Tag Archives: reading

Reader- SOL #22


Reading, like writing, is an integral part of who I am. I can’t remember a time when reading wasn’t important to me. From a very young age, reading caught hold of me and hasn’t let go. I’d like to share a little about me through a reflection of who I am as a reader. I used the poem “Reader” by Billy Collins as a mentor text.

Who I am as a Reader

Thinker, reflector, recommend-er, hoarder,
highlighter, write in the margin-er, connector,
planner, revisit-er, polygamist
by balancing multiple texts,
always stealing time in between moments,
quote collector, goal maker, book store peruser,
Good Reads reading log keeper,
dog-earer I am not,
blurb studier, before and during,
book lover, savor-er, structure notice-er,
before bed reader, need quiet time reader,
never read the ending first reader–
why would anyone do that?
mentor text gatherer, always on the hunt,
connection maker, book saver, bookmark user,
read any and everywhere– even in a car reader,
variety is the spice of life reader,
authentic, read for myself reader,
“real books are always better” kind of reader,
voracious, never gonna stop reader.

Books, Books, Books- SOL

Today’s post is dedicated to…you guessed it…books! I thought I’d give you a peek into my reading life.

What I’m Reading:

I’m reading City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau with my fifth and sixth graders in Book Club. We made a commitment to read ONLY to the end of chapter ten before Thursday, and I’m finding it really hard to keep that commitment! Chapter ten ended at such a cliffhanger, that I’m dying to keep reading! So far I like it, but I keep having this nagging feeling that I’ve read this book before. I don’t mean that I’ve actually read City of Ember, but the story reminds me of The Hunger Games and 1984 by George Orwell. The theme of governmental control is overwhelmingly obvious. I wonder if my students will pick up on that.

I’m reading 3 other books with my first and second grade Book Clubs. One is School Story by Andrew Clements. Another is Frogs, a nonfiction National Geographic reader. And finally, Alone in the Night, a beginning chapter book about a cat named Star and a girl named Jasmine who loves her and cares for her. These aren’t my favorites, but my students are really enjoying them.

Professionally I’m reading Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller, and I’m learning so much about teaching literacy to first graders! I’m only on page 50, but I’m ready to get back into it and learn some more! I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but it makes me want to try out teaching first grade. I wonder if this feeling will pass…

Personally I’m reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. To say I’m reading this one is actually a stretch. A more accurate description would be that I’m stalled in it. The first three books were a breeze to get through, and I enjoyed them, but Breaking Dawn hasn’t had the same appeal to me. I’ve read about half of the book, but every time I come back to it, I can’t even seem to get through a chapter without feeling bored. I’m not giving up on it, but it’s on the back burner. I’m also reading Spilling Ink by Phelam, Potter, and Mazer and an assortment of picture books at random. Now that I don’t have my own class, I find that I’m missing out on reading picture books, so I’m adding to my repertoire by reading a few each week. If you have any suggestions, by all means, leave them in the comments section!

What’s in My Stack:
Here’s a glimpse at the books that are in my “To Read” stack, in no particular order.

The Vow by Kim & Krickitt Carpenter
The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Room by Emma Donoghue
Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
Growing Readers by Kathy Collins
Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart, Morrison, and Church

What I’m Recommending:

Lately I find myself gushing over Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you love YA fiction, this one is a page turner that will tug at your heart strings and make you “wonder” about so many things!

I recently read Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper in my 5th/6th grade Book Club, and it suddenly shot up to my top ten! This is another great YA fiction read that will get you thinking! You’ll just love Melody and her unwavering spirit. I recommend this book to everyone- kids, teachers, friends, parents- everyone!

Have you ever read The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt? It’s a great read, right? I agree, but now that I’ve read the companion novel, Okay for Now, Wednesday Wars isn’t all that. Okay for Now is a beautifully written coming-of-age book focused on Doug and the struggles in his life. I found myself savoring this book, reading only a chapter or two at a time, in an attempt to have it last longer. I highly, highly recommend it!page1image40816 page1image40976

What’s on My Wish List:

Mentor Texts by Lynne R. Dorfman
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
What You Know by Heart by Katie Wood Ray
My own copies of Wonder, Okay for Now, and Out of My Mind
*By the way, my birthday’s in 2 months….you know, just in case you were wondering. 😉 

Dad- SOL

I recently read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen in the book club I host with 5th and 6th graders at school. I can’t believe that it was my first time reading this incredible adventure story. I now know why so many of my students have loved to read this book over and over again! At the end of the book, we always write some sort of reader’s response. My response was about when Brian’s mom refers to Brian’s dad as “your father.” Brian reacts by thinking, “Not ‘my father.’ My Dad.” This got me thinking about the differences between a “father” and a “dad.”

To me, the term “father” has a different connotation than “dad.” Father can mean someone who literally fathered a child or it can be more of a formal term for a dad. A child could refer to their father as “father” if he isn’t really in their life or isn’t much of a dad to them. In my opinion, a “dad” is someone who loves you, cares for you, plays with you, listens to you, talks with you, provides for you, disciplines you when needed…but doesn’t necessarily have to have fathered you. I know plenty of people who have a stepdad, adopted father, uncle, or grandpa who’s more of a “dad” to them than their biological father is.

I think Brian reacts so strongly to his mother’s use of the term “father” because he’s still bitter and hurt over The Secret and The Divorce, and when she refers to his dad as his “father,” it’s almost as if she cheapens the relationship he has with him. With all of the worry about The Divorce and the fact that his dad now has visitation rights swirling around in his head, the term “father” further emphasizes the fact that life as he knew it will never be the same.

This got me thinking about my dad. My dad is my biological father, but even if he hadn’t fathered me, he would still be my dad. He has always taken care of me, and I’ve never doubted that he loved me and would do anything for me. Being so far away from my parents makes me appreciate them so much more. I value and treasure the time spent with them. I think that the physical distance between us (I live in China, they live in Texas) actually makes us closer when we do spend time together. I am really looking forward to this summer when I’ll be able to hang out with my mom and dad again. I love them both so much!

Reading…Is There Anything Better?- SOL

Reading has and always will be an important part of my life. Reading makes my heart happy. If I’m unusually crabby, it’s usually because I haven’t read lately. Reading is comfortable, thought-provoking, and intriguing. Reading opens your heart and mind to other ideas, places, perspectives. This post is dedicated to one of my favorite pastimes.

I read YA fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction (my new fave!), fantasies, blogs, feature articles, Facebook statuses, biographies, professional books (primarily focused on reading, writing, & teaching through inquiry), emails, picture books, series, books from authors I love, letters and notes from friends, old favorites, book reviews, Pinterest captions, Slices of Life, children’s writing (I love when they share their writing with me!), school documents, poetry, memoir, interviews, and magazine articles. I read in print and digitally on the Internet and on my iPad. While I love the feel and smell of a “real” book, I enjoy the conveniences of e-readers. I write about my reading in my reader’s notebook. I love to recommend books to others, and I have a knack for finding *just* the right book for those reluctant readers.

Books I’ve read in the past are defining moments in my life. I can distinctly remember reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg in fourth grade, which is a book about adventure and mystery and “running away to find yourself.” I have reread that book over ten times since then, many times as a read aloud or in a book club with students, and I enjoy it every time I read it. Being able to share my love of literature with children allows me to connect with them in a whole new way. When you share books you love, those books that stay with you and resonate with who you are, you are sharing a piece of your soul.

I decided to slice about reading today because this evening I was tutoring Jennifer, a seventh grader who, when I met her a month ago told me that she “hates reading.” When I walked in today, she began excitedly talking about Jeff from There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom like he was a real person, showed me her new Scholastic books that she bought from school, talked about her reading plans for when she finishes There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom, and told me she couldn’t wait to read more of The Hunger Games with me tonight. I just smiled, took it all in, and thought to myself, “Yep, she’s caught the reading bug.” I couldn’t be happier! 😉 

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!- SOL

Don’t you just love Mo Willem’s books? I certainly do! His pigeon books are the my personal favorites. The pictures and text are simplistic, yet draw you in time and time again. I love how they invite the reader to join in and talk back to the text, urging the pigeon NOT to drive the bus (usually by yelling “NOOOO!” at the top of their lungs).

Last week was Literacy Week at my school, and as the Literacy Coach, I had a lot to do! Well…”a lot” is putting it mildly, but you get the point. Anyway, one of the activities that brightened each day was being able to dress up as a storybook character and read aloud to various classes throughout the school from the toddlers to the fifth graders. I was The Cat in the Hat, Ira from Ira Sleeps Over, Fancy Nancy, Owen, and my fave, The Pigeon! If you think reading the pigeon books as a teacher is engaging, try reading them dressed up as the pigeon himself (or herself…I’m still trying to figure out the pigeon’s gender).
As The Pigeon, I got to…
*YELL really LOUDLY!
*Persuade the kids to let me drive the bus or stay up late with a sweet voice and a little eyelash fluttering thrown in for good measure (didn’t work!)
*Pout (see above picture)
*Cry dramatically
*Storm off in a huff
Do I even have to tell you how the kids reacted? As you can imagine, they loved it! I didn’t leave any class without reading at least three pigeon books. Although my voice was hoarse at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Oh, and it’s been great seeing little ones around campus this week. I’ve answered to “The Pigeon,” “Fancy Nancy,” “The Blue Bird,” and “The Hat in the Cat.” Gotta love kids, right?!? My job is the coolest! 🙂

I’m so excited to join the wonderful writing community in the March “Slice of Life Challenge” at Two Writing Teachers! Here’s my 1st slice!