Coming soon….

I will be back over the next few days.  I am consumed with shutting down school, entering grades, and packing up my classroom right now.  I barely even have time to read!

48-Hour Book Challenge Update

Time Reading: 10ish hours?

Books completed: 8

Time Blogging/Social Media: 3.5 hours

Pages Read: 1337

Completed book listThe Strange Case of Origami YodaThe Jaguar Stones, Book One: MiddleworldThis Is Me From Now On Shakespeare Bats CleanupThe Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe (Scientists in the Field Series)The Kite FightersSeaglass Summer, Whaling Season: A Year in the Life of an Arctic Whale Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series)

BEA, Here I Come!

I got my approval today to attend BEA on Wednesday!  I know there is a Kidlit drink night that night, and I plan to stop by, but who else will be around during the day?  What is a “can’t miss”?  I haven’t even looked at the schedule yet…..

Sister to Sister

My eleven-year old sister is too much like me. This is the text message she sent me at 10pm. “Don’t tell mom cause I’m supposed to be in bed right now, but do u know where they sell cheap book lights? Flashlights are too hard 2 hold & read at the same time so I need 1 that clips onto the page. Or do you have one? Cause I read at night.”

Needless to say, I just ordered her a booklight and it’s on its way. I told her not to tell Mom. :)

Staying Positive

For those of you who don’t know, I teach in NJ.  The state budget is in dire straits and education is taking the hardest hit under our new governor.  As a result of the awful budget situation, I received my RIF letter on Friday.  I’m staying positive and hoping that I am brought back after this all shakes out, but I am also drafting various contingency plans.  I can’t imagine not teaching, so I am crossing my fingers that there is a spot for me come September.

However, today was an amazing day, spent with my best friends from college, their husbands, dogs, and kids.  We went to Ag Field Day at our alma mater and it was amazing.  Thank goodness for good friends!  And cute babies.  :)

NJ School Budget Elections

Tomorrow, April 20th, is the NJ school budget elections.  Please get out and vote if you are registered in NJ.

Share A Story-Shape a Future: The Nonfiction Book Hook!

Share a Story - Shape a Future

Way back in the summer, when we started planning this year’s Share a Story-Shape a Future Blog Event, we knew that we wanted to spend a day focusing on nonfiction reading.  I immediately volunteered to host today’s event because nonfiction reading has been a personal focus for me this year.  Over the past five years I’ve noticed that my middle schoolers frequently pass over nonfiction books because they tend to see them as “research books” and not something to be read for pleasure.  This year I have made it a goal to include more nonfiction in my classroom and in my booktalks.

It’s working!  I’ve had more students than ever pick up nonfiction books- biographies, memoirs, informational books, literary nonfiction, and everything in between.  Access to nonfiction opens so many doors and today’s posters are here to help us find more doors and windows to open in the house of nonfiction reading with readers of all ages.

The Nonfiction Book Hook


Fiction or Nonfiction Reader at Imagination Soup

There are two kinds of people in this world.  Fiction and non-fiction.

Think about it.  Some of us naturally prefer reading fiction (me) while others naturally prefer non-fiction (husband, eldest daughter).   For those that are naturally inclined to non-fiction, they will read voraciously in that genre without needing much encouragement.   If you’re not a natural in non-fiction, you may need some help to child to engage with and enjoy non-fiction.  Let me give you some ideas.


Hooking Reluctant Middle Grade Readers (You Choose and Wicked History Series) at 26 Letters

Jessica takes a look at two series of nonfiction book that appeal to middle grade readers, especially reluctant nonfiction readers!


In the Classroom: A Smattering of Nonfiction at Educating Alice

A fourth grade teacher, Monica Edinger helps us look at nonfiction and its use in the classroom.


After Little House, what? at Kidlithistory

Melissa takes a look at a few series that are similiar to Little House (based on childhood memories, etc) but occur later in tieme and the different lessons they can teach.


Real World Reading with Preschoolers at Links to Literacy

In a recent Washington Post column, Jay Matthews brought to light the fact that middle and high school reading lists have very little nonfiction on them and that really bothered him.  His column made me think:  what if we began with our youngest learners?  What are some ways we can introduce nonfiction into the lives of preschoolers?


Sharing Nonfiction with New Readers at 5 Great Books-

The wonderful Anastasia Suen is here to help us hook new readers using nonfiction.  It can be intimidating to find good nonfiction that new readers actually want to read, but Anastasia is here to guide us.


Hook, Line, and Sinker: Pairing Nonfiction with Fiction to Reel in Readers at TheReadingZone-

One of the best ways I have managed to “hook” my students on nonfiction is to use their natural curiosity.  Many students have questions after reading a novel of any genre.  Don’t we all?  I know I have been caught more than once googling a topic that intrigued me in a novel.  We need to grab on to our students’ natural curiosity, sink our claws in, and guide them toward answers.  Forget the internet- the answers they seek can be found in nonfiction books!

Everyday Nonfiction Newspaper Reading at Teach Mama-

Newspaper reading can be a really useful–and sneaky!–tool for incorporating nonfiction reading into the lives of our emerging readers. Great idea, Amy!

Nonfiction for Early Readers- What’s a Parent to Do? at Maw Books Blog-

How do parents find nonfiction for early readers?  There are plenty of picture books out there, but how does a parent find a nonfiction book that is interesting, not over their child’s head, and fun?  Natasha shares the four most important thing she has learned.


Back Soon!

Oh, it’s just been one of those weeks….

I’ll be back with reviews tomorrow.

Top Secret! Contents of One of the 100 Cupboards!

Just for TheReadingZone, N.D. Wilson has revealed what lies behind one of the 100 Cupboards. Over the course of  the series, Henry finds his Grandfather’s journal, which reveals some of the cupboard secrets. Here’s a secret about one of the cupboards that you won’t find in the books!


This place is strange. The sun is shining, but not on me. I crawled up through some kind of drain and into a narrow stone corridor without a roof. Blue sky above me, but the walls are tall enough and set close enough together that I think it must be permanently damp where I am sitting (and cold water has already seeped completely through my trousers—but adventuring has its costs). The ground around me is thick with moss, all of it sponged full of water. I have already explored this corridor, but not at any great length. It turns suddenly in both directions, occasionally bends, and frequently opens into others. Wander too far, and I could easily be in here forever. Clearly, it is some kind of labyrinth—though for what purpose, I cannot say. The only signs of life that I have encountered are actually signs of death—a thigh bone, jagged and chewed on one end, a jaw, some ribs. Which gives me an idea, dangerous perhaps, but I am here, and I will explore. I will use a bone to carve my path in the moss. Goodbye, Anastasia. Adventure is calling me . . .

Terror. I will not lie to you, never to you, Anastasia. I shiver. My heart’s teeth are chattering and my hands are shaking as I write. Safe again, but barely. Sitting on your grandfather’s bed in the hollow farmhouse. I wandered too far in that terrible maze, twisting and winding through corridor after corridor, bone-plowing a furrow in the moss as I went. Nearer the center, the bones increased—some half-swallowed by spongy green, some fresh and feeding flies. Their buzzing was the first sound I had heard in this place, beyond the quiet wind moving above these open corridors.

I reached a place with a roof, and the corridor became a tunnel—a dark mouth, breathing a terrible stink. The bones there were thicker, rattling around my feet, scraping my ankles (you know how tender they are). I stood in that mouth, listening, straining my eyes in the darkness, and I could hear breathing. Two pairs of lungs—one small and afraid, one thick and phlegmy and beastly.

Up against the wall, I could just see a young boy. His clothes were tattered around him, his face was bloodied. In his hands he gripped a long knife, almost a short sword. He was looking at me, startled, afraid.

Beyond him, a horrible creature slept in a skeletal nest, with one terrible arm hooked around a fresh kill. His body was the body of a great ape—something part animal, part human, part giant. He was covered with hair, matted with sweat and blood and filth. But his head was even more terrible—huge, horned, snouted like a baboon or a fanged bull. Snoring.

The boy whispered something to me in a language I could not understand. Then he began to creep forward, toward the beast.

“No!” I said. “Don’t wake it!”

The beast snorted, rattled its bed, and opened its bloody eyes.

Some might say that I should have stayed, but how could I have helped that poor doomed boy? It required courage enough to breathe, to swallow back my scream. And to run.

I could hear bones crunching, the boy’s shouting, and a terrible roar, and I raced back through those narrow walls to my drain, my rope, and my path out of that world and into this. I will see your face again. I have survived a terror. That poor boy, I fear, has not.

Would a coward continue on with these explorations? I have already chosen a door for tomorrow. Your great-grandfather’s description:

#14. Collected 1899. Syrian caravan. Square ebony cabinet. Four corner locks in silver. Central silver ring. Slave trader claimed it contained the ghosts and treasure of crusaders. No confirmation possible as he wouldn’t allow examination. Won it (and two camels) at dice. Left in the night, pursued.

Your grandfather’s additional note is as confusing as the last: [Kastra/Damascus/III]. But I will not learn more today. My courage must recover. Anastasia, is it strange that I will see you tonight, and listen patiently to your barbs? You will not know what you are saying, or to whom you are saying it. I am Richard Hutchins, facer of perils.

Picture Books for Older Readers

I have been using more and more picture books with a few of my classes this year. I’ve been looking for more resources/lists that share picture books for older readers. What are some of your favorite picture books for older readers?

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