Need to Read Reflection

Amy B. of Classic Six Books and I challenged each other to get back to blogging. We’re doing it by revisiting an old post for a bit of reflection and also by posting something new during the week. Amy and I are enthusiastic, but flawed, humans. We’re already behind. I say that with a really big smile on my face. Because it doesn’t matter.

I looked at my blog archive and picked the month April 2012 to see what was going on over three years ago. The post “Need to Read” caught my eye. Maybe I’m just drawn to my own failures? I have the SAME problem I had three years ago! I don’t read enough middle grade fiction. Picture books are fairly easy to catch up with by standing in the bookstore for 20 minutes, reading blogs, and listening to others talk about their favorites. Novels aren’t quite so easy. I know about a lot of novels, but I don’t always know enough to help students find just what they need.

Three years ago, I had a stack of specific books to read. Let’s check in to see if I actually read all of these!

And the answer is…no. I did not read all of these.

This year I started reading the Readers’ Advisory Handbook. It was recommended by BJ McCracken during a workshop I attended. I read a chapter about strategies for keeping up with reading. I need to embrace these strategies, such as book walking (reading the covers, flaps, first page, last page, and a random page or two from the middle), as a positive and not as a failing. I’m meeting my needs as a reader by tackling about 250 novels a year and I’m meeting my student readers’ needs by keeping up with blogs about the best books, book reviews, book walking, and reading what I can when I can get to it.

Happy Reading!

IMWAYR: All the Answers

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday!  A delightful January day, if I do say so myself. Let’s celebrate with a day for books! A day for reading! You can catch up with other IMWAYR readers by visiting the blogs of the meme’s hosts. It started with Sheila at Book Journeys and Jen organizes the kid lit version at Teach Mentor Texts. Drop by to see what other bloggers are reading this week.

This week I have been focusing on some of the gallies I have on my Kindle as well as keeping up with the holds that come through from my library account at Overdrive. I keep telling myself I need to stop putting books on hold, but then I see all these great books I want to read.

Tomorrow is the official book birthday of All the Answers by Kate Messner.  Let me tell you, this is a GREAT week for birthdays!! (Sorry about all the exclamation points–it’s just that kind of blog post.) I really enjoyed most of All the Answers. I think the only smidge I didn’t care for was actually perfect for the characters, the plot, and the students that will read it. Perhaps I was just feeling a bit off about it because I didn’t see the ending coming. I didn’t pick up on the foreshadowing so hopefully students will be appreciative of the surprise ending and then will love going back to find the clues. I know I always love doing that with books.


I decided to abandon The Seeker. I might pick it up next week. I think I’m weary of fantasy books that start off on an adventure with a bunch of clues attached only to vague descriptors (i.e., We need to go there to find the thing.). When the characters have more background information but aren’t revealing it to the reader I’m more frustrated than intrigued. This one could have used a bit more world building to keep me reading past the first thirty pages.

I got my first Junior Library Guild box for my new school! For this month I had forgotten to look at the shipment list ahead of time, so I was surprised by the contents. I loved Shooting at the Stars. I have a few students who I can recommend this book to right away.

My coworker in the library plucked Zoo at the Edge of the World out to read after it got returned unfinished by the first student who borrowed it. We’re going to see if we can connect it to the right reader. She reports that the first half is really interesting, but she’s not sure about the talking animals.

There are a few things rolling over from one week to the next (or multiple past week’s to the next). I’m headed to ALA Midwinter this weekend and I know that my list is just going to get longer.  I’m not even going to predict what I’ll get finished this week, but it might be one of these:


IMWAYR: Economics Books

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s a holiday-day for most school kiddos and their educators. A day for reading! So on today’s “It’s Monday! What are you Reading?” we say “Thank You!!” to those that host the IMWAYR memes. It started with Sheila at Book Journeys and now Jen organizes the kid lit version at Teach Mentor Texts. Drop by to see what has inspired other bloggers who love to read children’s literature!

In my new boxes of books from Follett and Capstone I have been getting this week I received a small batch of books I chose with grant money. I wrote a grant to use picture books to reinforce economic concepts with students. I picked a selection of books for 2nd and 3rd grade to make available for students. In each book I’m adding a Ziploc bag with worksheets in the back that include activities for families to do together. One is a grocery store scavenger hunt, another a ledger for keeping track of small funds, a third a coin-coloring savings tracker, etc. I’m planning to get them translated into Spanish as well. I hope that the pages will be removed at home and used by students and families. The pages will also be available on my school website with information about each book.


Anyhoo, I read all of those books this week and they pushed aside a few others I had planned to get to. I also picked up a few gallies at NetGalley and tackled those.  I did put Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs on my list again this week. Last week I read it and liked it okay, but didn’t love it. This week all of my students watched it on TumbleBooks and it is downright hysterical in their read-aloud version. Our library assistant and I crack up every time we hear it!! It was worth a second week on the “I read it!” list! ALA Midwinter is coming soon and I know I’ll be picking up a few goodies to read as well as making a lot of book lists! Before that happens, I want to try and finish off a few of these:


I’m in the middle of a few of them. I’ve been booktalking Princess in Black and Rapunzel’s Revenge to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders all week. I have one more day of booktalks left and then I’m crossing these two off my list. One-Eyed Cat and One Crazy Summer are going to be my challenges. I will definitely get to The Seeker and All the Answers before those two!

One final note… because I figure if you read this blog then you must be okay with some tangents. Just like many librarians and educators, I read a lot. Does any one else struggle with what kind of reading to share? I’m not comfortable putting EVERYTHING I read on Goodreads. In my mind, it’s my professional space where I share the titles that relate to my job. I enjoy reading them and they are not all directly for the students I teach, but they’re in the right realm. I do have a love of YA novels that I would never recommend to my K-5 crowd. Sometimes for book challenges (and here we are in 2015 and many bloggers have set quotas they want to reach) I feel inferior because I have no desire to spend all of my time reading for my students. Posting pictures of my Goodreads list does help me stay on top of some of the new titles and I’m pleased with what I’ve been able to keep up with. I decided I wanted to track all of the books I read just for me as well and decided to pin those to a private Pinterest board. It’s just there for my personal satisfaction so that when the year ends I can look back and see what I truly read and not just what I read that applies to my job. Now I’m really curious how other reading bloggers handle this topic….

IMWAYR: New Fairy Tales

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday! And time to ask, “What are You Reading?!” After reading my few words, be sure to stop by Teach Mentor Texts where other bloggers have linked their posts to share what they’ve been reading.

I love getting new an order of new books in!

When starting at a new building it takes some time to figure out the ins and outs of the different systems that come together for a book order. What process is followed for approval? What does the collection need to support student learning and growth? What is the budget? What practices have been followed in the past? What traditions need to be honored? Which need to be discarded or altered?

After placing a small ’emergency’ order to get our year started I was finally able to figure out the systems enough to begin working on some substantial book orders. My first order was full of fairy tales and new tales inspired by traditional characters. I’ve been reading a lot of those this week! Of the list below, I absolutely adored A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack, but from author William Joyce of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, I wouldn’t have expected anything different.


My list of things that I want to read next is a bit nebulous. I have skimmed Princess in Black and am re-reading Rapunzel’s Revenge, both by Shannon Hale. I also need to finish a few things and start a few things. I added One-Eyed Cat to my list on the recommendation from a student. We have a Newbery Challenge at my school. Students are challenged to read ten Newbery titles in a year. I’m trying to read ten that I have never picked up before. A student saw the title One-Eyed Cat and wanted to try it even though I couldn’t personally recommend it to her. Frankly, I wasn’t sure she would stick with it. Now she’s almost finished with it and wants me to read it as well. I’m going to have to get to that this week!


IMWAYR: Scorpio Races

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday! And time to ask, “What are You Reading?!” After reading my few words, be sure to stop by Teach Mentor Texts where other bloggers have linked their posts to share what they’ve been reading.

I have not been doing a lot of reading for my students lately. I’ve been trying to catch up on my backlog of adult novels that have been delivered to me through PaperbackSwap and through Overdrive at my public library.


I did finally finish The Scorpio Races! This was the first book I’ve read by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve had the Shiver trilogy on my radar for a long time, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. Because Scorpio isn’t a series, I put it on my list at Overdrive first. I had to put it on hold and check it out three times before I finished it! I just couldn’t read this one at night. As I told my friends, “I’m going offline so that I can read my carnivorous horse story…”

I just couldn’t read it in the dark! Which I consider a compliment. The fact that it took me a few weeks (months) to read should not indicate that it isn’t a good book.

These are the two I really want to finish this week before going back to the students. I’ve started Thursdays with the Crown. Frankly, I didn’t find the beginning as captivating as I did the two previous novels. I’m anxious to learn about the Castle’s history, but missing the captivating setting of Tuesdays.


I’m going to be scouring the Nerdy Book Awards for new books to read!  Many of them I’ve put my hands on, but haven’t read from start to finish.

IMWAYR: Code Name Verity

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday! And time to ask each other, “What are You Reading?” To see what others are reading, stop by Teach Mentor Texts where other bloggers have linked their posts to share what they’ve been reading.

I have been trying to stay on top of the holds that are coming available at the public library through Overdrive and the stack of real books I need to read. There are just not enough hours in the day to keep up! I did use my car time for the last two weeks to listen to two great titles from the Summer Synch audiobook list. I read All Our Yesterdays last spring and really loved it. It was one of the titles available this summer, so it’s the first one I started when I had a long car drive. It was just as good as an audio book. I worried it wouldn’t be quite as captivating, because I think it’s a quicker reveal of the twist at the beginning of the book when it’s read aloud.

IMWAYR_2014_10_27_readAfter finishing All Our Yesterdays, I switched to Code Name Verity. As all of the readers of this book know, it’s amazing. I didn’t mind any extra miles I drove or any extra traffic lights I sat through while I was listening to this one. Both narrators do a wonderful job and bring their characters to life.


I’m still in the middle of Quiet. And now I’ve added Toybox Leadership to my professional read list. Blood of Olympus and Thursdays with the Crown are the new releases I’m hoping to tackle this week. I’ve started Blood already.

I honestly wouldn’t mind a week of snow days right now! I just want to curl up with these and settle in for a dozen hours of reading!

#IMWAYR: Current Events

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday! What are you Reading? It’s the meme begun by Sheila at Book Journey and hosted with a children’s and YA lit them by Jen at TeachMentorTexts.

It’s Back-to-School time and already I feel like my reading life has slowed down just when I need to be ready to inspire students to read! I can’t let them down and have some plans to help myself keep up with reading their books this year.

At the same time, I do have to remember that I read a LOT compared to most people and compared to most educators. I thought I’d celebrate a few things that I read all of the time.

Not a day goes by that I don’t read 5-10 stories at I’m caught up on some of the issues involved in the Scotland vote for independence, I know that blue whale populations are a success story in the waters of California, I know that I want to see Anna Kendrick in The Last Five Years, and more! I think I need to celebrate non fiction current events with my students more. I’m going to start showing more articles at the beginning of classes and will put a link on my library homepage to some great online nonfiction and current events. I always include nonfiction sources for their summer reading links, but I don’t promote it enough during the year. I’m going to start with the National Geographic for Kids Database (subscription), Time For Kids, Health for Kids, and Wonderopolis–all places where students can read nonfiction information.


I’ve successfully hooked my older students on Calvin & Hobbes comic strips this week! (Rubs hands together with glee!). I love these books and have enjoyed reading the commentary in the 10th Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson.

I finally finished listening to all of the Harry Potter books! I started from a challenge Julee posted at Book Egg at the end of June and just finished the final moments in the Deathly Hallows this weekend. I don’t think I’ll ever be tired fo these books or of Jim Dale’s narration. I do think though that the next time I set out to read them that I need to READ them. I need to go back to the written word. I haven’t read their print since they were released and I read them all (or the final four) in a day each.

I’m reading Humble Inquiry as part of my quest to read at least a professional book a month. I have a long reading list from the ALA Institute, but luckily, some friends to read along with me. We picked a short one to start with!  Ashfall is on my Kindle with the time ticking away in my loan. I need to start it! And, The Templeton Twins have an Idea is the penultimate book I need to read on my list of Virginia Readers’ Choice nominees.


It’s Monday, What are you Reading?: The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday! And time to ask each other, “What are You Reading?” To see what others are reading, stop by Teach Mentor Texts where other bloggers have linked their posts to share what they’ve been reading.

I always love it when that Junior Library Guild box arrives! This time it was a bit of a surprise because I had forgotten to check the list of incoming titles for the end of summer.

One of my favorites in the box was Breaking News: Bear Alert by David Biedrzycki. I think this book could be used for so many different types of instruction. Most importantly, if read aloud, you need to use a document camera for this one to get a really good view of the pages.

RF_IMWAYR_2014_08_11_readI think I would have enjoyed Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine better if it had not been written in verse. I really enjoyed the author’s notes at the end. The book makes me more curious about Queen Victoria’s life. I might look for an enjoyable biography soon.

I loved Ghosts of Tupelo Landing! Sheila Turnage has a fantastic voice for her characters. One of the reviews on Goodreads summed up my thoughts about her approach to writing a sequel and continuing the story arch from the previous book. Basically it is the expectation that you have read Three Times Lucky. It’s not meant to be a series to reestablish the characters’ history and motivations in each novel. It’s a series where the reader is expected to start at the beginning. Turnage includes relevant details from Three Times Lucky as they are important to the new story. She doesn’t provide a recap for those that started in the middle of the series. I love it. I wish more series that have ongoing story arcs expected this from readers. I also love the fact that the ghost of the story really was a ghost and not just a feeling or an old mystery that needs to be solved. There’s actually a ghost. I think younger readers would be disappointed otherwise.

I’m not planning to do much reading this week as I’ll be at the ALA Leadership Institute. I do plan to add a LOT of professional reads to my list! If I finish anything it’s likely to be Underworld, because that’s what I’ve got on my Kindle. I have Deathly Hallows on my iPod and the others are texts that I left behind for a week.


It’s Monday, What are you Reading?: Capture the Flag

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday! And the first day in August when we get the opportunity to ask, What are you Reading?! To see what others are reading, stop by Teach Mentor Texts where other bloggers have linked their posts to share their current reads.

I have exactly 2 weeks until work begins and during one of those I’ll be at the ALA Leadership Institute. I feel like this coming week is my last for summer reading. I have four books that I must finish: The Templeton Twins have an Idea, Whatever After: Fairest of All , and My Life as a Book will knock out all of the Virginia Readers Choice nominees that I need to read. And finishing Differentiation by Student Interest will knock out my final professional book club obligation.

I would also love to make it through the final two Harry Potter books before Labor Day. Considering it’s post Christmas in the Half-Blood Prince and I like to listen at work, I think I’ll be just fine on that goal.


This last week I did finish (admittedly skimming) the book I bought by accident. The titles of Differentiating by Student Learning Preference and Differentiating by Student Interest mixed me up when I ordered from Amazon because I didn’t realize it was a series. And I…. umm…. just picked the one with the most colorful cover. It was the wrong book though, so I need to finish the one above for my book club. I enjoyed reading the one I got by accident though. It’s a bit dated. It does have a lot of simple and easy to execute ideas.


I finished Capture the Flag after looking at it on my shelf for over a year. I enjoyed it. It’s a book that I think students could picture themselves in. I thought the Silver Jaguar Society plot was unnecessary. The entire book could have been plotted without it and it would have been even more realistic. The Secret Chicken Society was a quick read and will be perfect for my third graders reading it for the Virginia Readers Choice Award this year.

What are you Reading Monday: Fourteenth Goldfish

its-monday-what-are-you-reading-2a798miIt’s Monday! And time to ask, “What are You Reading?” To see what others are reading, stop by Teach Mentor Texts where other bloggers have linked their posts to share what they’ve been reading.



This was a champion lazy week for me in terms of reading children’s’ lit. My one success is The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm. I was glad to have the opportunity to read the electronic ARC as it is a title on the list for the Global Read Aloud in October. I think this will be a great science fiction novel for elementary and middle schools. It reminds me a lot of the mild sci-fi I read when I was younger. It has a firm foundation in realistic fiction with the scientific twist occurring in a Freaky Friday kind of way. Jennifer Holm is a great gateway author to many different genres and would be a good choice for an author study. My favorite parts of the text were the moments when Holm referred to specific scientists and their accomplishments. She provides resources at the end of the novel for students to discover more.

RF_WAYRM_2014_07_28_nextThis week I’m continuing to listen to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I would have had it finished by now, but after not watching much TV at all this summer, I’ve been catching up on series through Netflix.

Everything else on this list is in a similar state. I’ve been reading Quiet for a few months and it’s something I come back to for a few pages a week. It’s nice to have such a book on hand. I’m halfway through my reading for our Virginia Readers’ Choice Award. I have a few more titles on my list if I finish Capture the Flag this week.