Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?  01/28/13 

Visit Kellee and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
for more about the It's Monday! What Are You
Reading? Meme

It was a busy week, traveling two of the four workdays, which means not as much reading, but I finished a couple of books.

I appreciated Ashfall because it seems realistic. A super-volcano has erupted, and our main character wants to survive and be reunited with his family. It's got something for everyone: facts about supervolcanoes, violence, romance, friendship, family - everyone trying to survive. It's a longer YA book, but the action keeps it moving.  It did make me think about how well I would do in a survival situation (not well, I fear). 

I was exhausted after reading this book, no doubt from the crying.  It is a horrifying story that I couldn’t stop reading.  I just couldn’t stop thinking that while I was playing in my yard in Miami as a child, other children were working all day and night, starved, and forced to commit unthinkable acts.  McCormick did a great job of making me feel like I really know Arn Chorn-Pond and what he experienced (and, thus, the watershed of tears).  And I look forward to visiting Cambodia (hopefully during spring break) to see how they have recovered over time. 


I definitely needed something light-hearted while  reading Ashfall and Never Fall DownBook Speak! hit the spot.  What's not to love about a book of poetry about books and book parts?  I can see sharing these poems and the artwork throughout the year with students. 


I think this is a beautiful book.  From the feel of the paper, to the artwork, and most importantly, the words that are used to tell about Washington's dream of learning to read and going to school.  I loved this one also. 

So what's next?  

I read Legend over the winter break, so it's time to get to Prodigy before I forget too much.  Plus, I have a school I want to give these copies to.    I need a lighter book this week, and I'm hoping Janet Tashjian's My Life as a Cartoonist will be just that.  I didn't finish my professional books last week, but I find both of them engaging and I've already tried some of the ideas.  So, I'll get these done this week. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Joy of Resolutions

Resolutions are often commitments we make to ourselves to do things that we don't necessarily enjoy, like dieting or exercising.  Most of my resolutions this year are reading and writing-related, so I look forward to keeping my resolutions all year long.   This new blog is one step to keep me on track.  I hope to join in on It's Monday What Are You Reading through this blog.  And, who knows, maybe I'll be inspired to write other things as well.

Three day weekends are awesome for reading, especially if I'm not traveling.  I started this weekend with Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin (the ARC from NCTE).   I really enjoyed this book.  The topic was much more interesting than I expected and the writing was really engaging.  Maybe I should have known all of this, but I didn't even know people had tried to steal Lincoln's body.  The intersection of the Secret Service, counterfeiting, and body snatching kept me reading.

An excellent follow-up was The Giant and How He Humbugged America by Jim Murphy (also an ARC).  Because these books share the same time frame, there were many connections to make.  I found the topic of the Cardiff Giant very interesting, although the writing was not as engaging to me as Sheinkin's.  Still, that just knocked it from a 5 to a 4 for me.  Of course, it's fascinating to consider how easily people are fooled, but I was really taken by this idea: "The era (which came to be called the Gilded Age) was also notorious for its unchecked greed, the ostentatious display of wealth by the rich, and political corruption.  Ordinary people hungered for a simpler, less commercial, and what they saw as a more honest time..."    Wow, I think the same thing now.  Apparently, I'm hungering for something from before the 1900s!

Next, I read Things Fall Apart.  This goes toward my goal of at least one classic a month.  Plus, a teacher actually asked me about this book this week and I couldn't give a personal response.  I can't say that I loved it.  I appreciate it intellectually.  As I read each story I thought, "what was the point of that?" but at the end I understood the point.  You couldn't understand the significance of the changes the missionaries brought unless you understood their everyday life before the arrival of the missionaries.  And even though I didn't like the main character, Okonknwo, at the end I was angry for him.  I can't see teens loving this, although there's lots to discuss that I do think would keep them engaged.  It's also fairly short, so I moved through it quickly.

Finally, this morning, I finished Ask the Passengers by A.S. King.  I think it's really a relevant story about tolerance, friendships, and family relationships.  I loved everything about it.  I still can't stop thinking about the book and the idea of love and who we give our love to.  Is the amount of love we have to share limited?  And, really, what could be more fun than spending a morning learning about Frank S. (aka Socrates) through a teenage girl's experience?

I'm also trying to read a picture book every day.  I'll just talk about one - I Haiku You.  I was looking forward to this because my district does a haiku contest.   Each page is a haiku and they're all connected, moving through the days, seasons, and relationships of a young child.  The illustrations are sweet and match the poetry perfectly. 

This week I'm going to try to finish a couple of professional books - Book Love Penny Kittle and Energize Research Reading & Writing by Chris Lehman.  In YA, I've got Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick and Ashfall by Mike Mullin.  I also need to finish Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior which I'm embarrased to say I've been reading since November.  I really like it too so I don't know why I haven't finished.  But, finished an adult book ever month is another goal.