My Must Read Titles for 2019

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!

#MustReadin2019

Join the #MustReadin2019 community!

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

MustReadnovels

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 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. Often, I am.

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 didn’t read as much as I usually do in 2018 so my list has more titles that are published in 2018 or earlier (19 titles) and fewer 2019 releases (11 titles).

Here is my list:

Published in 2018 or earlier

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

The Soul of an Octopus

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing

After Zero by Christina Collins

After Zero

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka Read April 7th 2019 5 stars

Hey, Kiddo

The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson Read April 19th 2019 5 stars

The Dollar Kids

Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor
Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson Read January 6th 2019 5 stars

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena  Read February 11th 2019 4 stars

A Girl Like That

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway Read February 17th 2019 5 stars

Far from the Tree

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden  Read March 19th 2019 5 stars

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Lu by Jason Reynolds

Lu

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan Read January 22nd 2019 4 stars

All that I can fix, chan

From You to Me by K.A. Holt

Girl sitting on pier and lookingat the river

Sweep The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier  Read March 24th 2019 5 stars

Sweep

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Tight

Wild Blues by Beth Kephart Read January 29th 2019 5 stars

Wild Blues

(Time Castaways #1) The Mona Lisa Key by Liesl Shurtliff

The Mona lisa key

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang  Read March 2nd 2019 5 stars

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Published in 2019 

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman Read June 16th 2019 5 stars

Padma Venkatraman The Bridge Home

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu Read May 12th 2019 5 stars

The Lost Girl

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart  Read July 2nd 2019 5 stars

Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Dig by A.S. King

Dig, King

Song for A Whale by Lynne Kelly

Song for A Whale

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt Read March 7th 2019 4 stars

Shouting at the Rain

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Wargather Read September 17th 2019 5 stars

 

OtherWordsHome

The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith Read June 16th 2019 5 stars

Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

To Night Owl from Dogfish

Where the Heart is by Jo Knowles

Where the Heart is

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James by Ashley Herring Blake

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James

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

 

Year End Update: #MustReadin2018

In January, I had 30 titles on my #MustReadin2018 list and a plan: read at least 20 books on the list.  Permission to read most of the titles makes for a more enjoyable year of reading. I still have unread titles on my list. Some I likely will not read and some just haven’t been read yet. The year isn’t over – perhaps I will be updating this post in the next few days!

MustReadin2018

Making a list like this is about being enthused about a year of reading ahead. It is also about building community. 24 other bloggers joined me in making #MustReadin2018 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. And sometimes, just making the list signifies a commitment to being a reader even if you don’t read a single title from your list! Other reading happens.

MustReadin2018

This year, I finished 23 out of the 30 titles. I am very pleased with this as I feel like my reading “volume” has slipped a lot this year. I am working hard to have work life balance and while reading is definitely in the “life” not “work” category, other things have pulled me away from being constantly lost in a book. Like dance classes. My family. The garden. I can read while folding laundry but don’t think I will ever figure out how to read and still tap dance!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 September. I finished these four titles since that date.

Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl ShurtliffI

I was so very pleasantly surprised that I was able to fall into this story so fully and be transported to the imaginative fairy tale world that Shurtliff can build so wonderfully. I still love Rump the best, but this title is a close second. Can’t wait to see where Liesl Shurtliff goes next!

Grump- The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Sunny by Jason Reynolds

I so loved Ghost, the first title in the Track series. Through first Patina and now Sunny, we have been able to read about the other characters in depth. It was hard to sit still while reading this book (now I understand why the audio edition is so highly recommended). The reader needs to bounce, tap, shimmy and shake while reading. Sunny is a must meet character.

Sunny Jason Reynolds

Breakout by Kate Messner

Whoa. This book has so much going on beyond a prison break in a small town. It tackles a myriad of themes: friendship, systemic racism, small town dynamics, growing up. It is told through a collection of pieces meant for a time capsule: news articles, journal entries, text messages, transcribed recordings and some pretty incredible poetry (with hat tips to some sensational writers like Jacqueline Woodson, Nikki Grimes and Lin Manuel-Miranda), One main character has a brother in the prison, one has a family member soon to be named as a suspect and one has a father who is the superintendent  of the town’s maximum security prison. Highly recommended.

Breakout Kate Messner

Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

Such a read. Walk through Vincent and Theo Van Gogh’s lives as though walking through a museum. Stop and enjoy a scene from their childhood. Marvel at their supportive connections. Shake your head at their many intense quarrels. Peek at their relationships – often unrequited, hidden or secretive and never ending in happiness. watch as Vincent settles into the life as artist. It is far from easy. But each step is fascinating. An emotional, beautifully written, well-researched story of the lives of Vincent and his brother, Theo Van Gogh.

Vincent and Theo- The Van Gogh Brothers

Want to know more about #MustReadin2018? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read in 2018 lists.

Thinking about joining us for 2019? 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 1st 2019! Please join in using the twitter hashtag #mustreadin2019 or by leaving me a comment on this blog (when the post is up) and I will add your list.

 

 

 

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

Monday August 7th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a  reading photo of the week.

This week, I would like to instead share an article. I had the honour of sharing a student’s story –  first with author/illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo and then with writer Alexandra Alter about Suzanne’s incredible book My Beautiful Birds. Alexandra included this story in her New York Times article

Children’s Authors Take on the Refugee Crisis

It was an unforgettable experience to organize a Skype with Alexandra and Nour and listen as Nour told her story. It will be something that I think about forever – the resilience and hope and love in this young girl’s voice as she talked about everything that she’s lost and found.

I am sharing this here with the #IMWAYR community because I know all of you know the power of books to change lives. This book told Nour’s story and gave her truth voice and audience. So powerful.

If you haven’t yet read this book – buy it! It’s a must have for our school and classroom libraries.

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.

On the blog:

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed

This is the second in a series of posts about working in the classroom library over the summer break.

Books I enjoyed:

I had a bookstore visit and read a lot of picture books and nonfiction titles this week. Some even followed me home. Surprise, surprise!

Some of my favourites:

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

This title is an incredible celebration of looking at “mistakes” as opportunities instead of something purely negative and wrong. A creative and inspiring journey. Such an important title to share in our classrooms.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist written by Jess Keating and illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns

Eugenie Clark is some kind of incredible! A scientist. A risk taker. A creative thinker that allowed the world to look at sharks through a different lens. Jess Keating shares Eugenie’s story to honour and celebrate curiosity and perseverance. Lots of additional information in the back pages including a detailed time line of Clark’s life and accomplishments. Gorgeous end pages too!

Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Matt Ottley

This is a somewhat haunting and extremely beautiful story about a boy who must leave his homeland in a boat clutching a teacup full of soil The ocean journey brings peace, drama and unexpected surprises as he sails in search of a new home.

Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead 

Gentle and sweet. A book about compassion and care.

Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

A lovely little wordless title with lots of room for talk and questions. What is community? Who should we care about? What matters?

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

A completely endearing title about one little boy’s route to being brave. Loved.

A Squiggly Story written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Mike Lowery

Perfect for writer’s workshop. Clearly sends the message that all writing is story telling – marks on the page, drawings, words (regardless of spelling). I I were a K or Grade 1 teacher, I would be snapping this one up. As a Grade 3 teacher, I am also pretty tempted.

Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

Power plays on the playground have lots of dynamics. Creatively explored in this little gem.

This Beautiful Day written by Richard Jackson with illustrations by Suzy Lee

This beautiful book. Wow is Suzy Lee talented! A celebration of rainy days and optimistic attitudes. Lovely all around.

If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel by Elise Gravel

So I am calling this a favourite, fought over classroom book for 2017/2018. And I KNOW I am going to be right. This book will be inspiring some funky sketchbooks in my students’ futures. Again, guaranteed.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

So I kind of love everything about Clayton Byrd. And Williams-Garcia, whoa, can this woman write! A must read middle grade title.

Alvin Ho (Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things) by Lenore Look with illustrations by LeUyen Pham

I was pretty thrilled to find this title as I think it will be my first classroom read aloud in the fall. A lot of things in the world frighten and overwhelm Alvin including speaking out loud at school. So wonderfully portrayed in a humorous, relatable way by Look. I am buying the series!

Patina by Jason Reynolds

I share all of my book love for this title (released later this month) here.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 43/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 185/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 32 books behind schedule (ten better than last week!)

#MustReadin2017: 18/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 25/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 31/50 books read

Up next? I am reading The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Patina

I must admit that I am now somewhat fearful when I pick up a new Jason Reynolds novel. Mostly, the anticipatory joy takes over. But there is a little piece of worry. Everything he writes is just beyond beyond. What if this book isn’t?

Hah! It doesn’t ever happen. A few chapters in and the inkling of worry disappears and I begin to sail through his beautiful story. Gathering up characters to love. Rereading particular passages. Settling down into a time and place that he creates.

Patina, follows Ghost as the second title in ReynoldsTrack series.

From Goodreads:

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this?

Patina By Jason Reynolds There's a Book for That

My thoughts:

You can lose a lot of things: luck, people, races, the social game of school. But these losses are temporary unless you let them take you down. At the same time, when you keep going – one powerful step in front of the other – you are collecting wins. Some days, you can look around and notice them all. Different things than what you lost. Maybe, somehow, more.

Patina is a story of survival. Of keeping on. Family. Connections. Amassing it all around you. Red beads in a multitude of braids. Finger nails painted in a hero’s style. The security in same old, same old turkey wings. Daily car rides filled with chitter chatter. Sunday visits.

Patina is a sister. A daughter. A niece. A teammate. A runner. A fast one. Sometimes, it seems that the races speed her away from everything. But each painful and powerful step counts. Each one gets her there.

When you are running for two people, it’s not about stamping out the rage. It’s about racing for the love.

Resilience. Community. Family. Strength. Power.

This book delivers.

Thank you to Jacquelynne from Simon and Schuster Canada for the review copy.

Releases August 29th, 2017

 

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 October 31st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This week I snapped a photo of brothers visiting my room in the morning before school and reading together. It doesn’t get much cuter than this.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

We have continued to explore themes for our #classroombookaday titles. What theme do you see in these titles?

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

And these? Just in time for Halloween! (Sorry for the blurry image) #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I actually blogged this week! Sharing celebrations of my growing learning community 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.

IMWAYR 2015

Books I enjoyed:

Dreams of Freedom in Words and Pictures by Amnesty International

I love the possibilities this book offers us in our potential conversations about human rights and freedom. Beautiful, beautiful illustrations.

dreams-of-freedom

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer with illustrations by Frann Preston-Ganon

An acorn is the beginning. A story of the Earth, environment, nature and the possibility of a tree. Such beautiful art.

because-of-an-acorn

The Water Princess by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This might be my favourite title by this author/illustrator pairing. I wish it had existed when I was studying water and access to water with my class last year as it would have been a wonderful complement to the titles I shared with the students. The illustrations here are incredible.

the-water-princess

The Storyteller by Evan Turk

Speaking of incredible illustrations – I don’t even have words. This will be part of my #MockCaldecott2017 list for sure. I am in absolute awe. Storytelling is the theme – told through stunning art, a visual journey and a tale that weaves into another tale into another . . .

the-storyteller-by-evan-turk

 The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson

A fun early graphic series. These little school pets have some big personalities.

the-great-pet-escape

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Impossible to put down. Impossible to not bemoan that the next title is not yet published. Impossible to not visit a myriad of emotions on every page. Absolutely one of my favourite middle grade titles of the year. Everything from Jason Reynolds is 5 glowing stars.

ghost

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

This was gifted to me by my mother in law and I was waiting for the right mood to hit so I could sit and savour this little book. For those that love nature, who believe in the power of deep thought and introspection, who realize that life and health is some kind of miracle, this book is a must read. A rare adult read for me. So very special.

the-sound-of-a-wild-snail-eating

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 48/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 283/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 22/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 37/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

I am currently almost finished Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk