Must Read in 2017: Fall update

It’s time for the fall #MustReadin2017 update!

How are you doing with your list? Which titles have been favourites? What other books might have distracted you? It’s time to share!

I have 30 titles on my list this year and my goal is to read most of them. When I made the list, I hoped to read at least 20. I can almost guarantee that I might not get to at least 5 titles just because that’s how things often happen. Other books became priorities. I wasn’t in the mood to read a specific book when my library hold was due. I ran out of time. Reading things. Life things. At the Spring update in April, I had read 10 titles.

I am thrilled to report that I have now read  21 titles. Since April, I have completed these titles and am again sharing my thoughts and impressions:

Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key

An incredible adventure story that will have you on the edge of your seat. A Gulf Coast Hurricane creates conditions absolutely terrifying for 13 year old Cort and his two neighbours he is trying to keep safe. This story was very much in my thoughts watching the footage of all of the flooding and devastation in Texas.

Matylda, Bright and Tender by Holly M. McGhee

This little book is all kinds of tender indeed. It holds you up through the heartbreaking and consoles you through all the hard. A beautiful middle grade read about friendship and grief and all the many ways to hope.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

This YA novel is hard to put down. Fabiola Toussaint joins her aunt and female cousins in Detroit. Newly arrived from Haiti without her mother who has been detained by immigration, Fabiola has much to navigate in this new world full of dangers and threats and uncertain security.

Piecing me Together by Renée Watson 

Jade is a black student on scholarship at a mostly white private school. She questions the supports and opportunities offered to her as she struggles to figure out what she wants in her future. This title explores so many relationships: family, friendships, mentor/mentee, student/teacher. Jade’s voice is one that will weave questions into your head that will remain there for some time. Loved all of the things this book made me think about.

Hello, Universe by Erin Estrada Kelly

This might be my favourite title so far by Kelly. Four main characters and some delightful supporting roles (love Virgil’s Lola). Unique characters here. Individual. Lonely. Determined. A highly, highly recommended middle grade read.

Lucky Broken Girl  by Ruth Behar

Based on the author’s childhood. One of the best MG titles I have read this year! Ruthie Mizrahi and her family have come to New York from Cuba and slowly Ruthie is adjusting. Then a car accident lands her in a body cast and isolates her from her new world. Full of poetry, art and beautiful relationships. I can see some kids getting lost in this story and connecting to the deeply personal reflections.

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats

Fantastic historical fiction set in the Pacific Northwest. The Mercer expedition brings war widows and young women west and Jane comes along with her father’s young widow and her younger brother. Washington is vastly different than what was expected. Adventure, a strong female character and lots of interesting history!


Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt 

This novel has so many elements I love – a connection between the generations, interesting family dynamics, introspective musings. Well written, emotional realistic fiction for MG readers.

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

I absolutely adored Charlie. His journey is a must read experience.It has been weeks since I have completed this story and I keep thinking about Charlie and his family. There is some beautiful hope in this book.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

This is a book that you can’t really write about except in vague ways if you don’t want to give away plot points. Writing any specific details won’t work. I can say this. This book is a celebration of childhood. It is real and honest while being magical and mysterious. Full of wonder. Full of questions. Amazing.


Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy

Oh Miss Millie. I wish that I could come along for these walks. I loved the pace of this book. That it is quiet. Personal. Emotional.


If you have been participating in #MustReadin2017 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2017 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2017 bloggers/readers and get inspired!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2017? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists. This is a community of inspiring readers!

Our final update will be on December 28th 2017.



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


Spring Update #MustReadin2017

It’s time for our first #MustReadin2017 update!

How are you doing with your list? Making progress? Only read a few? Distracted by other titles? Please share!

Like, last year, I made a list of 30 titles and made a commitment to try and read most of them. Ideally, at least 20 is my plan. My #mustread lists serves as launch pad for my reading year. I am happy to revisit the list when I am in a reading slump or not sure of what to read next. Other times, new titles are on my radar and I don’t even think twice about the list. When I need it though, it’s there full of reading inspiration.

I am happy to report that four months into 2017, I have read ten titles. So, it looks like I am exactly on track – a third of the way into the year and I have read one third of my list.

Here are the titles I have completed with a little bit of raving about each one.

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes (MG)

Celebrate as Garvey is able to find himself and move beyond the self-doubt, the teasing and bullying and the pressure of his father’s expectations. A novel in verse.

Saving Red by Sonya Sones  (YA)

YA. A novel in verse. Many themes are covered. Mental health, homelessness, family.

The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz (MG)

Incredibly researched, full of magical and historical details. Not surprised this title was honoured when the Newbery honor titles were announced.

Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb  (MG)

So many things are explored: trust, loyalty, commitment, forgiveness, judgement, prejudice, love. A powerful middle grade read.


The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon  (YA)

This book is a story of being ridiculously human. About hope and faith and choices and kindness. About family and responsibility and dreams.


Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz (MG)

An emotional MG read about one young girl’s OCD that begins to spin out of control. Highly recommended.


It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas (MG)

This book explores the Iranian Hostage Crisis, dealing with middle school while still figuring out America and all of the complexities of family and friendship a 12 year old girl from Iran might experience. And it’s super funny and touching and so wonderfully written!


Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart (MG)

Dramatic and hard to put down. There were parts of this story I found absolutely creepy. Kids who love action driven books will love this story. Kids are devouring this book in my class. They pass it back to me and agree, “Some parts were creepy!”

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan (MG)

Holly Goldberg Sloan has a way of showcasing characters in stories that we don’t always see together.  Short is a story all about friendships between generations. It’s also about a play and all of the wonderful behind the scenes preparations. I fell in love with the characters here. A must read middle grade novel!

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen (MG)

This middle grade novel will keep readers on the edge of their seat. Weevil and Ani are very likeable characters and it is easy to cheer for them. Mystery, adventure and interesting character dynamics.

I also read and loved Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones which was on my #MustReadin2016 list and I never got to it. Placing these books on a list like this really does help me keep them in mind!

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2017 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2017 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2017 bloggers/readers and get inspired! And of course, everyone loves comments to know that you have visited!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2017? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists. This is a community of inspiring readers!

Next update will be on September 7th 2017!



Monday December 26th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. This week I got a little carried away 🙂

Here is a photo of Reading Workshop taken in the last week of school. Nothing makes e happier than readers reading.

Monday December 26th, 2016 There's a Book for That

One day last week I snuck into school to label some new to my class books ready to be book talked in January. Here’s to thieving from our family bookshelves and some great new purchases!

Monday December 26th, 2016 There's a Book for That

Christmas gift bookstack (my children’s haul)

Monday December 26th, 2016 There's a Book for That

And for Elisabeth Ellington, one more student self-portrait

Monday December 26th, 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.


On the blog:

Favourites of 2016 – No more than 16 words about 16 favourite books


Books I enjoyed:

The Snurtch written by Sean Ferrell and illustrated by Charles Santoso

Well, if we all have a Snurtch – and I suppose we do – I would hope that mine is this cute. A charming story that reminds us of all the emotions and moods inside of us.


Blue Penguin by Petr Horáček

This is beautifully illustrated! My librarian friend and I went for coffee the other day but we started our visit at the bookshelf where we stood in the picture book section and helped strangers choose gifts for children and grandchildren. Something for a 3 year old? We both reached for Petr Horáček. And penguins?! Can’t go wrong.


The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond

To say that I am more than happy that Desmond is going to create a series of books on endangered animals is an understatement. Each is a treasure. This one was my holiday gift to myself. A must own title.


The Journey by Francesca Sanna

The art. The sentiments. The story. This is a collage of a collection of stories of people migrating from one home in search of another. A beautiful, important book.


The Bear Who Wasn’t There by LeUyen Pham

Go looking for a bear and you just might not find him. But lots of giggles are on every page as you meet a cast of cheeky characters.

 The Bear who Wasn't There

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley

Many endearing characters. Gertie, of course and her Aunt Rae. The only thing holding me back from 5 stars for this title is that Gertie’s personality didn’t quite match her age. She seemed younger and it distracted me. Still, looking forward to more from Kate Beasley.


A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Binder

This was a real find! Can’t wait to include this series in my classroom collection. I loved the friendship between Rip and Red. So much loyalty, faith and understanding between these characters.


LumberJanes: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson

A little too wacky, colourful and busy for my tastes but I know this graphic series is throughly enjoyed by middle grade readers.


Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

Looking for more mystery titles for my students and realized I hadn’t read this one by Mass. Really enjoyed the friendship here and Jeremy’s search for all kinds of answers.


The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage

A think a perfect summer would be to rent a little house in Tupelo Landing so that I could spy on Mo and Dale and get a closer look at their adventures. Love these books! (And yes, I know this is a fictional world but after three titles, it all seems so real)

The Odds of Getting Even  by Sheila Turnage

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 68/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 348/400 books read

Progress on challenge: 45 books behind! Under 50 books to go . . .

#MustReadin2016: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 47/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 49/50 books read

Up next? I am working on The Raven King – likely my last #mustreadin2016 I will manage to get to! I started this book in the summer but had to put it down when school got busy – it needs uninterrupted reading time.

Celebration: There Are Books for All of Us

I could say all kinds of things about the US election results. I feel all kinds of things. Fear. Shock. Worry. Pressure. Responsibility. While Trump truly is #notmypresident, a border does not separate us from humanity. I am devastated and afraid about what is happening in America for all of us. For those experiencing all of the horrible discrimination, hatred and fear in the U.S. right now and for the influence America has on the world. I worry for the American children who are worried. For the children and their families who have experienced discrimination and see it getting worse. I worry for our Canadian children who feel their own fear. What about here? Can that hate come here? Is it here already? How safe are we?

Safety feels turned on its head. Hatred feels like it got a green light. It’s early days. He’s not even the President. People are talking about feeling afraid to walk outside.

To quote Aaron Sorkin:  “Hate was given hope.”

Everything is wrong with that.

I am a mother. I am a teacher. I am a person who has spent her life advocating for children.

I am horrified.

Fear can freeze us. We need to release ourselves. Begin doing something to make a change.

Sometimes, this means something completely new. Yes, do those things. Speak up when before you didn’t. Don’t ignore what you might have in the past. Engage in the hard conversations. Be uncomfortable.

Sometimes, it is to repeat what we know. Don’t stop what you already do to make a difference. Continue. It is now even more important.

This is what I celebrate today. That despite my fear, I am not turning in circles helplessly. I know where to start.

It is in my classroom full of books.

I can walk back into my classroom Monday morning and talk about books. I can book talk. Read aloud. Provide hours every week for independent reading time.

Words reassure. They challenge our thinking. They shake things up. They soothe us and make us question the world that we know.

I celebrate that I am a reader. I know my books. I think in lists. I can reach out literally and find that book for that child. “Here is a book for you,” “There are books here for all of us.” “Read this. It’s a story you should know.”

I can offer this gift endlessly.

Stories do their magic thing. They touch us where we are most human. They remind us to think deeply. To feel in mighty ways.

Our children need this. Time and space to grapple with their questions and their worries. Stories to let them see the most in themselves and in others.

Our guidance.

A room full of books.

This I can do.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


So often I focus on picture books as the place to begin. My students are always immersed in picture books. Please immerse yours!

Today my recommendations focus on chapter books for our intermediate students. Middle Grade novels. These are the titles I want to see in the hands of my Grade 4 and 5 readers and are actually on my shelves (or soon will be). I have read every one and recommend each of them. All of these books remind us, we have no time for judgement. We must make room for kind. We are all so very different and that’s what makes our world.

Read. Share. Talk. Over and over and over again.

Listed in no organized order. I just started typing.

George by Alex Gino


Ghost by Jason Reynolds


As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

As Brave as You

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks  and Gita Varadarajan


Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood


The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly


Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Blackbird Fly

Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Nine, Ten- A September 11th Story

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Full Cicada Moon

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lai

Listen, Slowly

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai


 Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree

 Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate


 Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

Stella by Starlight

 Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Gracefully Grayson

 The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War That Saved my Life 2

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever

Revolution by Deborah Wiles


El Deafo by CeCe Bell

El Deafo

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

the red pencil

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be

Crow by Barbara Wright


Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin


Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco 

Beholding Bee

The Misfits by James Howe

The Misfits

The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata 


Wonder by R.J.Palacio

wonder 12 for 2012

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock 12 for 2012

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan


The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

cover.The Real Boy - Front Jacket - 2-13

Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai


For many more titles, visit the We Need Diverse Books site. They are many resources and book lists featured there.


Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity There's a Book for That We Need Diverse Books logo

The definition of diverse books on the We Need Diverse Books site is one that I always refer to:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

From the Mission Statement on the We Need Diverse Books site.

Issue yourself or your students The Reading Without Walls Challenge from Gene Luen Yang who is America’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Number 1 seems particularly meaningful now: Read about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.


Fall update: #MustReadin2016

As we head into the fall, It’s time to update our progress with our #MustReadin2016 lists.  Making progress? Where has your reading life taken you? Please share!


My original list had 30 titles on it. By April 1st, I had finished 12 novels from the list. Since then, I have completed 8 more.  I keep congratulating myself on choosing such fantastic reads. I also know this is much more than luck – I have a well-read reading community that helps guide my choices.


Here are the titles I had finished at our Spring update.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm 

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo 

More Happy Than Not by  Adam Silvera

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Paper Hearts by Meg Wivott   

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

Since then, I have read the following titles (listed in the order I completed each novel). I loved all of these novels and so thought I would, very briefly, attempt to convince others why these titles truly are must read books!

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Full of adventure, wartime atrocities, human kindness and connection. It also tells the story of a real historical event that many of us know nothing about – the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the biggest and most tragic disaster in maritime history. Heartbreaking, compelling, an incredible read. And, very possibly, one of my all time favourite historical fiction titles.

Salt to the sea

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

Kind of a perfect middle grade read. A title that celebrates family, community, resilience and strength of character. I have plans to read this book aloud with my new class this fall.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook by Leslie Connor

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Dramatic family relationships, young love, coming of age, and New York in 1977 and all that that means . . . the Son of Sam murders and the fear surrounding this time, fires, blackouts, financial hardships. I highly recommend this YA title.

Burn Baby Burn

Booked by Kwame Alexander

This novel in verse celebrates language, words and relationships. Throughout the book, all of these things are all wrapped up in each other in some pretty wonderful ways.


Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

This book transports the reader to a time and a place and a family and a story that you want to walk around in and experience every tiny sensation – the smells of the Mexican cooking, the sound of a lone bee buzzing in your ear, the vastness of a desert ranch, the tingling feeling of a story that is wrapped up in history and magic. I don’t always love magical realism but in this story, it worked. I wanted to believe all of it. And maybe I should . . . One of my favourite middle-grade novels of the year.

hour of the Bees

House Arrest by K.A. Holt

Just thinking about this book again and I start breathing deeply. Reading it was an emotional topsy-turvy ride. I recommend this book to everyone. It’s written in verse with words that grab tight. Released at the other end, one is transformed by incredible courage, honesty and humanity.

House Arrest by K.A. Holt

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

There is sadness here but it’s life sadness and the learning and the revelations in these characters make this such a rich MG read.

raymie nightingale (1)

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Yes, really, as good as all of the raving. I fell hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. Fantastic writing by Pennypacker.


If you have been participating in #MustReadin2016 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2016 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2016 bloggers/readers and get inspired!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2016? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists.

Next update will be on December 31st,  2016!

I am travelling today so won’t be visiting posts until later this evening. Looking forward to reading about everyone’s progress and possibly starting a draft of my #MustReadin2017 list!


Must Read in 2016 Spring update

It’s time for our first #MustReadin2016 update! How are you doing with your list? Making progress? Only read a few? Enjoying other titles? Please share!


This is my list of 30 titles and my thinking back in January:

“My goal is to try and get to most of these. Including them here guarantees they remain on my radar because as I made this list, I had very good reason for placing them on it. If the reasons remain, the book will be read. That’s usually how it works.”


I seem to be on a reading roll with this list so the reasons must have been excellent! I have read 12 titles so far, which is 40% of my list 4 months into the year. And . . . I am in the middle of 2 more of these books.

Titles I finished (listed in the order I read them):

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm 

Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo 

More Happy Than Not by  Adam Silvera

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Paper Hearts by Meg Wivott   

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

I gave each of these titles a 4 or 5 stars and at this point, I can’t really pick a favourite. All of them are well worth reading. If I had to select a few to do a little extra raving about, it would be these titles:

Stand Off by Andrew Smith (YA)

The main character in this novel (sequel to Winger) is a character everyone needs to meet. I will always have such a soft spot in my heart for Ryan Dean West. Start with Winger if you haven’t read it!

Stand Off (Winger #2)

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart (MG)

This really was some kind of courage depicted in this title. Full of adventure and still incredibly character driven. An excellent middle grade novel – wonderful as a read alone or a read aloud.

Some Kind of Courage

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart 9YA)

I adore Beth Kephart‘s writing. I truly get lost in her words and images and begin to view the world differently. More beautifully. If you have yet to read a Kephart novel, this is a lovely read.

This is the Story of You Beth Kephart

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (YA)

I read this aloud to my family (2 thirteen year olds and my husband). We all were hooked very quickly. I wept reading the final pages. A MUST for high school libraries.

All American Boys

If you have been participating in #MustReadin2016 and written an update post, please share using the #MustReadin2016 hashtag!

Leave your link in the comments if you have written a post. Please try to visit a few of the other #MustReadin2016 bloggers/readers and get inspired! And of course, everyone loves comments to know that you have visited!

Want to know more about #MustReadin2016? Read here This post also includes links to all of the bloggers who wrote Must Read lists.

Next update will be on September 1st 2016!