National Book Award Nominees- Young People’s Literature

Today is one of my favorite days of the year….the announcement of the National Book Award nominees!  I love the NBA because the nominees are always so varied and sometimes seem to come out of nowhere.  But the books are always amazing, and I love being introduced to new authors and books.

This year, the judges for the Young People’s Literature category are:

Laban Carrick Hill

Kelly Link

Tor Seidler

Hope Anita Smith

Sara Zarr


2010 National Book Awards Young Peoples Literature:

Paolo Bacigalupi, “Ship Breaker”
Kathryn Erskine, “Mockingbird”
Laura McNeal, “Dark Water”
Walter Dean Myers, “Lockdown”
Rita Williams-Garcia, “One Crazy Summer”


Great books! Definitely trending a bit younger than last year. I would consider a lot of the nominees to be on the upper-end of middle grade, whereas as last year’s nominees trended more YA.  I have got to get a copy of Shipbreaker, though!  It’s been on my “must-read” list for a while and this will be my impetus to get it.




Yes, I am crazy.  Yes, I am super busy and overextended.  Yes, I also need to read many Cybils books in the new 6-8 weeks. Yes, November does mean a few extra days off from school, thankfully!

Yes, I am signing up for NaNoWriMo again.  Are you?  Do you want to be writing buddies?  I need the competition to keep me going!

My New Job

I love, love, love my new job.  I promised updates here on the blog and I have been terrible about keeping everyone informed.  Here’s a quick summary of my year so far:

I teach freshman and seniors.  My senior class is a new curriculum focused on 21st century literacies.  I teach two modules (one marking period each)- The Environment and The Human Condition.  We just finished reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet and my students created Twitter accounts for a particular character and tweeted the major events of the play through their eyes.  The projects were AWESOME!  I am having so much fun that it shouldn’t even be allowed.  We have also been reading Janne Teller’s Nothing as a class and it fits with our human condition theme perfectly.  The students enjoy being read to and the book really shocks them over and over.  They have been referring to it during our Socratic Seminars and in written responses.

It does take a while to get a read aloud done, because I only see my seniors 3 times per week, for 70 minutes each time.  It’s easy to fit the read aloud in most days, but the continuity isn’t always there.  I haven’t started doing the read aloud with my freshmen classes yet because I team teach and I haven’t figured out a way to fit it in yet.  (Yes, it kills me that we don’t have a read aloud, and I do notice the difference in the sense of community-reading, but I will get to it!)

My freshman classes are great, too.  I team teach, as I said, teaching in-sync with the history teacher.  We have two rooms that share a dividing wall, which has not been closed all year.  My curriculum follows the history curriculum, which is World Cultures/World History.  For example, I just taught excerpts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales while my students studied the Middle Ages in history.  I am still finding my footing re: the team teaching, but I love it so far.

Technology-wise, my new school is unreal.  We are a math, science, and technology-focused so all of the students expect us to use a lot of technology.  I use Edmodo to post homework and host backchannel chats while we view movies/hold Socratic Seminars.  It’s fantastic.

I also had all of my students sign up for Goodreads.  So far, my students are just posting books for their 40-Book Challenge and friending each other, but I plan to host book discussions and much more soon.  I will also have the students posting reviews of books they read.  A few have already done so on their own!  Right now I am enjoying watching my students post their books and commenting on them.  I see my students 3-4 times per week and the Goodreads group is a great way to  continue talking about books outside of class.

My new job is absolutely amazing.  I am constantly being challenged, I love my students, my colleagues are brilliant, and love being able to use technology all the time.  🙂


Lately, I have been awful about writing blog posts.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to say- just the opposite, actually!  I just don’t have a lot of time.  I love my new job, but it definitely keeps me busy.  In order to make sure I don’t find myself snowed in under a huge pile of papers, I have been trying to grade as I collect, meaning I am grading, grading, grading!

Also, I am constantly planning.  I love the feeling of starting anew, but it means I have to spend more time planning my lessons.  I was so used to my old curriculum that I find myself looking for new resources whenever I sit down at the computer.

Plus, I am trying to read all the time, catching up on the YA titles I skipped over when I taught sixth grade.  I don’t have a lot of time to read (#bookaweek, not #bookaday!) but I try to squeeze it in whenever possible.

Add to that taking care of the dog, going to Rutgers’ football games, and trying to cook dinner every night- I need a vacation! 🙂

Cybils Nominations

Have you nominated YOUR favorite book(s) of 2010 for the Cybil Awards?  I am on the Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction Panel and we have some great books so far.

But do you know what is missing?  You!  Your nomination!

Mandatory D.E.A.R. Reading

Drop everything and go read this post at Risha Mullins’s blog.

Risha Mullins is a National Board-certified English teacher from Kentucky who used YA literature in her classroom.  Her test scores proved that her methods worked and she saw her students growing as readers.  Nonreaders were suddenly recommending books to other students.  Books were being devoured in class.  And then a parent challenged her use of a book in her extracurricular book club.  From there, she was forced to endure a horrific experience that ended in her being run out of her job.  The post is heartbreaking.  But also inspiring.  It should be required reading for all English teachers.

Risha Mullins is my YA hero.

Speak Loudly.