Best Book I Have Not Read

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

It’s That Time of Year February 20, 2010

It’s the time of year when teachers need to start planning their professional development for the summer. Applications for the Reading and Writing Institutes at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project are now open! I am drooling! I don’t know if the fates will line up for me to travel to New York for the “best professional development” ever, but I can dream! I would really like to attend an advanced section of the Reading Institute, especially with the highly anticipated, upcoming release of the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5 (At least highly anticipated by me-you can now pre-order it on Heinemann but it doesn’t list the ship date. Since she was still finishing the writing when I saw Lucy Calkins in Indianapolis in the end of January, the date is probably a little up in the air.)

If you can figure out a way to get yourself to New York for five days this summer, or have a nice friend who will let you crash, it will be the best pd experience you can have  and you’ll be wishing you did it for yourself years ago.


Shiver and Linger Not to be Missed!

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:19 pm

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love — the light and the dark, the warm and the cold — in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie’s blog.


More Middle Grade Fiction -SLOB

Filed under: book reviews,Middle Grade Fiction — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:43 am
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SLOB by Ellen Potter

Philomel, 2009

199 pages

I must be on an “out of the ordinary” reading bend. It seems every book I read has a main character with non-mainstream kind of issues.

Colin-An Abundance of Katherines-worried about whether he is a prodigy who won’t become a genius. Trying to find a mathematical formula to explain the dumpee-dumper relationship between himself and all the Katherines.

Cameron-Going Bovine-stricken with mad-cow disease, Cameron is on a quest to save himself and the world.

Jason-Anything but Typical-living a life of autism from the autistic’s point of view.

The next main character is Owen. While he is not on the “spectrum” he certainly is not your typical character. Owen is an overweight, genius-type middle schooler who drops clues throughout the book to as why he is the way he is. Tormented in middle school by someone who is stealing Oreos from his lunch, he is also dealing with a P. E. teacher who takes personal pleasure out of torturing him, the building of a time machine to try to catch a criminal from the past and his sister, “Jeremey”, who is a member of GWAB (Girls Who Are Boys).

There are some great well-developed secondary characters in this book as well. I loved the neighbor who Owen would confide in. The suspected “oreo thief”-both of them add great depth of realism to the middle school experience.

Don’t ask me why, but I was really bothered by the title. SLOB-captial letters. I liked the half eaten Oreo for the O- but it created a tension for me as I was reading. I was relieved that you do find out where the SLOB comes from, but it rubbed at me the entire book! It was probably supposed to when I look back at all the mysteries that are revealed throughout the book.

Thanks to the review at Literate Lives that made me want to read this book.


Middle Grade Fiction New Reads February 16, 2010

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 5:00 pm
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Anything but Typical by Nora Baskin

Simon & Schuster, 2009

208 pages

A Starred Book by Booklist as well as highly regarded by fellow bloggers:

Literate Lives

The Reading Zone

You can’t help but love the main character, Jason, a sixth grader who is diagnosed with autism along with “numerous disorders, most with labels like alphabet soup”. For any teacher who has ever had a student on the autism spectrum, you’ll be reminded of them while reading. I was cringing when reading the part about the substitute librarian who was trying to get Jason to “behave like other kids” and not freak out over someone using “his” computer. It brings back memories of my first interaction with a student, not then diagnosed with autism,  when I was a young(er) teacher. At the time, I could not understand the intensity with which he blatantly ignored my request that he put on his glasses. Why were my normal teacher charms working?

Written from Jason’s point of view, the author really takes you into the mind of Jason and how he views life with “neuro-typicals” ( his family members-brother, mom, dad; his classmates). I enjoyed the clarity he was able to view himself and others with. I also really enjoyed Jason’s on-line writing community. So many students that I’ve worked with on the spectrum have not enjoyed writing or written output. It made me so glad for Jason that he was able to connect with others in a safe forum.

There is a new paperback cover-coming March 2010-I am trying to soft-sell the book to my daughter to help her with her understanding of the many different types of people we encounter in school and life.


Announcing the Cybils February 15, 2010

Filed under: award winners,books,Cybils — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:44 am
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There are lots of great KidLit posts today about the Cybil winners. Cybils are similar to the Newbery but are awarded by KidLit bloggers, rather than librarians. Here is the Cybil official purpose:

Our purpose is two-fold:

  • Reward the children’s and young adult authors (and illustrators, let’s not forget them) whose books combine the highest literary merit and “kid appeal.” What’s that mean? If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussel sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.
  • Foster a sense of community among bloggers who write about children’s and YA literature, highlight our best reviewers (and shamelessly promote their blogs) and provide a forum for the similarly obsessed.

Click here to see all the category winners, including Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains, Kirsten Cashore’s Fire, and The Day Glo Brothers (how can you resist this title!?)


Snow Day Reading February 9, 2010

Filed under: books — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:06 am

Yeah for snow!
Yeah for Snow Day Reading!
I’m reading A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata, Newbery award winning author for Kira-Kira

Those boxes can just wait.


Vocabulary work February 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:19 pm

Focusing Attention on Words: Vocabulary Instruction

Beers (2003)When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do, a Guide for Teachers 6-12.

Four types of clues that readers might use to figure out the meaning of an unknown word. Teach useful strategies  for figuring out the meaning of a unknown word they encounter while reading.

Show students how to use each strategy is an important first step. Begin by modeling each of these while reading aloud. Model the thinking you use (or would use if you didn’t know the meaning). Then model that thinking again with words in the texts students are reading. After you have begun to model the thinking on a number of occasions, ask students how they went about figuring out what a specific word and to share their thinking they were doing to understand the unusual word.

  • Definition clues
    • author uses new word, then defines it.
    • Cowboys often wear chaps, leather trousers without a seat, over their pants to protect their legs from thorns
    • Restatement of information
    • typically use more common vocabulary
    • The soldiers looked haggard after the long march. General Hooker decided that these soldiers were too tired to begin an assault that day.
    • Contrasting information
    • A contrasting, but more common word to help explain the new word.
    • General Lee was fastidious about his personal appearance, but General Grant was something of a slob.
    • Gist Clues
    • Readers have to use the sense of the passage and their prior knowledge to figure out new word meanings.
    • They had marched on dirt roads for three days straight with the sun, the hot July sun, beating down on them. Each man was carrying not only his weapons but supplies as well. This sixty pounds of extra weight made the marching even more difficult. And this arduous journey was not over yet. Two more days of marching was needed to arrive at Ford’s Crossing and there was no sign the heat was going away.

Winter Wonderland February 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:23 pm

I wish I had a dog cam.

It would be great to be able to push a button on the leash and snap a picture. Tonight as I walked one of my dogs back home, we turned the corner to see five young deer standing in front of one of my neighbor’s homes. As my dog and I approached the house, the deer, backlit by the street light and highlighted by snow-covered branches, walked up the sidewalk towards us.

Now, we are used to deer in the area, but in the past they would run away. Not walk towards us. Up a shoveled sidewalk!

We got somewhere around 12 inches of snow between Friday late morning and Saturday mid-afternoon. There was some freezing rain during the night that decreased the amount, but still pretty impressive!