Thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for hosting the Picture Book 10 for 10 (#PB10for10).

The rules are simple:

What:  10 picture books you can’t live without
Hashtag:  #PB10for10
Who:  Anyone who is interested—educators, authors, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.
When:  Thursday, August 10, 2017
Where:  All posts will be linked on the Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community Site.

Our 2017 Topic: Favorite Picture Books to Use in the Secondary Classroom

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles (Aladdin, 2005).
(Ricki’s Review  |  Kellee’s Review)

Ricki: This book is beautifully written and the characterization is wonderfully done. I enjoy reading this book to discuss the intricacy of picture books and their application within units. This books reminds older students that picture books aren’t just for young kids.

Kellee: I feel that this picture book portrays a part of the Civil Rights Movement that most kids don’t know about unless they’ve been explicitly talked to about it. Freedom Summer gives me a way to start the conversation.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (Greenwillow, 2015).

Ricki: We use this book when we talk about identity. I love reading this text aloud and then asking students about the author’s purpose. Many think that he is discussing disability and others argue that he is discussing gender identity. The interpretations remind us how texts give different interpretations, and this is a very good thing.

Kellee: Identity is something that everyone is struggling with in middle school, and I loved reading this book with my students and listening to their conversation about the crayons. When they begin to connect it to human identity, some really fascinating discussions break out.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen, 2012).
(Ricki’s Review  |  Kellee’s Review)

Ricki: I love to read this book on the first day or on any day that I am noticing classroom tensions. What I love about this book is that it teaches kindness without being didactic. The story goes beyond the theme of kindness and reminds readers about regret. This is a beautiful book that earns its place in classrooms of all levels.

Kellee: I begin every year with this book, and my students make kindness goals for the year to help ripple kindness throughout the school.

Locomotive by Brian Floca (Atheneum, 2013). 

Ricki: I love to show this book right before a research project/paper. It shows an example of high quality research and reminds readers that a lot of research is required in order to present a high quality product.

Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora (Knopf, 1997). 

Ricki: This is a great book to start a conversation about being culturally responsive to other people. The library lady is very sensitive to Tomás, and the book makes readers want to be better people. My bilingual education teacher read this to my class, and I think of it often. I always enjoy reading it aloud.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (Candlewick, 2003).

Kellee: I love to participate in Dot Day because it truly shows kids the range of what art is and the importance of creativity. I use The Dot to introduce this discussion then every student makes their own dot that symbolizes them.

Ricki: This is a fantastic book to discuss imagination. I show this book when I am trying to kickstart ideas about projects. Because I make strong attempts to allow a lot of flexibility in projects, this book is great to simply inspire students to examine ideas differently.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (Putnam, 2015).
(Kellee & Ricki’s Review)

Kellee: I wrote a whole post just on using this book with my middle school students because students really found the depth and beauty in this amazing picture book.

Ricki: This book reminds us that picture books are anything but simple. I love to use this book to talk about themes and hidden messages in writing. Then, we apply this idea to our own writing. Reading this book reminds us to look at writing more deeply.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywelt (Philomel, 2013).

Kellee: This is another superb crayon text that uses the idea of crayons being expected to act or do one thing really stunting the creativity and identity of the crayons. Also, the book is written in

Ricki: This book is funny, creative, and cleverly written. I’ve had students use this book for readers’ theater, and their performance was hysterical. Each student took the time to memorize their speech, and we talked about all of the qualities of a good speech.

Normal Norman by Tara Lazar (Sterling, 2016).
(Kellee & Ricki’s Review)

Kellee: I love the discussions of normal that this book brings up. You’ll notice, a lot of the picture books I read with my students discuss identity and kindness because picture books are such a perfect way to get conversations about tough subjects started. Norman shows us that what you think is normal may not be what another person thinks is normal, and being abnormal doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

Ricki: This is a great book to talk about what it means to be “normal.” I love to use this book to kick off discussions that queer the concept of normalcy.

Dear Dragon by Josh Funk (Viking, 2016).
(Kellee & Ricki’s Review)

Kellee: I am going to use Dear Dragon in my classroom for the first time this year! I want to get my student pen pals, and I am going to use Dear Dragon as an introduction to the idea. I’m not sure how I’m going to execute the pen pals yet, but there is also the theme of first impressions and judging based on looks that is perfect for our discussion on themes!

Ricki: Yes, Kellee! I have yet to use this book, but it would be a phenomenal text to start a student pen pal program! You might also use this book to talk about expectations and judgment.

What are your favorite books to use in the secondary classroom? 

Don’t forget to check out all of the other #PB10for10 posts by visiting the Google community site or searching on Twitter!




Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon
Authors: Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee
Illustrator: Susanna Chapman
Published June 15th, 2017 by Compendium Inc.

Summary: “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” When Bobbi Gibb saw the Boston Marathon her mind was set—she had to be a part of it. She trained hard, journeying across America to run on all kinds of terrain. But when the time came to apply for the marathon, she was refused entry. They told her girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop Bobbi.

In 1966, the world believed it was impossible for a woman to run the Boston Marathon. Bobbi Gibb was determined to prove them wrong. She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.

This picture book tells the true story of how she broke the rules in 1966 and how, one step at a time, her grit and determination changed the world. Created in collaboration with Bobbi Gibb and the perfect gift for would-be runners, kids of all ages, and everyone out there with a love of sport.

ReviewRecently I was introduced to what happened to Kathrine Switzer in the 1967 Boston Marathon as it was the 50th anniversary. I thought she was the first woman to run the marathon (and officials attempted to stop her as she ran the race), but this story of Bobbi Gibb showed that the first woman stepped up the year before. Bobbi Gibb is such an inspiration. She trained and trained for the marathon, went against her parents’ wishes, and did something no one had ever done before. Gibb’s story combined with the beautiful lyricism of the text and freeness of the painted illustrations makes Gibb’s story run right into your heart.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Yet another HERstory that needs to be shared with students as it is a part of history that is left out. Gibb’s story can be added to other women’s rights texts to build a lit circle or jigsaw activity where students learn and share about the struggles and victories of women throughout time.

Additionally, the back matter of The Girl Who Ran has a beautiful timeline that can be used to teach this text feature.

Discussion Questions: What is the theme of Bobbi Gibb’s story?; What is the purpose of the timeline in the back matter?; How did the repetition of “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” add to the story of the first woman who ran the Boston Marathon?; What does the act of Bobbi’s mom taking her to the marathon show about her?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Book of Heroines by Stephanie Warren Drimmer and other books about amazing woman in history

Recommended For: 



**Thank you to Angeline at Compendium for providing a copy for review!**

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top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Ten Unbelievable Moments in Books

from Courtney B. and Yasmine P., 8th grade

10. Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

When Meg betrays Apollo. Throughout the book, Meg is the sarcastic and feisty sidekick to Apollo, but at the climax of the story, she betrays him.

9. My Life with Liars by Caela Carter

At the end when all of reality is brought to Zylnn, and it really makes the reader rethink reality and humanity.

8. How to Speak Dolphin by Ginny Rorby

When Nori is realsed back into the wild. Nori had cancer and was miraculously released.

7. Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato

The most unexpected character is also a pervert and is a double spy for the Illuminati. He also kidnaps his friend.

6. Into White by Randi Pink

When Toya turns Caucasian. It was very unexpected as this is something that can’t happen in real life, and the book seems realistic fiction.

5. Black Butler by Yana Toboso

The backstory of the main character is that he murdered his family and other people, and he has a demon serving him as a butler.

4. Warrior by Erin Hunter

When the unexpectedly dies making Fireheart leader (though she dies later, too!).

3. Haikyuu by Haruichi Furudate

In a match between two high school teams, Karasuno against Nekoma and the tension while reading was unbelievable.

2. The Neptune Project by Polly Holkyoke

When Nere’s mom is shot! Through the frantics of the scene, Nere’s mom is shot and is most likely dead.

1. Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

At the end of Naruto when there is a literal battle to the death and even though they are all beaten up and their arms are cut off, making a sort of heart shape with blood, they still become best friends again.

Thank you, Courtney and Yasmine!



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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.


Last Week’s Posts

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**


Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday: Twenty Favorite Graphic Novels by Amar & Luke, 8th grade, and Omar & Ethan, 6th grade

Wednesday:  Scanorama Series (Amazing Animals, Dinosaurs, & Deadly Predators) by Anna Claybourne

Thursday: Guest Review: The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locket Hero by Rachel Renee Russell

Friday: The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth by Ellie Hattie

Sunday: Interview with Kim Harrington, Author of the Gamer Squad Series


 Last Week’s Journeys


Well, after last week’s book sharing extravaganza, I don’t have as much to share this week. I went back to work for a four day week last week and preplanning (thus normal) starts today. Alas, that means no more reading until 2am and sleeping until 10am, but I do hope to keep my habit of reading every day.

  • Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry – A friend of mine (and a mom of a past student) was an early reader for this book, and she highly recommended it to me, so I was so glad when it was my turn to read it from the library. I am a sucker for multi-voiced texts and novels-in-verse, so the format alone was meant for me. I also adored watching Callie learning to be herself and standing up for herself and finally BEING instead of hiding. I am so glad this book was recommended to me–thank you, Peggy!
  • Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano – WHOA! When I was contacted to review this book for UR, I loved the summary, but I hadn’t heard anything about it. I look forward to being someone who spreads the word about this awesome book that so many of your students are going to love. I look forward to reviewing it soon.
  • Georgia Rules by Nanci Turner Steveson – Michele has been bugging me to read Steveson’s books since that summer I believe, and this week when I was having an indecisive reading moment, I got it from the library, and I am so glad I did. I will tell you that there is a character in this book that I just REALLY DIDN’T LIKE but that also shows how much I did care for Maggie. This is a story I look forward to book talking because many kids will want to know how Maggie deals with leaving her home and friends and getting to know more about her father. (Although I still believe that this beautiful cover won’t suck in the readers this book deserves!)

I’m BACK! Our family had a wonderful trip across the country. Who knew that a 3-year-old and 9-month-old would tolerate 42 hours in the car with minimal complaining? Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of reading done in that time frame and my brain is a bit fuzzy about what I DID read. I do know that Henry and I read this picture book today that we enjoyed:

Morris Mole by Dan Yaccarino is a charming story of a mole who decides to do things differently. He digs up. Henry has made me read this book every night for the past few weeks. He loves it. The pictures pop, and the story is enjoyable (even after a dozen reads).


This Week’s Expeditions


  • Currently listening to The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson – I know many of you loved this book and series, but I am struggling. I am hoping driving every day is going to help me love it. It is on our state list, so I want to finish it to be able to chat to students about it.
  • Currently reading Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds – Marvel and Jason Reynolds?!?!?!? YES!
  • Coming up: Finding Perfect by Elly Schwartz – This one has come highly recommended by many of my friends on Twitter, and I just got my reserved copy of it from the library.
  • Coming up: Giant Pumpkin Suite by Melanie Heuiser Hill – I look forward to reading and reviewing this one for UR.
  • Impatiently waiting for Unsouled by Neal Shusterman – I’m next on the hold for this one! (I own the book, but it is at school, and I like reading ebooks better *shhhhh!*)
  • Hope to get to Stealing Our Way Home by Cecelia Galante – I loved Summer of May by Galante and this one has come highly recommended by Michele, so I look forward to it.

One of my smart, thoughtful colleagues (Pam Coke) recommended this book, The Genius Hour Guidebook. Genius Hour is a time for students (of all ages) to explore their passions. I am going to be using Genius Hour in my Methods course next semester because Pam has had great success with it in the past. I’ve only read the first chapter, but I am very, very excited about it! I’ll be posting about how it goes!


Upcoming Week’s Posts


Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Unbelievable Moments in Books [Spoilers!] from Courtney and Yasmine, 8th grade

Wednesday: The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon by Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee

Thursday: Picture Books 10 for 10

Friday: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Sunday: Author Guest Post

 So, what are you reading?

Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

 Signature andRickiSig


Thank you, Kim, for telling us about your new series!

 Tell us about the GAMER SQUAD series.

GAMER SQUAD is three-book series about a group of gamer kids who have to save their town from mobile game related disasters. The books have humor and heart, encourage girls in STEM, and focus on a love for community. I had so much fun writing them!

Your main character, Bex, is a gamer girl and wants to be a programmer when she grows up. Do you have any of this in your background?

Yes! I’ve been playing computer games since I got my first TI-99 and Commodore 64 (really dating myself here-ha!). At Bex’s age, I enjoyed playing around with some light programming at home in BASIC. Like Bex, I was self-taught. In high school, I took Pascal. And my first job out of college was programming for the IBM AS/400. But I have no idea how to program apps, which is Bex’s interest. So I had to get some help with that when it became a plot point in the second book.

In addition to the gaming and action, are there any themes you touch upon in the books?

Middle school can be a rough time for a lot of kids (it was for me), and I include a lot of these issues across the three books—from first crushes to bullying, losing and gaining friendships. It’s also a time where kids are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. Due to some changes in Charlie’s life, a big theme of the second book is that you don’t have to put yourself in a box and be one thing. And this stems from me growing up with vastly different interests. I was a huge reader and writer but also loved gaming and programming. It seemed unusual at that age to be in both Creative Writing and Programming for Pascal, but you don’t have to commit to one interest or label yourself.

What was your favorite part of researching for the series?

The obvious answer would be playing games! But it’s actually something else. In book two, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE NERD KIND, the kids go on a field trip to an observatory. When they play their mobile game too close to a radio telescope, they accidentally summon real aliens to town. I knew I wanted the observatory scenes to be as realistic as possible so I actually toured an observatory. It was a blast! Their telescope was amazing, and we got to see a star, a nebula, and incredible details of the moon.

What’s happening next in the series?

After the Gamer Squad saves the town from not-so-virtual monsters in book one and aliens in book two, they find themselves up against the biggest challenge of all. In book three, APP OF THE LIVING DEAD (coming October 3rd), the kids must save their town from zombies and the game development company that has been causing all this trouble.

Author Bio

Kim Harrington is the author of Clarity, Perception, The Dead and Buried, and Forget Me for teens and the Sleuth or Dare and Gamer Squad series for kids. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and son. When not writing, she’s most likely reading, watching one of her favorite TV shows, or fantasizing about her next vacation. She can be found on Twitter (@Kim_Harrington), Instagram (@KimHarringtonAuthor) and on her website:

Book Summaries

Sterling Children’s Books, August 1, 2017

What happens when your cool virtual-reality game . . . becomes REAL?

Pokémon GO meets The Goonies in this action-packed middle-grade series.

Monsters Unleashed—where you catch virtual-reality monsters on your cellphone—is one of the hottest mobile games around, and Bex and Charlie just can’t stop playing. They even check out an old map in Charlie’s grandfather’s attic in hopes of discovering some forgotten places in town where the rarest monsters might hide. But they find a strange machine up there too, and after Charlie switches it on, the WiFi goes down . . . and Bex’s entire catalog of monsters vanishes! And that’s not the worst of it: all the creatures she’s collected on her phone escape into the real world. Can the friends nab the beasts before they become monster lunch?

Sterling Children’s Books, August 1, 2017

First they took on monsters. Now they have to face ALIENS.

Come join Bex and Charlie on their second thrilling adventure in the GAMER SQUAD series!

After their scary adventure, Bex and Charlie have sworn never to play Monsters Unleashed again. Then Veratrum Games Corp releases a new augmented reality game featuring aliens instead of monsters, and the best friends just can’t resist. After all, everyone loves it, even their science teacher, because it includes real star charts. But when they go to an observatory on a class trip, and open the game near a radio telescope, they get more than they bargained for: REAL aliens. One is sweet and kind; the other . . . not so much. Can Bex and Charlie capture the bad ET before it destroys their town?

Thank you, Kim, for stopping by Unleashing Readers! 

Everyone, make sure to check back on August 30th for Kellee’s review of the Gamer Squad’s first two books!


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The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth
Author: Ellie Hattie
Illustrator: Karl James Mountford
Published 2017 by Kane Miller EDC Publishing

Summary: Look out! There’s a mammoth on the loose, and Oscar has to get him home before the clock strikes one! This riotous adventure is packed with facts and lift-the-flap fun.

Review: I don’t think the summary of this book does it justice.  It is such a fun book that kids of so many different ages are going to love reading. It is about a boy who wakes up to find a mammoth wandering around his town looking for his baby brother. They follow the clues to The Curious Museum which has come to life like The Night at the Museum, and they chase Teddy, the baby mammoth, through different rooms in the museum: Underwater World, the Library, The Flight Floor, The Time of the Dinosaurs, and The Extinct and Endangered Creatures rooms. Trent and I loved the detailed and silly illustrations and trying to find Teddy on each page!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In each room, there is the narrative of Oscar and Timothy, the big mammoth, but there are also flaps that include nonfiction information about the room that the story is currently taking place in. For example, in the ocean scene there are flaps that include flaps about octopus, blue whales, corral, and more! In the library there’s information about books & art, pilots in The Flight Floor, dinos in The Time of the Dinosaurs, and creatures in the Extinct and Endangered room.

This mix of adventure and facts makes this a perfect cross-curricular text to use or as an intro before a trip to a natural history museum.

Discussion Questions: What did you learn in each room?; Why does Oscar have to get Teddy back before 1:00?; What type of museum do you think The Curious Museum is?; What else did you see in the exhibits that you would like to learn about?; Why do you think the author included the flaps with nonfiction information?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett, Natural History Museums, Night at the Museum movies

Recommended For: 



**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller for providing a copy for review!**

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The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locket Hero
Author: Rachel Renee Russell
Published: June 7, 2016 by Aladdin

A Guest Review by Emily Baseler

GoodReads Summary: Max Crumbly is about to face the scariest place he’s ever been: South Ridge Middle School. There’s a lot that’s great about his new school, but there’s also one big problem—Doug, the school bully whose hobby is stuffing Max in his locker. If only Max could be like the hero in his favorite comics. Unfortunately, Max’s uncanny, almost superhuman ability to smell pizza from a block away won’t exactly save any lives or foil bad guys. But that doesn’t mean Max won’t do his best to be the hero his school needs!

Review: This book is the beginning of a soon to be very popular series. I suggest you purchase a copy of this book for your classroom library while you still can. In June, the 2nd book will be released and I have a feeling it will not be available on the shelf for long. This book has a very similar style to the “Dairy of a Wimpy Kid” series which children across grade levels love. This book introduces relevant themes to a middle grade reader such as peer conflict, coping with bullying, pop culture, relationships, friendship, surviving middle school, and learning to laugh at yourself. This book was an easy ready and would be ideal for a more reluctant reader or to read for pleasure.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is one of the rare few written in second person. Max Crumbly, the narrator, is writing journal entries addressing the reader as “you.” “The Adventures of Max Crumbly” would be an interesting text to explore point of view with your students. You could also use the text to highlight the use of exclamation and variation of font. Additionally, the text could be a resource when reviewing the writing process. There are entire sentences scratched out, arrows redirecting the narrative, edits, revisions, and inclusions in the final text.

Discussion Questions: Is this style of writing something you think you would be able to create?; How does the point of view of the narrator impact your perceptions as a reader?; What value did the illustrations add to the text—if any?; Are there any themes or topics in which you can identify/connect with?

Book Trailer: 

Online Resource:

Read This If You Loved: Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renee Russell, Dairy of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

Recommended For:

Thank you, Emily!


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