NerdCampMI – another year of fabulous fun!

“What is Nerd Camp?” Wow! Fun-filled, exhausting days of learning, reading books, writing, meeting #kidlit authors in real life, reuniting with like-minded people, and visiting with fellow campers until the wee hours of the morning. #NerdCampJr was awesome this year, and those 3rd graders were amazing! THANK YOU to Alaina Sharp, Colby Sharp and family for hosting (again) the BEST summer PD EVER! Don’t forget, if you need books, order from Kathy at The Brain Lair Bookstore. One year with dreams of many more to come! I can’t tag everyone, or this post would be pages long, but please know that it was nice to see each and every one of you and I can’t wait until next year! ❤️

Happy Fourth of July! Book Review of Grace Goes to Washington

I’m so happy to live in a country where I am able to read and write. I’m celebrating the 4th with some books and my computer.

Today I read the upcoming Grace Goes to Washington, by Kelly DiPucchio. This title is due out September 3, 2019 from Disney-Hyperion and is another friendly and fun book about Grace and her adventures. (See also, Grace for President.)

As Grace’s class prepares for a field trip to Washington, DC, Mrs. Barrington prepares the children with a lesson about the three branches of government. She leads the learning about checks and balances, asking, “Who’s in charge here?” Later, while Grace and her fellow student council members work to decide how to spend the latest fundraiser money, they find correlations between their arguments and those of the government officials who run our country. With the help of a new friend, Grace can see that keeping an open mind to new perspectives and voting are ways to get things done.

The author gives children the chance to get involved in government, even if they are not old enough to vote yet. Read the Author’s Note and list of how to be an involved citizen. Kids and adults alike will love reading and sharing Grace Goes to Washington.

Happy Fourth of July!

IMWAYR: Picture Books and Memoirs

I’m spending the week with my granddaughter and today we headed to The Brain Lair Bookstore to visit Kathy (the owner and my book buddy). “M” spied one of her favorite authors right away and said, “Hey! Look! We have How to Build a Sandcastle! How about we get It’s NOT Jack and the Beanstalk?” (We have that one already, thanks to our generous and amazing friend, Josh Funk. We also have Mission Defrostable, so we searched the shelves for something we don’t already own.)

We looked a little deeper and I found a title I knew she hadn’t seen before – Claymates by Dev Petty and the fabulous Lauren Eldridge. I said Dev Petty was the author who wrote I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, and “M” was convinced. She immediately opened her new book and started to read. Not only did we buy the book for her home, now we have to go buy some clay so we can make some “claymates” animals ourselves.

 

 

We returned home and I read How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, with art by Melissa Sweet, who dazzled us with her beautifully-created pages. It’s a touching poem Kwame wrote for his daughter; it’s neon pink and “clementine”-colored and makes you want to find a tree to sit under so you can read the rest of the day. There are so many surprises in this book — it’s so much fun to read, again and again! Don’t forget to discover the Author and Illustrator Notes and that back jacket flap with the biographies (hint: those glasses!).

During the week, I’ll share Lita Judge’s newest, Homes in the Wild: Where Baby Animals and Their Parents Live, with “M”. It’s wonderful and “M” loves animals, so I’m sure she’ll love this book. Animals build shelters – some hidden, some underground, some in trees, etc. The descriptions are perfect for older readers of picture books (middle school and up), reminding the reader of well-known animals’ homes and introducing new animals, too. Lita’s illustrations are beautiful, and her words entertain and inform, making this one of the best picture books of the year so far (according to me).

 

After the little one goes home, I will finish Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson and begin the ARC of Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes (due out October 8, 2019 from WordSong). I’m so happy that Kathy shared this ARC with me. I’ve been waiting a while to see it in person — I love everything my friend Nikki Grimes writes. The cover is brilliant! I am amazed that she wrote this memoir for us, and I have been following the news about this book for months. I already pre-ordered my copy, so I’ll get to savor it later, as well.

 

 

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

IMWAYR: Summer Reading Begins!

It’s FINALLY summertime, and while I only have a little time off, I’m ready to read and write much more. Here are the two best reads of my first week of summer:

The Bridge Home, by Padma Venkatraman – Viji and her little sister, Rukku, live a hard-knock life (literally) in India. Appa drinks and gets angry, and takes out his frustrations on Amma and the girls. Viji knows it’s time to run — to start a new and better life — and takes Rukku with her. Little does she know, life outside of home is not much better. The girls need to constantly find work and food, and with the help of two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, they are able to find shelter under an abandoned bridge. They even find a trusty canine friend to help them out.

To survive, the companions form a family. They take care of each other and work at the trash dump, scavenging enough to buy food and some basic supplies to make a home. They become quite successful…for a while. But being your own boss tends to have its own challenges, as the youngsters soon find out. They must maintain, and then change, to survive the harsh realities of Chennai’s rainy season. Viji discovers that she may need more help than she can give…is it too late to invite adults back into her life?

Padma Venkatraman wrote a beautiful novel with relatable characters and a heartbreaking look at life as a homeless child in India. The reader cheers for the children all through their journey to find out what family means, and to find home.

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, by Shaun David Hutchinson – I love Shaun David Hutchinson’s work — The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried got me again. Dead or not, July Cooper is a riveting character. Dino, her once-best-friend, is left to deal with her untimely demise…is that right? Not to mention a new relationship with Rafi and all the other things that Dino has to confront in his life. Nothing is as it seems in this YA read. You’ll love it!

Up Next: Brave Face, by Shaun David Hutchinson – I saw this one on Facebook after I finished The Past and Other Things...so I stopped by the public library and picked it up for tonight’s entertainment, as it is raining. (Again.)

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Blog Series: All Kinds of Readers

Day Four: Ignite the Passion for Reading with Access to Books

If students don’t have books to read, they cannot read books. I’m going to take this opportunity to promote Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. This title helps teachers learn why they should and how they can provide books to students.

I started with the school library (when I was a student and again when I became a teacher). Students can use the library to check out books — read, return, repeat — during the school year. School libraries usually partner with the larger community public libraries, as well. There are summer reading programs for kids in most communities. Also remember to mark the school book fair dates on your calendar. Check out the local yard sales (My mom is always shopping for books for me and my students). Some cities have teacher stores that include books to give away to students. These are just a few ideas to get started.

Once kids have access, they have ways to read. They can find themselves lost in the pages of a book, and find the passion for reading.

(Don’t forget to look for audio books, too. Use those earbuds for a good reason!)

*****

This blog series, All Kinds of Readers, addresses ways teachers cope with the “I-don’t-like-to-read” readers. I have struggled with this for years. I’ve read, researched, and read some more. (I love to read!) How can I get students to find the passion, the joy of reading? Join me as I try to find solutions that work. Add your comments and questions to the conversation. Welcome to the blog!

 

Blog Series: All Kinds of Readers

Day Three: Ignite the Passion for Reading with Time to Read

Just as Major League ballplayers must practice every day, readers need to READ every day. Every. Single. Day. I hear more and more about classrooms around the country where students are forced to complete activities during reading class that have little or nothing to do with reading. It’s sad, really, because the disservice is done to the children. The students want to do their best — earn the best grades, do the best work, read the best books…but students don’t get to choose the classroom lesson (at least not as a general rule). Many times, the teachers don’t even get to formulate their own classroom lesson plans, but must stick to fidelity of a program in the name of higher student achievement scores. What about fidelity to reading in the name of higher reading scores?

I could go off on a tangent here, and I would, but TIME is the key today. We want students to have passion — to love reading. Well, then, they must have TIME to read. Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, Donalyn Miller, Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, Lucy Calkins, and many other teachers/researchers agree that increasing reading time — even10 minutes a day of student-choice, independent reading — can raise reading achievement scores. Remember, those standardized scores are not the end-all-be-all, though. We want joyful readers, passionate readers, lifelong readers.

Give students time to read. Help ignite the passion for reading!

Blog Series: All Kinds of Readers

Day Two: Ignite the Passion for Reading with Choice

Once students realize you are correct — that reading may be worthwhile and even likeable, then it’s time to grow the passion for reading. Start with day one’s students who don’t like to read. Wait! We established that they DO like to read IF they’re reading what they WANT to read.

Build passion for reading by finding reading materials that students want to read. Take a class survey. Do they like scary books? (My students say I don’t have enough scary books.) Do they read magazines or graphic novels? Once you find out what students like, lead them to those materials.

Students who have a say in what they read may be more likely to try reading. Providing choices helps students find reading that is comfortable for them, and therefore likeable. Encourage choice and teach decision-making skills (like choosing “just right” books).

Take that survey and use the results to provide more choices for students. Build a collection of books that students will learn to love.

*****

This blog series, All Kinds of Readers, addresses ways teachers cope with the “I-don’t-like-to-read” readers. I have struggled with this for years. I’ve read, researched, and read some more. (I love to read!) How can I get students to find the passion, the joy of reading? Join me as I try to find solutions that work. Add your comments and questions to the conversation. Welcome to the blog!