Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Battle of the Kids’ Books is very fun to follow! April 29, 2009

Filed under: blogs — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:55 am
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Octavian Nothing just beat Chains (as declared by Judge Linda Sue Park) in Round 3. If you haven’t checked out School Library Journal’s post for Battle of the Kids’ Books, go here now! I have never finished the first Octavain Nothing. It sits on the shelf with the bookmark in about 6 chapters. I just couldn’t get into it. I guess I’ll need to add it to my summer reading list.

 

Author Blogs April 28, 2009

Filed under: blogs,book reviews,books,read alouds,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:47 pm
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While poking around on the internet after finishing Graceling by Kristen Cashore, I found her blog This Is My Secret (great title!)

My favorite entry (so far) starts with a quote from Sherman Alexie

“A lot of people have no idea that right now Y.A. is the Garden of Eden of literature.”

I think there are many of us in the world of KidLit/Blogland who definitely agree with that statement! 
Kristen Cashore has a list of her recommended YA books for all age readers and there are some great other titles in the comment section. Check it out!

 

Graceling by Kristen Cashore a great YA fantasy addition

Filed under: book reviews,books,school,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:34 pm
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I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time saying no to a former student who comes waving a book at me, insisting, “You’ve got to read this! It’s a great book!” If that wasn’t enough, he then persists in finding me a couple days later asking, “Have you finished it yet?”, astonishment on his face when I have to tell him, “Not yet.” Several more days go past and he’s back finding me again to ask, “You are done now aren’t you?” 

“I was half-way through Scat when you gave it to me.”
“I don’t have as much time to read as I would like.”
“It’s great and I love it, but there’s a lot going on right now.”

Well thanks to my son’s unfortunate ear infection last week, I was able to find that sixth grade yesterday to return his book. Whew!
Graceling is a wonderful first novel by Kristen Cashore!. The main character Katsa is a gutsy, determined and fierce female fighter who has been able to kill men with her bare hands since she was child. The title of the book references special people like Katsa who are born with “graces”, or special talents, and two differently colored eyes. In Katsa’s case, she has one blue and one green, while Po, another important character has one gold and one silver. 

Some Gracelings have pretty ordinary powers, and some Graces are not quite what they first appear to be. In both Katsa’s and Po’s case, their original Grace does not end up being what saves many a life by the end of the book. The action is suspenseful and the notion of a “Grace” is unique enough to really keep the reader guessing.  

I was surprised to find a small romance part to the book, just because it came recommended from a young male student. I decided those parts probably went rightgracelingover his head. 

There has been a lot of great buzz around Graceling and I had planned on reading it over the summer. Not only do I need to thank my former students for asking me to read the book, but now I have to thank him for making me have to wait until October to read Cashore’s second book, Fire. I did get to surprise him with the news of its upcoming publication, which is always fun for me! 

It was such a nice change to have a student following up with me about my reading instead of the other way around. It did help me see that a little encouragement can go a long way when it comes to getting someone to read. I wonder who I should go peddle this book to next? 

Anyone have an ARC of Fire that they’d like me to read and review? Send it my way!

 

Shared Curricular Calendar for Units of Study in Writing April 27, 2009

Shared Curricular Calendar for Units of Study in Writing (Assuming use of Calkins’ Units of Study for Primary Writing and Units of Study for Teaching Writing Grades 3-5  as backbone)

First

September

Launching
the Writing Workshop

October

Small
Moments

November

Writing
for Readers

December

Authors as
Mentors

January

How To
Books

February

All About
Books

March

 

Independent
Writing Projects

April

 

Poetry

May

Realisitc
Fiction

 

Second

September

Narrative
Writing-Revisiting and Re-energizing Small Moments

October

Raising
the Level of Narrative Writing with Authors as Mentors

November

Writing
and Revising Realisitc Fiction

December

Fairy Tale
Adaptations and Original Fantasy Stories

January

Writing to
Grow Ideas (Including Ideas about Books)

February

Writing to
Learn and to Teach About a Topic of Personal Expertise

March

 

Persusaive
Writing (Letters and Reviews)

April

 

Poetry

May

Expert
Projects in a Content Area:

 

Third

September

Launching
a Productive Writing Workshop

October

Raising
the Quality of Narrative Writing

November

Writing
Informational Books with Authority and Voice

December

Fiction

January

Fiction

February

Revision
and OAT Writing

March

 

Return to
Nonfiction

April

 

Poetry

May

Independent
Writing Projects

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth

September

Launching
the Writing Workshop

October

Raising
the Level of Narrative Writing

November

Persuasive
Letter

December

Essay or
Writing to Make a Difference

January/February

Fiction

March

 

Writing to
Learn and to Teach About a Topic of Personal Expertise

April

 

Poetry

May

Persusaive
Writing Letters and Reviews)

 

 

 

Fifth           

September

Launching
the Writing Workshop

October

Raising
the Level of Narrative Writing

November

Personal
Essay

December

 Writing to Make a Difference

January

Fiction

February

Independent
Writing Project

March

 

Literary
Essay

April

 

Poetry

May

Memoir

 

 

 

 

Sixth

September

Launching
the Writing Workshop: Writing with Intensity, Determination, and Independence

October

Raising
the Level of Narrative Writing : Improving Volume and Quality

November

The
Personal Essay or Essay Study

December/Early
January

Short
Fiction

Late January/February

Quick
Writing, Writing About Reading, Preparaing for the Writing Tasks of the OAT

March

 

Choice
Project

April

 

Poetry

May

Memoir

 

 

The Vowel Family April 25, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,picture books — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:02 pm
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The Vowel Familyvowel-family:  A Tale of Lost Letters by Sally M. Walker (2008) is a funny picture book that highlights the importance of vowels in words.  I’ve included a few excerpts below to highlight the fun.  

 

What words can you make when you add vowels to the letters below?

wndr pnch tm bk frm lghtr mrvls rmbl fr

 

Whn Pm Smth mrrd Sm Vwl, sh sd, “Lf s wndrful!”

“xcpt whn w tlk,” Sm sd. “Tlkng s vr hrd.”

 

Ftr Alan and Ellen, the twns, were brn, ther parents gggld wth glee. Alan and Ellen’s clear speech made sense.

Lfe was better. Bt t wasn’t perfect.

 

Tried adopting pets, but it wasn’t until the birth of Iris and Otto joined the family that things made sense.

 

Thank goodness Ursula chose just that moment to be born!”

But, Otto gets lost and Aunt Cyndy, the police officer needs to help them find the missing boy. They find him in the library attending story hour.

 

It’s funny/interesting that you can read and understand the story, even without the vowels. I wonder if that is due to years of interpretting students’ misspellings, or if everyone can read it easily. 

I think students of all ages would love this book for different reasons. Check it out. 

 

Love This Trend: Publishers Weekly Reports… April 23, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:53 am
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I wanted to share this article from Publishers Weekly. Three of these titles are ones I have been recommending to adults over and over. Without fail, they have all DEVOURED the books. Now to try to get them to stick to looking in the Young Adult section not just when they are stuck for something to read, but as one more avenue for great literature!

Adult Readers in the Kids’ Section 
April 22, 2009

There’s a really good trend happening in our store right now. Adults are reading kids’ books. Not picture books, but novels written for young adults.  Slowly the awkwardness, the need to almost apologize for buying a kids’ book for themselves is dissipating.  Instead, it’s something the adults seem to be reveling in.  And really, isn’t it about time that adults realized the young adult section was chock full of riches, new and old, to read and enjoy?

There are several books this past year that seem to have spurred this trend. The first is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak — while not a new title, it continues to be an excellent seller for us to adults. At last count, five adult book groups have read The Book Thief. Several women have called me immediately upon finishing to say how much they just loved the book. There is still an occasional adult reader who resists even holding a kids’ book in their hands, as if something horrible will happen if they read the back cover.  I’ve actually had to place it in a customer’s hand with a declaration. “You will love this book. Just read it. Trust me.”

Elizabeth had the best handselling moment I’ve seen, ever.  Two women had overheard me talking about The Book Thief and they were resistant to buy the copy I placed before them. They looked to Elizabeth for a second opinion, and all she did was arch her eyebrows with eyes bright and alert and that said it all. They bought two.  

Grown women are marching straight up the counter and asking for “that book.” Admittedly, they are a little sheepish about buying the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer. But I don’t think it’s because it’s written for young adults. It’s because they love it so much. They can’t wait to read more about Edward and Jacob, who they are more than happy to talk about, at great length with other women in the store. One thing I particularly enjoy about these Twilightwomen is they tend to buy the whole series at one time. Sure, they tell daughters to wait, space out their purchases, save some money, and maybe even borrow from a friend. There’s none of that with the adults. No borrowing, no waiting for the book at the library, no, they need it, they need it now and they’re going to pay for their immediate gratification. And I love them for it.

Another book that has adults happily clutching it is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  A real page-turner of a dystopian adventure set in a future society that deals with larger themes that adults are really sinking their teeth into.  This is a challenging book to book talk, as on the surface it deals with kids killing kids at the behest of the government. Adults look askance when I say that, but then I put the book in their hands and say, “Read it. It’s so much more than that.” Again, adults are proving to be less patient than kids. I had a woman who was actually whining about the release date of the sequel. “I’ve got to wait until September?!”

Lastly, there is an anecdote I must share. One of my favorite customers comes in every Monday to get her books for the week. Jill is the most vital, active, and vibrant 78-year-old I’ve ever met. She is a well-rounded reader with eclectic tastes. Last week she was struggling to choose a book when she went to the young adult section. There she saw I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. She had read the book when she was 19 and remembered loving it. Well, she took it with her last weekend and was still beaming when she came in Monday to tell me about reading it again. She sat in the sun in an Adirondack chair with Beethoven on in the background and a glass of Merlot nearby. She read the book she first loved 60 years ago. “It was just marvelous. Marvelous.”
Posted by Josie Leavitt on April 22, 2009

 

The Best Ideas are Often Those Borrowed

Filed under: book clubs — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:11 am
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My sixth grade colleagues saw Bill’s (Literate Lives) Grand Conversation signs and information on display at the Dublin Literacy Conference. Travis had already been intrigued by the idea of starting a parent child book club, and Bill’s format helped them launch their own. They had their first Grand Coversation over The Lottery Rose and it was quite the success. There were so many positive comments from parents and the students loved being the “experts” on school. The group started with parents and children together, then split into an adult group with one teacher and a student group with the other teacher. The teachers do a book

mysterious-benedict-society

 introduction for each group, and the parents had an opportunity to experience being a “sixth grader”, while learning about reading strategies. About a month later, the group reconvened for a book conversation. During part of the second evening, parents were randomly mixed with other students. The parents were

 overwhelming amazed by how much their child was able to take away from the book, as well as how much deeper their child’s comprehension was through conversation.   

Their next club event is The Mysterious Benedict Society in May! I know I’m looking forward to reading it, as I haven’t had a chance to do so yet and book 3 (The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma) in the series comes out in October! I’m thinking this one might be a good audiobook for the car.

 

 
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