Monday, May 25, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-25-2020


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

I know I've been talking about the Walden Award a lot lately, and this post is no different. :) 

The 2020 Walden Award winners and finalists were featured on this month's ALAN Picks, so if you'd like to learn more about these wonderful books, check it outAlso, If you are a teacher, professor, or librarian and you love YA lit, consider applying for the 2021 Walden committee. The application deadline is June 5th. 


Last week I reviewed:

I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers


I finished reading:

The Night Before Election Day by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer
I think had I read this book BEFORE the pandemic, it would have rang truer, but since election day is likely not to have the same excitement and joy that it has in previous years, it was almost painful to read this book today in May of 2020.


Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder
In this graphic memoir, Tyler Feder does a beautiful job of balancing both the raw reality of grieving her mother with moments of levity and humor. Her soft, muted color palate helps keep her storytelling gentle and non-threatening for those who might find themselves triggered by their own grief, yet still pulls no punches with taking readers on her journey of devastating loss.


Currently reading:

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet
I've been wanting to read this book for a long time because the Cold War is my favorite era of history and Berlin is my favorite city in the world so I'm not sure what took me so long to read it, but since it's only $0.99 on Kindle right now, I couldn't resist reading and talking about this book. 


Currently (still) reading with my ears:

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Finally Fulfilling a Book Club Dream

Over the years I have tried to get a couple in-person book clubs off the ground but they never materialized.

But then the pandemic happened.
 And everyone is stuck at home.
 Mindlessly scrolling social media.
 And getting in political fights with friends and family.

 So while I was having a weekly Zoom hangout with friends a few weeks ago, I brought up my favorite podcast Pantsuit Politics (as I am wont to do), and their book I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening). That got me thinking: what if I tried to get a virtual book club off the ground to try to bridge the topic of how to have hard conversations that revolve around politics. So I proposed a virtual book club as a way to help me feel productive and making a contribution to helping teach us all how to talk about politics better.

 I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of this book during the summer of 2018 because I had the good fortune of getting to present with Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland at NCTE in November of that year in a presentation we called Keep It Nuanced, Y'all: Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable in the Classroom and Beyond. I had been listening to their podcast since the summer of 2016 when nobody thought that Donald Trump could possibly become president, and I was so impressed how lovingly and respectfully they disagreed with each other, they quickly became my favorite podcast, to which I now refer to them as my "Political Prozac."

 While Beth and Sarah come at their views from two different ends of the political spectrum, new listeners might assume that they are always in agreement with each other, and have even been criticized for claiming to disagree politically but never actually disagreeing with each other. But the truth of the matter is, they disagree all the time. It's just we're so used to pundits yelling over each other on cable news that we're not used to hearing what respectful disagreement sounds like.

 I reread the finished copy in April/May 2020 for the aforementioned virtual book club. While I was proposing said book club to my friends and family on Facebook, Beth saw my post and offered to have her and Sarah join the discussion. I was stunned and honored and happily accepted. And last night, a group of women from all over the country, along with Beth and Sarah, talked about grace and nuance and how you get comfortable being uncomfortable. It was moving and cathartic and filled me with hope. A few of us have even agreed that it would be helpful to continue to "practice" having hard conversations and would like to meet again, maybe even regularly.

 So for those of you reading this post for whom politics is an uncomfortable subject, I'd like to leave you with these nuggets of wisdom that I found extremely valuable and most quotable from the book:






I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening) by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
Published: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 205
Genre: Nonfiction/Politics
Audience: Adults
Disclosure: Advance reader copy provided by publisher/purchased finished copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

Monday, May 18, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-18-2020



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Last week I had the pleasure of announcing ALAN's Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. Go check out my post to find out who the winner is... 

2020 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Winner 
If you are a teacher, professor, or librarian and you love YA lit, consider applying for the 2021 Walden committee


Last week I finished reading:
 
On the Horizon by Lois Lowry
This book defies genre and format. It seems like a novel in verse, but it's not long enough to be a novel. It's also not a poetry collection because it still tells a story. It's hard to understand what this book is until you read the author's note at the end, which is a great reminder to always read the backmatter.

Currently (still) reading:

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder


Currently reading with my ears:

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Monday, May 11, 2020

2020 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Winner

As the chair of the 2020 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award committee, I am pleased and proud to announce that the winner is: 
Lovely War by Julie Berry


The finalists are:
  

 

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
White Rose by Kip Wilson



For readers who aren't familiar with the Walden Award, it is given every year through the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the NCTE (ALAN) and the award criteria is:
1) Literary merit
2) Widespread teen appeal
3) Positive approach to life

Because the criteria for this award is so specific, it is a wonderful award to use in the classroom, whether it's just consulting the award list when you would like to adopt a new novel for whole-class or book club study OR you would like to do your own Mock Walden in your classroom or library.

Here is an interview with Julie Berry about her Walden Award win. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-11-2020


It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Today is an exciting day because ALAN announced the winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. Go check out my post to find out who the winner is... 

2020 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Winner 


Last week I finished reading:

I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
The wrong-headed platitude that you should never talk politics or religion in polite company has done so much damage to our democracy. What we actually do is just talk politics with people who reinforce our worldview. The truth is, we NEED to talk about politics, and especially with those we don't agree. We just need to learn HOW. Otherwise our country will never heal. And we are at an incredibly divisive and contentious time right now that we just can't ignore by burying our heads in the sand. While we're busy burying our heads in the sand, why don't we also work on digging out the roots of the anger, hurt, and contention that we are feeling and talk to each other like human beings worthy of grace and love instead of "walking ideologies." This book can help move us forward. It's not going to give you all the answers. It's not a magic wand. But it's a good outline and roadmap for how to start the journey. 


Currently reading:

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder


Currently reading with my ears: 

The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

Monday, May 4, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-4-2020



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Hello everyone! EXCITING NEWS! The 2020 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalists have been named and I am so proud of all 5 of these books: 
  

 
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
White Rose by Kip Wilson

The winner will be announced next Monday.



Last week I read and enjoyed:

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
A wonderful and satisfying sequel to The One and Only Ivan, this time with the wily mutt Bob telling his story.


Bites of Terror: 10 Frightfully Delicious Tales by Cuddles and Rage
Like Tales from the Crypt but with food and clay figures. I'm not entirely sure who the audience is for this book -- is it for kids? Adults? Regardless, it's still delightfully entertaining. 


Sorry (Really Sorry) by Joanna Cotler, illustrated by Harry Bliss
A cow's mean behavior sets off a chain reaction of unkindness on the farm and soon it only takes one to show that kindness can spread just as quickly as meanness.


Grandma's Gardens by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Carme Leminiscates
A beautiful book written by both Hillary and Chelsea Clinton about they way gardening has brought generations together in their family.


I Am Leonardo da Vinci by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Chrstopher Eliopoulos
Leonardo da Vinci was a jack-of-all-trades. The original Renaissance Man. He was led by curiosity and therefore created many brilliant works of art. And some not -so-brilliant things too.

This would be a great book to read to talk to students about growth mindset and leading your life with curiosity. I could see this being a good introduction to genius hour/passion project/20% time.

Currently (re)reading:

I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers
I decided to re-read this book because I proposed a virtual book club to friends and family to read this book with me this month. I have been so despondent over the state of politics in our country right now -- even more so than I usually am -- that I decided to do something about it. I quote Pantsuit Politics all the time to friends and family that I decided it was high time my friends and family started listening to them too, either via their podcast or by joining me in reading this book. So far I've got a nice group of over 20 people who are reading it with me and I am really grateful that I am helping to spread the message that we NEED to talk politics with each other, and ESPECIALLY the people we don't agree with. The problem is we don't know HOW, and that's what that book does a great job at helping us out with. If you too are feeling despondent over the state of politics and want to learn a better way, I highly encourage you to read this book and/or listen to Pantsuit Politics. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4-20-20



It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Hello friends. What a time to be alive. I have to admit, it has been REALLY hard for me to do anything other than mindlessly scroll social media. When I try to read a book, I just can't concentrate. But it's good to know I'm not alone in that feeling. If you want the brutal truth, I spend a good chunk of my day sleeping. Sleep is my body's trauma response and it is definitely on high alert right now. 

Anyway, I have been able to manage a bit of reading the past few weeks, but it has been slow going. Also, I thought I'd share this Google Doc I created of Free and Inexpensive Ebooks that I've come across over the course of this pandemic. 


Books I've recently read and loved:

Untamed by Glennon Doyle
When I first started reading this book, I was disappointed. It felt disjointed, unorganized, and without structure.

But then I realized.

The title is called Untamed. The book is untamed.

*Smacks forehead*

I still would prefer more of a connected narrative, but I love and trust Glennon's judgment and still found the message of the book valuable and worth internalizing. The message is this: the world is trying to tame you. The world would have you believe that making choices that honor who you truly are is dangerous. Don't listen. When you honor who you are and feel your big feelings, you are not broken, you are showing the world how to Be.


Bolivar by Sean Rubin
Bolivar is a dinosaur. Dinosaurs are extinct. So why is there one living in New York City? And why is Sybil the only one who notices him? Because everyone in New York is just too busy to pay attention.

Bolivar is an interesting story and an interesting hybrid of formats: picture book/graphic novel/chapter book. It's a fun and silly books for kids that will get them laughing but it's a wake up call for adults... to remind us to be more observant of our surroundings and pay attention to the world around us.


Camp by Kayla Miller
I'm going to be 100% honest and say I never would have read this book had it not been for the fact that it's currently free on Kindle for Amazon Prime members. And I needed a quick, easy read to get my footing back into the world of books again. Even though I never read the first book in the series, Click, (which also recently became free to Prime members), I could still follow this story without any problems. I enjoyed this book enough that I'm going to backtrack and read the first book now. :)


The Yawns are Coming by Christopher Eliopoulos
Two young boys have a sleepover and plan to stay up all the night but the yawns overtake them. I thought the way the yawns were portrayed and illustrated in this book was particularly cute and clever.


The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu
This beautiful book is about Mohammed Alaa Aljaleel, who stayed in Syria even as war was ravaging his city. He would feed the abandoned cats that he came across in the city, but eventually there became so many that he created an animal sanctuary. I just love how this book shows that when you give of yourself, you get back so much more in return.


Currently reading:

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Another book I downloaded on Kindle because it is free for Prime members. And also, verse novels are great to read when your reading stamina has taken a hit, so I'm following my own advice that I give to my students.


Currently reading with my ears:

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
Yes! Ivan, Bob, Julia, and Ruby are back, this time with a story told from Bob the dog's perspective. Danny DeVito narrates the audiobook and it is just as wonderful as you would imagine it to be.