Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Must Read in 2014

Since one of my goals this year is to read and write more just for me, I'm taking part in Carrie Gelson and Maria Selke's "Must Read in 2014" idea.  I have a HUGE to-be-read list on Goodreads (and in my head), but I've tried to narrow it down to a good mix of children's and adult books that I absolutely feel I must get to this year!

Okay, here goes the list (in no particular order):

1. I've wanted to read this since I asked for it (and received it) LAST Christmas.  I've watched Susan Cain's TED talk, which is wonderful.  I think there are ideas in this book that can apply to everyone, even if you're not an introvert (which I suppose I am).

2. This is on our list for book club.  We love Sarah Addison Allen.  While the books aren't heavy, they always make you think and provide fodder for discussion at book club!

3. I've heard a lot of buzz about this book and I think it's one my students would love.  Nonfiction for kids has become such an amazing area recently.  I love getting new books like this in my students' hands.

4. I've heard a lot about this one!  I'm anxious to order it and start reading.

5.  This is one EVERYONE was talking about at NCTE in Boston in November.  I just ordered it through Scholastic and read the first chapter yesterday.  I'm not even putting it in my classroom library until I read it, I'm that excited about it!

6. This is another book club pick.  I'm looking forward to it because J.K. Rowling is actually the author.  I'm anxious to read her debut as an adult author.

7.  One Came Home  has been on my list since it came out and now that it's won a Newbery Honor, I have to read it!  Sounds intriguing!

8. Since my daughter and I avidly bird watch in our own backyard, I thought this would be appropriate.  And, it won the Sibert Honor this year, so now I have to read it!

9. I just ordered this from the library and am excited to start it.  It also won an honor for best adult books that appeal to teens.

10. I've had this since my birthday in November and haven't yet read it.  I saw Kate Robers and Chris Lehman at NCTE in November and they were AMAZING!  Can't wait to dig in.

11. Anything by Deborah Hopkinson is good.  I think my students will love this one.

12. I've only heard really great things about this one.  I might try it on audio.  Even though it's YA and I teach 5th grade, I still like to dabble in the YA world.  There are so many great YA books out there!

13. I've wanted to read this since before it came out.  I just ordered and received it through Scholastic.  One of my students has already checked it out!

14. Because how could the author of Eleanor and Park write anything that wasn't amazingly real.  I love Rainbow Rowell!

15.  Holly loved this one and my book group has it on the list to read sometime in the next four months.  

16.  Another pick by Laurel Snyder!  The book birthday for this book is today, too!  I can't wait to get my hands on it.

17.  I love reading about the 1920s and the Fitzgeralds.  They were so young and so influential.  They've always piqued my interest~especially Zelda and the mental struggles she wrangled with her whole life.

18.  Many people have stated this is the quintessential book that helped them become better writers.  I've owned for quite some time.  It's high time to read it!

19.  I bought this on 11-22-13.  I've been looking forward to reading this since it came out.  It's definitely a book for the Kindle, as it's HUGE!

20.  This was generously gifted to me at a writing retreat I attended for Choice Literacy this past summer.  I've read the intro and started chapter one, but I need to keep going.  It's fascinating!

21.  This is another one from 2013 that I didn't get to.  I'm looking forward to it because I've only heard great things about it.

22.  Yet another one from 2013 that I must read.  Holly loved it and I know I will too.  I'm a sucker for historical fiction.

23.  I absolutely LOVED Countdown by Deborah Wiles.  I can't wait for the next installment in the trilogy!

24.  A couple of my students read this for our memoir unit and thought it was top notch.  I'm looking forward to it, too.

25.  This book just won an award for best audio.  I'll have to listen to it!

26.  Louise was kind enough to sign this for me at NCTE in November.  It's perfect with the journey theme we're doing in our classroom right now!

27.  I've had the privilege of meeting Jennifer Nielsen a couple of times and she's so fun to talk to!  I have love the other two books in the Ascendence Triology.  I received the ARC of this book at NCTE. It's going around my classroom like wildfire.  I'll have to get my hands back on it!

28.  I want to read the whole series this year.  My struggling readers LOVE these books (as do my non-struggling readers) and I can see why.  What's not to love about a fighting lunch lady?

29.  This is another book that goes well with our journey theme topic this month.  Anxious to share this one with kids.

30.  And, let's end with this month's book club book.  I'm 45% through it and it's what I'm going to read as soon as I publish this blog post!  It's SOOOO good!

I'd love to hear what you're reading plans are for this year!  It's fun to comb through lists and see what interests others.

Since I have the list made, I'm going to take part in Gathering Books Check Off Your Reading List Challenge.  I'm shooting for Level 3: Rabid Bibliophile.  We'll see!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

OLW--One Little Word

It's that time of year again~a time for resolutions.  *heavy sigh*  I've lost almost all hope in creating a New Year resolution because about two weeks after I vow to do something, life gets in the way and there is no way I can [insert any resolution here].  So, the last couple of years, I've resolved to make no resolutions and, frankly, it's worked out quite well.

This year, I heard a short snippet on the Today Show or GMA about a one word resolution.  I didn't think too much about it, but my good friend Holly mentioned it at brunch a couple of weeks ago.  She called it an "OLW".  The basic idea was conceived byAli Edwards (I think!).  Basically, you choose a word that you want to work towards, define you, strive to reach, etc.  Holly said her word was one she chose at the beginning of the school year--JOURNEY.  I thought that was a great idea, as she and I are on a HUGE journey of writing a book together and writing monthly articles for a website, and working full time and raising families.  We're certainly journeying.  

The idea stuck for me.  I couldn't quite shake it.  So, I threw in the towel and decided, What the heck?, I'll make a OLW.  I thought for about two seconds and came up with the word PEACEFULNESS.  Recently, I've been running around like a mad woman.  I have to write, I have to plan, I have to grade, I have to make dinner, I have to read, I have to drop off and pick up, I have exercise, I have to sleep (a little), yadda, yadda, yadda.  I was feeling disquieted.  And there my OLW was born.  I want some peace in 2014.  I know it's a long shot, but…I can strive all year for it, right?  I decided to start small--things like "pack your lunch the night before"and "pack your daughter's clothes for the sitter in the bag the night before" ran through my brain.  And you know what?  I've been doing it!  And you know what else?  It works!  Epiphany!  Take five minutes to organize yourself and you'll feel much less stressed the next day.  Well, this OLW thing could work out for me after all.

In fact, I liked the idea so much, that I decided to work on OLWs with my fifth graders.  Once the polar vortex lightened its grasp and we could return to school, the first day's lesson was on One Little Word.  Except, you can't just say "Okay, kids, come up with one little word for the year."  Instead, I took this approach:
1. The kids created three goals they had for 2014.  I shared mine (finishing writing the book with Holly, reading and writing more for myself, and to not feel so rushed all of the time).  

2. Once the goals were written, I had the kids look at mine and try to quantify them into one word.  It was hard!  I started them off with peacefulness.  You can see the other words they came up with.  I thought all of the words could work for an OLW resolution/commitment.

3. Next, they did the same thing for their goals and shared their words with a partner.

4.  They then selected ONE WORD to define their year.  I chose peacefulness, of course.  I went on to explain that my goals/resolutions might change throughout the year, but my word would remain the same.  Whatever, my goals, I should strive to achieve PEACEFULNESS.

5. They chose a word and wrote it on an index card.  On the other side of the card, they wrote their three goals.  Then, we went around the room and shared our OLWs.  Here's the list (check out that vocabulary!!):

We each selected a special spot for our OLW cards--somewhere we can see them every day.  One day at a time we're striving to stick to our OLW.  It's worth a shot!

What's your One Little Word for 2014?

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Monday! What are YOU reading?

These two memes were created by Book Journey and Teach Mentor Texts.  I am fortunate to participate in reviewing children's and adult books.  Towards the end of the year I fell off the wagon of recording the books I'd read on Goodreads.  I read every night to my young daughter and for some reason (I'm blaming it on the holidays) I didn't record everything.  Here's to getting back on the bandwagon in the new year.  I really am usually very diligent!  Happy New Year everyone!


I LOVED this book! I love the idea of God blending into and trying out everyday life things. I especially appreciated the poems showing God as "He" and "She." A great book of poems. (Did you just read that? That's right…I said "A great book of poems.") Ha!

This is a cute look at a little girl imitating the moves of a flamingo, in which they learn to dance together.

Check out the book trailer and Mr. Schu's interview with Molly Idle!

This is a perfect book for a preschooler to review and think about seasons. We loved it!
What made this even better is that my four year old daughter accidentally spilled her father's adult beverage on it.  I was lucky enough to have brunch with Louise and Holly the next day and shared the story.  We got a good laugh!

Curious George and the Firefighters by Margret & H.A. Rey

Finally! Natalie liked a Curious George book! I've been trying these since she was two and this is the first one she enjoyed. I love them all!

The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

 I LOVE this book! I remember it from childhood. My parents' best friends had it for their daughters and I loved pulling out the letters. This is a new Natalie favorite. We'll have to get the Christmas version for next December. I love that she can connect the letters to the fairy tales she knows.


Oh, this was a good one! The audio is exceptional because it's read by two different narrators. Julie ("Queenie") is a Scottish spy for Great Britain. She is captured in occupied France when she is discovered looking the wrong way before crossing the street. She is held in a former hotel and interrogated by a Nazi official. She is ordered to write everything she knows about British airways and airplanes. Throughout her "confession" she is set on keeping her best friend and pilot, Maggie Broddart, safe from harm. Tense, heartfelt and real, this is a great young adult historical fiction novel.


This was my reading obsession over winter break.  I read it bit-by-bit any spare second I could get.  I loved everything about it--the time period (ranging from the 1970s to present-day), the setting (New York City), and the characters (six friends who met at an artsy summer camp when they were in high school).  Wolitzer does an amazing job of capturing the characters' feelings and drawing the reader with the honesty of the flaws of each character.  I will certainly be reading more Wolitzer books!


(On Audio)

2014 is going to be a great reading year!  My Goodreads goal is 165 books.  What is your reading goal and what are you reading??