Reach a Reader Goes Live!

Below please find a press release for Reach a Reader, the result of much hard work on the part of a few Kidlitosphere members. (And special thanks to Sarah Jamila Stevenson for all of her hard work on the website!!)


Reach a Reader Connects Book Donors, Authors and Illustrators with Teachers and School Libraries

Reach a Reader strives to marry readers and schools, moving books out of the garbage pile and into the donation pile. Students read more when they have access to updated, exciting literature. Reach a Reader hopes to ensure that more school and classroom libraries are well-stocked with the latest and greatest in literature.

Research shows that classroom and school libraries are vital for students of all ages. Unfortunately, in this age of budget cuts and economic struggles, most school districts do not have the funds to support classroom and school libraries. Many teachers and librarians provide high-interest reading material to their students by purchasing it themselves, a practice that is becoming more difficult as teachers and librarians are losing their jobs. Reach a Reader works to link book donors with school and classroom libraries, taking ARCs and review copies out of the garbage and putting them into the hands of students.

A diverse group of bloggers began working on Reach a Reader a few months ago with the intention of finding ways to get ARCs (advance review copies) and review copies into classrooms. Bloggers, reviewers, authors, illustrators, and publishers frequently have access to ARCs and review copies which end up in the trash once reviews are posted. Reach a Reader will serve as a clearinghouse and a way to connect those with books to those who need them. Resources are available for schools and libraries, authors and illustrators, and book donors. The site is designed to make it easy for book donors and those in need to connect with one another.

Site users will be able donate to specific teachers or grade levels by searching through a database. Teachers and librarians can sign up, noting the age range they serve and the types of books they are interested in receiving.

Resources for schools and libraries:
ARCsFloatOn: Because it isn’t a good idea to re-sell ARCs, many reviewers and bloggers would like to find places in their community to donate these books. ARCs Float On is a grassroots effort by Reach A Reader Advisory Board member Sarah Mulhern Gross of The Reading Zone to get ARCs into classroom libraries by connecting teachers with bloggers and authors.

Book Donations: Donors will be able to sort through programs including Reading Is Fundamental’s Books for Ownership Program, Guys Lit Wire’s Book Fair for Boys, and many more programs in need of book donations.

School and Virtual Visits: Resources to help connect schools with authors and illustrators.

Resources for Authors and Illustrators:
A variety of websites and social media tools to bring authors and illustrators into schools and libraries.

Book Donors: Those who have books to donate can choose from a variety of programs that accept book donations.

Reach a Reader Advisory Board Members:
Terry Doherty
Donalyn Miller
Colleen Mondor
Sarah Mulhern Gross
Jackie Parker-Robinson
Jen Robinson
Sarah Jamila Stevenson


Reach a Reader Advisory Board

ARCsFloatOn is obviously my baby, so here’s a quick link to the sign-up form for teachers!

If you are interested in finding a teacher/classroom to donate books to, click here!


Real Revision: Authors’ Strategies to Share with Student Writers by Kate Messner

Real Revision: Authors’ Strategies to Share with Student Writers by Kate Messner is a must-have book for any teacher of writing, regardless of grade level. I can not recommend this book enough!

First of all, Kate gets it.  She is a full-time author, full-time seventh grade teacher, and full-time mom.  She teaches and actually uses the strategies she shares.  And as a writer, she is a revision expert. She knows that revision is hard work and she understand the difficulty of giving revision enough time in age of timed tests and standardized writing. I am thrilled that she decided to write this book and share her wisdom with us!  (And the wisdom of many of her author friends).  Kate understands the current climate of testing, she gets middle school minds, and she knows how much pressure teachers feel in this day and age.  Yet she still manages to make the book accessible, practical, and conversational.  You can read Real Revision: Authors’ Strategies to Share with Student Writers straight through or a few pages at a time and you will learn something every time you sit down with it.  My copy is flagged and I know I will be pulling it out constantly this year.

I read a lot of professional books about reading, writing, and general literacy.  Kate’s Real Revision: Authors’ Strategies to Share with Student Writers by Kate Messner  is the first book in a long time to grab me and make me want to continue reading long after I should have put the book down.  She doesn’t just share her own classroom experiences, but also includes interviews and essays from various children’s and YA authors.  The authors share their own methods of “real” revision and ways teachers can apply those methods in their own classrooms.

And teachers will love, love, love the “try it” sheets that are included throughout the book and in the Appendix.  Many of the “try it” sheets are invitations for students to try a revision strategy shared by an author in the book. Because these are authors thats students are familiar with, I imagine they will love having the chance to “try” what their favorite author suggests.They can actually learn about the real revision work done for the books in our classroom libraries.   How awesome is that?!

Highly, highly recommended for teachers of grades 2-12.  There is something in here for teachers at all grade levels!  Pick up a copy before the school year starts!


I was a huge fan of Catherine Fisher’s bestselling duology Incarceron and Sapphique .  HUGE fan.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I learned that she would be releasing The Relic Master series this summer.  As part of my blogiversary celebration, the publisher has offered an incredible giveaway for readers of TheReadingZone!

One winner from TheReadingZone will receive:

Yes, the entire series!  I am in the middle of reading The Dark City  and it is fantastic!  Whoever wins the series will be one very lucky reader.

About the Relic Master series:

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic’s power and will stop at nothing to get it.

RELIC MASTER is a four book series. Each book will be released over four consecutive months this summer:

  • Book One: The Dark City, May 17
  • Book Two: The Lost Heiress, June 14
  • Book Three: The Hidden Coronet, July 12
  • Book Four: The Margrave, August 9



About the Author:

Catherine Fisher is the author of the New York Times bestselling duology Incarceron and Sapphique and in the Relic Master series has created a world equally as developed, dynamic and dangerous as that of Incarceron. Visit her at



To enter, leave a comment below!  Make sure your email address is included.  Enter by August 2nd.  I will use a random integer generator to select a winner from the comments.



*one entry per person

*must be 13 years or older to enter

*email address must be included in order to win!

Get the <a href=””>Relic Master series widget</a> widget and many other <a href=””>great free widgets</a> at <a href=””>Widgetbox</a>! Not seeing a widget? (<a href=””>More info</a>)

Blogiversary Stats!

I have been blogging for four years now!!  Back in 2007 I never would have predicted that I would still be blogging four years later. It is certainly a labor of love, but well worth it.  I have become part of a fantastic blogging community here in the blogosphere.  I have been a Cybils panelist, helped start Share-a-Story, Shape-a-Future, and founded #ARCsFloatOn.  It’s been quite a ride and I can’t wait to blog some more!

Here are some fun facts about my blogging. 🙂

First post-:  July 1, 2007

First book reviewed: First Light by Rebecca Stead

849,979 site views

Posts: 1,131

Comments: 3,692

Subscribers: 71

Most popular entries:

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It’s My Blogiversary!

That’s right!  This month marks four years of blogging at TheReadingZone.  How cool is that?  Look for some contests and giveaways in the next few weeks, thanks to some generous publishers!

Chocolate Passionfruit Cupcakes

In the meantime, please enjoy a virtual cupcake. 🙂

How Harry Met Sarah

The wands Chris made for us

The first time I heard about Harry Potter and his lightning-shaped scar, I was in high school.  A nerd, and damn proud of it, I had many friends who were members of various fandoms- Highlander, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, amongst other.  A friend in the class below me asked if I had heard of this new British book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I had not, but as an bookworm I was willing to give it a shot.  I wasn’t doing a lot of reading at the time, due to my heavy course load, so a kid’s book seemed like a perfect choice.  My friend, Anne, brought in her copy a few days later, and I flew through it.  This was in 1998.  I was a sophomore in high school.

Upon finishing the first book I was irritated to learn that the next book wouldn’t be available until 1999.  That was a whole year away!  Keep in mind, this was in a world before Mugglenet, before The Leaky Cauldron, and before the joys of the multitude of websites devoted to the Harry Potter fandom.  Waiting for the next book meant just that- waiting.   (I vaguely remember a friend visiting England and getting a British copy, but the rest of us had to wait).

On June 2, 1999 I remember begging my mother to drive me to Barnes and Noble to pick up the newest book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  We didn’t get tickets to the midnight release party so we picked it up the next morning.  I remember spending a gift card on the hardcover book, a rarity for me.  I read it in less than a day.  The next book was released on a few months later, on September 2, 1999.  I remember it was right before school started.  The popularity of the books was growing and more and more people were Harry Potter fans.

Over the next year, Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron were launched.  My friends and I finally had a place to go and share our Harry Potter love.  On July 8, 2000 the fourth book was published.  My friends and I, entering our senior year of high school, attended the midnight release party at our local Barnes and Noble.  We tore through the book, logging onto Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron as soon as we finished so that we could start theorizing.

At this point, some of my friends started getting involved with fanfiction.  I never write and fanfic, but I was a beta reader for lots of friends!

At our last midnight release party, dressed up as Hermione and Harry

We had to wait a long time for the next book- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I graduated high school and started college.  I met more Harry Potter fans.  In fact, most of my college friends were big fans of the chosen one.  My friend Jess introduced me to the wonders of Draco Malfoy fanfiction and I started reading Cassie Clare’s livejournal and fanfiction.    The Draco Trilogy was epic.  And come on- we had to wait 3 years between books!  We needed something to keep us going!

During this time the first film was also released.  I remember seeing the film with some high school friends over Thanksgiving break.  JK Rowling’s website was also growing during this time, with small updates about the progress of the next book.

Finally, it was 2003.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released on June 21, 2003.  My birthday was June 23rd.  I wasn’t able to make it to the midnight release party and was heartbroken.  But on June 22nd I had plans to go to Seaside for my birthday and my friend Matt was picking me up.  Matt (or “the boy with the orange shoes”, as my mom called him) showed up at my house and handed me a copy of  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  He had gone to the release party a few hours earlier and picked up two copies.  One for himself, and one as my birthday gift.  It was awesome!  I remember reading frantically in the car as he drove to Seaside that day.  Sitting on the beach, celebrating my birthday with friends, I just wanted to get back to reading!

It was two more years before we would have the next book.  By this point, my now-husband and I were seriously dating.  He was not a Harry Potter fan before I met him, but I convinced him  to give them a try.  As a non-reader (I know!), he started listening to the audiobooks.  Pretty soon, he was a huge Harry Potter fan!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released on July 16, 2005.  My friends and I were college graduates.  But that certainly didn’t stop us from dressing up and going to the midnight release party at the Barnes and Noble by campus!  Chris dressed as Harry Potter and I dressed as Hermione.  There was a huge group of us there, including Mel and Siobhan.  We were all dressed up.  We had to get tickets for our books and there was an hours-long party before the books were handed out at the stroke of midnight.  Chris won a free copy of the book, which was awesome!  His costume was great and lots of little kids asked if he was Harry.  And we when left, at 12:05am, he was stopped by one of his professors who was also a huge Harry Potter fan.  Talk about crossing all age and gender lines!

My husband also made us amazing wands, to be used at midnight release parties and premieres.  I used mine when I was student teaching and dressed up at Harry Potter.  I have since used it for other Harry Potter costumes.  It’s amazing and better than anything I would get at Olivander’s.  My wand is painted with monarch butterflies and caterpillars, which are a huge part of my life.  (pictured above)

Chris is not  reader, as I said.  But he does like audiobooks.  Of course at this point, the audiobooks were not released simultaneously.  Thus, Chris and I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince aloud.  The entire thing.  I had no voice by the end, but it was well worth it! We stayed in his room and read for about 12 hours straight.  We couldn’t stop because the internet was full of spoilers!  We avoided tv, the internet, IMs, everything until the book was finished.  At which point we promptly got in touch with our friends (who also read all night and all day) and discussed the book.

The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on July 21, 2007.  By this point Chris had his own apartment and was working.  I was living at home and teaching full-time.  We decided to skip the midnight release festivities in favor of getting sleep so that we could read the entire book the next day.  We ended up waking up at 5:30am and going to the Shoprite up the road (open at 6am).  We were the only people in the store at that hour, but they were selling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!  We picked up our copy, grabbed breakfast at the bagel store next store, and we were home by 6:30am, reading.  Wespent the months leading up to that moment reading theories online and coming up with our own theories.  We settled in for the day and I began reading aloud.  Again, we were finished in about 12 hours and jumped online to chat with other fans about the end of an era.

In 2009, I attended NCTE in Philadelphia.  While I was there (for the day!), the all-too-kind Monica Edinger was nice enough to take a few moments away from the conference to meet with me.  We met up in the lobby of the hotel attached to the convention center and traded blog stories.  A few minutes into our conversation, Monica excused herself, saying she saw someone she knew.  Moments later, she was back with a petite blonde woman about my age.  “Sarah, this is Cheryl Klein from Scholastic”.  I about passed out.  I was well aware of who Cheryl Klein was- the continuity editor for the US editions of Harry Potter.  I shook her hand and proceeded to spit out a few words about being excited to meet her.  Cheryl was kind enough to pretend to have heard of my blog (only around for about a year at that time!)!  It didn’t matter- I was just thrilled to meet her!  It was one of the pinnacles of my time in the Harry Potter fandom.

While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the last book, it didn’t feel like the end.  We knew there were more movies coming so we weren’t too sad.  Since then Chris and I have seen each of the movies multiple times.  Today I purchased tickets for the final film.  Gone are the days of midnight showings- I am too old to stay awake that late!  I know I won’t fully enjoy the movie if I have to stay awake until 3am.  Plus, Chris has work the next day.  So we will be seeing the final film at 7pm on Friday.  I know I will be sad when I walk out of the theater, because it is the end of an era.

I read my first Harry Potter book as a sophomore in high school, a book recommended by a friend.  Since then I have made new friends, also fans.  I went to college while waiting for the next books to be published. I met Chris, fell in love, and read aloud the final books so that we could share them together. In the beginning I wasn’t allowed to go to the midnight release parties because I had school.  Today I am an adult and just can’t do it!  But I’ve been to midnight release parties, dressed up in costume, spent those nights with friends, had friends gift me with books, made new friends thanks to Harry and his friends, and eventually, became a married Harry Potter fan.  Before the final book was published, I was a teacher, recommending Harry Potter to my middle school students.  I watched as a new generation of students picked up J.K. Rowling’s tomes, unsure if they could read a series as long as Harry Potter.  I watched them tear through book after book, learning to love reading.  Today I teach at that same high school where I first met Harry.  I know I will see some of my students at the premiere, bringing me full circle.  Harry Potter has been with me from high school to marriage.  I’ve truly grown up with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

That’s my history with Harry.  What’s yours?

Meet Bailey, the Newest Member of the Family

Introducing our new puppy, Bailey. She is almost 8 weeks old and an Australian Shepherd like Dublin. My life is upside down now as I work on house training, but she is adorable! You can follow Dublin and Bailey’s adventures on their Tumblr (I finally understand Tumblr! Fantastic for photos and uploads on the go.

Aussie Love


Check Out My Guest Post at Two Writing Teachers!

Today I have a guest post up at one of my favorite blogs, TwoWritingTeachers.  Stacey and Ruth are some of my favorite bloggers and I am honored that they asked me to be a part of their guest post series this summer.

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

I’m a sucker for modern day retellings of classic stories.  This, coupled with a reading of Hamlet in my English IV classes, attracted me to Falling for Hamlet, Michelle Ray’s debut novel.

Told from Ophelia’s point of view, Falling for Hamlet places Hamlet firmly in the modern era.  Hamlet is still Denmark’s prince, but he is followed by paparazzi, parties at frat houses, and carries a smart phone.  Ophelia lives in the very modern castle and has been dating Hamlet on and off for years.  Her father is the Danish king’s most trusted advisor and she lives a glamorous life.  However, life isn’t as glamorous as it may seem.  She and Hamlet can never have a real moment together, thanks to his overbearing mother and the insanity of the paparazzi.

Michelle Ray has managed to modernize the tale of Hamlet while also staying faithful to the original.  All of the characters are here and match very closely with Shakespeare’s original creations.  Each chapter of Falling for Hamlet  opens with Ophelia being interviewed by TV personality, Zara. (Zara is pretty much Opra).   Zara is attempting to delve into the scandal and gossip that has plagued the Danish royal family and it’s an interesting way to bring the reader into the story.  I feel like Shakespeare would approve of this writing device. Most of the chapters end with quotes of  the transcript from Ophelia’s interrogation  by Francisco and Bernardo, agents of the DDI (Danish Department of Investigation).  Again, I loved this craft tool.

I really enjoyed the way Ray was able to take Shakespeare’s classic story and make it modern without changing the story completely. I look forward to sharing this with my students,  as a way of demonstrating how the themes present in Shakespeare’s plays are relevant in today’s world.  All of the themes, characters, jokes, and innuendo are there.  It’s just modern.  And come on, how much would Shakespeare have loved the addition of tabloids and paparazzai?

I admit I do like the cover, despite some hate for it on other blogs.  It’s a tabloid-y cover and captures the story well.  Ophelia is strong and sane, but she is trying to care for Hamlet, care for her father, and be a normal high school senior.  Sometimes she just wants a minute alone with her boyfriend!  On the other hand, I look forward to seeing what they do with the paperback cover.  I do hope the cover doesn’t turn some people off, because this is a great book and a fantastic adaptation of Hamlet.  It’s not a light and fluffy chick lit book- it’s dark and brooding, moody and upsetting.  It’s Hamlet.  


*ARC courtesy of the publisher

Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman

I have to warn you about Sarah Darer Littman’s newest novel. Want to Go Private? will make you squirm.  It will make you uncomfortable and angry.  You will want to put the book down and you will pray that Sarah Darer Littman is exaggerating and that events like those in the book don’t happen.  But then I read articles like this, this, and this.  All were published in the past month and only scratch the surface of the Google news results for online predators.

I hated  Want to Go Private?.  Despised it.  I felt gross just reading it.  Yet I could not put it down.  Darer Littman has written an important and powerful book about the dangers of online predators and it should be required reading for parents and teachers.  Adults want to believe that teens are “too smart” to fall for predators in this age of internet safety assemblies, guidance counselor pamphlets, and  PSAs.  But this book is proof positive that even the smartest and best kids can be “groomed” and it’s important that we, the gatekeepers, make them aware of the dangers on the internet.  I blog, so obviously I am a huge proponent of the internet.  (That sounds silly- is anyone really anti-internet?).  I am a huge proponent of my students using the internet.  But kids need to be smart and they need to be aware of the dangers that can be out there online.  Just like we teach kids about stranger danger at the park and in parking lots, we need to constantly ensure that teens and tweens are aware of online stranger danger.

Abby is a smart kid.  She’s a straight A student and a rule-follower.  She’s starting her freshman year of high school and she is nervous.  Her best friend, Faith, seems to be making new friends and getting involved in extracurricular activities.  Abby is sort of floating along, wishing that things weren’t changing.  She may have hated some parts of middle school, but she did like the innocence of it.  High school seems so much more real to her.  When Luke befriends her on, a new website for teens (as Abby says, everyone and their grandmother is on Facebook, so the teens are constantly migrating), she is flattered.  She makes sure that she keeps it anonymous and casual, being smart about not sharing any identifying information about herself.   Luke is understanding, listens to her rants and complaints, always takes her side.  He’s perfect.

Abby and Luke grow closer as the school year moves forward.  He’s always there for her and she looks forward to coming home from school and talking to him.  When he shares that he is a little older than her, she isn’t worried.  It’s flattering that someone in his twenties is interested in her.  Plus, he doesn’t actually know her.  Things get more complicated when her grades start slipping and Luke asks if he can send her a cell phone, so they can talk without anyone knowing.  And when he asks her to meet him at a particularly vulnerable time in her life, Abby’s life changes forever.

As you read, you follow Abby’s thought process and as an adult, the grooming she undergoes is blatantly obvious.  But Abby is a teen and her arguments are logical in her own head.  I could hear some of my own teens making the same justifications.  But when Sarah Darer Littman switches from Abby’s perspective to those of her friends and family, the book becomes even deeper.  Abby’s decisions affect her family, her friends, her classmates, her teachers, and her town.  Her own life will never be the same after the decisions she makes.

Abby is an irritating character because the reader wants to shake her and say “You are being preyed upon!”.  But at the same time, she’s a believable teen.  Her actions and decisions make sense to her and the reader is supposed to be upset by them.  You will be on the edge of your seat for the entire book, despite the eerie feeling that you know exactly what is going to happen.


Sarah Darer Littman’s Want to Go Private? is in important book.  It’s intense and gripping, and a cautionary tale that parents and teens alike should read.  Highly recommended.  This is a book that you will want to read and discuss with your kids.


*review copy courtesy of the publisher