Monday September 17th, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week. Now that we are back to school and I have my new class, I have some photos to share.

I love this one: “I found a big WOW!”

One reader with a big pile of books.

Reading is better with a friend.

Ks came to buddy read!

#classroombookaday titles on the theme of friendship. We learned that sometimes we find friends in unexpected ways.

Classroom Highlights 

Dot day art making was a lot of fun!

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:

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates, co written with Juniper Bates 

A big message – we all belong and there is room for all of us. Wow, is this one timely. Gorgeous.

Let Me Finish! written by Minh Lé and illustrated by Isabel Roxas

A clever way to send the message – don’t spoil the story! Would pair wonderfully with How to Read a Story and Interrupting Chicken. Excited to share this one with my class.

Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre. 

A seasonal stunner. Going to be first up tomorrow and will lead the way for a number of other books celebrating autumn. Photographs and poetic text are purely spectacular.

Mission Defrostable (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast #3) written by Josh Funk with illustrations byBrendan Kearney

Another rhyming escapade full of adventure in the fridge (and now freezer). This one has a whole lot of humour and some mysterious surprises.  Huge kid appeal.

The Itchy Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Like Reading book) by LeUyen Pham

Is it possible to read this book aloud and not get itchy? Not smirk if not out and out giggle? Nope.

A True Home (Heartwood Hotel #1) by Kallie George

I finally got to read the first book in this series (a little longer than many transitional chapter titles but still a lovely balance between text and illustrations). It is definitely sweet and engaging. Lots of adventure but also real character development. Can see young readers loving this one.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang 

I was kind of blown away by this one – partly because so many story events were based on Yang’s actual childhood. A book that examines immigration, the sacrifices of immigrant parents, poverty, discrimination and the incredible will and spirit of a pretty incredible character – Mia. I have been recommending this widely.

Lousiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

I read this in one sitting and I am in love. DiCamillo is some kind of writer. This story is  absolutely beautifully written. Take an emotional walk alongside Louisiana Elefante as she tells her story. What a story! I could listen to this girl all day. Especially if I won one of those deliciously described cakes in the betty Allen Cake Raffle. Chocolate marble please. Cake, coffee and this story. Perfection.

Up next? I am reading Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Reading Progress updates:

2018 Chapter Book Challenge: 36/60 complete

2018 Transitional Chapter books: 13/40 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 159/300 books read

Progress on challenge: 53 books behind schedule

#MustReadin2018: 19/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 20/40 titles

Diverse Books in 2018: 29/40 books read

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

Book Buying Resistance: Slice of Life #17


Book Buying Resistance #sol16

This post is all about how I resist spending a lot of money on picture books.

Run far and hide your eyes if you think this will help you save money. It won’t.

Confession #1 I am terrible at not buying books.

Confession #2 I will actually likely use this post to try to influence your book spending (costing you, not saving you money, to be clear)

Confession #3 I have absolutely no advice on how to not buy books.

Confession #4 I lured you here under false pretenses with that title

Confession #5 This post isn’t about that at all

Is this where I should be having people sign a waiver?

I will now stop numbering the confessions as I reveal a lot of things about my relationship with book ownership. You might start to think about some particular adjectives: compulsive, addicted, hopeless, done for. That’s okay. I am not in any kind of denial about this.

To begin, I often dream about books. There are days where I wake up and think, I really need a bookstore visit. The craving gets worse if I ignore it. It is often fuelled by strong coffee. There is a bookstore that takes me 14 minutes to walk to and I pass a number of coffee places along the way. I am sure you know how that ends.

There is also a dedicated children’s book store in Vancouver called Kidsbooks. As you might imagine, I love it. It takes me longer to get to than 14 minutes. Thankfully, I can’t walk. Well, at least not walk home with a bag full of newly acquired books. When I enter this bookstore, I walk around the store a few times before I let myself touch any book. I need to absorb it all. I will be here for a while. This circling lets me plan my browsing. Then I begin to gather a pile. Before I sit to read and make choices, I consult a list (of course I have a list – I have a book of lists!) to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Then I begin to read. Usually, I get up many more times because I have remembered some other “must look at” title. Yes, a visit here always takes a while. A wonderful while.

Certain book lists and blogs do me in. Travis Jonker (of 100 Scope Notes) does preview posts by publishers and seasons. I resist opening these emails. To call my resistance futile, big understatement. Dylan Teut (who blogs at Mile High Reading) just completed Part 5 of 2016 picture book releases. You realize that means there are four other lists! He actually alerts me on twitter every time he publishes a new part! It is rare that I can read reviews by Margie Myers-Culver of Librarian’s Quest or Donna McKinnon of 32 pages and not come away wanting at least one book. Minh Le of Bottom Shelf Books shares a best of the year post every year. I always check to see what I might have missed. His lists are amazing! Alyson Beecher sends me “Have you see this one?” tweets – usually beautiful new or soon to be released nonfiction titles. Almost always, I am convinced that they should soon be mine.

I also have specific rationales which I use to collect more books. These seem absolutely convincing. At least, they convince me every time. I am doing a Mock Caldecott unit? I really should own most of the titles. Books that make us laugh? Every classroom library needs more of these. Friendship themes? My students constantly ask for more. A title that gently tackles an important issue? Irresistable. Nonfiction is the worst. Sadly, too many of these books go out of print too quickly. If I like it and imagine using it with a class, I buy it. I am at a conference where the author or illustrator is signing? Do I really even need to explain this one?

Yes, yes, I do try all of those things others suggest. Those money saving things. They all backfire.

There is this one: Go to the public library. After all, those books are free. I do. I bring home stacks and stacks of books. I stalk the new releases display. I don’t even feel guilty when I empty most of it into my bag. We bring library books back after all. The thing is, when certain books are in my house for a while, I become certain, that I actually need them to reside there permanently. This means book shopping ahead.

How about: Read a number of titles while at the bookstore. It isn’t necessary to buy them all. This too, I do. And yes, of course, it helps shrink the list of “books that should probably be mine” but. . . Some books, when I leave them at the bookstore, call to me. I shouldn’t have left them. My advice on this is firm: when you fall in love, take them home or they will haunt you. Marilyn’s Monster did this to me. So did Sidewalk Flowers, Herman and Rosie, The Dog that Nino Didn’t Have, The Tea Party in the Woods . . . I remember the pull. I couldn’t fight it.

The “for the price of that book, you could have bought . . . ” strategy is completely ridiculous to me. Most things I might buy instead will be gone or wear out: coffee, dinner, new shoes, another pair of black jeans . . . Not much has the staying power of a picture book.

Sometimes, publishers send me books. This should mean I shop less. Books into my classroom = less shopping. Nope. I soon manipulate the logic. My thinking goes something like this: “I didn’t have to spend the time or money getting those books so I have more time or money to get these other books.” Books + more books = lots of books! See? Hopeless.

But this is the thing: every book that comes into my collection is shared. Sometimes, multiple times. I own each one because I love it. I have multiple reasons to read it or put it in the hands of a reader. I use each one to grow readers, to spread book love, to share an incredible story, to wow with a beautiful illustration, to create community. Books, in my world, the world of children, change everything. Picture books don’t cost me. They enrich my life and the life of my students in countless ways.

Book buying resistance? Thankfully, I have none.

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.