Favourites of 2018

While January 1st is all about looking ahead to a new year, it is also a day to gaze back. I am celebrating a year of reading that was not as vast as usual but full of quality and meaningful reads.

Which books stand out?  Which titles still enter my thoughts? Which books would I consider rereading? Which books have I read to multiple audiences? What are the books that spoke to me the loudest? Books full of wonder. Inspiration. Humanity. Sorrow and hope. Books I recommend highly. Books I am pleased to celebrate here.

The 18 books that made the final cut? I chose across multiple genres.

18 books and no more than 18 words of raving. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2017. Each year it has been the same: Favourites of 2016 (16 books, 16 words)  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!

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

“Where did your name come from?” A wonderful way to learn so much.

A House That Once Was written by Julie Fogliano with illustrations by Lane Smith

No longer a home but definitely a house full of secrets, stories and imagined memories.

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story about a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoët 

Witness what it is to be an upstander. There are all kinds of ways to respond.

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love 

Be who you are. Find your community. Feel loved. All the feels.

Julian is a mermaid

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

Sometimes it is all about being heard.

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad

A fantastic biography of a wonderfully creative individual and how she perceived the world.

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World written by Susan Hood and illustrated by 13 extraordinary female illustrators

Nonfiction perfection – inspired poetry, additional information and incredible illustrations. Introducing readers to inspiring female role models.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Root for Mason Buttle as every kind of grief soaked kind of bad luck gets thrown at him.

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Just a beautiful, heart wrenching title. Written as a diary to a mother that died in childbirth.

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh

Find hope, courage and an important reminder of what it is to be a citizen of the world. Outstanding.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang 

Immigration. The sacrifices of immigrant parents. Poverty. Discrimination. And the will and spirit of a one young girl.

Lousiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Take an emotional walk alongside Louisiana Elefante as she tells her story. Served with chocolate marble cake please.

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

Ivy’s family survives a hurricane but that’s just the beginning. Family. Loss. New love. Amazing!

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

A testament to a racist & troubled history. Family ties. Beginning friendships. Modern day mystery is woven through history.

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Chaya is a courier in the Jewish ghettos. Everything is about danger, life and death and unthinkable choices.

Resistance

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

Such a story of friendship and family dynamics is told while exploring aspects of poverty, mental health & homelessness.

No Fixed Address

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Beautiful writing takes us through the hard and heartbreak of the grieving process – sometimes overwhelmingly muddled.

In Sight of Stars

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

When first love is complicated by the rest of the world and their racist and stereoptypical perspectives.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Please share your own favourites of the year . . .

Wishing everyone a 2019 full of new favourites and lots of reading!

 

Monday February 8th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Again, I have had a 2 week gap so I might have to share a few photos!

First, I always love to share our #classroombookaday Friday vote results (fewer voters this week as many children away ill)

#classroombookaday

I loved this photo of one of my students reading her book review to an adult visitor.

#IMWAYR

I also love this reading moment – picture walking a wordless book together.

IMWAYR

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:

A nonfiction post about our Mock Sibert group on Goodreads

Two Celebration posts Last week’s The Moments and this week’s Proud! 

A Sunday Reflection post thinking about relationships in the classrooms: 6 hours x 5 days x 10 months

My very first Slice of Life post: Should Be

Books I enjoyed: (2 weeks worth so just my favourites)

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

I think this picture book has shades of pure perfection within it. A spotlight on the ridiculous must be wedding planning that occurs when love should just prevail. And please note, this is love for love’s sake. Not love that fits in any cookie cutter mold. I adore this book. I see much raving in my future.

WormLoves Worm

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Well, I am absolutely smitten. This book speaks of friendship and individuality and acceptance and patience. I am kind of in love.

Be a Friend

I thought this in process picture drawn by my newly arrived from Saudi Arabia student was particularly meaningful after reading Salina’s Nerdy Book Club post

BE a FRiend

Many students drew and wrote about this title this week when we voted for our favourite picture book of the week.

Be a Friend

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Well, well, well. A celebration of books, of voice, of change. Such a book.

The Book Itch

Funny Bones:Posada and his Day of the Dead Calveras by Duncan Tonatiuh

The 2016 Sibert medal. An incredible biography of an artist who spoke to and of the people of Mexico.

Funny Bones

Lickety-Split by Robert Heidbreder and illustrared by Dušan Petričić

Nonsense words can be ever so delightful.

Lickety-Split

What this Story needs is a Hush and a Shush by Emma J.Virján

These Pig in a Wig titles are must haves in a primary classroom. This one explores the necessity and challenges of bed time.

What this story needs is a hush and a shush

Sprout Helps Out by Rosie Winstead

Helping is not always a neat and tidy thing.

Sprout Helps Out

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I read this aloud to my family and all of us were addicted. Absolutely engaging and fast paced. Highly recommended.

A Night Divided

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Wow. This book hits on so many themes: perseverance, coming of age, friendship, finding one’s place. All with a roller derby backdrop. Pretty spectacular.

Roller Girl

More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

So, hmmm. I did really like this book. 4 stars and lots of thinking worth of liking. But, I didn’t like the main character all that much. I liked him less and less and less as the book went on. That doesn’t make a book not great for me but it leaves me unsettled. However, I loved many of the other characters. A lot. A LOT, a lot. This book rotates around some serious depression and in such a long title, I found it exhausting. Again, not a reason to not like a book. But I would say the reading experience is more unhappy than not  if truth be told. Also, there are some wild kind of plot lines here. It all works but it is a journey. So in the end, would I highly recommend this title? Not so sure. Glad to have had the experience. Glad to put it down.

More Happy Than Not

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 6/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 38/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 5/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 11/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 6/50 books read

Up next? I am reading The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

TTT

This week’s topic? The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession

A hard one to answer – I just visited the book store and did a huge hold pick up at the library. A LOT of books just came into my possession! So, I thought I would think back over the last few months and make a list that shows some variety – both in the kinds of books and the kinds of reasons I now own them.

Shared in no particular order:

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith 

I managed to purchase this book days before it was released. Andrew Smith was here in Vancouver to speak at a literacy conference so the book was brought in a little early. And I got it signed. And I got to chat books and teaching with Andrew Smith. What could be better?

 The Alex Crow Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

Jinx’s Fire by Sage Blackwood

My copy of this is an ARC that I got at nErD Camp Bellingham this spring. I own and have read the first two titles in this trilogy so can’t wait to read this one! It might be a read aloud to my children. I read them the second title and we finished it quite delightfully in the forest.

Jinx's Fire Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

I am so excited to meet Cynthia Lord next spring at the Western Washington University’s Children’s Literature Conference! I purchased this book at the end of the year from Scholastic so I could be caught up!

A Handful of stars Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I read and loved this title when it was first released. Then I heard that Jacqueline was coming to Vancouver. I purchased the first two tickets sold to see her! My husband and I had an evening out – hearing Jacqueline Woodson and all of her brilliance and then we went for dinner. I bought a copy to have signed and I smile every time I see it on my shelf.

brown girl dreaming Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

Mark of a Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen 

I am a huge fan of Jennifer Nielsen. My children and I went to see her when Vancouver Kidsbooks hosted an author evening last year. As a family we listened to The False Prince and then I read the next two titles in the series aloud to my children. I was eagerly anticipating this novel and lucky me, received it as a gift from one of my classroom volunteers. So excited to read it!

Mark of the Thief Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

Pool by JiHyeon Lee 

I am completely helpless to the power of wordless titles. When I discover one that is beautiful, I can’t resist purchasing it. This one had me at the cover.

Pool Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

Wish by Matthew Cordell 

I have a huge variety of emotional and beautiful reasons why I had to own this book. It was meant for me as I know it is meant for many who finally have their most important of all wishes granted.

WIsh-Matthew Cordell Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea 

Oh Bob Shea. You have full out giggle power over my students. I read this. Bought it. Read it aloud. Had it snatched from me. Daily, it would be momentarily returned. “Read it to all of us again.” I would. Then, snatched again. There are currently no students in my classroom. HA! I can go and read it anytime I want. Come September, I know I will never see it again. As it should be.

 Ballet Cat Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Anything Steve Jenkins does, I have to own. I am always reading some parts of a Jenkins title to my students. We learn so much, so beautifully, from this man!

Egg Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for That

I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

I have a brand new group of students this fall. I want to hook them quickly on nonfiction – what better way to do it than through humour and spiders. Learning as you laugh! Perfect.

Trying to Love Spiders Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books That Came into my Possession There's a Book for ThatWhat have you purchased/acquired lately and why?

Monday April 7th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

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. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

The novels I finished:

My children and I were very excited to finish The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen. We listened to The False Prince on a family road trip and were instantly hooked on this series. I read both The Runaway King and The Shadow Throne aloud. There is something about Jaron’s way with the world that appealed to us in many ways. This is the ideal MG trilogy – highly entertaining and engrossing. Adventure. Intrigue. Battles and Heroes. And, an ending to celebrate! “Are you sure there isn’t a fourth book?” my daughter asked as soon as we were finished. Then she went on to tell me that there might be because I probably didn’t know. I will happily be wrong on this one!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

A definite 5 stars for me. I loved so many things about this MG title. The friendships. The interactions with family. The connection to nature and the loons. The many many choices that Lucy needs to make. Take a photograph or be in the moment. Tell the truth or a creative almost version. Tell a story or adhere to a wish. The last few chapters have many amazing lines. My favourite is uttered by Grandma Lilah:

“Don’t ever choose the people who don’t matter over the ones who do.”

Half a Chance  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up in novels? My children and I started Jinx’s Magic by Sage Blackwood – all of us had read Jinx individually and really loved the story. I am starting Threatened by Eliot Schrefer. I am very curious about this book – Endangered was a favourite.

I read quite a few picture books this week. Here are my favourites:

Wild by Emily Hughes

Love, love, love! The illustrations are just incredible. I love the feel of the paper and the way that each page is so deliciously detailed. The eyes on the main character are huge and expressive throughout. I love her mossy wild hair, her knit brows and her determined stance. Her ability to wreak havoc in her unhappiness is amazing – just as her joy radiates off the page when she is truly, wild and free. I must share this with my students and see what they think. I think I might have to buy this book. It is so wonderfully unique.

Wild  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Cub’s Big World written by Sarah L Thomson and illustrated by Joe Cepeda

A sweet little story about a young polar bear discovering his Arctic habitat.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Slightly Annoying Elephant written by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross.

An elephant shows up to live at Sam’s house and all kinds of silliness begins. My students shared reviews here. Their consensus was that the elephant was more than slightly annoying!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Children who Loved Books by Peter Carnavas

This books celebrates books in many ways: owning books, reading books, treasuring books and carting books home from the library. Books make everything fit. They connect and soothe. They are necessary.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sitti’s Secrets written by Naomi Shihab Nye and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

I saw this book featured on Gathering Books blog and was able to find it at the public library. What appealed to me was a little girl getting to know her Grandmother even though they didn’t share a language in common. Many of my students don’t speak their first language fluently and find interesting ways of communicating with various relatives. There are many things I loved about this book. It celebrates that despite distance there are threads that connect us. Mona’s quick connection to her Grandmother rang so true. A beautiful book to share.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen

An appealing book on so many levels – the history, the geography, the adventure, the culture – wow. The story begins with one girl in China (ninth century China) who dreams of traveling The Silk Road trade route. Not able to travel even part of the way with her father, she asks him to bring a single pebble to send along the road to a child somewhere further along. The path of the pebble is incredible as it is passed from person to person finally ending up in Italy. My son read this book and found it fascinating – all of the old maps and interesting journey.

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Time to Sleep Sheep the Sheep! by Mo Willems

A small little bit of humour near the end gives this book an edge beyond a simple bedtime book. Fun! Perfect for buddy reading with the Ks!

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 27/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 179/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 13/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 47/65 complete

Happy Reading to all of you!

 

Must Read Titles in 2014: Spring Update

must-read-in-2014-challenge

My #MustReadin2014 list has 30 titles on it. As of today, I have read 13 of these books. Since I have read 26 novels so far in 2014, half of my reading has been from my #MustRead list. Sometimes these titles lead me off to read the rest of the series (after Legend I read Prodigy and Champion within weeks) or a sequel (after Better Nate than Ever, I read Five, Six, Seven, Nate!)

Here are the books I’ve read and the rating I gave them on Goodreads.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell  (Read January 3rd, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Legend by Marie Lu  (Read January 7th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick  (Read January 11th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Forgive me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (Read January 25th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

The Living by Matt de la Pena (Read January 31st, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo  (Read February 15th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne Lafleur (Read February 23rd, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy (Read March 6th, 2014) Rating: 4/5

Every Day After by Laura Golden  (Read March 6th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle (Read March 19th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech  (Read March 20th, 2014) Rating: 5/5

Allegiant by Veronica Roth  (Read March 23rd, 2014) Rating: 2/5

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Read March 31st, 2014) Rating: 5/5

More details of my favourite 4 from this list:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If you are no longer 18 years old, you might forget that fact while reading this book. All the vulnerability, fear, brutal soul searching and life lessons will come hurtling back at you as you experience the characters of Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell writes characters that are all about raw and true. Brilliant.

Fangirl #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

I read this aloud to my children and we adored it. It is such a fantastic book to read aloud. We savoured the quirky, the hilarious and the eccentric. We smiled at the characters. We were lulled by the whimsy. And we were charmed by the brilliance of DiCamillo. 5 stars: all glowing and magical!

#MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Add me to the long list of readers who has been utterly charmed by the character Nate Foster. I loved his small town inexperience. His candor. His charm. The fact that he talks about his parent’s marriage problems, personal problems and parenting problems. I love that he talks about not knowing who he might like in the future and that he hasn’t got a gender all picked out yet. I love his friendship with his best friend. And then there is his audition. Okay, I basically just loved all of it. And I continued to love him in the sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! 

Better Nate than Ever #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

I have had the pleasure of reading this entire trilogy to my children and this final book certainly did not disappoint. Adventure. Intrigue. Battles and Heroes. Everything a MG title needs to be fully engaging and engrossing! Highly recommend the entire trilogy if you haven’t read it yet.

 The Shadow Throne #MustReadin2014 Spring Update There's a Book for That

Some things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Matthew Quick is a must read author!
  • Dystopian series go downhill fast or remain exciting throughout. If on book 2 you have figured out which of these categories you are reading, remember this and either jump ship or keep reading.
  • There are so many Middle Grade titles to be excited about!
  • I am so glad I made this list because it has ensured that I have discovered some favourites!

How is your To Be Read list treating you?

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2014 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2014 hashtag!

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

Celebration: Time to . . .

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

I am now at the end of a two week Spring Break holiday and I am happy to celebrate time to . . .

Do the things I don’t always have time to do! Like:

Reclaim my garden from winter’s coverings and a few years of post-reno neglect. I know that the gardening bug has bit me again full force because my head is full of thoughts like this:

  • “If I make a big fruit salad, I will have more peels to put into the compost . . . “
  • “This rain is so good for the plants I just divided and transplanted.”
  • “How should I mark where I want to put bulbs in this fall?”

Celebration:  Time to . . .

Tackle the to do list This week I cleaned my closet, organized kitchen drawers, compiled receipts and sorted clothes my children have outgrown.

Visit the bookstore! I love nothing more than hours at the bookstore (Kidsbooks here in Vancouver is one of my very favourite places) to explore. I inevitably lose my children numerous times. My daughter is pretty easy to find. She is usually nestled into a corner reading – lost only in a book that has captured her.

Celebration:  Time to . . .

Read a novel with my children and keep reading when they beg for one more chapter 🙂

We are now just chapters away from finishing the highly engaging final book in the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. NielsenThe Shadow Throne.

Celebration:  Time to . . .

Write posts that have been swirling about in my head. This week I wrote a post called What also happens here? This post addresses what we don’t often write about as teachers – the upset in the room.

Celebration:  Time to . . .

 

What have you celebrated this week?

Celebration: A rich reading life

celebrate link up

Celebration honoured. This is the loveliest of reasons to share. Join Ruth Ayres who shares a Celebration Link up on her blog each week.

This week, we had a Professional Day in my District and I went to this event: Krashen Redux where I got to virtually watch a Steven Krashen talk and have numerous “discussion” breaks to talk about what we were thinking/learning in response. This was a fantastic morning with rich discussion about what the research reveals about free voluntary reading and what exactly makes a difference for children.

At our table, we talked about the importance of not just access to books and time to read them but also about how essential classroom climate is to help students become avid readers. High school teachers talked about reading when their students read to be models. When my students are reading, I am listening in and conferencing with different children. It is not about reading in front of my students that is the key piece – it is about the personal reading that I do at other times. I need to be a passionate reader who knows books so that I can book talk books, generate excitement and put the right book in the hands of the reader who needs it.  I also need to share my reading life. I tell my students about books I am reading to my children. I share with them about fantastic picture book discoveries I made at the library, books that followed me home from the bookstore and books that kept me up half the night. My students know I am a reader because I share this part of my life fully with them.

So today I am celebrating my rich reading life. Right now I am reading:

My current novel:  Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur

Listening for Lucca Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

The novel I am reading to my children: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The-Shadow-Throne Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

Nonfiction titles I am reading to my children: The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins and Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia  written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop.

The animal book Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

 Saving the Ghost of the Mountain Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

The novel I am reading to my students: Rump by Liesl Shurtliff

Rump Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

Nonfiction titles we have on the go in the classroom:

  • Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester 
  • Lifetime written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
  • Down, Down, Down by Steve Jenkins

Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

Lifetime Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

With my student book club (grades 4 to 7): Just starting Jinx by Sage Blackwood

 Jinx Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

With my Junior Book club (grades 2 and 3): Charlotte’s Web written by E.B. White

charlotte's web Celebration: A rich reading life There's a Book for That

And then of course there are the picture books that are everywhere. Titles I read at breakfast, while folding laundry, while waiting for my daughter at her class, while brushing my teeth, etc., etc., etc.,

So many books to celebrate! I feel lucky to have such a rich reading life and amazing reading communities to celebrate with like #IMWAYR,  #nfpb2014 and #nerdybookclub

Read anything great lately? Please share!