Best Book I Have Not Read

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

Upcoming Teachers College Reading Institute June 30, 2010

I’m trying  to make my brain think of things I need to remember to pack /tidbits I’m glad I know for the upcoming TCRWP Reading Institute next week. I’m attending with two teachers-both of whom have not attended before. One is a second grade teacher and one is a fourth grade teacher.

Here are some tips I shared with them:

Pack a little umbrella-trying to find one in a store when it is raining is no fun
Plan on LOTS of walking. Columbia is spread out and it won’t be unusual for the keynote to be at one end of the campus and then the small group session to be six blocks away. Also lots of four+ story buildings with stairs.
They do give us a tote/bag with needed binder/books, etc. the first moring. It is a nice size and has a pocket for a water bottle-which we will want to carry with us.
Many times I would buy a bagel/sandwich or something like that when I bought my coffee in the morning before the keynote-then carry it with me to eat for “lunch”–Even though there is a lunch break, it isn’t terribly long to have bathroom break, get to next session site, and try to stop sweating –some days I would sit outside in the campus quad, eat whatever I’d picked up, call the kids, and watch the interesting things going on.
There is an AMAZING farmer’s market outside the keynote hall, but I dont’ remember which day.
Bring a notebook and pens for your own notes. I filled an entire five subject spiral last summer.
I’ve been told I might want to bring Amber Brown is not a Crayon, Because of Winn Dixie, and Tangerine along for one of my sessions which focuses on assessment. I was also encouraged to do an assessment using Skylark ahead of time.
In the advanced section, we will all be receiving Lucy’s new Guidebook from the newly published Reading Units of Study. I’m expecting my two colleagues to receive The Art of Teaching Reading.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver June 28, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:41 pm

The first time I laid eyes on before i fall by Lauren Oliver was at NCTE last November. I was given a spiffy swag postcard for a free digital download. The cover is captivating, memorable, and had me intrigued.

When I got around to downloading the book (I wasn’t in a huge hurry; my jury is still out on digital books), the offer had expired.

Imagine my delight when I was returning some books to my public library, when I looked behind the librarian and spotted an advance review copy of the book that someone had deposited in the night drop several weeks before.

My delight over spotting only grew more as the librarian agreed to let me take it home to read.

Imagine having to live the day you die over. Again. And again. At the moment Sam realizes she is dying, she awakens to start the day all over. Each “death/awakening” leads her to make different choices. She ranges from rash-trying to seduce her high school teacher, to touching-spending the whole day with her younger sister.
This page-turner will lead readers to think about how the choices that are made affect others and how even small actions, can influence others. That’s a message that middle school and high school readers can’t hear enough in my opinion.

Samantha is brutally honest about how she came about being one of the most popular girls in her high school. The things she and her friends have done over the years to secure their spot in the high school food chain is not pretty.  Despite my first opinion of Sam-a pretty unlikable character, I found myself rooting for her and wanting the outcome to be different. I found it to be quite the tear-jerker as I raced through the book.

I keep looking at the cover to see if there are images in those eyes if you look close enough?

A great read. I look forward to reading her next book when it comes out in February 2011. The author was delightful while she signed autographs at ALA this past weekend.


Growing a book lover June 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:13 pm

I take my job of raising readers very seriously., both as an educator and as a parent. I’m sure it seems like a no-brainer, but it hasn’t been as easy as I would have wished. My oldest fought being a reader/ book-lover like crazy. She was the classic unengaged reader from second grade through the beginning of fourth–always picking books that were too challenging, giving them up after a week or two, and blaming the book for bring “boring”.
Now as a rising sixth grader, she has had the time of her life this weekend at ALA10 with me- meeting her two favorite authors, collecting advanced review copies for teacher friends of mine, (and some for herself), taking photos of the cake that looked like a stack of books ( and eating a piece), getting free stickers for her former elementary teachers, and more…

The exhibition tickets were $25 each, it took a tank of gas to get there, we shared a hotel room with a librarian friend for two nights, we bought some hardbacks for $5 a piece to have autographed, and we’ll see some museums tomorrow ( for free).

I would have spent more than that to take my child to King’s Island or some water park.


ALA excitement June 24, 2010

Filed under: book turned into movie,Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:45 am
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My daughter and I are heading out in the morning for ALA 2010 in Washington D.C. We aren’t planning to attend any sessions, but are going to the convention center to meet authors, collect autographs, and see the newest books.
On dear daughter’s to- do list:
meet Rebecca Stead
meet Laurie Halse Anderson
see the Ace of Cakes 100th birhday celebration cake
go to at least one museum and see Lincoln Memorial
find new books!

it’s going to be a great time!

Speaking of Rebecca Stead, I saw on Twitter this morning, that her award winning book, When You Reach Me, has been optioned for a movie…


More Greek Hero series from Riordan June 23, 2010

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:43 am
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Thanks to The Reading Zone for the alert that the cover for the new Rick Riordan series The Lost Hero was made public this week. It will be the first in a five book series. You can check out Rick Riordan’s blog Myth and Mystery. Over at Entertainment Weekly, you can see the cover AND read the first two chapters. There is a link that will take you to and you’ll need to enter the secret password newhero. Here’s a teaser first sentence:

“Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.”

Here’s the press release info about the series:


After saving Olympus from the evil Titan lord, Kronos, Percy and friends have rebuilt their beloved Camp Half-Blood, where the next generation of demigods must now prepare for a chilling prophecy of their own:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

Now, in a brand-new series from blockbuster best-selling author Rick Riordan, fans return to the world of Camp Half-Blood. Here, a new group of heroes will inherit a quest. But to survive the journey, they’ll need the help of some familiar demigods.


Reading Units of Study June 21, 2010

I’ve been on the lookout since I got the e-mail from Heinemann saying Units of Study was published and that pre-orders were being mailed last week.

And here it is!

I was going to be cleaning the basement-now I’m planning on jumping right into the new Lucy Calkins, TCRWP, Units of Study for Teaching Reading Grades 3-5. Expect posts all week about this topic from me! Wheee!


Lies: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:27 am

Lies: A Gone Novel is part of a series by Michael Grant. Book three takes more of a step into horror, rather than the original book in the series, which I would have described as dystopian fiction. It took me longer to get into this book. Almost a good third of the book had gone by, before I was sucked in enough that I couldn’t stop reading.

I’m not sure about the change towards the horror genre. I am generally not a fan, although I’m sure it will still be a huge hit with middle school and high school readers. I can’t describe what phase I was in that had me reading every Stephen King novel that was written during that time, but I remember it well. Now you couldn’t pay me money to read one of King’s horror novels. It’s ironic (at least to me) that a Stephen King quote runs above the title on this novel. I was reading Hunger, the second Gone novel while my husband was reading King’s Under the Dome. The Dome on the cover of his novel certainly makes me think of what the FAYZ wall must look like.


Gone-video teaser June 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:29 pm

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen June 12, 2010

Filed under: book reviews — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:32 am
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Woods Runner

by Gary Paulsen

2010, 164 pages

Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction

Woods Runner was a great change of pace for me reading-wise. It seems like everything I’ve read lately is either dystopian fiction, fantasy, or a too sad realistic fiction. Despite the book being set during the War for Independence, no tears were shed during the reading.

I would describe this book as a cross between historical fiction and non-fiction. The clever way that Paulsen combines the story line of Samuel and his parents, interspersed with short, non-fiction accounts of the war will have this book flying out of your classroom library. It will definitely be more of a “boy” book, but your female readers who enjoy historical fiction will also like this book.

Reading this book, I was constantly struck by what a simple, yet brilliant way Paulsen has employed with the combination of fiction and non-fiction. As a format to help those readers new to some of the complexities of historical fiction, this type of book would be helpful to slowly provide the background information throughout the story. It’s making me think of all sorts of possibilities for historical fiction reads. Lily’s Crossing? hmmm…read along with short, reading-level appropriate passages explaining parts of World War II.

I hope this is just the beginning of a trend to combine fiction and non-fiction in an appealing and natural way for middle grade readers.


Here’s a Way we are promoting Summer Reading June 10, 2010

Filed under: summer reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:16 am

Great Blue Ace Summer Reading Contest:

Take a picture of yourself reading during your summer vacation. It could be a “required-read” book for school, one just for fun, something you read to a younger cousin, or a family read-aloud.

You might read it on vacation, under the covers with a flashlight, or on the front porch.

Be creative! One entry per month : June, July, August.

Send an e-mail stating your intent to try to…

Summer Reading Update Newsletters will be e-mailed over the summer and available on the school website.

When you finish a book, please send an e-mail with a photo, or letter that includes your first and last name, book title & author, as well as the grade you will enter in the fall. (example: Jane Doe, The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan-grade 4, completed June 5th ).

There will be one prize drawn each month from all received entries.

Monthly Prizes $25 Reader’s Garden gift certificate

Teachers and Staff – We want you too! Send your summer reading photos in as well.

A drawing from certified and classified employees will be made for the entire summer during Opening Day presentations.  Prize $50 certificate to Reader’s Garden