Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Books for Teachers June 24, 2009

Filed under: books,Calkins,independent reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:25 pm
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I had the privilege (really read-giant blast) of purchasing books for teachers again. I’m not sure there is much greater fun for me in the world! These are books for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade independent reading within classrooms. 

AlvinHoHere are some of the newest gems I am so excited about:

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Billie Standish was Here by Nancy Crocker

Septimus Heap: The Magykal Papers by Angie Sage


 I am embracing the idea put forth by Lucy Calkins in The Art of Teaching Reading regarding independent reading-(Oops-you can tell I got distracted during writing. The reference to Calkins’ Chapter 17-September in a 2-8 Grade Reading Workshop: Reading with Stamina and Comprehension)-One of the sections is titled “Reading Easy Books with Understanding”. Calkins recommends that “every teacher of reading starts the year by steadfastly directing children toward reading a lot of easy book, and reading these books fluently and smoothly, with clear comprehension, and at a good pace” (p. 339). Calkins states that this is a TEMPORARY goal-I loved this section! It so clearly puts in words what I have known about students, but had a hard time explaining to parents who fret about their fourth grader loving Babymouse or insisting that they are ready to reading Twilight at the beginning of fourth grade.  Often parents’ sense of self is so tied to their child being a good reader that they have a hard time seeing the trees in the forest. This has continued to be a big issue every year I taught fourth grade.

Calkins also has a great section in this chapter about how often students use their desire to be a good reader by picking books to “read” that showcase their future selves, rather than their current reading selves.  


Here are some of the other titles I bought for their classrooms.

Percy Jackson and the Olympiads series by Rick Riordan

The Warriors: Code of the Clans by Erin Hunter

39 Clues Series   

Babymouse Series by Jennifer Holm

Castaways of the Flying Dutchmen series by Brian Jacques

The Mysterious Benedict Society #1 & #2 by Trenton Lee Stewart

Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism Series by Georgia Byng

Patricia Reilly Giff books


For my own reading pleasure I picked up When Readers Struggle by Pinnell and Fountas and plan on reading all the new books I can before giving them to the teachers in August. 

My daughter picked News for Dogs by Lois Duncan, the sequel to Hotel for Dogs and The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Wisdom & Wonder by Andrea Buchanan. news for dogs

My son picked by Roscoe Riley Rules #6: Never Walk in Shoes That Talk by Katherine Applegate, Magic Tree House #34, and The Curious Boy’s Book of Adventure by Sam Martin. He is still obsessed with us reading all the Hardy Boy original books aloud to him, but he sometimes takes a break for other things 🙂


Tunnels by Brian Williams & Roderick Gordon

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:03 am
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tunnelsTunnels by Brian Williams & Roderick Gordon was a great read. I had an ARC of Book Two and certainly wasn’t going to read Book 2-Deeper without having read the first! Tunnels was one of those books that I kept seeing around, but not ever going ahead and making the purchase. During my last trip to Cover to Cover, I picked it up again and was caught by ‘Soon To Be Made Into a Movie’ on the back cover and thought, “That does it. I have got to read this before trailers for a movie come out that RUIN the experience for me”. I’m obviously not a huge fan of books being made into movie for a whole lot of reasons. 

I really enjoyed the characters of Will Burrows, his bumbling father Dr. Burrows, and the rest of Will’s dysfunctional family. His friend Chester made me think, “I hope this is the only Harry Potter similarity”. Fortunately for me, it was. As the story unwinds, other great characters are introduced as well. 

The idea of an underground Colony of people was something that had never crossed my mind before so I really enjoyed how Will’s adventure through the layers introduced new worlds. The idea that humans are “Topsoilers” is a great description of many citizens.  

It wasn’t until I finished the book and started poking around on their website that I became aware that Tunnels was supposed to be the next “Harry Potter” with big royalties for the authors (How do two people write a book together?).  That’s a lot of hype to have to live up to. I’m glad I didn’t know that ahead of time, because it allowed me to read it without that type of critical lens. 

As I was reading, I was quite surprised when I came to Part 2 “The Colony” because I hadn’t anticipated as a reader that that was the direction (ha,ha-not meant to be a play on words) the authors were going. Even though the inside cover starts with “Where the End is Just the Beginning…” the strength of the story kept pulling me along so there were quite a few surprises that in retrospect, I might have been able to pick up more clues as I read.

I’m looking forward to reading Deeper later this summer. If you are a fan of 100 Cupboards or other fantasy books, Tunnels is for you!