Welcome back! I hope all my peers had a fantastic spring break. I took a wonderful, religious trip to Indiana and lots of places in between Nebraska and there, learning loads of history and literature my my personal interests. Luckily, I had the opportunity for lots of reading in the car, as well. See below for all the wonderful books I had the pleasure of reading.
In the spirit of our theme this week, Shared Reading, I’ll first start with a few picture books that I read.
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (picture book)
This adorable, easy level reading was a joy for me and those I shared it with. I was actually thrilled that I had this book with me (along with a couple others) for working the state high school basketball tournaments in Casper, Wyoming last week. A couple of toddlers were unsupervised and in danger of disrupting the live feed because of their climbing on the railings and around the cords. I pulled out this bright colored book and their attention was immediately on looking at the pictures and “reading” to themselves (making up their own, cute stories to go along with the illustrations). It was a fun experience for me and them, and it was a wonderful lesson for me to always carry books 🙂
Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea, by Tony Johnston (picture book)
This book reminded me of Mac Barnett’s theory about fiction (see the TED Talk here). The main story of Levi Strauss was generally correct, but the author and illustrator worked together to really “stretch” the truth and make for an entertaining and whimsical picture book.
Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales (picture book)
This book was definitely one of a kind! It is a Pura Belpré Award winning book, and features a fearless big brother who defends the world against Latin America’s most terrifying ghosts and creatures. The Spanish language and inclusion of legends/families makes this book great for exposing students to cultures other than their own. It was very fun and provides an opportunity for teaching moments within the book.
Ghost, by Jason Reynolds (chapter book – middle grades)
I finished Ghost, and much to a few of my peers’ dismay, I was a little disappointed in it. I do plan to give Jason Reynolds another try, but this book did not impress me. As I said in my review and on Twitter, I do think this book has value in a junior high/high school classroom. The reading level and subject would be appealing to hesitant readers, and the fact that it’s the first in a series would entice those hesitant readers to read further. Additionally, the author makes a contribution to We Need Diverse Books with his incorporation of “bad neighborhoods,” a single parent, mixed races, and at-risk youth, albeit a poor one. Truthfully, I thought that the storyline was far-fetched, as if I were watching a corny, “inspirational” movie. I’m not convinced it should have been up for any awards, that’s for certain.
What to do when I’m Gone, by Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman (YA and beyond graphic novel)
Dr. Ellington and a few peers had recommended this book to me, so I thought I’d give it a try. The graphic novel format made it pretty interesting, and perhaps lightened a heavy subject. It’s not easy to talk about death or what to do after the death of one’s mother, but this book gives us some ideas. I kind of like the fact that it doesn’t give specific instructions; it’s vague in the right places and specific in the others. It did a marvelous job of showcasing the rawness of loss and humanity, but I truthfully won’t visit this book again.
Don’t Get Caught, by Kurt Dinan (humorous, chapter book, YA level)
My absolute favorite book from this week’s reading was this clever novel in a red package. There were so many pranks, clues, mysteries, and pranksters in this novel that I was completely intrigued throughout. As I said on Twitter, this novel has quite a bit of teenaged sexual humor (nothing too raunchy, but enough to entertain the reader with a bit of immaturity). I honestly laughed out loud reading this book. The characters, especially the main character, Max, were very relatable. Of course, the heists involved were a bit far-fetched, but that only added to the excitement of the novel. I was very inspired to pull off a prank after reading this novel. I think it’d be a great pick for teenage boys, but anyone could enjoy it. I think it was the mystery aspect I enjoyed so much, but it was a novel unlike one I’d ever read before. I highly encourage future high school teachers to include it in their classrooms.