Monday, May 25, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-25-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

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 finished reading:

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
A great read for anyone who doesn't respect comics as an art form or real literature.


I also finished reading with my ears:

Solitaire by Alice Oseman
I LOVED this book. I'll be writing a full review soon but Oseman is a fantastic new talent in the YA world. I'm looking forward to hearing more from her in the future.


Favorite picture books from last week:

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Olivia by Ian Falconer
I can't believe I hadn't yet read either one of these picture book classics, but I loved them both.


Currently and still reading: 

The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes and the Stories Behind Them by Mina Holland 
Tomboy by Liz Prince


Still reading with my ears:
 
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani 

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-18-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

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.

The school year is almost over! My 8th graders' last day of school was Friday and they're off to Washington, DC today. Graduation is May 26th. I didn't have to go on the trip to DC so I just have to cover a couple 7th grade classes, so this is going to be an easy week for me. Bonus! I wrote this post on my teaching blog on Saturday to celebrate my students.


Last week I reviewed:

To Teach, the Journey in Comics by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Turner 


Favorite picture books from last week:

Look, a Book! by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood
Beautiful message about the magic and sacredness of books, no matter your background.


Sea Rex by Molly Idle 
Tea Rex is still my favorite of the three books, but Sea Rex comes in a close second. I especially loved when the little boy lay atop T-Rex at the beach and left a little boy sunburn mark on his belly. :)


I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell, illustrated by Charles Santoso 
No matter how hard Adam tries to get rid of his creepy stuffed koala, it follows him... Until one day he discovers he might just need Koala after all.  

 
The Island by Armin Greder  
Make no mistake: this is not a picture book for children, it is for adults. This chilling allegory will make you examine your own conscience in how you view otherness. 


Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History... and Our Future by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl 
Fabulous book for the budding feminist. Not only did I feel empowered reading this, but I also felt like I learned something in this ABC collection of rebels, trailblazers, and visionaries because the women featured therein were not your typical Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Gloria Steinem that you so often find in anthologies about women change-makers, but instead were mostly about women I had never heard of.  


My Cousin Momo by Zachariah OHora 
This delightful, humorous book about an eccentric family member coming to visit is one of my new favorites of 2015. I might even be so bold to say it has Caldecott potential. Look for My Cousin Momo in bookstores in June.  


Currently reading: 

The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes and the Stories Behind Them by Mina Holland 
I feel like I'm taking a course on world cuisine from a really knowledgeable, really passionate professor. This is one of those books were Post-it flags won't do. I need to highlight and mark up the text, not just for the beautiful writing, but also new things I'm learning about food. -- and I'm only on page 27!   


Currently reading with my ears:
 
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Solitaire by Alice Oseman
I'm really enjoying both of these so far!  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

To Teach, the Journey in Comics by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Turner

Radical and philosophical are two words I'd use to describe To Teach by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner. It will make you question every tradition, rule, and classroom procedure we foist upon children in the name of education and discipline.

In this book, Ayers attempts to squash the notion of the mythical heroic teacher "saving" his students from their lives, but in a somewhat contradictory fashion, this book is also a kind of hero's journey in its own right, as the teacher sets out on a quest with her students and returns transformed.

Rather than write a full review, I thought I'd just share some of my favorite quotes from the book:

The universe is expanding, and knowledge is infinite. At some point, good teachers must plunge into the unknown alongside their students, to adventure on together (5). 

Teaching at its best is not a matter of technique -- it's primarily an act of love (11).

Knowledge, like love, is something you can give away without losing a thing (44).

I want to build spaces where life is lived in the present tense -- where life in school is life itself (45).

All I want to do is teach a really good kindergarten class to 18-year-olds (58). - Avi Lessing

The vapid, formulaic style in which [textbooks] are written functions as a sort of muzac for the mind (69).

Standards are important, it's true. But who decides what the standards are? And can standards ever be definitively summed up? Since knowledge is infinite, and knowing intersubjective and multidimensional, anyone who tries to bracket thinking in any definitive sense is, in essence, killing learning (74).

In some ways every student, every teacher is an entire universe, and it's the relationship, the interaction, that makes learning come to life (75).

Teaching is the vocation of vocations, a calling that shepherds a multitude of other callings (93).

If teachers are never self-critical, they will become dogmatic, losing their capacity for renewal and growth (98).

Education at its best rests on twin pillars of enlightenment and liberation (121).


And then there's this:
To Teach
My favorite sequence in the whole book. Because even though it's about an interaction with a kindergartner, so much of this rings true with a few of my middle schoolers. #TheStruggleIsReal

Cross-posted to my teaching blog, Use Your Outside Voice.


To Teach, the Journey in Comics by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner
Published: May 1, 2010
Publisher: Teachers College Press
Pages: 128
Genre/Format: Nonfiction sequential art
Audience: Educators
Disclosure: Purchased 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 11, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 5-11-15

Originally hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers also host a kidlit version of It's Monday! What are You Reading?

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 reviewed: 

No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay
Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator is Changing the World by Jack Andraka


Current giveaway:

Fred by Kaila Eunhye Seo


Last week I finished reading:

Find Momo Coast to Coast by Andrew Knapp
Putting aside for a minute that Find Momo is a much more fun, sophisticated, and adorable version of Where's Waldo, what you also need to know is that Andrew Knapp is also a phenomenal photographer. Driving through North America in a VW Westfalia van, Andrew Knapp gives readers a major case of wanderlust and a dose of curiosity as they attempt to find his precocious dog Momo in each photograph. I hope there are many more Find Momo books to come. 


My favorite picture book from last week: 

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by  Tom Litchtenfeld
Dare I read this to my 8th graders on my last day with them? Can I get through it without crying?


Still reading:

To Teach: The Journey, in Comics by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner 
 



Currently reading with my ears:

Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani 


Last week on my teaching blog:
Skyping with Natalie Lloyd
Thank you John Oliver for TRULY appreciating teachers 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator is Changing the World by Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak

I have lots of ideas for changing the way school is set up. I want school to be less like sitting and memorizing facts from a textbook and more like working in my basement.

Jack Andraka loves science and he has the awards to prove it. Having won countless awards at regional, national and international science fairs, his most celebrated is award is for discovering a test for early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Jack Andraka's notoriety in the field of science and now popular culture I think is a testament to his passion and determination. As you read his story, he doesn't strike you as a kid with any particular genius. He's just a regular kid who just happens to be hard working and passionate about science, which is what makes him so relateable.

I love that the book ended in a way that helps readers see why Jack has had this platform thrust upon him and gained such notoriety in the public eye. He is a wonderful spokesperson for STEM education and also education in general -- reminding teachers to bring a sense of joy and curiosity in the classroom rather than simply coverage of curriculum. I found it more than just a bit ironic that despite the fact that Jack had just won an international science competition that his teacher still made him make up a science test he missed while he was gone. The kid just discovered a way to detect pancreatic cancer before it becomes terminal and you're going to make him take a biology test? That seems rather counterproductive and short-sighted to me.

Overall, I really enjoyed Jack's story and I could definitely see putting this book in my classroom library and handing it to a student with an interest in science.


Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator is Changing the World by Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak
Published: March 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 256
Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Audiobook download provided by publisher

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fred by Kaila Eunhye Seo (+ giveaway!)

Goodreads Summary:
Fred's world is filled with fantastical friends that make his days so much fun he hardly notices that no one else can see them. But one day Fred goes off to school, and things start to change. As Fred grows up, his childhood friends slowly fade away and see to disappear, taking some of life's sparkle with them. But a chance meeting with a special young girl reminds Fred - and readers young and old alike - that magic and wonder never really disappear... they live forever in our hearts.


FredFred is a lovely picture book about the power of childhood imagination and how that diminishes as an adult. Fred's imaginary friends are wonderfully fantastical and equally endearing. The strength of this book lies in its smile-inducing illustrations, as seen here by this adorable motley crew. Fred would be a perfect book to pair with or gift to the child who loves The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat. 


GIVEAWAY!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

No Matter the Wreckage: Poems by Sarah Kay

Like so many English teachers, I first came to hear the name Sarah Kay from her Def Jam Poetry performance of  "Hands." She has many more memorable performances that you can find on YouTube, but "Hands" is the one I keep coming back to again and again.

Having come to know of Sarah Kay through her powerful spoken word poems, I was elated to discover she now has a written and published collection of poetry in book form.

Even though I love poetry, I am usually a fast, fickle, and impatient reader of poems. My method of reading poetry is generally to scan the poem, and if I come to the last line and it has a powerful, resonating cadence, then I'll go back and reread the entire thing more slowly.

That was not my process with the poems in No Matter the Wreckage. I just wanted to slowly drink in every single word for every single poem.

No Matter the Wreckage is one of the most unique collections of poetry I have ever read. It's not a memoir in verse, but the poems are deeply personal, following an organization and chronology that make it feel as such.

Somebody better make this young lady Poet Laureate someday because her words have a power and beauty like nothing I've ever seen before. I hope we will be watching and viewing her poems for years to come.


No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay 
Published: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Write Bloody Publishing
Pages: 143
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult/Young Adult
Disclosure: Purchased 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