#IMWAYR February 27, 2017

An  incredibly busy week slowed me down a bit, but I did manage to read some great titles this week:


YA Novels

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by John Tiffany (based on the work on JK Rowling)
As the original Harry Potter books were released, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on each one. But I’ve intentionally waited awhile on this title, most likely because of the many mixed reviews I’ve heard. Unlike the original books, this one (for those who don’t know) is in play format and not written my Rowling herself. While it wasn’t a bad read, it definitely didn’t come close to the original books.
Recommended for: Harry Potter fans, 8th grade and up
Why: Potter fans will appreciate an opportunity to read about grown up Harry, even if the book itself is not as good as the original series

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Flying Lessons and Other Stories, by Ellen Oh (editor)
An incredible anthology of short stories centered around issues of diversity, Flying Lessons was an outstanding read. Featuring stories by Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Walter Dean Myers, Matt de la Pena, and others, these stories went beyond just topics of diversity to reach anyone who has ever struggled to find their place in the world.
Recommended for: 7th grade and up
Why: These short stories contain some complex and more mature themes

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Written in the Stars, by Aisha Saeed
It’s been a long time since there has been a book I absolutely couldn’t put down, but this one grabbed me over the weekend and wouldn’t let go. When recent high school graduate Naila’s secret relationship with her boyfriend Saif is discovered by her overprotective parents, they take her away from her home in Florida for a summer back in their native country of Pakistan. However, Naila has no idea the horrific fate that is waiting for her there as her parents assume complete control over her life and her future.
Recommended for: Mature high school readers
Why: (SPOILER ALERT) This book revolves around a forced marriage with some violent scenes

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Middle Grade Novels

Fenway and Hattie, by Victoria Cox
After hearing nothing but amazing reviews of this book, I finally ordered a copy. Told from the perspective of Fenway (the family dog) as he endures a move to a new home, this book focuses on the changing relationship between Fenway and his human girl, Hattie.
Recommended for: 2nd-4th grades
Why: Great chapter book for exploring perspective and relationships between characters

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Picture Books

The Secret Project, by Jonah Winter
An absolutely thought-provoking, amazingly organized nonfiction picture book about the development of the atomic bomb, The Secret Project is a book I can’t wait to incorporate at the right time and place into my classroom. This is a book that will absolutely provoke questions and promote rich discussions, giving readers a wealth of information while also leaving them wanting to know much more.
Recommended for: Upper elementary and middle school
Why: Readers need some background understanding of the atomic bomb for this book to be meaningful

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Giraffes Can’t Dance, by Giles Andreae
When Gerald the Giraffe must confront his belief that he can’t dance in front of a group of laughing jungle animals, he is absolutely discouraged. However, as he loses his self-consciousness and begins to have more confidence in himself, he soon discovers that the only thing holding him back from dancing was himself.
Recommended for: Preschool through upper elementary
Why: This book is simple enough for the youngest readers to follow while also teaching a meaningful lesson to older elementary readers

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Reading Progress Check-in

  • 2017 Total Progress: 81/230 books read
    • 22/100 chapter books
    •  3 graphic novels
  • #MustReadin2017 Progress: 21/30
  • My reading goals for the week:
    • Read 2 additional novels
    • Finish 1 more #MustReadin2017 book

What is #IMWAYR?

Each Monday this year, I hope to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I’ve done during the week, from picture books to young adult novels.

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#IMWAYR February 20, 2017

This week I’ve been reading:


Middle Grade Novels

Every Single Second, by Tricia Springstubb

Torn between old friendship and new, 12-year-old Nella’s life is turned upside down when tragedy strikes her neighborhood. As she examines her relationships with friends, family, and her aging great-grandmother, Nella learns essential lessons about life, love, and forgiveness.
Recommended for: 5th-8th grade
Why: This novel begins to explore middle school themes (relationships, friendships, family dynamics) and has a complex plot that will appeal to middle school readers

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Picture Books/Early Chapter Books

Mercy Watson to the Rescue, by Kate DiCamillo

You simply can’t go wrong with a series by Kate DiCamillo. Introducing my kids to Mercy Watson this week was definitely a highlight (even though my almost 3-year-old announced the first night that she “just hates that pig”–because I wouldn’t finish the book all in one sitting). This first  book in the series introduces us to Mercy and her antics as she climbs into bed with Mr. and Mrs. Watson, causing their bed to begin falling through the ceiling. Mayhem ensues as the neighbors and emergency responders get involved, leaving readers grinning ear to ear with the perfect conclusion. We’re absolutely looking forward to getting our hands on more from this series!
Recommended for: Pre-K through 3rd grade
Why: Great read aloud series for the youngest readers that will easily transition into the perfect independent reading series for 2nd and 3rd graders; perfect mentor text for thinking about characters and plot

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Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

My kids absolutely love Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, and I was so excited when this book showed up on my porch this week (I pre-ordered before Christmas and completely forgot about it). This book has the same cute rhyming qualities as the first, engaging readers in a day in the life of construction equipment. My kids were both grinning ear-to-ear by the end and immediately requested a reread.
Recommended for: Preschool through kindergarten
Why: The content of this book (construction) will appeal to a younger crowd and the language is fantastic for building vocabulary

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Paul Meets Bernadette, by Rosy Lamb

A sweet story about a goldfish named Paul who only swims around and around in his fishbowl until Bernadette arrives and “shows him the world.” This book was recommended to me by a friend and was a cute post-Valentine’s Day read.
Recommended for: 1st-4th grades
Why: Beautiful paintings draw the reader in, good for discussing perspective and character changes

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The Ninjabread Man, by C.J. Leigh

Fun adaptation of the story of the Gingerbread Man–ninja style. After the sensei bakes a very special batch of cookies, each of the ninjas-in-training have their special skills put to the test. My ninja-loving pre-K son requested several reads of this one!
Recommended for: Preschool-2nd grade
Why: Appeals to readers familiar with the Gingerbread Man, especially those who are ninja-obsessed

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There’s a Giraffe in My Soup, by Ross Burach

When a little boy’s soup arrives at his table with a giraffe inside, hilarity ensues. A delivery mix-up between the restaurant and the local zoo results in one interesting animal dish after another making its way to the table.
Recommended for: Preschool-1st grade
Why: The story is cute and simple to follow and will appeal to younger readers

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Reading Progress Check-in

  • 2017 Total Progress: 75/230 books read
    • 18/100 chapter books
    •  3 graphic novels
  • #MustReadin2017 Progress: 20/30
  • My reading goals for the week:
    • Finish 2 novels
    • Finish Pernille Ripp’s new book (still working on this goal from last week!)

What is #IMWAYR?

Each Monday this year, I hope to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I’ve done during the week, from picture books to young adult novels.

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#IMWAYR February 12, 2017

This week I’ve been reading….


YA Novels

Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow

This book sat on my nightstand for awhile, simply because I knew it would take a lot of emotional energy to read–and I was right. This YA novel follows Charlie, a young girl completely on her own, as she is released from the hospital for self-harm and tries to find her way in a world that has already seen more heartache and suffering than anyone should endure in a lifetime. The writing is real, and though this book was heart wrenching, the depth of the story and the trials Charlie endures left a lasting impression on me.
Recommended for: High school and older
Why: Very mature language and content

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Middle Grade Novels

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel, by Firoozeh Dumas

In this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel, Dumas engages readers in experiencing life as a young girl from Iran in the late seventies. Trying to balance embracing her cultural heritage and assimilating to American culture during a time of unrest in her home country, Cindy’s story is one of finding friendship and of finding herself. I learned more about the relationship between Iran and the United States from reading this novel than I ever did in a history class. Dumas’ writing is witty, honest, and open.
Recommended for: Late middle school or high school
Why: Great for discussions about identity, especially related to cultural heritage and immigration

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Picture Books

Freedom in Congo Square, by Carole Boston Weatherford

This lyrical book tells the tale of Congo Square, the heart of New Orleans where slaves were allowed to gather on Sundays. The bold illustrations and rhyming lines build anticipation throughout a week as slaves look forward to their time together in Congo Square.
Recommended for: Upper elementary or older
Why: This book is excellent for discussions about slavery, civil rights, and African culture. The information at the front and back of the book provides a complete history lesson on the significance of Congo Square.

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A Crankenstein Valentine, by Samantha Berger

Our favorite grumpy character Crankenstein is back in this picture book to express his hated for any and all things related to Valentine’s Day. From heart-shaped lunches to gifts for his teacher, Crankenstein wants nothing to do with the holiday until he finds a kindred spirit. Fun bedtime story with lots of requests to reread this week!
Recommended for: Preschool through 3rd grade
Why: Fun Valentine’s Day read that would be good for exploring discussions about likes/dislikes with elementary-age readers

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Slugs in Love, by Susan Pearson

When Marylou falls head-over-tail in love with Herbie, her heart is filled with poetry and she begins to leave him love notes written in slime. However, Herbie’s replies continue to be lost and Marylou believes her love is unrequited until Herbie finally has an idea that brings the two slugs together.
Recommended for: Kindergarten through 3rd grade
Why: Cute Valentine’s Day book, fun for kids old enough to appreciate the back-and-forth note writing that finally brings the two characters together

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Strictly No Elephants, by Lisa Mantchev

A boy who loves his tiny pet elephant is rejected from the neighborhood Pet Club for not having a “normal” pet, so he sets out to create his own Pet Club that opens its doors to all kinds of pets.
Recommended For: Preschool through 3rd grade
Why: The story is simple enough for all readers to understand and is great for sparking discussions about inclusivity

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A Hungry Lion (Or, A Dwindling Assortment of Animals), by Lucy Ruth Cummins

I love books that seem predicable but have twists throughout, and this picture book definitely meets that criteria. Fun little story to read with kids about what happens when a hungry lion finds himself among several innocent little animals.
Recommended for: Kindergarten through 5th grade
Why: Little kids will love the animal story, while this book will also make a great mentor text to show older writers how to have a sense of audience and write the unexpected

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There’s A Bear in My Chair, by Ross Collins

This story about a mouse who is offended that a bear has taken up residence in his chair has a simple plot that is accentuated by words that rhyme with “bear” throughout the book.
Recommended for: Preschool to 1st grade
Why: Easy to follow text with opportunities to talk about rhyming and word families

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One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree, by Daniel Bernstrom

When a little boy is unfortunately eaten by a snake under the eucalyptus tree, he knows there’s only one way out. This picture book builds as the snake gobbles up animal after animal until he can’t hold any more.
Recommended for: 1st or 2nd grade
Why: Story events are predictable and there are some great moments to explore perspective and word choices

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Reading Progress Check-in

  • 2017 Total Progress: 69/230 books read
    • 17/100 chapter books
    • 3 graphic novels
  • #MustReadin2017 Progress: 19/30
  • My reading goals for the week:
    • Finish Pernille Ripp’s new book
    • Read 2 novels

What is #IMWAYR?

Each Monday this year, I hope to join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers to share all of the reading I’ve done during the week, from picture books to young adult novels.

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