Best Book I Have Not Read

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

I love books and book programs! February 25, 2009

Filed under: award winners,books — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:07 am
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I love coming across exciting lists of books or programs involving books.

The National Book Foundation has one I just heard of called BookUpNYC. Here is the blurb from their website:




The National Book Foundation is committed to using innovative approaches to encourage young people to read for pleasure. Recent studies show that middle school age children are at great risk to stop reading on their own. Through BookUpNYC, we are addressing this issue and introducing young people to America’s rich literary culture. We believe that if young people aren’t readers, they haven’t yet found the right books. Working in weekly, after-school sessions with writer/instructors, BookUpNYC helps young people identify their interests and guides them toward finding quality books they will enjoy. BookUpNYC is an expansion of our settlement house program and builds on the successes of that program.

Here’s how BookUpNYC works:

  • Sessions are held once a week for a minimum of twelve weeks, allowing for a stronger relationship to form between resident authors and students.
  • The primary focus is on reading and creative, reading-related activities that enhance the appreciation of reading as an interactive, imaginative pursuit.
  • Children read from a selection of challenging material including short stories, books, and literary journals in addition to books recommended by the resident author.
  • Participants go on field trips to “reading hot spots” including libraries, bookstores, literary organizations, and cultural programs such as author readings.
  • Participants are supplied with gift cards to these bookstores, where they are able to buy their own books, supervised by the staff of the Foundation and writer/instructors.
  • Each student receives a printed map of “reading hot spots” in New York City, which lists all bookstores, libraries, and literary organizations in the five boroughs including their addresses, phone numbers, website, and opening hours.


How cool is that? They also have a book list that I hate to admit I have only read 4 from (** indicates). I’ll get reading on this list in my free time.

Here is their book list:



Books Read in BookUpNYC

As a key part of BookUpNYC, each student reads and receives his or her own copies of a group of books each semester. Students also select titles for purchase on field trips. The following are some of the books read in BookUpNYC group sessions:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  • Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks
  • Blubber by Judy Blume **
  • Tyrell by Coe Booth
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon
  • Deep in the Mountains by Terrence Cheng
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier **
  • Behind the Mountains by Edwidge Danticat
  • The Fire Thief Series by Terry Deary
  • Drown by Junot Diaz
  • Double Dutch by Sharon Draper
  • The Sista Hood by E-Fierce
  • The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake **
  • Every Time a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams Garcia
  • Gemini by Nikki Giovanni
  • Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
  • Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
  • Madame President (How I Survived Middle School) by Nancy Krulik
  • The Gun by Paul Langan
  • Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
  • Angry Black White Boy by Adam Mansbach
  • El Bronx Remembered by Nicholasa Mohr
  • What They Found: Love on 145th St. by Walter Dean Myers
  • Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
  • Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quiñonez
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • The Boy Without a Flag by Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.
  • Buddha Book by Abraham Rodriguez, Jr.
  • When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
  • Push by Sapphire
  • Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld **
  • Lena by Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • A People’s Trilogy of the United States by Howard Zinn


SSCO’s Does This Book Have a Hook?

Filed under: book reviews,books,read alouds — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:34 am
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It was a good, but long day yesterday. Working backwards from now I: slept (a little), met my newest niece Emma (all of two days old), and  attended ‘Does This Book Have a Hook?’ at SSCO. LOTS of adrenaline, which is probably why I’m not sleeping anymore. 

SSCO hosts two events that offer teachers, media specialists, curriculum coordinators, and intervention specialists the opportunity to 

review fiction and nonfiction literature for upper elementary through young adult readers. 

Participants keep each book they review to add to their school or classroom library collection.

So, what awesome books did I peruse and acquire?

Samuel Blink and the Runaway Troll by Matt Haig (not a great cover, but a sequel to the first Samuel Blink which was fabulous!)

Queste by Angie Sage (Book 4 of the Septimus Heap series)

Freefall by Anna Levine (had read a review at Abby the Librarian recently that sounded interesting) 

The Book of Jude by Kimberley Heuston (set in 1989 during Prague Spring, deals with mental illness)

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (disturbing subject, but had read some good reviews)

Gone by Michael Grant (first two pages sucked me in-apocalyptic story)

Tracking Daddy Down by Marybeth Kelsey (*)

Vet Volunteers: Storm Rescue by Laurie Halse Anderson (my daughter loves the series)

Vet Volunteers: Say Good-Bye by Laurie Halse Anderson (ditto)

Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst (loved the first book, had read great reviews of this one)

Call of the Wild by Jack London (my husband’s favorite classic)

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (had looked for this several years ago and hadn’t like the editions I found then)

Go Long! by  Tiki & Ronde Barber (fourth grade boys will eat this up even though I don’t love celebrity authors)

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (It won the Printz award for Pete’s Sake)

Tulep O’Toole What I Really Want to do is Direct by Trudi Trueit (is that really her name?)

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine (already knew and loved this book)

Guys Write for Guys Read by Jon Scieszka (do I need to say anything? Jon Scieszka?)

Dragon Road by Laurence Yep (I like his historical fiction and this has a basketball twist)

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer (*)

Magical Kids by Sally Gardner (*)

The Knaveheart’s Curse by Adele Griffin (*)

Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston (*)

I am strategic in how I approach the event. The books are laid out, this time by genre, and you are allowed three at a time to review using their provided form. You finish three, you get three more, etc. Since I obviously enjoy reading and also enjoy giving books away to teachers as “door prizes” for inservice events, I felt that using the strategy of starting with books that I was familiar with thanks to other people’s blogs or familar with the author’s previous work was my best bet. Quantity did play into my decisions. 

So of the 22 books I ‘reviewed’ I only have 5 (*) that were selected by cover and inside flap.  Only one of those five made me shudder once I started flipping through it (Sorry Robert Weston). Zorgamazoo has a catchy cover and title, interesting use of fonts and illustrations and then…

THE WHOLE THING IS WRITTEN IN RHYMING COUPLETS-UGH!!!!!!!!!! All 281 pages. What was the publisher (and author) thinking? If someone ends up loving this book, let me know, but two pages of rhyme was punishing enough! 

What am I going to start with? I’m Thinking Gone, but we’ll see…stay tuned.


How had I not heard of Pete Hautman?? February 24, 2009

After hearing a rather depressing lecture from Johanna Hurwitz about the state of children’s book publishing (disguised as the history of publishing), I guess it should be no surprise to me that I had not heard of Pete Hautman until this past month.  As I learned yesterday that a book publisher has to pay Barnes & Noble $10,000 to have their new picture book displayed with the cover facing out, I guess I need to believe that there are lots of Pete Hautmans out there I haven’t heard of. In that case, boy are we the reader missing out.

During dinner the other night Pete Hautman alluded to something similar when we were discussing his books and marketing for new releases. It didn’t quite sink in until I heard Hurwitz present information about publishers and profits. 

I take pride in knowing authors and books for children and young adults.

Imagine how horrified I was when a friend asked me about a book her middle school son was reading for an upcoming author visit and I had not heard of the book or the author. I think it was a first for me. Imagine how much more horrified I was when I went home to pull up his name on the internet to learn that this particular author has more than 20 books out and more important than that, has won the National Book Award. What the heck? 

Maybe I can blame it on the post child baby brain when you are in survival mode and incapable of taking in your normal amounts of information. Yet his books are also starred reviews in School Library Journal. Hmmm. It must just be me.

I decided to do a little poking around. I remember how much buzz The Adoration of Jenna Fox got both before and after it came out. I happen to LOVE that book and think it got the buzz it deserved. 

But Invisible is an AMAZING book and it was nowhere on my radar as a book to read or recommend.  Thankfully there are great middle school teachers and librarians that knew his work. 

In a day when many of us work with, live, or encounter more and more people with forms of Aspbergers or mental illness, Invisible is a Must-Read.


Daily Five’s “The Sisters” at Dublin Literacy Conference February 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:11 am
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Have you ever wanted to or been asked to…


conduct small groups?

confer individually? 

Wondered what you do with the rest of the children?

What Sets Daily 5 Apart for Students and Teachers

What sets Daily Five apart for…


• Deliver 3-5 whole group lessons each day

• Teach 3-4 small groups of children each day

• Confer with 9-12 individual students each day

• Hold all students accountable for eyes-on-text

What sets Daily Five apart for…


• engaged in the act of reading and writing for extended amounts of time

• receive focused instruction on building and maintaining independence

receive tailored instruction through whole group, small group and/or

individual conferring, by their skilled classroom teacher, each day


Another great Dublin Literacy session-fast-paced, usable tomorrow in the classroom, and funny! Daily Five is one of the easiest books I’ve read in years and you really can start applying the strategies in your classroom at any time of the year. I used it with fourth graders quite successfully.  

If I wasn’t already booked, I would definitely pay to go see their full day presentation offered through Choice Literacy! Check it out!


Coaching Institute February 22, 2009

Filed under: Calkins,literacy,Literacy coaching — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:27 pm
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No, not coaching, as in a sport, but Literacy Coaching. I am so excited to be attending the Teacher College Reading and Writing Project’s Literacy Coaching Institute over my school’s spring break.  I am trying to get as much Calkins, Anderson, and other professional reading as I can before next month arrives.  So excited. Dublin’s Literacy Conference yesterday gave me a little taste of being surrounded by other educators who are also learning and now I can hardly wait!


Dublin Literacy Conference -Ruth Culham

Filed under: 6 traits,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:48 am
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Ruth Culham, “The Trait Lady”, was the kick-off keynote yesterday.  Her presentation was interesting and was based on her article that had first come to my attention this fall, “The Trait Lady Speaks Up: Dispelling Myths About the Traits of Writing”. Here is a summary of the 5 myths:

Myth #1 The Traits are a Writing Curriculum

Myth #2 The Writing Process and the Traits are Two Different Things

Myth #3 You Adopt the Traits

Myth #4 You Teach the Traits

Myth #5 The Traits Are Not Part of Writing Workshop

You can read the whole article here.  

I had shared the article with the staff in one of the buildings with which I work. One of the building’s goals for the year was to have instruction in writing thirty minutes a day. Some people were conflicted by thinking that the 6 Traits materials that were embedded in the reading series were a writing curriculum. 

It can’t be more powerful than to hear from the author herself that the 6 Traits are NOT a writing curriculum. Nor are they in competition with a writing process. 

I highly recommend reading the article and reflect on what the author has to say. It’s easy to read and helped clear up confusion that I had about the 6 Traits intentions.


Dublin Literacy Conference 2009 February 21, 2009


The “Sisters”

Johanna Hurwitzimg_1732

Barbara O’Connor

Blogger Friends

Even though the day started early (with great coffee) and is just ending (with more coffee), it was filled with good learning and good friends from work and Blogging!


P.S. for James Preller-See Bill was there!