Books to Bask In This Summer

Summer time used to mean spending hours at the bookstore one July night, waiting in line for the newest Harry Potter book. I would spend the whole winter counting down to the release day, usually with a widget on my desktop.  When I had the book in my hand I would settle in to read it as fast as possible, usually starting the book on the ride home.  I’d bask in the book while sitting outside, or in the patch of sunlight on my bedroom floor. That was summer reading for many years of my life.  Once the last book was published, I began searching out other “summer reads”.  It’s nice to have a new book to look forward to during the summer months. To this day, I keep track of summer releases and pick a few that I will definitely read, in order to keep the excitement alive.  I share the list of books I plan to bask in this summer with my students, many of whom have their own lists of books to be released.

Today I am at BEA (BookExpo America), one of my favorite days of the year.  I get to meet with authors and publicists, and sometimes I even get to see fellow bloggers.  But the best part is coming home with books that I can’t wait to read.  Those books usually make it to my “must read immediately” list.  And there are always a few that make it to me “must hand out to my students so they can pass it around all summer” list.  The hardest decision is when a book is on both lists!

Many of the books I pick up today will be ARCs, or advance review copies, of titles coming out later this summer or in the fall.  These ARCs serve a dual purpose- they help me choose books for my curriculum and they help get my students excited about reading.  Students love to be able to read (and sometimes review) books before the general public and I love giving them the opportunity to do so.  But even if you can’t get ahold of these books in ARC form, you certainly can get them later this summer.  I’ve made a list of some soon-to-be-released books that I think you will want to get your hands on this summer.

To get the summer started for those of you already out of school (so jealous!), I have Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. Out this week, Laybourne’s novel sounds like a modern-day Lord of the Flies set in a big-box store. I love disaster novels so this one is right up my alley!

Also out this week is Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, which sounds like a great addition to my senior English curriculum. I read a starred review in one of the trade review magazines and I already ordered my copy.

I’m dying to read Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy, which will be released on August 7th. Stead is the author of one of my favorite books, When You Reach Me) . She’s also the author of First Light, one of the first books I reviewed when I started this blog!  Her newest book sounds like a great summer read and it’s already on my e-reader, courtesy of Netgalley.

Another book I am dying to read this summer is Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown. I’ve enjoyed all of Brown’s books because she writes teens so well and so realistically. I’m looking forward to curling up with her newest novel, which deals with the pressures of OCD and the desire for perfection. Perfect Escape will be released July 10th.

On August 14th, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece will be released. I’ve had the pleasure of already reading this title, courtesy of the publisher, and you will not want to miss this one. I cried through half of the book, but upon finishing it I felt content. The writing is brilliant and the story will punch you in the gut.

Of course, you know I will also be reading a few professional development books this summer. Number one on my list is Lucy Calkins’ Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Lucy is one of my teaching gurus and I know her newest book will inspire me in new ways. I’ve already begun to work with the Common Core, but Calkins is a genius and her Reading and Writing Project is my favorite curriculum design. There are a bunch of us on Twitter who are planning to read this one and share our thoughts with each other over the summer. Now that’s real professional development!

And finally, when school starts up again in September, we can look forward to Maggie Stiefvater’s newest offering. I love, love, love her Printz-Award winning novel, The Scorpio Races, and I know I will also love The Raven Boys. Stiefvater’s writing is evocative and lyrical, and it wouldn’t shock to see The Raven Boys on a few award lists next fall. This is one ARC I am hoping to get my hands on before September!

Do you have specific “summer books” that you look forward to reading every year? What will you read this year?

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?

48 Hour Book Challenge in the Classroom

No, I am not that crazy!  But today I brought in my stack of books, piled them on the desk in the front of my room, and explained to my students what I spent my weekend doing.  After that got over their shock, I told them that part of the reason I participated was to get a great pile of books to recommend to them for summer reading.

I passed out our summer reading plan worksheet to the class and explained that while I want them to complete their required summer reading, I also want them to read the books that they enjoy, just as they have been doing all year.  Because I won’t be there to make recommendations and pass out new books, I want them to have a list of books ready for this summer (and hopefully into next year).  For the summer reading plan, I planned to begin by booktalking the books I read for the Challenge.  Later this week the students will recommend books to their classmates.  At the end of the week they will formulate a summer reading goal.

Today’s booktalks went really well!  Most of the students wrote down 3-4 of the titles I read over the weekend, and many of them wrote down even more.  So thank you, Mother Reader!

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