IMWAYR 2015 logo

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.

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Last Week’s Posts

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

Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Covers from Vanessa and Alexandra, 6th grade

Wednesday: Review and Giveaway! Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark
Giveaway open until Wednesday!

Thursday: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Friday: Top Checked Out Books by Kellee’s Middle School Readers 2016-17

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 Last Week’s Journeys

Kellee

The end of the year is always a hard reading time for me because my brain is just so tired and it is hard for me to focus. This end of the year was no different. Does anyone else struggle with reading when the school year ends even though you have more free time? However, I am getting back into the swing of things! Since I last shared my reading with you on the 5th, I have finished 2 novels, 3 picture books, and a nonfiction book:

  

Ryan Graudin’s series is brilliant. If you have not read Wolf by Wolf (then Blood by Blood), pick it up now. Sci-fi historical revisioning.

Trent and I received our second Boox from Powell’s Books and it included Pandora by Victoria Turnbull and All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon. They are both so beautiful yet so very different. Pandora is about finding life in everything while All the World is about the life that is in everything. Both worth reading!

 

I reviewed or will be reviewing these 🙂

Ricki

I have seen a lot of books this week because I have been packing up all of my bookshelves. We are moving from Connecticut to Colorado, so the move is consuming our lives at the moment. 🙂 We are trying to get in some last minute time with the people we love, so life has been pretty crazy.

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This Week’s Expeditions
Kellee

I just started Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon. Not enough to be able to say how it is.

I also am so lucky to be able to introduce Neal Shusterman at the ALAN breakfast since he was the winner of the 2017 ALAN Award, so I think I will pick up one of his books after. I am thinking either rereading Unwind and finishing the dystology, picking up Scythe, or jumping into Challenger Deep. We’ll see!

But this could all change depending on my mood and if any of my holds at the library are available~

 Ricki

I’ve been listening to The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. It’s so, so good. I actually cleaned my kitchen tonight for an extra long time and did some more laundry, so I could just listen to it!

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Upcoming Week’s Posts

 

Tuesday:  Blog Tour with Review!: The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1) by Adrienne Kress

Wednesday:  Seventy Favorite Books From Ten of Kellee’s 2016-17 Middle School Students

Thursday: Once Upon a Book Club — Unboxing!

Friday: Blog Tour with Giveaway and Review!: Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie A. Thompson

Sunday: Author Guest Post by Pepper Springfield

 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!

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Yearly, starting with 2012-2013 (and excluding 2013-2014), I have shared the most popular books in my classroom library:
2012-2013
2014-2015
2015-2016

From 2011-2013, I taught an intensive reading class with students who had not been successful on the state reading test; however, since 2014, I switched to teaching advanced reading, an elective that students choose to be in (and I still get to work with my striving readers through being reading coach–a win/win!). In the past, I shared the top books from all students who checked out from my classroom library which included my class as well as students from the three intensive reading teachers; however, I really wanted to see what the top books my students checked out this year, so I pulled a report showing just that. I currently have 3,428 titles in my classroom library, and 623 of them were checked out this year. Today, I am happy to share with you…

The most checked out books of 2016-2017 from my 6th-8th grade classroom library
**My Mock Newbery/Lunch Book Club did not check out through the same system. To see what they read, check out their posts:
Mock Newbery | Lunch Book Club**
**My students also didn’t check out from my library for their  in-class book clubs at the end of the year. They books they chose to read were:
The Maze RunnerSave Me a Seat, Stormbreaker, Point Blank, Locomotion, Trino’s Choice, Dark Life, Wolf Hollow, Jeremy Fink an the Meaning of Life, Kimchi & Calamari, City of Ember, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, Touching Spirit Bear, and Wig in the Window**

15. The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

14. nine, ten by Nora Raleigh Baskins

13. The Tapper Twins go to War by Geoff Rodkey

12. The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi

11. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm

10. Old School by Jeff Kinney

9. HiLo: The Great Big Boom by Judd Winick

8. HiLo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

7. All Fall Down by Ally Carter

6. The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

5. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

4. HiLo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick

3. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

2. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

1. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

I’d also like to share the #16-27 titles because they were all tied!

16-27.
Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi

Double Down by Jeff Kinney
Dream Jumper: Nightmare Escape by Greg Gunberg
Prince of Elves by Kazu Kibuishi
Teen Boat!: The Race for Boatlantis by Dave Roman
The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher
The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
Bot Wars by J.V. Kade
Legend by Marie Lu
See How They Run by Ally Carter
Wonder by R.J. Palacios
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

What an interesting mix this year! I always love pulling the stats because even though I do status of the class consistently, I can never guess all of the top checked out books. I knew the Amulet series, HiLo series, Dog Man, and The Honest Truth would be on here though–they were passed around! Numbers 13, 7, 5, and 1 were also on our state list (SSYRA), so it was not a surprise to see them.

I also love seeing graphic novels on the list. Graphic novels are very popular with ALL of my readers. I think it is a myth that only nonreaders or struggling readers read them. So many of my students adore reading them (as do I!). I think there are many reasons why graphic novels are favorites: helps students visualize, fun to read as many of these students have only found reading to be a horrible chore, and colorful! Graphic novels are something I truly believe will help students love reading more and become better readers, and if you look at how much these students are reading and increasing in their reading ability, I think they back me up. (To see more research about the importance of graphic novels, check out my graphic novel teaching guide with Abrams.)

What books/series do you find to be most popular with your middle school readers?
Have you found success with the books I listed above?
Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? Did you enjoy them?

I hope this list of books helps point you in the direction of some texts that your readers will truly love!

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The Hate U Give
Authors: Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017 by Balzer + Bray

GoodReads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Ricki’s Review: I don’t know where to begin with this very special book. To give proof of my love for it, I will share that this book is on my Adolescents’ Literature course syllabus for next year. It is the book that I am most excited to teach. My research concerns multicultural young adult literature, and I have read a lot of books that interrogate issues of race. When this book was hyped, I knew I had to read it, but I was nervous that it wouldn’t be as good as I wanted it to be. It was everything and more. The characters feel real, and the pacing is fantastic. The author beautifully captures dialogue and life in ways that will grab readers’ attention. It has a strong message without feeling didactic. Teachers will find much to talk about with this text.

You might notice that this book has a 4.66 average rating on GoodReads. I don’t know of any book with that high of an average rating. I am not one to buy into ratings, but I think this extremely high rating shows that this is a book that really resonates with people. If you plan to read one book this year, pick this one. 

Kellee’s Review: When I first heard about The Hate U Give at ALAN in November 2016, Jason Reynolds said it was going to be one of the most important books of our time. Then I started hearing about it being bid on by all of the major publishing houses. Reynolds’s recommendation mixed with the hype made me want to pick it up, but then I also was so worried that it wouldn’t live up to this hype. But it does. It lives up to it all. I have nothing negative to say about the book. It is poignant. It is thought-provoking. It pushes boundaries. It makes white people have to look at race a way that they may not have considered before. It is REAL. It is rough. It is truth. I think Thomas did a phenomenal job writing a narrative of truth that just lays out there the problems with race in our society in a way that no one can deny or argue; it just is. I think their story makes everyone more aware and more empathetic. I finished a month ago, and I still am thinking about Star and Khalil and Natasha and Kenya and Star’s family–I just didn’t want to stop being in their lives. I cannot say any more how phenomenal this book is. Pick it up if you haven’t. (And the audiobook is so brilliant if you want to listen to it.)

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to analyze the varied themes of this text and dive deeply into discussions of each (power, economics, race, etc.). Then, they might create a civic video essay—one that considers a social issue and provides steps for social action to raise awareness for the viewing audience.

Discussion Questions: How does the author craft dialogue? What might other writers learn from her work?; What messages does the text reveal? Which messages are less obvious but implicit in a reading of the text?; What connections does this text have with the world today?

Flagged Passage: “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

Read This If You Loved: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; by Ilyassah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon; The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon; How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; Audacity by Melanie Crowder; The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Recommended For:

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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!

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: Katy Wu
Published May 17th, 2017 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: Do you know who Grace Hopper was?

A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, and naval leader! Acclaimed picture book author Laurie Wallmark (Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine) once again tells the riveting story of a trailblazing woman in Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling Children’s Books, May 16, 2017).

Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life.

“If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.”  The picture book biography of Grace Hopper—the boundary-breaking woman who revolutionized computer science.

Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English,” and throughout her life succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly is “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys.

About the Author: Laurie Wallmark has degrees in Biochemistry from Princeton University, Information Systems from Goddard College, and Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut book  Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books) received four starred reviews, praise in The New York Times, and numerous awards. Laurie lives in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter: @lauriewallmark.

About the Illustrator: With a BFA in Illustration and Entertainment Arts from Pasadena Art Center College of Design in 2007, Katy Wu has worked for Google, Laika, Pixar, CinderBiter, and Simon & Schuster. Grace Hopper is her first picture book. Having worked on such projects as the feature film Coraline, and various shorts (La LunaCar Toons) as well as CG, 2D, stop motion, online games, and content for social media platforms, Katy is an incredible talent. She lives and freelances in New York City. Follow her online at katycwwu.tumblr.com.

Review: Each time I learn about a new woman in history that made such a tremendous contribution yet is a name I didn’t know, I am flabbergasted by the lack HERstory in HIStory. Grace Hopper is a phenomenal individual! I love how much her story promotes imagination and STEM. Her stories of rebuilding clocks and building a doll house from blueprints with an elevator shows how building a strong mathematical and scientific mind begins from youth, and it is all about teaching kids to mess around, use their imagination, tinker, and learn through trying. Wallmark’s biography of Grace Hopper does a beautiful job of combining a message of rebellion (in the name of science), creativity, imagination, and education with Grace’s biography. In addition to the narrative, Wu’s illustrations and formatting of the novel adds humanity and color to her story.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Grace Hopper is one example of a female scientist that should be a name that everyone knows yet she is not taught in schools. Luckily there are so many wonderful nonfiction picture book biographies being published showcasing woman who made a difference (some listed below). One way I picture this text being used in the classroom is by using these picture books in a lit circle or even like a jig saw type activity. Each group reads a different nonfiction picture book and shares what they learned with the class.

Grace Hopper could also be used in a computer classroom because it has such a wonderful introduction to the beginning of computers. Grace was part of very early computer programming and computer science, and her story would be perfect to share during a technology class looking at the history of computers.

Discussion Questions: How did Grace Hopper’s legacy continued to the computers and technology we use today?; How did Grace Hopper stand out from what was expected of woman at the time?; What hardships did Grace probably face because of gender prejudice?; Choose one of Grace’s quotes shared in the book and share what it meant for Grace and how it could it be taken as inspirational for your life?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson, Maya Lin by Susan Rubin, I Dissent by Debbie Levy, Fearless Flyer by Heather Lang, Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock, Women Who Broke the Rules series by Kathleen KrullLiberty’s Voice by Erica SilvermanJosephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang, The Book of Heroines from National Geographic Kids

Recommended For: 

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Giveaway: 

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**Thank you to Ardi at Sterling for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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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: Top Ten Book Covers (But Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover!)

from Vanessa W. and Alexandra N, 6th grade

Vanessa

1. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

I love the image of the lovely forest.

2. The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz

I enjoy looking at the ombre cover with a sense of excitement.

3. The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers

The cover of this book gave me a sense of mystery.

4. Sophie Quire Peter Nimble by Jonathan Auxier

These covers give a sense of adventure and excitement.

5. The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

This cover may look simple but relates to the book in outstanding ways.

Alexandra

1. Darkbeast by Morgan Keyes

The cover shows the bond between the characters.

2. Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

This cover shows a main event in the story, and it is well drawn.

3. Wolves of the Beyond: Lone Wolf by Kathryn Lasky

The cover shows the main character, and the book is kind of sad and the character looks sad, too.

4. Wolves of Beyond: Star Wolf by Kathryn Lasky

It is really pretty and well drawn.

5. Foxcraft: The Taken by Inbali Iserles

I like this cover because it’s simple but the background is really detailed and you can see all the places where the character went.

Thank you, Vanessa and Alexandra! 

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IMWAYR 2015 logo

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.

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Last Week’s Posts

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

 

Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday: Twenty Books We Want to Read from Lily, Freddy, and Joey, 6th grade

Wednesday:  Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim

Thursday: Guest Review:  The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

Friday:  Author Skype Visits with Kellee’s 7th Grade Lunch Book Club

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 Last Week’s Journeys

Kellee

Future Problem Solvers International Conference was 6/8-6/11, so I just got home late last night and am catching up on family or sleep or both. I probably didn’t read that much while chaperoning, but I’ll catch you up next week on any updates 🙂

 Ricki

I finally read Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley. Now I understand why this book is on so many lists and referenced often by scholars. This book provides many talking points. I assume that many readers of this blog have read it already, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you check it out. I was with several women this weekend, and I couldn’t stop telling them about it!

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This Week’s Expeditions
Ricki

 

More on these two later. 🙂

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Upcoming Week’s Posts

Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Covers from Vanessa and Alexandra, 6th grade

Wednesday: Review and Giveaway! Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark

Thursday: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Friday: Top Checked Out Books by Kellee’s Middle School Readers 2016-2017

 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!

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A lunch book club meeting in the library one day

After we finished our Mock Newbery experience, my lunch book club needed a new direction. My students said they definitely wanted to continue the book club.

  • I liked having lunch book club because we all read the same book. We could support each other through the sad parts, and share the happy memories when something good happened. -Maria
  • I liked book club very much because I got to talk to other kids in the school who were reading the same book as I am. -Ashley
  • My favorite part of lunch book club is being able to talk with other people who have already read a book or are currently reading it. You get to talk with people and discuss it, which makes me understand the book even more. -Emily

We discussed three options to continue:

  1. Everyone just reads whatever and we talk about books in general.
  2. HARRY POTTER! There are so many students in the group that are reading his books for the first time.
  3. Author Skype Visits

After much discussion, we decided on #3 (though some students did choose to only continue reading Harry Potter).
We then looked through Kate Messner’s so helpful list of authors that are kind enough to do free school Skype visits. From this list, we chose four authors we were really interested in reading more of and chatting with:

  • Dan Gemeinhart because The Honest Truth was on our state list for 2016-2017 and Some Kind of Courage had been on our Mock Newbery list, so most of the kids in the club have already read his books, but there was also his newest, Scar Island, we could read.
  • August Scattergood because one student adored Glory Be that she read in elementary school and shared with the group how much she liked it. I also pushed for them to pick a historical fiction author to get all of the genres covered in the four visits.
  • John David Anderson because Ms. Bixby’s Last Day had been on our Mock Newbery list and had been a favorite, and I am a huge fan of his other books which I book talked, and they were interested in them.
  • Kristen Kittscher because The Wig in the Window had been a HUGE hit in my classroom last year and many of them had read it in my class last year, and they shared it with the students who hadn’t read it, and they definitely had to know how the mystery ended.

And we were so lucky that ALL OF THEM were available at some point before the end of the year, and it even worked out to one per month February through May. I then went about purchasing all of the books using a grant I received for middle school book clubs, and we began reading one author a month.

If you have ever been part of an author Skype visit, it is so amazing to see what wonderful questions the students come up with and equally fascinating to hear how the authors answer them. Some examples: With Dan Gemeinhart, we discussed “the parent problem” in middle grade and young adult literature as well as how he crafted his chapters in The Honest Truth; with Augusta Scattergood, we discussed the inclusion of diverse characters as well as her choice to add quirky exclamations in Making Friends with Billy Wong; with John David Anderson, we discussed the hero’s journey including Star Wars and Harry Potter and how he’s written so many different genres; and with Kristen Kittscher, we discussed her planning (or lack thereof) and her characterization.

Each Skype visit was different and after each one the students raved about the opportunity, and I want to second their excitement: We are so lucky to be able to spend any amount of time, much less almost an hour, with each of these authors!

  • My favorite part of Skype visits is that we got our burning questions answered. Many readers have questions and they can only speculate, but we love reading so much that we get to talk with them. I feel as if we have become friends with the authors. -Emily
  • I enjoyed Skyping with the different authors and learning how each of them wrote and planned a story. I loved reading the books and seeing the difference between the types of styles and genres each author wrote in. -Sarah

 

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