Monday, October 3, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading? 10-3-16

     Another crazy couple of weeks at our house! This summer our daughter informed my husband and I that we would be able to "have a real life" now that our son had graduated from high school and is attending Iowa State. We're still waiting for that to happen! Most of my reading has been done in the car the past two weeks - during road trips and while waiting to pick up my daughter after cross country practice. Hoping to eek out some more reading time this week!

I'm amazed with the number of books by Jacqueline Woodson that my small town public library has! I don't often read YA, but I was anxious to read this one. So powerful and gut-wrenching. 

Another wonderful read by Jacqueline Woodson. So moving...

I have a student that is really enjoying this series in graphic novel, so  I've been reading ahead of her. I really appreciate the real problems the girls face and their solutions. I have always been an avid reader, and I think I would have devoured this series. Glad I'm getting to do it now!

I so enjoy the Critter Club series! They are perfect for transitional readers and have real problems that so many of us have actually experienced.

And a couple picture books, too...

Inspired by the phenomenal true story! I am always amazed by the grit and courage shown by Americans in the past, and in this case, those that were so determined to become educated. Truly inspiring!

I grew up watching Nadia Comaneci compete as an olympic athlete and I remember her perfect 10's, so I definitely felt old reading a picture book about a popular idol from my childhood. Nadia is such a wonderful role model! (I had no idea she defected...)

Continuing with...

Need a few more road trip errands with the hubby so I can keep reading! I love Ree Drummond's combination of stories, humor, recipes, and photos. Thinking I may put her books on my Christmas list...

Never sure what the week will bring at our house, but just keeping my fingers crossed for some reading time!

Until next time,

Monday, September 19, 2016

#IMWAYR 9-19-16

     What another crazy, busy week at our house! Didn't have much time to read during the week with cross country meets and lawn work. It's a good thing we road tripped four hours to Kansas City this weekend so I could catch up on a little reading!
     One of the things on my son's, daughter's, and my bucket lists were to go to a MLS soccer game. By some odd chance, my college-aged son just happened to hear that soccer legend Landon Donovan would be making his debut return to soccer from retirement this past weekend with the LA Galaxy when they played in Kansas City. Wow! What an opportunity to see the man himself and witness the goal he made in less than thirty seconds upon returning to the field! Awesomeness!
     Perhaps the books I read in the car during the trip can't compare to that awesomeness, but they were great in their own right...

First up...

Mrs. Moody in the Birthday Jinx by Megan McDonald

28686898 Sometimes I think there is a little Judy Moody in all of us! The perfect transitional series for my struggling 3's and 4's, and so enjoyable for everyone.


Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

25648247 This hooked me in from the very beginning! Perhaps I felt a little akin to Jack in the fact that sometimes my lawn, garden, and flower beds seem to take on a life of their own! I've enjoyed everything I've read by Ben Hatke and this did not disappoint. The only disappointment? I have to wait for the next book...Sure to be a crowd pleaser.

VERY Pleasantly surprised by...

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

25903764 I think this is Telgemeier's best work yet. I must admit I was a little concerned due to the title, as many parents in our small rural community will not see past the title; however, Ghosts is so much more. A perfect book for those that are concerned with wanting/needing more diverse books. Doesn't get any better than this: a character with cystic fibrosis and a family and friends steeped in Dia de Los Muertos traditions. 

Truly enjoyed...

Moo by Sharon Creech

 28218950  I just finished this this afternoon while waiting to pick up my daughter from cross country practice. There were so many times I caught myself chuckling. I know exactly what Reena and Luke were experiencing with that cantankerous cow! Growing up on a farm and being involved in 4-H, I could probably write a multitude of blog posts just about crazy cow adventures! Well-written in respect to how Reena and Luke's view of an elderly, and perhaps cantankerous, lady changes.

Up next...

A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff or My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman  (This is this month's book for my book club. Even though I'm not able to go during the school year due to the meeting time, the library ladies insisted I read it so we can talk about it!)

23285687                      23604559 

Just hoping for a wee bit of time to read during this upcoming very hectic week!
Until next time,

Monday, September 12, 2016

My First #IMWAYR Post!


     I'm so excited to be sharing my very first "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?" post! I have recently had several Twitter conversations regarding picture books for September 11th, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet in the #IMWAYR world and share what I have read in anticipation of sharing them with my third and fourth graders during this fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
     We all remember what we were doing at the time of the attacks...
I was teaching 1st/2nd grade in a very small town (population 200 - no city sewers, dirt roads, and the only pavement was our playground) in our rural district. We had no phones in our classrooms and no TVs. We didn't think anything of it when we heard the fighter jets fly over as that was not all that uncommon, as we are ninety miles from Offutt AFB near Omaha, Nebraska. We were totally clueless until our wonderful, grandmotherly type secretary called the staff together at the end of the day and told us what had happened. We then realized we had actually heard the fighter jets that had escorted President Bush. I also distinctly remember all the turmoil of that week, as my daughter was just three months old and my husband and I were to take a business trip to Boston less than a month later. Our daughter is now fifteen...

     My students have no understanding of that horrific time in history, except what I can share with them through outstanding books - both picture and chapter. Following are those books I have recently read and will be sharing with my students:

I'm reading this aloud. Oh, so powerful...

This book is based on the true story of Philipe Petit's walk between the Twin Towers on a tightrope. The illustrations give a great perspective of the Towers and World Trade Center area. This is the first book I came across that even mentioned the terrorist attacks.

Based on the heroic service of a retired New York City fireboat - the John J. Harvey, which was called into action on September 11th.

This is the story of the USS New York, a navy ship whose bow was built from a steel beam that was once in one of the World Trade Towers. Wonderful!

Heartwarming story of two sisters from Africa who had arrived in New York City for a flower show just prior to the attacks. They created a beautiful memorial with the thousands of roses they had brought with them for the show. I borrowed this through interlibrary loan, as it was super expensive to purchase and difficult to find.

Beautiful story of the Maasai tribe of Kenya gifting 14 sacred cows to the American diplomat. Very moving! I also borrowed this book through interlibrary loan.

The fantastic true story of Welles Crowther, the epitome of selfless heroism and bravery.

Wow! Detailed, poignant, heart wrenching...

I read this book and shared/discussed parts with my husband as we drove to Omaha this past weekend. Tons of information from the conception to the building to September 11th. I won't be sharing this with my students, but will make it available for my advanced readers.

     I'm still anxiously awaiting for The Survivor Tree on library loan,
12495021  but they were unable to find  399498 
(My "school" job would be really difficult without my fabulous public library ladies!)

I'm also waiting for the used copy of 
12512319  that I ordered online.

     This summer I also read nine, ten: I chose not to read this aloud to my students, as I didn't feel it was a good fit for my 3rd/4th graders. Fantastic, middle grade read, however!


     When I began my search for books for September 11th, I never imagined my post would become this lengthy. A testament to all the wonderful picture books and chapter books available!

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My #MustReadin2016 Update


     I'm so excited to share the great books I have read so far from my #MustReadin2016 list! I definitely hit some "must reads"! I've added some additional books that I didn't include in my original list, but they are "must reads" for sure! 
Books from my list:
Audacity Jones to the Rescue by Kirby Larson
Audacity Jones to the Rescue
Oh, so charming! Audie is such a plucky heroine! I would have truly enjoyed this book as a young reader, and have visions of it becoming a series...

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Heartbreaking but wonderful...I shared this with our elementary guidance counselor. I think this should be at the top of an "All Staff Reads" booklist...

Flashback Four #1: The Lincoln Project by Dan Gutman
Flashback Four #1: The Lincoln Project
This was absolute geek nirvana for me! Looking forward to April of 2017 for Book #2!

Friday Barnes Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
Friday Barnes, Girl Detective
So clever! Another mystery the kid reader in me would have devoured! I just realized I missed Book 2 Friday Barnes Under Suspicion which came out in August. Ordering it now...

The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson
The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend
Wow! I don't even know what to say. The legend I grew up hearing about became so real...

The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd
The Key to Extraordinary
Fantastic and whimsical writing, quirky-odd characters, love, and friendship...what more could one ask for in a book?

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein
Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics
Can anyone say movie? Every time I think of Mr. Lemoncello I picture Willy Wonka... I was lucky enough to read this a second time when I helped with book clubs at my fabulous small town public library this summer! I was so hyped up for this book to come out and it did not disappoint!

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
A Night Divided
I can't even imagine what life was really like behind the wall. At times I found myself quite angry at what transpired, and realized that even though our government is not perfect in many ways, I am so thankful to live in the United States.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Serafina and the Black Cloak (Serafina, #1)
I'm sorry to say this book was not for me...

"Must Reads" that I added:

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
Heartwarming and insightful! I honestly don't know if I would have read this book, but decided to after it was recommended by a keynote speaker at our Iowa Reading Conference in June. So glad I did!

Booked by Kwame Alexander
Wow! Wow! Wow! The ultimate book love! I listened to the audio book, narrated by the phenomenal Mr. Alexander himself, almost immediately upon finishing the book because I wasn't ready for it to be over.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
It was everything everyone had raved about, and more! Powerful and wonderful!

Crossover by Kwame Alexander
More book love! I'm thinking maybe the perfect read for those reluctant jock readers.

the distance to home by Jenn Bishop
Absolutely wonderful! Told with equal doses of heartbreak and hope.

nine, ten: by Nora Raleigh Baskin
A tragic story told phenomenally from the different perspectives of kids.

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
I kind of had a sick feeling in my stomach surmising where this story was going. Truly wonderfully told! This will be our next class read aloud.

and still on my list:
The Copernicus Legacy: The Golden Vendetta by Tony Abbott
Falling for Prince Charles by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
Ghost Girl by Delia Ray
Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre
Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
Pilfer Academy by Lauren Magaziner
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
Tiara on the Terrace by Kristin Kittcher
The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates by Caroline Carlson

The update in numbers: 9 out of 19 read, 7 additional books added, 10 still on my 2016 list (with more sure to be added!)

Oh, what a wonderful nine months of reading it has been since I came up with my #MustReadin2016 list! Definitely looking forward to the next three...

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Class Favorites

     I was determined to participate in this year's #pb10for10 after a crazy busy spring and summer break! After much contemplation, I decided to share this past year's eight picture book finalists from my class's March Madness Book Tournament (Our Book Tournament began with a Sweet 16 - eight picture books and eight chapter books.), along with a couple extras. After all, #pb10for10 is ten, not eight! The Elite 8 are not listed in any particular order...

Our picture book tournament winner! This book was such a hit with my class and worthy of several rereadings! A great mix of humor and facts that ranged from amazing to disgusting.
The endearing true story - enough said, right? I think perhaps my favorite part is the author's connection to the story. I was originally worried my students wouldn't enjoy it as much as I did, but it was highly voted for during our Book Tournament.
This book is based on the true story of Henry "Box" Brown - a slave so desperate to escape slavery he mailed himself in a box. Each time I shared this book, my students were so impacted we could have heard a pin drop (on carpet, too!).

This is one of my favorite picture books of all time! I bust a gut every time at the premise of Carnivores Anonymous! You definitely can't go wrong, either, with the author/illustrator combo of Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat.

The idea behind this story is so clever! Even though my students loved this book, I think they enjoyed it even more when they read it by themselves. This was also an Iowa Goldfinch Award winner for 2015-16, and our K-3 school winner for the Goldfinch awards if I remember correctly.

This makes one wonder what pets and animals really think about! Devin Scillian became quite popular as an author with my class this past year. I was lucky enough to hear him speak at the Iowa Reading Conference in June of 2015.

Another popular book by Devin Scillian told in the same format as Memoirs of a Goldfish. This was also an Iowa Goldfinch Award winner for 2015-16.

An oldie but goodie! Sadly, when my students arrive in my class, so many of them have missed out on some fabulous picture books, and this was one. Secretly, I was pleased my students enjoyed this book so much since I am a Chris Van Allsburg fan. Everytime I read it I think of Robin Williams in the movie. He would have been phenomenal at reading this book aloud! Just saying...

And the two extras...
Who ever really thought there would be no chocolate without monkeys? This book does a great job of illustrating the interrelatedness of nature. I first learned of this book and Melissa Stewart as an author on Carrie Gelson's blog. Thanks, Carrie!

The historical fiction geek in me loved this story from the first time I read it. It is the story of a young boy's guts and perseverance during the Oklahoma Land Run. My class this past year amazed me with their heart and compassion each time I shared a story that was more serious, such as this. Another great one by Devin Scillian.

Hope this finds you with your favorite book site open and/or book list handy!
Until next time,