Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Hunger in my garden! June 17, 2009

Filed under: authors,KidLit — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:05 am
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Not to give anything away, but if you are a fan of Gone by Michael Collins and have recently read Hunger: A Gone Novel (came out end of May) you will understand my fright when I went to pick strawberries from my patch, turned a gorgeous red berry over, pivoted it to pick, and dropped the berry in horror when I saw the holes and disgusting creature that made the holes! Hunger had come to my garden and even though it’s been many months since I’ve read the book the zekes




enough that for a nano-second I thought they were in my berries. Yikes!


Cynthia Rylant

Filed under: authors — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:55 am
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I will start by admitting my bias for anything Cynthia Rylant.  I’m not sure when my love affair with her books first came into bloom, but I think it might have beengive me grace with The Relatives Came in 1986.  I think she is brilliant. I love everything from God went to Beauty School to Henry and Mudge, and everything in-between. I believe every family needs the sweet volume Give Me Grace: A Child’s Daybook of Prayers and every classroom needs In November.  

I LOVE Poppelton and his cast of merry animal friends. I love the short stories of Every Living Thing-the stories are so great to use with older students. I love Mr.Tulip Sees Putter, Annie & Snowball. I LOVE Silver Packages-such a poignant true story highlighted with Chris Soentpiet beautiful illustrations. I LOVE Tulip Sees America. Who doesn’t love When I Was Young in the Mountains?

Now I am not Katie Wood Ray, and can not recite her books from heart, but I sure wish I could!

Didn’t love the redo of Cinderella or Hansel and Gretel, but that was due to illustration style, not the language or story. I LOVE Van Gogh Cafe and have given Heavenly Village to several friends who work with teens.

the relatives cameI do have an autographed copy of The Relatives Came-I always started my reading and writing workshop school year with that book . I think I’m lucky enough to have that autograph because she presented at a Children’s Literature Workshop at Miami University (my old stomping ground) one of my first years teaching (Back when Children’s Literature Conferences were more common-boy I miss the one at OSU). I have a vague memory of driving back to Miami because she was going to be a presenter. She is much more elusive than many authors or illustrators-I wonder if anyone has been fortunate enough to have a school visit from her? She’s such a prolific writer, she probably doesn’t have time for school visits, but boy would that be great!


16th Annual July Institute on Teaching Reading at TCRWP June 16, 2009

Here’s the highlights of yesterday’s mail–

Section Assignment: 4B

8:00 Registration Lerner Hall (on Columbia University’s Main Campus)

9:00 Keynote

10:00-11:50 Grades 3-8 Large Group-Lucy Calkins

11:50 Lunch

12:50-2:50 Small Group-leader Tiffany Nealy

2:55 Closings

We’ll receive ‘The Trail Guide’ (There was one of these for the Reunion Weekend-VERY HELPFUL to get yourself around) at registration, need name tag for all .

We’ll also receive a copy of The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins, which we can turn in with a voucher for a different professional book if we already have it. I think it is one of the best books out there, and was rereading parts this morning. I’ll probably see what the other choices are, but probably keep it to use as a door prize for one of the back to school teacher meetings. If you are a K-8 teacher and you have not read the book, get yourself a used copy off Amazon for $24.00 (instead of $47 at the college bookstore) and start reading this summer! You’ll be so glad you did. 

For July’s Institute, I am driving from Ohio with my friend (the one whose very kind parents put me up for the last Institute) and her three young children. It should be a 11 1/2 hour drive, but seeing how it is a holiday weekend, that is probably  a low guess. I’m counting on children’s “Are we there yet questions?” not bothering me as much when they aren’t my own children (crossing my fingers!) Then the next day we’ll see how good my memory is from spring when I got myself from her parents house to Columbia everyday by train, subway and cab. Once there, I will stay in campus housing, which should bring back some fun memories! Seeing how summer is just starting this week for me, it seems a long way away. In reality, it is 19 days away. My husband is in denial and keeps asking, “When are you going to be gone?” and is sure the house will sell, we’ll have to move, and the world will spin out of orbit during the week I am gone. I guess I should take that as a compliment.


Strategies for Checking Comprehension June 15, 2009

Filed under: reading workshop — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:28 pm
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Growing Readers-Kathy Collins

Readers Think and Talk About Books to Grow Ideas

Strategies for Checking Comprehension

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1 

The Importance of Understanding

p. 180 Strong Readers get the words and the story p. 181 When Readers Really Understand Their voices sound smooth p. 181 When readers understand they can picture the story in their minds p. 181 When 

Readers really understand, they can retell it easily

p. 182 When readers really understand they just know
Week 2 p. 182 

review chart

p. 183 

Monitoring Comprehension

Huh? Catching yourself when you’re confused

p. 184 

Readers catch themselves when they’re daydreaming

p. 184 

Readers stop and think after reading chunks of text

Week 3 p. 184 

Readers check their retelling

p. 184 Readers check their book talks Strategies for Confusion 

p. 185 Readers Go Back and reread to understand

p. 185 Readers read back and read to understand the tricky part p. 185 

Readers stop and make a picture in their minds to understand.

Week 4 p. 185 

Readers read tricky parts aloud

p. 185 

Readers talk to a partner about tricky parts

p. 185 readers talk to someone who has read the book before Readers make sketches to understand CELEBRATION!
small big pics 

Teacher child



Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson June 14, 2009

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:52 pm
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Wow! I wanted to stop reading many time because it was just so… disturbing. But like many fictional accounts or memoirs of mental illness, reading the book might be hard, but living through it is too hard for most to understand. Reading an account of mental illness might help you better understand someone that you know or will meet in the future. It can help you be a better teacher, mom, friend-since most won’t experience mental illness first hand, reading about it and realizing that anorexia, depression, and other mental illnesses are not something people can just “think” their way out of. 

Knowing what a deceptive illness cutting and/or eating disorders can be in middle schools and high schools, I felt I needed to read this book. Being a huge fan of Laurie Halse Anderson also helped add this book to my must-read pile.  The story of Lia and her best friend Cassie had me gripped in its clutches from the 

wintergirlssecond I read the inside cover:

“dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls

“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight streaming through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.


I knew it was going to be a difficult book to read. What I hadn’t planned for was how compelling it was going to be to read Lia’s thoughts and feelings. About herself. About her best friend. About eating.

The painful descent into the iron grips of mental illness that holds its victims hostage in the arms of anorexia.

The online chat rooms where bulimic and anorexics share their best tips, gather support from others like them…

The cutting…

The inability to be “seen” by anyone…

The obsession with her number…

Her preparing food and baking for her little sister, yet never ingesting a bite…

Anderson is such a lyrical writer, so decriptive. This is just one of many lines that really stood out to me when I was reading,

“The doc would be horrified. All his work, gone, in the endless loop of snot-gray crayon. He would have called my parents and there would be more consultations (meter running, thousands of insurance dollars ticking away), and he would have adjusted my med again, one pill…to make my self-of-steam larger, another to make my craziness small…” (p. 82)

If you are a fan as well or would like to read more about Laurie Halse Anderson, check out June’s issue of  School Library Journal cover story. Add her to your Must-Read Pile for the summer.


3 Weeks and Counting

Filed under: Calkins,reading workshop,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:31 am
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Heading back to Teachers College Reading and Writing Project for the 16th annual Reading Institute. 

Keynote Speakers include: 

Katherine Bomer, David Booth, Lucy Calkins, Kathy Collins, Nikki Giovanni, and Maurice Sykes

The brochure states:

“Upper grade participants will be divided into sections that reflect both grade level 

and the participant’s background with the Project. All upper grade teachers attend- 

ing their first Teachers College reading institute will attend a large group section led 

by Lucy Calkins and a small, grade/experience-specific section that will cover such 

topics as: comprehension strategies, read aloud and accountable talk, small group 

work, writing about reading, book clubs, and methods of teaching. “


Should be a fabulous learning opportunity! I’m trying to reread most of The Art of Teaching Reading before leaving. 


Should Kids Read Ahead of Grade Level? Conversation continued… June 13, 2009

Filed under: reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:27 pm

By the time I read Jen Robinson’s post and the related Babble post, I had had conversations with three different individuals this past week on versions of the same topic. I think it was Kylene Beers who started her book When Kids Can’t Read with a story about her daughter reading To Kill a Mockingbird three years in a row. By the third time she read it for school, she thought the first version was an abridged version.

So should my entering fifth-grade daughter read Twilight? She wants to read it since she has classmates who have read it and raved about. I have seen students as young as third grade walking around with it at school, proudly turned cover out so they can show everyone what they are reading. For me the answer is no, not right now. That won’t be the decision others make for their child and that is their right. Neither do kindergartners need to be reading Moby Dick, just because they know the words.

There are a great deal of books that families can enjoy together, picture books, children’s books, classics. There’s no need to rush them through the great books for young people into books intended for adult.

My two cents.


Readers Think and Talk to Grow Ideas June 12, 2009

Filed under: kindergarten,reading workshop,TCRWP — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:00 pm
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  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1   

Retelling – 157-161

p. 160   

Readers i.d. the setting when they recall

p. 160 Readers follow the events of the story when they retell p. 160   

Readers know how to balance details when they retell

p. 160 Readers Use Time Words When they retell p. 160 Readers Retell with expression
Week 2   


p. 160   

Readers Use text evidence to clarify, confirm, or revise the retelling

p. 160   


Partners read together and retell

p. 160   


One partner retells, then both read together to confirm

p. 161   


Partners take turns retelling

p. 161   


Partners help each other retell.

Week 3   


Readers Have Thoughts as They Read

p. 168   

Readers react and talk back to the text

p. 170   

Readers notice when they get a feeling as they read

p. 170 Readers make predictions as they read p. 170 Readers try to picture what is going on in the story p. 170 Readers Pay attention to when they are confused   


Weeks  4 p. 170 Readers question things that happen or characters do p. 170 Answers to readers’ questions come from the book or readers themselves Envisioning   

p. 171-173

Readers predict by making pictures in their minds

p. 172 Readers also hear it, smell it, taste it, and fee it (as well as seeing it) p. 172   

Readers envision characters settings and actions in the story

Week 5 p. 172   

Readers envision “between the pictures” scenes.

Predicting 173-175   

Readers stay involved in the story by predicting

p. 175 Readers predict by making pictures in their minds p. 175 Readers use what they know about the text to make good predictions p. 175 Readers use what they know about the story and about life to make good predictions.

Growing Readers-Kathy Collins, Readers Think and Talk About Book to Grow Ideas

Use our comprehension strategy cards as visuals (Celebration Press-Pearson)


Readers Use Strategies to Figure Out Words Growing Readers continued June 11, 2009

Filed under: reading,reading workshop — bestbookihavenotread @ 2:06 pm
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October -

Kindergarten (I think it would work in several other grade levels as well!)

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1  

Readers Get Ready to Read

p. 119-120
Book Walk  

Chart 119

p. 120-122  

Thinking Book Walk

Copies of 10 book covers

p. 122 Get a Sense of The Story (Sneak a peek) p. 122, 123  

Remind Them Seleves What the Book is About as They Read

p. 123  

Pay Attention to Chapter Titles, the Cover Blurb, & Sample a page or 2

Week 2  

Acquistions of Print Strategies

Readers Toolbox  

p. 124

p. 125  

Using Picture Clues


p. 126-7  

Say Beginning Sounds

p. 127  

What Makes Sense


Reread (look at page 132 think about meaning)

Week 3 VBC  

Find the Word Pattern

p. 128-129  

Use All Your Tools as a Reader (toolbox) folder

p. 130  

Think About What Makes Sense

p.130 Ask Themselves Questions pp. 130-132  

Smooth Talking Voice

Reading Fluency

Week 4 p. 132 Use Clues in Text p. 133 Use storyteller’s voice V & B  

System for selecting books for reading workshop

Choosing Just Right Books

p. 136-7  


Buffer Day  

Review as needed




Launching Reading Workshop in Kindergarten June 10, 2009


Growing Readers by Kathy Collins

Readers Build Good Habits!            


  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1

Good Habits

p. 61

Strong Readers read everyday-p. 61 Assign Homework-best place at home to read p. 61 Strong Readers Share and *Class Book Favorite Places Turn & Talk p. 61

Strong Readers Talk and Think about books with people

Strong Readers Read Everything in Sight p. 62

*Our World (Environmental Print)

Strong Readers Take Care of Books and Protect Reading Time p. 62-63

photo-care of books p. 63

Week 2

Reading Identities

 pp. 76-77

Explaining favorite book homework

p. 68

1st Favorite Book-share

*Class favorite books book

Sketch favorite reading memory

p. 71

*class reading memory

Reading baskets varied levels & Genre

p. 71

Take pictures during reading workshop to demo

Reading baskets varied levels and genres

Week 3

Readers Take Care of Classroom Libraries

p. 77


Putting books away

p. 79

what’s in the library p. 81

Putting books away-what’s in the library p. 79 Borrow and return books carefully

All readers are responsible for library (20 books to put away)

p. 80

Conferences p. 85


Noise levels

Kind reminder

*Understanding Reading Workshop Procedures p. 81

Be considerate

Move smoothly and quietly

Week 4

Stay Focused on Reading

pp. 88-90

Read the pictures

Read the story

p. 84

Notice details and new things

Reminded of things (connections)

p. 90

Sit side-by-side

Plan ways to read together

p. 91-92

Partners make decisions

Partners solve their own problems

p. 92

Partners talk about their books p. 92
Week 5 Sign contract


Interview office staff-reading identities

Buffer Day

p. 100

Management mini-lesson as needed

Buffer Day    


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