Monday, September 7, 2020

It's Monday! What are you reading? 9-7-2020

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.

Happy Labor Day! Since my last post at the end of July, a lot has happened. I have started school in person. I am now teaching 8th grade English again. And while I am grateful that I still have a job and I have an amazing class this year 1) I am grieving not being in the library this year and pray that this job shift is only temporary 2) I am extremely worried about being back in person, especially since I live and work in a college town.

But anyway. Here's what I've been up to reading-wise the past six weeks.
Say It Louder!: Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy
Say It Louder! Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy by Tiffany D. Cross
Excellent. Excellent. Excellent. I loved Tiffany Cross's conviction in both her writing style and her narration of the audioibook.

Despite a media narrative that states otherwise, Black voters are not a monolith. And the criticism that they blindly vote for Democrats because there's some sort of unspoken rule in the Black community is incredibly disingenuous and lacks any sort of intellectual curiosity when it comes to Black America's motivations. The fact of the matter is, the Black community recognizes that all politics and systems in America seek to harm them in some way; they just choose to vote for the party that harms them the least. They are under no delusions that voting for Democrats is also not going to harm them in some way. They're just choosing the path of least resistance and least harm.

I love how Tiffany Cross provides readers (and listeners) with historical context and supplants that sense of intellectual curiosity that has been lacking in the media as to why Black America votes the way they do.

Cloud and Wallfish
Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet
Berlin is my absolute favorite city in the entire world. The past and the present hold hands with each other in such interesting and seamless ways, and yet the city has a youthful energy that is almost palpable. So reading a book that takes place in East Berlin in 1989 just as the Iron Curtain is crumbling, it reminded me of all of that intrigue and beating pulse of the city.

Salma the Syrian Chef
Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron
Salma just moved to Vancouver, Canada from Syria as a refugee. Despite missing her home and her father back in Syria, Salma and her mom are building a community in their new home. But Salma still sees the sadness in her mother and wants to cheer her up. She decides to enlist the help of her new community and make one of her mother's favorite dishes, but not without a few problems along the way. This is a beautiful story that shows just how powerful and impactful a welcoming community can be that provides safety nets for people who are struggling or in danger.

Natsumi's Song of Summer by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Nisa Saburi
An enchanting story of family, friendship, and summertime in Japan.

Izzy and Frank
Izzy and Frank by Katrina Lehman, illustrated by Sophie Beer
Izzy loves her lighthouse home and especially loves her seagull friend, Frank. But then she has to move away from the home and friend she loves to the big city and she is sure she'll never see Frank again. But then one day, Frank finds her and brings her memories of her old home.

How to Write a Story
How to Write a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel
An excellent mentor text to use with students when doing any sort of fiction writing in class. I plan to use this when I do NaNoWriMo with my 8th graders.

That's Life!
That's Life! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
If this book had been written by a different author, it would have come off as hokey, didactic, and full of nothing but cliches and platitude. It's basically the picture book version of the Frank Sinatra song of the same name. But somehow the way Ame Dyckman does it, paired with Cori Doerrfeld's endearing illustrations, this book is an inspiring revelation.

Drawing on Walls: A story of Keith Haring by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Josh Cochran
An inspiring and heartfelt picture book biography of the artist Keith Haring. His work really takes me back to when I was a child/teen in the late 80s/early 90s because his work really was part of the cultural zeitgeist.

How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea
How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Ziyue Chen
A compelling account of women's suffrage in America 

Shirley Chisholm is a Verb!
Shirley Chisholm is a Verb! by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Rachelle Baker
Fighting Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed, was the first Black woman ever elected to Congress and the first woman to run for president. The fantastic biography, emphasizes all the ways Shirley Chisholm lived her life by doing.

Luci Soars
Luci Soars by Lulu Delacre
What if your shadow is what is keeping you rooted to the ground and preventing you from flying?

Currently Reading:
Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Point-Less: An English Teacher's Guide to More Meaningful Grading


  1. I hope your library wishes come true, Beth & best wishes to you this school year, too! I loved Cloud and Wallfish, and that you liked it because of your love of Berlin, wonderful connection. I'm looking forward to the bios of Keith Haring & Shirley Chisholm, know they will be good! Have a good day!

  2. So many great books here. I have a copy of Cloud and Wallfish but never quite get to reading it. I packed it home from my room for the summer and it happened again. I need to do something about that. I am hoping to get a copy of Kate Messner's book soon as the first one was very popular in my library. Thanks for the post!

  3. Say it Louder! sounds insightful. I hope you have a good year and that one day you get to return to the library. The library won't be used at my school this year and it's both sad and strange.

  4. My goodness, you have a wonderful list here! I'm adding Say It Louder right away. I hope we get a copy here very soon. I recently enjoyed Just Mercy and hope you do, too! And I added How to Write a Story to my list just today -- can't wait to see what Messner shares in this book. Thanks for all these shares and I hope you have a wonderful reading week!

  5. I can't imagine being ripped from my library Beth. I can't imagine you being ripped from it either. What were those people thinking?
    I enjoyed Cloud and Wallfish and Salma the Syrian Chef. I've now added How to Write a Story to my list.

  6. I loved Just Mercy. I hope you are enjoying that one.