Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sweet Summer Reads Celebration!

I know it's September and a little late to be talking about the end of the school year.  But I kept intending to post all summer about this celebration and never did.  Tonight I noticed a message that I had sent to one of my grad school professors.  I decided it was perfect for summing up our end of the year projects.

"We had a fantastic end of the year celebration in my classroom. It all started when I had my students  create genre brochures in small groups. My idea was to have the brochures for next year's 6th graders. After doing the group brochures, I had my students create an individual brochure that provided a snapshot of their reading year complete with plans for Sweet Summer Selections.

The other 6th grade teachers felt that we should share the brochures with this year's 6th graders. So we had a Sweet Summer Reads Celebration in the library. Each genre group decorated their table with summer props and the librarian pulled titles from the brochure to put on the tables. Additionally each student placed their personal brochure with a favorite book on the table. We invited classes to come and provided them with a Sweet Summer Selections page to record ideas for summer reading. 5 titles listed and they earned a dum dum. (Never underestimate the motivating power of a sucker to a middle schooler!)

I then dropped by our local independent bookstore to share some of the comments with Roger Page, the owner. Many of the students had mentioned how much they liked to find books at Island Books. When he saw the genre brochures, he asked to carry them in the bookstore. So we'll kick off the brochures in September with "A Meet the Authors" night at the bookstore. Current 6th graders will be invited to come learn about the genre categories that we use for independent reading in 6th grade. Talk about an authentic audience!

Oh, and we have a Sweet Summer Reads blog!

It's the most exciting thing I did this past year, probably because it fed my personal passion."

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Summer Listen

Title: The Breadwinner
Author: Deborah Ellis
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Multicultural
Review: I listened to this book on tape. It’s a wrenching story of a young girl, Parvana, who lives in Afghanistan. When her father is taken prisoner by the Taliban, Parvana’s family faces many hardships and difficult decisions. Parvana deals daily with the grim realities of life under Taliban rule. Be prepared for some brutal scenes. The author visited Afghan refugee camps where she heard many stories similar to Parvana’s story. Royalties from the sale of the book are donated to Women for Women in Afghanistan, a group dedicated to the education of Afghan girls in refugee camps in Pakistan. I just discovered that this book is part of a trilogy. Parvana’s Journey and Mud City continue the story.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweet Summer Reads from the IMS 7th grade blog!

I haven't updated this blog to reflect my summer reading.  I've been posting to the IMS Sweet Summer Reads blog for incoming 7th graders, so I'll just drag my posts onto my blog to reflect my summer reading.

June 25th, 2011 
  I keep checking the blog hoping for a first posting! School’s been out for a week, so I haven’t managed to read much yet. But I did read a book of poetry last night. It’s a new collection by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer titled Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems. She’s one of my favorite poets. It’s a beautifully illustrated picture book (we never outgrow picture books) with factual information about elephants inserted beside the poems. Best of all, two of the adjoining pages have two of our Words of the Week! Check out the book and post back if you discover the words! If you want to read more about elephants, check out the copyright page in the back of the book. Your entries don’t need to be this long. Happy Reading! I’ll be looking for you on the blog.

June 28th, 2011 
Title: Keeper
Author: Mal Peet
Review: Matthew U. loaned me this book to read after he read it this past year. Unfortunately, it took me awhile to read it. What a treat! The entire book occurs in the course of an evening as Paul Faustino interviews El Gato, the World Cup-winning goalkeeper. During the course of the interview, there are many flashbacks to El Gato’s life. Just as Matthew promised, this book is about much more than soccer, and it has an interesting element of fantasy interwoven with the sports story. Please note that there are several books with the title Keeper, so be sure that you get the one by Mal Peet. If you like this book, you might want to explore other soccer books written by Mal Peet, an English author.
Tips for Locating the book at KCLS: When you enter Keeper as title, you’ll get 14 pages of books with Keeper in the title.
To avoid searching through all of these pages, go to advanced search.
Under search input, select the box for title, then select matches exactly in the center box and then type in Keeper.
Go to the next line and select the box for author, then select matches exactly in the center box, and then type in Peet.
Hit search and you’ll get two results – one for the book on CD and one for the book.

July 5th, 2011
I just finished another great book! Where are my Superstars? None of you have posted to the blog yet!
Title: small as an elephant (The author didn’t capitalize any words!)
Author: Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Review: I loved this book about eleven-year-old Jack whose mother abandons him on a camping trip in the Acadia National Park. Read about his adventures in the wilderness and civilization (he spends a night in an L.L. Bean store). Discover why elephants are so important to him. The book needs a map because according to the author every place Jack visited actually exists. It might be fun to google Acadia National Park and follow Jack’s journey.
Genre: Adventure, Realistic Fiction
Are you noticing my elephant themed books – first Zimmer’s poetry book, Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems and now small as an elephant. Another elephant book that I read and enjoyed last year was The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.
That’s it for now! Get out there, enjoy the gorgeous sun, and take along a book!
Then come back here and share. See you soon on the blog!

July 25th, 2011
Title: The Wednesday Wars
Author: Gary Schmidt
Review: I chose to read this book because the author has a new book out and I felt that I should read this one before his new book, Okay for Now. The new book is not a sequel, but a companion book which features Doug Swietek, one of the characters from The Wednesday Wars, as the main character.
Wednesday Wars follows Holling Hoodhood (great alliteration) through his 7th grade year. The Wednesday Wars in the title refer to Wednesday afternoons that Holling must spend with Mrs. Baker because he doesn’t attend Hebrew School or Catechism. Schmidt is a master at creating humorous incidents and capturing the thinking of Holling, the main character in the story. The stories involving the rats and the cream puffs made me laugh out loud. This book also is filled with details that reflect the time period – 1967 and the Vietnam War era. This book was not a fast read for me, but I found it to be a satisfying read filled with many interesting characters and situations.
Genres: Newbery, Humor and Laughter, Historical Fiction

July 25th, 2011
Title: Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze
Author: Alan Silberberg
Review: If you’re a fan of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, then check out this book about Milo. The author states that he “has been looking at the world through cartoon glasses ever since he could hold a pen”. Milo, a seventh grader, finds that nothing has gone right since his mom died. You’ll love the cartoons interspersed throughout the book and enjoy getting to know Milo’s friends at his new school – Marshall, the One-Eyed Jack of friends and Hillary, his next-door neighbor who leaves purple notes in his locker. This book deals with the changes that Milo faces in a humorous way and ultimately shows that Milo figures out the best way to say goodbye to his mom and bring her back to life.
Check out this review at KCLS Book Talk – Click the Kids Read or Teen Reads tab at the top for more book reviews from KCLS!
Genres: Humor and Laughter, Realistic Fiction

Monday, July 4, 2011

Great NPR story about a father-daughter reading streak!

I have so many happy memories of reading with my children.  It was the one privilege that I never revoked as a consequence of misbehavior.  No matter how rough the day was, we always had precious moments together at the end of the day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

48 HBC - Final Lap!

I finished For YOUR Eyes Only.  I loved the two very believable main characters, Lucy and Andy.  It's a title I'll add to my collection of books that inspire students to keep writer's notebooks and write poetry!
I made it a little past halfway in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
I also listened to 1.5 hours of an audio book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) in the car, while preparing meals, and while picking up around the house.

Here are the results of my first 48 HBC:
Time Spent Reading and Blogging :  15.5 hours
(Reading - 13.5 hours   Blogging:  2 hours)
Books Completed:  For YOUR Eyes Only, Inside Out & Back Again
Books in Progress:  Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (halfway through)
Total Pages Read: 688 Pages

Not so memorable, but considering I decided to join Sat. at 7:00 a.m. and quickly created a blog before leaving for a doctor's appointment that morning, I'm pleased!
This event pushed me out of my comfort zone to create something that I would otherwise have spent weeks worrying over!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

48 HBC - Pages to Go Before I Sleep!

I'm just back from the airport and logged a half hour listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I've never listened to any Harry Potter on tape before, but my husband and daughter bought this several years ago for a road trip they took.  It's fun to revisit the book.  I wish I had time to reread all the books before the new movie comes out!
I managed to add a picture to yesterday's post.  A major accomplishment since all of this is new for me!

Today I'm starting For YOUR Eyes Only! (FYEO) by Joanne Rocklin.  I picked it up during April's poetry focus, but never got it read.  I'm interested in the possibilities it provides for linking writer's notebooks and poetry!

48 HBC - Paddling Around, but definitely in over my head!

Still reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
Finished Inside Out and Back Again  - I picked up this novel-in-verse from the library this week after reading about it on another blog.  Ha leaves Saigon on a boat with her mother and three brothers as Vietnam falls.  The family ends up in Alabama. This book (based on the author's own experiences) brought to mind the students I've taught who have arrived in the US as immigrants and encountered language and cultural challenges.
I wish I had remembered that audio books count, since I spent a lot of time in the car today.  I set out a Harry Potter for tomorrow since I'll be driving my husband to the airport.
Thanks to those of you who posted encouragement to this newbie!

Hours logged reading - 4 hrs.
Pages read - 334
Books completed - 1
Networking - 1 hr.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Taking the Plunge!

Hello!  I'm a sixth grade teacher who adores books!  I'm starting this blog because I want to participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge.  Since we are still in school and this is my birthday weekend, it will be a challenge to find 12 hours to read!  But I'm set and ready to read!  I'm currently reading Major Pettigrew's Last Stand for my adult book club and it's 7:30 a.m.
Here's the link to the 48 hour book challenge -