Vacation Books- What Am I Reading?

I will be heading to Ireland this summer and my iPad is ready to travel with me.  As most readers know, I am a paper books gal.  I love paper, the smell of a new book, and the feeling of holding a book in my hands.  However, I am a fast reader.  I can’t carry enough books to keep me happy when I fly, so my iPad is used as an e-reader whenever I travel.  It’s perfect.  I can log onto the wireless network anywhere I travel and play games on the iPad.  But I can also carry lots of books with me!

Here are some of the books I will be “carrying” when I travel to Ireland:

Sisterhood Everlasting: A Novel (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) by Ann Brashares- I was a huge fan of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and I just found out about this adult companion to the novels.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School by Alexandra Robbins- I have read all of Robbins’ books and this topic is close to my heart.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen- I don’t miss a Dessen book. I’m shocked that it’s been out for almost two months and I haven’t read it yet!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley- Recommended by a friend, I am looking forward to trying this series.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins- Yes, I am behind. Yes, every blogger has recommended this one to me!

Juliet: A Novel by Anne Fortier- This has been on my list for a while and I look forward to reading it.

 

What are your vacation reading plans this summer?  Do you carry paper books with you or carry an e-reader?

Summer Reading

This summer I had to pack up my classroom library.  No, I’m not moving classrooms.  I actually did that in the middle of the year. :)  And I am not changing schools, either. (Thank goodness!).  Just normal end-of-the-year cleaning.  Because I dread putting everything into boxes, I posted a message on our school’s electronic BBS and said that any students interested in borrowing books for the summer could come sign them out over a 2-day period.  I expected a few freshman to take a book or so each but I didn’t have high hopes.

Umm, approximately 25 students came and borrowed books.  I signed out close to 100 books for the summer!  Some students took one book, others took closer to 10 books!  How awesome is that?  Freshman, sophomore, and junior students came to the shelves and browsed, signing out anything that interested them.  My students are all brilliant and heavily involved in lots of extra-curriculars.  They told me that they were looking forward to taking some time to relax and read this summer.  More than one of them came in with a list of books that they were hoping to read, books that had been on their must-read lists for most of the year.  Other students came in and asked for recommendations, both from myself and other readers.  It was awesome!

I’ve never lent books out for the summer before because my sixth graders moved onto a new school after leaving my classroom.  It’s nice to have the ability to loan books to students over the summer.  Do you loan books out of your classroom library for the summer?

Nerds Heart YA: Round One Pick

Nerds Heart YA is in its 3rd year and aims to bring attention to books that deserve it, but may not have gotten a lot of buzz. According to the site, “the contest focuses specifically on books that in some way represent groups of people who are typically under represented in YA fiction.”

According to the contest rules, the shortlists will consist of books that:

  • Were published in 2010
  • Have received minimum press on blogs
  • Feature characters, or are penned by authors, who fall within the following categories:
    • Person(s) of Color (POC)
    • GLBT
    • Disability
    • Mental Illness
    • Religious Lifestyle
    • Lower Socioeconomic Status
    • Plus-size

The First Round of Judging began on June 13th and runs until June 29th. Visit Nerds Heart YA to see what books are still in the running!

Rose, of Shylock Books, and I were tasked with choosing between two great books.

The Battle:

vs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kid Table by Andrea Siegel                                                                                                           Teenie by Christopher Grant

 

And the winner is……..

 

The Kid Table by Andrea Siegel !!!!

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

 

 

 

 

Pottermore!

It’s like I’ve been given a time turner.  Today, JK Rowling is making a major announcement.  After years of spending my summers awaiting the newest Harry Potter book in the series, it’s been sad to watch my summers go by without any news from Rowling.  But when the news broke that she would be making a major announcement on June 23rd, I was thrilled!  It was like I was reliving the summers of my childhood.  Ok, really my adolescence.

Check out the website if you haven’t seen it yet.  Owls!  (Maybe Hedwig isn’t really dead!  Is that the announcement she plans to make?  One can hope against hope….)

What could it be?  We know it’s not a book.  Rumors seem to lean toward some type of online game or social network.  Personally, I am hoping for a Harry Potter encyclopedia or someplace to store all of the backstory that Rowling creating while writing the books.  I have a feeling it might be the game, but one can hope!

According to the Guardian, Pottermore will be an online treasure hunt with real world clues and prizes.  They say they received a top-secret memo by mistake and the treasure hunt will include wands hidden in locations across the UK and US.  Umm, yes please!  I would definitely participate!  Would you?

Are you excited?  Are you having flashbacks to the summers of yore?

The Fox Inheritance by Mary Pearson

A few years ago I read and loved Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I was overjoyed when I recently discovered that she had written a companion novel. I was fortunate to pick up a signed ARC of The Fox Inheritance (The Jenna Fox Chronicles) at BEA and I read through it during the 48-Hour Book Challenge. I was not disappointed.

Sequels don’t always hold up well, especially when the first book is really good. But The Fox Inheritance (The Jenna Fox Chronicles) works for a few reasons. The characters are new and not the same main characters as the first book. They are well-developed and I found myself rooting for them even more than I rooted for Jenna in the first book. Another thing that works well is that the setting is 250 years after the events in the first book. The world-building is superb and detailed.  For these reasons,  The Fox Inheritance works well as a stand-alone novel, too.

Thanks to advances in science and medicine, the disembodied minds of Kara and Locke (friends of Jenna who were also in the same car accident) have bene give new bodies.  But the world has changed drastically since their “death” and the man who has brought them to life has plans to use them as models for his new business venture.  Meanwhile, Locke and Kara are struggling.  Are they really human? And why did Jenna get to live her life while they were stuck floating in cyberspace?  When they find out that Jenna is still alive, Kara and Locke set off to find her and enter a world that has been divided by Civil War and is populated by droids and humans.

Highly recommended.  The Fox Inheritance is perfect for science fiction fans and mystery fans.  It is thought-provoking and I imagine that students will want to talk about the issues of humanity and human rights brought up by the plot.  Our world is rapidly changing and the rights of droids, the ability to “save” memories, and much more may be a possibility sooner rather than later.  Perfect for upper middle grade and high school readers.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

This book is going to be huge.  Get your pre-orders in and block off some time on October 18th. This is a book you won’t be able to put down so you will have to read it straight through in one sitting.

The Scorpio Races is like nothing I have read before. The Scorpio Races is a stand-alone fantasy novel that Stiefvater says has been in her head for many years. The time that this story had to percolate in her imagination resulted in pure perfection. The prose is magical and haunting. The characters are true and life-like. The setting will surround you, with fog settling around you and drops of saltwater sticking to your skin.

Kate “Puck” Connolly lost her parents to the capaill uisce , the water horses, many years ago. She and her two brothers have been struggling to survive ever since.  They barely make ends meet on the tiny island they call home.  When her oldest brother announces that he is leaving to go to the mainland, Puck is stunned and heartbroken.  In a crazy bid to keep him home longer, she enters the Scorpio Races.  Every November, the capaill uisce wash upon shores of the island. The water horses are deadly, but the lure to tame one long enough to ride in the Scorpio Races is hard to resist for the island residents.  The promise of prize money has tempted many young men, including her brother’s friends. But  Kate swore to have nothing to do with the capaill uisce after her parents’ death.  Instead, she  enters the race as the first female rider in the race’s history, but plans to ride her own horse, Dove.

And then there is Sean.  Strong, silent, and the island’s most famous resident.  He is the returning champion of the Scorpio Races and he and his water horse, Corr, are known far and wide.  But Sean is silently struggling.  He wants to free himself from his overbearing employer but won’t leave his job without Corr, who belongs to the stable.  Winning this year’s Scorpio Races will win them both their freedom.

Sean and Puck meet while training for the races.  But don’t think this is just a love story.  It’s so much more than that.  The center of the story is that both Puck and Sean’s futures hinge on how well they do in the race.  But only one can win.  And while there is tension between the two, Stiefvater’s tale is about the water horses.  I was not familiar with the mythology of water horses before picking up this ARC and that made the story all the more delicious.  I had no idea what was coming.  I fell in love with the gorgeous and deadly water horses, and I’ve been reading everything I can about them ever since I finished the book.  Stiefvater’s prose is haunting and I could hear the hooves pounding on the beach while the waves crashed in the background.  The world-building is spot-on and the atmosphere will haunt you.

This is a book that will fly off the shelves in October.  I have already passed it on to my students, and they took it home this summer to pass around amongst themselves.  I know they are going to love it.  I certainly do!

(I plan to look for some water horses when I am in Ireland later this summer.  ;)  )

*ARC courtesy of the publisher at BEA

My Professional Reading Goals

Every summer I try to read a few new professional books.  I add books to my Goodreads list all year, knowing that I will finally have time to read them in July and August.  This year has been an especially good year for some of my favorite professional authors, and I am looking forward to digging into their books this summer, annotating them and flagging my favorite passages.

Here are some of the books I can’t wait to read!

Real Revision: Authors’ Strategies to Share with Student Writers by Kate Messner- I love Kate’s middle grade fiction. I also simply love Kate. She is a 7th grade teacher and an author, which makes her my idol. I can’t wait to read her first professional book from Stenhouse!

How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche- Not really a professional resource, so to speak, but I read Romeo and Juliet with my freshman and I think this will be a great go-to book to up the ante in my Shakespeare unit.

Teaching Teens and Reaping Results in a Wi-Fi, Hip-Hop,Where-Has-All-the-Sanity-Gone World: Stories, Strategies, Tools, and Tips from a Three-Time Teacher of the Year Award Winner by Alan Sitomer- Come on, how could I not read it with a title like that?

How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) by Cal Newport- I think this sounds like a great match for my current students.

Building Adolescent Literacy in Today’s English Classrooms by Randy Bomer- I can’t wait to read this one. It looks perfect for this high school English teacher.

Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: How to Teach What Really Matters About Character, Setting, Point of View, and Theme by Jeffrey Wilhelm- This has been recommended to me by so many people, so I am going to sit down with it this summer. Finally!

Obviously, this list is subject to change, of course. :) What are you planning to read this summer?

The Value of Reflecting

Can you believe that it’s almost the end of the school year?  I’m sure some of you are already out of school!  Here in NJ, we have about 2-2.5 weeks left this year and then it’s summer!  But summer doesn’t mean no work.  I will be spending a good portion of the summer reflecting on my first year teaching high school English, going over what worked and what didn’t.  I have been jotting down notes all year, what I want to do differently and what I want to continue next year.

It’s important to reflect on our teaching.  No one should be teaching the same lessons, year in and year out, without change.  Students change, times change, technology changes.  As teachers, we need to evolve, too.  My department spent a few days earlier this year beginning to align our curriculum with the Common Core standards.  We were pretty well aligned but just needed to work on the new curriculum document.  This, however, inspired me to rework my units at the beginning of the year.  I team teach with history and the NJ world history curriculum has also changed slightly, starting now at a later date.  This gives me a little more wiggle room and I am planning to start my year with a thematic unit based on Joseph Campbell’s hero monomyth.  I am so excited about this.

Taking time to reflect makes me a better teacher.  It makes me seek out new ideas and keep learning.  I am a perpetual student (and if I could afford it, I would be a student forever!).  I need to reflect and research and learn and grow, or I am bored!

Will you be reflecting on your best practices and what you can improve this summer?  What are some ideas you have for next year?

Finish Line Post #48hbc

I love MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge!

Stats :

Time spent reading- 15 hours and 14 minutes

Time spent blogging/tweeting- 2 hrs and 40 minutes (#YAsaves totally counts)

Total:  17 hours and 54 minutes!

Total Pages read: 3135

Total Books: 13

Books Read:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater-  My favorite Maggie Stiefvater book.  Water horses?  Umph.  I didn’t want this to end!
The Fox Inheritance (The Jenna Fox Chronicles) by Mary Pearson- A fantastic follow-up.  Can’t wait to share with my students, especially my students who are really into science/genetics.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray- I can not remember the last time I laughed this hard while reading a book. Fantastic and funny!
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner- Great contemporary YA that I think will be very popular with me freshman!
A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd by Patrick Ness- Oh, oh, oh. There are no words. Still wiping tears from my eyes.
The Elephant Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series) by Donna M. Jackson- Another great addition to the Scientists in the Field series.
Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle- Great verse novel. I learned a lot!
Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan- Like a verse novel version of my favorite musical, Hair. Great for older teen readers.
Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Deception by Gary Paulsen- A book that will have you laughing out loud!
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr-A book that’s been on my TBR pile for ages. Why did I wait so long to read it?!
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn- An English teacher’s dream. Haha
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray- Wow! I enjoyed this one a lot more than I ever expected to!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,589 other followers