The End of Book Love

To get right to the heart of the issue, I found Kittle’s sentiments about students learning to take ownership over their reading to be so important. With reading comes learning, and I believe that we do not learn unless we are passionate and curious about that which we are learning. Kittle says, “The purpose of personal reading is joy, curiosity, and interest–the kinds of things that are the foundation of my own reading life (119).”

Additionally, “Prompting students’ thinking by way of inquiry, not direct teaching, is the essence of education. Students remember what they do and what they discover not what they are told (121).” I love this, because it applies totally to me and my reading experience. The only way I came back to reading as an adult was to have the choice to do so. I chose the books I enjoyed and I chose when and why to read. It became an important part of my day and had a purpose for me. Many students that Kittle interviewed insisted that reading had a very relaxing effect for them, when students could unplug and not think about anything else for a while. It has much the same value for me, as well as giving me new ideas for writing, allowing me to study other styles of writing, and learning about other cultures and people worldwide (and even some fantasy worlds!).

books on shelves
Photo by Huỳnh Đạt on

In Dr. Ellington’s Theory of Teaching Reading class, we talked about making sure that students are comfortable in their growth as readers. It is not beneficial to shove challenges at students when they are not ready. From one quarter to another, one of Kittle’s students grew at an amazing rate because his teacher allowed him to grow in his own time. He first said that he was not ready to challenge himself except to read more widely. In the next quarter, he blew his reading rate to “smithereens” and planned to continue that reading rate.

In her final chapter, Kittle relays the struggles that she has using her practices in her school. Her school actually seems to be very supportive of her, especially the principal. However, not every school and administration is going to understand the practices that she has proven to work. Some teachers do not see the value in reading, stating that it’s more important to make sure students are eating and are emotionally well. Kittle proves, in her final story, that reading does in fact, help students to succeed in many ways. Her student, a survivor of relationship abuse, a miscarriage, and home troubles, learned to find her voice through relating to characters in books and writing her own story as well. She was the first in her family to graduate high school. Kittle thanks reading.

Summer Reading (Tentative) Plans

It’s so difficult to choose what I want to read over the summer, because I’ve accumulated a fantastic little library of my own this year, thanks to Thriftbooks. To be honest, this semester has been absolutely brutal for me, dealing with loss, difficult people, and other personal issues. I’m looking forward to my summer reading as a sort of therapy for me, which is why I don’t want to plague myself with rules and schedules for now. I can worry about challenging myself at a later time. Furthermore, I want to really feed my writer’s mind with excellent reading. Another focus for my summer is going to be blogging daily in order to grow as a writer. It is my hope to be inspired, to learn, and to grow with amazing authors.

Because of all my different interests – each so important to me – I have divided my summer reading into three categories: Young Adult, Spiritual, and Cowboy.

Young Adult Reading:

First and foremost, I plan to read three amazing gentlemen, whom I am inspired by already, yet I have not read a single novel that they have written. I suppose this reading is somewhat inspired by my spirituality (all three are Catholic apologists), but I look forward to diving into their wonderful fantasy worlds. Additionally, I hope to be inspired by their lives and their writing techniques. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries, Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and Lewis’s first book in the series The Chronicles of Narnia will be up first.

Spiritual Reading:

I am very close to finishing a really refreshing book that takes the reader through notable locations of Catholicism/Christianity throughout the world. I feel that I have experienced the Holy Land, Rio, Chesterton’s pub, the Holocaust (where many Catholics were martyred), JPII’s home in Poland, and many more locations without ever leaving my room. I’ll be sad when this book ends, but I have been reading it for a long time. Such is the curse of a reader!


Kathleen Norris is an author I encountered in Dr. Coughlin’s Nonfiction Creative Writing class. I absolutely adored her style of writing and related to her sentiments about Catholicism and living in the West. I currently have two of her books in my possession and intend to soak up each word she has written for my own spiritual journey and to grow as a writer.

Finally, one book that I have found highly recommended online is Cardinal Sarah‘s The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise. To paraphrase a review that I read, “Every paragraph is food for the soul.” I have no idea what to expect with this book, but I believe that it is going to be very enlightening for me!


Cowboy Reading:

Now for the fun section. In reading more cowboy literature, I hope to familiarize myself with the wildness, humor, and seriousness involved in writing about my culture. It is my ultimate hope to publish nonfiction writing that illustrates the lifestyle that I am surrounded by, as I feel that it is a way of life that needs to be more represented in literature.

One author that I would like to be more familiar with, due to his fame among cowboys, is the legendary author and illustrator, Will James. His books are pretty easy to move through, so none of them should take me very long to read.

Finally, another great cowboy writer is Ben Green. I have his book, Horse Tradin’ and the sequel, Some More Horse Tradin’, which are true stories from his life making a living buying and selling horses. From these books, I hope to learn about the art of storytelling. Most of his stories are from real life, and many people think their stories are not worth sharing. I hope to fight this notion with my work down the road.


It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

My reading list in the past week was pretty short, but I spent some time with some great literature. I only have a couple of books left on my bingo sheet, so we’ll see if I can finish those before the end of the semester!

First up, Anya’s Ghost. I had heard about this book through a few of my peers, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was definitely not what I was expecting. It had quite the plot twist in there! I’m not usually a fan of horror/ghost stories, but this one was a good way for me to step outside my comfort zone.


Second, this book had caught my attention for weeks in the college library, so I decided to give it a try. We obviously have mixed opinions in this class about classic rewrites, but I thought Romeo and/or Juliet was excellent and hilarious. Students could spend anywhere from five minutes up to a few weeks reading and re-reading this book. I really thought the format of the book would bother me. I’ve never read a choose-able book, and this one was actually really fun. The blurbs were all very short and it felt like I wasn’t reading at all, even thought I did get a lot of words in. It’s kind of different know that you can’t ever really “finish” a book like that. It was a refreshingly different way to read. Highly recommend!



It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

Despite the yucky snow days that we had, I took advantage of the time cooped up in the house by attacking my stack of books to be read. It was absolutely delightful and I was so thankful for the chance to relax with some great reads. I read a few very culturally diverse picture books, a fantasy, a historical fiction novel, and a graphic novel.


One Green Apple by Eve Bunting is the simple and powerful story about a Muslim-American girl on her first day of school. She cannot communicate with her classmates except through smiles and a mutual love of apple orchards. It’s very thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated. Great to share with any age level!


La Princesa and the Pea was an adorable twist on a classic tale. If you love happy endings and romance, this is the story for you! The little book won the Pura Belpre Award for the illustrator’s incorporation of authentic-looking native Peruvian textiles throughout the story.


Nasreen’s Secret School is a more somber story about a young girl whose parents disappear during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. It brings great insight to the injustices around the world. Girls in Afghanistan are still persecuted for wanting an education. The story is accompanied by an Author’s Note which explains the context of the small snippet of one girl’s life. Very powerful read.


Smile was my first Raina Telgemeier book, and I daresay that I will read more! I was very impressed with her art in the book. The story itself was nothing like what I was expecting. Honestly, it brought back painful memories of my experience with braces. However, it also brought up very valid points for teenagers trying to find their “look” and themselves, as well as their “crowd.”


Phew! This baby took me a minute to get through. It was the longest book I’d read in a while, and that would be my biggest complaint with it. I feel that Riordan needed every one of those pages to cram in that much Norse mythology, so I blame it on my own impatience to finish it quickly. Like I said in my tweet, the Norse mythology was just as easy to get into as the Greek! Again, i love how Riordan incorporates “marginalized” characters in these fantasy books and flips them around as heroes. For example, in the Percy Jackson series, most heroes were diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia when they were really hardwired to read Greek and fight in battle. Grover needed crutches in the human world, but that was only because he was a satyr. In this series, the main character was homeless, and one of his two friends was deaf–which actually gave him more power performing magic–and one man had “feminine” interests, which led him to win a contest to help Magnus on his quest. Anyway, I simply love how Riordan incorporates diversity in his fantasy writing.

the war

The War that Saved my Life was hands-down my favorite read of the week. I’m still rolling this story over in my head. The novel has won so many awards: Newberry Honor, Schneider Award, Golden Sower Award and more. Firstly, I love the incorporation of a horse as a symbol of freedom (of course). And secondly, the historical fiction was absolutely marvelous, as the book takes place in England before the German bombings began. Ada, a poor girl growing up in the slums of London, has been shamed and hidden away by her abusive mother for being born with a club foot. Her little brother, Jamie, is to be evacuated without his sister, but Ada stows away with him, anyhow. The two find a new home and a new beginning, but not without struggles. This book is very revealing in the way of child psychology, child abuse, good will, and wartime efforts. It was a fascinating read, all the way around.



It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

I had a lighter week of reading due to our college rodeo in Fort Collins this weekend. However, I still got my hands on lots of literature. See below to learn more!

Shared Reading Opportunities:

I read a couple of picture books this week, including the New York Times Bestseller, Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein and All Around Us, by Xelena Gonzalez. Interrupting Chicken would surely set a class of Kindergarteners to giggling for its silliness and predictable storyline. It was a great brain break for me, as well. All Around Us really impressed me. The illustrations blew me away while the story was profound for even an adult to consider, yet simple enough to share with even the youngest of students. It also covers some cultural themes within its covers, as the author explores her heritage being a mestizo (of Native and Mexican descent).

Walking is a Way of Knowing was in the YA Lit section of the library, but had a lot of traits of a picture book, minus the extended text. It was a culturally fascinating read. The illustrations were very striking and detailed, which added to the overall experience of the book.


Independent Reading:

I chose to pick up I am not your Perfect Mexican Daughter to cover my We Need Diverse Books bingo slot. Unfortunately, I have since abandoned the book. The culturally-driven and contemporary novel seemed interesting to me at first, but I could not get past the voice. It felt like I was reading a text message in which the sender was smack-talking somebody constantly. It could possibly relate more to teenagers, but I got such negative energy from the beginning of the book. Additionally, I felt like the author gave everything away in the first twenty pages and I didn’t need to continue reading to get the gist of it. Sadly, I might miss out on the better parts of the book, but I wasn’t going to stick with it just in case it “picked up later.”


Instead, I picked up an author I know and love, Rick Riordan, bringing me his Norse mythological fantasy story, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard to fulfill my fantasy bingo square. I really loved the Greek mythological tales of Percy Jackson, so I’m interested to see if I can be equally as intrigued by this series. Stay tuned! magnus.jpg

Getting Students to Read

This week’s reading included some of the greatest professional reading we’ve had in a while. I’ll share my favorite takeaways from each of the four articles we read.

Aim Higher: A Case for Choice Reading and a Whole Lot More in AP English:

One parent talked to this particular teacher saying, “I wish my daughter was in your AP Lit class. She has to decorate shoe boxes in her class,” to prove that she was “reading.” I’m sure the teacher of this student had a plan that was probably elaborate and meaningful to her. However, when you take a step back, you notice that she may have lost sight of the purpose behind reading.

This was a quote from a student: “I was an AP Lit kid, and an Honors English kid.  I SparkNoted The Scarlet Letter, Beowulf, Iliad, Catcher in the Rye, and the rest.  I never read a bit of it.” This was absolutely my experience as a high school student. That was all English class ever meant to me – SparkNotes and last minute skimming of the text. I was never learning and never reading, only striving for the grade. I could do this by memorizing study guides and gleaning big ‘themes’ from SparkNotes without ever having to do much work.

It was also mentioned that many people’s experiences after high school was to revisit the classics. It turns out that many actually enjoy them when they can choose to be reading them. This was my experience exactly! When I didn’t have to butcher The Great Gatsby for meaning and could just enjoy Fitzgerald’s wonderful language and writing, it was a magical experience for me.

My biggest takeaway from this article was this: You can’t put a price on reading, or it’s immediately devalued.

photo of person reading book on beach
Photo by anouar olh on


“Anyone can fake it on a book report but it’s hard to fake a reading conference,” the article said. Mr. Bailey’s school had caught the Accelerated Reader bug, which was something I also went through in elementary school. It was quite easy to simply take the AR tests without having read the book and teachers were taxed with the responsibility of ensuring that we were being honest about it – an impossible job on top of all their other responsibilities. Reading conferences provide the social aspect to reading and naturally bring about an intrinsic motivation to read and share what you read.

Bailey also said, “I am convinced there is no better way to motivate students to read and write than to have authors visit your school.  We celebrate them like the rock stars they are.” What a great observation! I had never thought of this. It is worth remembering as a future teacher to help administration organize these events.

These were all great ideas!

Restrict screen time: It’s actually the most merciful thing one could do for children. I’ve limited my own screen time since the start of the year and my life has been more rich and enjoyable ever since.

Put books in the bathroom: This was hilarious! As long as they don’t have their phones with them, I could definitely see this working well.

woman wearing green top reading book
Photo by Artem Bali on

6 Simple Ideas to Get Kids to Read

Classroom libraries in every classroom. I have definitely heard the concept of having an English Language Arts classroom that has books spilling over students, but never made the connection that they should be in ALL classrooms. I’m very intrigued. I could see students interested in history class being more inclined to pick up books from the classroom library in a social studies classroom! This could have many positive effects.

Pushing books into hands. I think I am guilty of this already, but could always be more pushy 😉 I have to remember that it’s not a bad thing to be a great example of a reader for my students. Being slightly obsessed is part of this.

Let students shop for books. There is nothing I love more than ordering new books and getting that package in the mail. What a genius idea to have students be a part of this process – especially the hesitant readers!

It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

I had a little celebration for myself last week, as I reached the 50 Book mark! I’ve read 50 titles since January 1st, which includes the reading for this class, required reading for other classes, professional reading, and picture books (shared reading experiences). I finished quite a few titles last week and I’m so excited to share them with you!

longway.jpg Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds

I had heard so much about this verse novel and so was excited to dive into it for our book club meeting last week. My first Jason Reynolds experience (Ghost) was not very good. I gave him another try and was surprised to find that his verse is much better than his fiction writing. Long Way Down was reflective of the gang issues in our country and had really impactful themes of family and death. The idea behind this book was fresh and unique.

maus  Maus, by Art Spiegelman

Again, I had heard much about this book, especially from a peer that really enjoys Holocaust literature. The author told two narratives throughout the book – the one of him interviewing his father and the actual narrative of his father being pursued and incarcerated alongside his wife. At first, I really didn’t understand what Spiegelman was doing while telling both stories (I was confused at times) but I eventually understood him to be reflecting on the lasting effects of what his father went through. It was fascinating how he made Jews mice, Germans cats, the Polish pigs, and another nationality dogs. It makes one really reflect on what he was trying to do there. I’ve heard that the second book is better than the first, so I look forward to reading it!

Shared Reading Books: 

I read three picture books and listed them in order of least favorite to favorite, in my opinion. I do have to say that the art in all of these books was absolutely fantastic and worth looking at, no matter the story.

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox was a cute little story for those days that you may not want to think about story very much. It would be great for wintertime!

The Emperor and the Nightingale is an ancient Chinese tale. This adaptation was my first time reading about it, and the historical value of the story would be wonderful to share with any classrooms. The art is absolutely fabulous!

Finally, Dazzle Ships was my gem for the week. I actually had a bookmark with this book featured on it. I was so happy to have found it in our library. I love strange bits of history, like this book features. During WWI, British ships were painted with outrageous patterns to throw off the enemy and prevent attacks. How cool is that! What’s more, the story is only half the fun – the illustrations were, well… dazzling!


Besides Goodreads, the YALSA website has been my best source for finding new reads. Admittedly, I don’t use it as much as I’d like to because my peers are also wonderful sources for finding new books, but I am pleasantly overwhelmed with new books ideas every time I peruse the site.

For my exploration today, I visited two sections of the site: The “Awards and Selected Lists” and “By Teens.”

Awards and Selected Lists

To my surprise, YALSA is already garnering nominations for the Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and updates the list weekly. After only a few minutes on the site, I had added a pile of books to my TBR List. I also like how YALSA includes hashtags for their featured books. In this instance, it’s #qp2020. An incredible list of five books that have been nominated can be found here. Check them out!

Another section I really loved was the Great Graphic Novels Roundup, found in the same feed. Again, their hashtag for this section on Twitter is #ggn2020. A couple of real gems I found in the graphic novel sections can be found at the links I have attached to each title.

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix;

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal

Pilu of the Woods written and illustrated by Mai K. Nguyen
Oni Press

By Teens

I was intrigued by this section because it shows us what teens are actually reading and thinking about. I even found some great ideas for fun mini-lessons in here, too! In this section, teenagers write about books they have recently read. One of the most recent posts was on one student’s fantasy casting for a book they had read, All Better Now by Emily Wing Smith. This not only exposes more people to the books that this young adult is interested in, it provides us with something more to consider while reading it. All-Better-Now.jpg

Another intriguing post included one teen’s projections for what they think the main character’s playlist would have sounded like, based on the book Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell. Again, what an amazing book talk and even more interesting way to talk about it. I really loved the “By Teens” section.



It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Usually during rodeo weekends, I’m too busy with horses, events, friends, and watching the rest of the rodeo to find time to read, but I actually this weekend! I finished two books in two different formats, and I’m nearing finishing the third book.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I found the audiobook for The Great Gatsby on YouTube, and I had to listen to it. I had never read it before, only seen the movie, so thought I’d give the short book a try. Even though this book won’t count for any of my bingo squares, I think it’s very valuable to be familiar with the “classics” as well as contemporary novels. Penny Kittle asserts that contemporary reading can be a bridge for students to get to those classics. By increasing their confidence in reading “easier” books, they can eventually keep challenging themselves until they get to the point where they CAN enjoy the “classics” as much as adults do. After listening to that enchanting novel, I believe this so much more now.


Monster, by Walter Dean Myers

Though I’d heard lots about this author, this was my first book by Walter Dean Myers. Monster was such an interesting read, mostly because of the format, but also because of the subject matter. A 16-year-old boy was framed in a complex murder case. The story begins when his court case begins. Since his interest was in making movies in his drama class in school, the narrative is written as if it were the rough draft of a movie – his movie. It’s so unique in many ways, and a very quick read. I invite you to check it out!


Keesha’s House, by Helen Frost

This verse novel is incredibly powerful in its own right as well. It brings to light the many sides of teenage struggles such as pregnancy, foster homes, scholarships, sexual assault, and many more. The poems are so beautifully written and tied together in a very genius way. I really enjoy a good verse novel, and this shot to the top of my favorites list.