

A story starts with a blank white page . . .

 Any Questions Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Pulls you deep into a “theorizing hole.” Digging in, around and out is highly satisfying.

 sam and Dave Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

And the novels that touched me – often making me pause and just connect with the state of being and living and loving. Novels roll out stories that transform our thinking with beautiful words on a page – the characters in these books have stuck with me.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

Vulnerability. A touching exploration of grief. Superb writing and of course, little Frankie Sky.

 The Summer of Letting Go Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Bird by Crystal Chan

One girl raised in grief and superstition chases living. Sad and spectacular imagery.

 Bird Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Friendship trials and celebrations. Growing up with hearing loss and super powers.

El Deafo Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Chirp. Joey. Solid but broken. Love their observations, their coping strategies, their complicated friendship.

Nest Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Tears, faith, outrage, peace. What a story. Wiles pulls you right into 1964.

Revolution Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose does things differently. But much a lot more bravely. Such a read.

Rain Reign Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Full of raw mistakes and huge hopes. Energizing despite the grief and pain.

I'll Give you the sun Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . . 

Fall Update: #MustReadin2014

I have been sitting at 20/30 titles read on my #MustReadin2014 list for so long that I thought I had read nothing since the summer update in July. This morning I finished a book on the list which brings me to 21/30 titles read so I thought, hurrah! I can list one book. But then I realized I have actually read four novels from this list. Wow!

must read in 2014 challenge

What have I read since the beginning of July?

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer  (Read July 5th, 2014) YA novel 4 stars

I am fully captivated by these Lunar Chronicles stories even though I never thought I was going to be. I read Cinder on a whim and was hooked. I particularly love how all of the characters from previous books still play starring roles in the ongoing storylines. Dramatic, suspenseful, interesting characters. Great YA fantasy!

 Cress Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner  (Read July 15th, 2014) YA novel 5 stars

Should have been just so sad but somehow this title was light and full of hope. Truly beautifully done -this is the YA fiction I want my daughter to read as a teen. Easily one of my favourite YA titles of 2014. I loved the vulnerability in the characters, the exploration of grief, the superb writing and of course, little Frankie Sky.

 The Summer of Letting Go Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

We were Liars by E. Lockhart (Read July 15th, 2014) YA novel 5 stars

Eerie. Haunting. Painful. Beautiful. Captures family dynamics – holding these messy aspects up in all of their raw and real glory. If you have read this book, you know, it isn’t possible to write details that aren’t spoilers.

 We Were Liars Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

After Iris by Natasha Farrant (Read October 13th, 2014) MG novel 5 stars

I so loved this book – I am a fan of the chaos, eccentricities and love in this Gadsby family. But whoa, these parents . . . I gave my children extra attentive hugs today in response!

 After Iris Fall Update: #MustReadin2014 There's a Book for That

How is your To Be Read list treating you? I am excited still to tackle the rest of my list while I still do other reading. However, I can already predict that I might not get to two titles on my list. One, because I just can’t lay hands on it. And the other? Every time I do pick it up from the library, I end up returning it unread. Hmm . . . But I won’t call it yet.

I think it is interesting that certain books call to us at certain times. Some of my #MustReadin2014 titles sit on my bookshelf staring at me and I keep passing them by and reach for other books. It’s not that I don’t want to read them. I just don’t want to read them now. And then the mood hits . . . 🙂

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2014 and written an update post, link up below and share on twitter using the #MustReadin2014 hashtag! Please note that you need to click on the link below and it will take you to another page.

Want to know more about #MustReadin2014? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists.