Wait a Minute…Reading is Fun?!

As 3rd period filed into my classroom one of my students yelled from across the room, “Hey Ms. M.!  Reading is fun!  I had no idea!”

I laughed and asked him what he meant.

“Like, it’s awesome.  I never knew that before.  But last night I took out my book for my 20 minutes of reading and all of a sudden an hour went by.  I finished half the book last night!  It’s a really great book!  I never knew a book could be this good!”

Needless to say, I walked around with a huge smile all day.  This is why reading workshop works.  This is why requiring students to read every night, instead of filling out worksheets, works.

Oh, and the “awesome book” in question? Gone from These Woods by Donny Bailey Seagraves.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Where have I been?  Ok, so I have an excuse- The Thief (The Queen’s Thief, Book 1) won a Newbery Honor when I was still in high school. At that point in my life, I was reading two genres- adult books and Harry Potter. (I know, I’ve regressed. I like kidlit and YA better!)

Two weeks ago I saw one of my avid fantasy readers deeply engrossed in The Thief (The Queen’s Thief, Book 1). I mentioned that I meant to read it at some point and he was shocked I hadn’t already read it, seeing as it was a Newbery and all. (My students think I have read every Newbery book. You know, because I teach language arts.) He promised to lend it to me when he finished. The next morning he walked off the bus, handed it to me, and said, “You need to read this now. it is better than whatever you are reading, I promise”. I took him up on his endorsement and set aside my current book.

WOW! How did I miss this one? The Thief (The Queen’s Thief, Book 1) is absolutely fantastic. It’s a high fantasy that sweeps you into its world on the first page. Gen is a thief and has landed himself in prison after bragging that he could steal anything, including the king’s seal. Then, the king’s magus recruits him for a the ultimate theft- stealing a mythological stone from a neighboring country. Gen thinks the whole think is a crock and waste of time, but he could use the help getting out of prison. I hesitate to say much more, lest I give away any of the intricate plot.

I loved Gen. He was annoying, sarcastic, a smart-aleck, and everything you should hate. Yet I adored him. He was so real. He reminded me of my students in some ways- completely sure of himself no matter what the situation. Self-assured and even cocky, he is a trickster and a liar. But he is also cunning and clever. The supporting characters are well-developed (though I wanted to get to know a few of them a little more). The world-building is wonderful and I felt like I was there for the whole adventure.

Plus, there are some great plot twists. As I read in the last 25 pages in reading workshop, the book owner kept sneaking up to my desk and whispering, “Did you get to the big surprise yet? Did anything especially interesting happen yet?” Periodically he would grab the book, flip a few pages, and groan that I hadn’t yet reached the big reveal. Talk about fantastic writing!

Needless to say, I am dying to read the remaining books in the series now. They are already on my wish list.