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 Pexels.com

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.

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.

anya

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!

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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 Pexels.com

CURING THE READING GERM BY JIM BAILEY

“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
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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!

Using YALSA

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.

Goodbye-Rebel-Blue

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

monday

With all the snow and the little break last week, I got the chance to spend some time with some wonderful books. My heart was so full for the two days I got to sit down and read, and I wish those opportunities would come around more often. This time of year, my life picks up rapidly and my reading is limited to spare moments before class, before bed, and the quiet minutes of the morning with my coffee. I have three very different books to share with you all.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

This book was long-awaited for me. I had read so many great reviews about the uniqueness of this LGBTQ+ novel that I couldn’t wait to start it. It’s a little lengthy (about 500 pages), so our little break was the perfect time to sit down and finish it. I was not disappointed after all the hype. It’s amazingly adventurous, as the main character, Monty, finds himself in quite a few pickles. Some of them involve his own promiscuity, but some involve holdups by highwaymen and kidnapping by pirates. Monty is constantly being accused of being a “rake,” though the only one that truly has his heart is his best friend, Percy. The character arc is beautiful, the setting is fascinating, and the old British language held my heart throughout the novel. It was truly one of a kind. The novel is the 2018 Stonewall Book Award winner for its merit in the LBGTQ+ community. A third main character, Monty’s sister, Felicity, is the star of Lee’s sequel novel, A Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. I can’t wait to give that one a try.

A Coyote Solstice Tale, by Thomas King

solstice

This was my pick for a shared reading book this week. Coyote hosts a Christmas party where his friends all bring something to eat and to share. A poorly disguised little girl also comes to the party. The gathering decides to see what a Christmas looks like in a human’s world, so they go to the mall on Christmas Eve, where people act like animals and spend exorbitant amounts of money on gifts for one another. The animals don’t quite understand the culture of the little girl and then see why she chose to join them at their humble little cabin in the woods with small gifts and big hearts. It’s an adorable picture book with an important message for all. This would be especially enjoyable around Christmastime.

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess, by Shari Green

macy

First off, I just want to say that this book is an absolute 10/10 in my opinion and should be in every classroom library out there. It’s a Schneider Family Award winner for its focus on the life of a deaf girl who is about to enter into middle school. She is struggling with her mom’s new marriage, her moving away from her house, and that her best friend won’t talk to her. Macy makes an unexpected friend and learns a lot about life and friendship in the process. Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess is a beautifully written verse novel that I finished in about an hour. The messages in this book are priceless and it’s an absolute gem of a book. Plus, who doesn’t love the gorgeous colors on the cover?

It’s Monday! What are YOU Reading?

I have a load of great literature to share with everyone this chilly Monday. Variety was no issue within my reading last week, and all the completed works gave me a real sense of accomplishment, as well as an excitement for future reads!

First, I’d like to share three picture books that I read with the high school class I was observing. As an added bonus for myself in this class, I’m taking the time to familiarize myself with Junior and Children’s literature for future shared reading/read aloud experiences in my class. For more information on this practice in secondary classrooms, see this article.

First, The Great Monster Hunt was a thrilling tale that involved all species of barnyard and wild animals to solve a mystery. It was wonderfully light animal literature with humorous suspense! Next, The Pout-Pout Fish was an incredibly funny tale of a grumpy fish with a pouty face. He remains pouty until he is shocked with one huge act of kindness. I was so impressed with the clever writing in this book – it’s a great opportunity to teach alliteration, rhyme, and friendship. Last, Giraffes Can’t Dance was a beautifully illustrated book with all animal characters (once again). Giraffe discovers that he cannot dance like all the other animals at the dance party. He is discouraged, but finds his own unique way of dancing. The story promotes inclusion and strength in uniqueness, making it great for any classroom!

For my Young Adult reading, I finally finished the collection of YA short stories, Fresh Ink. Holy cow was I impressed by the diversity within this little book! It included everything from black superheroes to transgender Olympic hopefuls to a mute teenager responsible for saving a fantastical world to a couple of high school sweethearts struggling with a big move. There is something in here for everyone. In my opinion, some of the authors were weaker than others, but that’s easy to judge when each are being put on the same pedestal with writers such as Walter Dean Myers and Jason Reynolds.

fresh ink

Another fascinatingly diverse book that I finished is called Dreaming in Indian. There were hundreds of writers and artists that shared their story within the hauntingly designed pages of this book. I learned so much about a vast number of indigenous people, their struggles, and how they live. I’ll add this to the “Native Author” slot on our bingo sheet, next to the book Trickster that I’ve already read. Both of these books feature many voices from Native Americans. Trickster is a collection of Native American tall tales in a graphic novel format.

I hope everyone is reaching goals, learning new things, and above all, enjoying their reading as much as possible. Have a GREAT Monday!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

As the rodeo season winds up and practice has begun for my horses and I, my reading has slowed significantly. While I enjoyed being able to read much more than the required 4 hours per week for our Adolescent Literature class during the winter months, I’m also ready to be active and competitive again. Nevertheless, I never take for granted the allotted time I take out of my week for adolescent reading. Let me share what I am currently reading!

I actually strayed off of my reading plan for last week a little bit, because I was pretty excited to start my first YA collection of short stories. This particular book, Fresh Ink, “has made a donation to We Need Diverse Books,” according to the back cover. So far, I am about 75 pages in and I’ve already read thrilling and eye-opening stories about protagonists who are, respectively, Native American, openly gay, moving away from their boyfriend, desperately crushing on the cutest athlete in school, Asian, and a superhero. Each character has their own internal struggles, along with the desire to fit into a society that may exclude them. Each short story is authored by a person as unique as their characters, and we see appearances of some our favorite authors, including Walter Dean Myers, Jason Reynolds, and Aaron G. Flak.

fresh ink

Next, my book club will be discussing our reading of the graphic novel, Persepolis. I am excited to read this one, as it satisfies our requirement for reading work from a Muslim author. I have never read anything from a Muslim author to my knowledge, so I’m thrilled to be expanding my knowledge and empathy for other cultures. The black and white illustrations look compelling, as they tell the autobiographical story of Marjane Satrapi as she grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. I’ll be sure to share the results with all of my followers! To close, I have already found another selling point to this graphic novel (on top of everything mentioned above). There is a Persepolis 2! Have a great week everyone.

 

Love Books, Book Love

The first two chapters of Penny Kittle’s Book Love were full of helpful reminders, shocking statistics, and a whole lot of hope. The further I get into my higher education, the more thankful I am to have been made aware of the practices of teachers like Mrs. Kittle, thanks to the informed instruction of Dr. Ellington. I wish that I had the time miserable time I spent in those dreary English classrooms back so that I could spend that time reading more wonderful books. Anyway, I’m beyond grateful to be able to make a difference to my future students.

girl reading book while sitting beside desk globe
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

The most interesting point that I took away from these first two chapters was that Kittle was not trying to do away with the classics altogether. Rather, she believes that by building students’ confidence, we can work them up to being comfortable enough to enjoy the classics we’ve come to know and love. This is easier said than done – it requires meeting students where they’re at, assessing skills and interests, scaffolding their progress and helping them to strive for greatness along the way.

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Reading VOLUME is so important. This was something strongly emphasized in our Theory of Teaching Reading class, but now I know why. I admire Kittle because she took so much time to do research on her own, and two of her findings stand out to me. One bit came from her reaching out to instructors at top universities. She reports, “He [Tom Newkirk, University of New Hampshire] said he didn’t care whether all students read any particular book, only that they read a lot.” Second, a quote from Kelly Gallagher, “Never lose sight that our highest priority is to raise students who become lifelong readers. What our students read in school is important; what they read the rest of their lives is more important.” Both quotes are so meaningful. Whether or not a student goes to college, they have the ability to continue their education through reading. They only need the inclination. We must provide that inclination.

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As a final thought, I continued watching Penny Kittle’s videos beyond what was assigned and arrived on one where she preached the importance of having our own classroom libraries. We cannot rely on our school libraries alone (unless the school has fantastic and attentive librarians) to satisfy the needs of our hungry readers. It never hurts to surround kids with more immediate literature. She mentioned that having students help choose new books for the library helps gain their interest. Additionally, hosting speed dating with books is a great way for students to get to know what’s in the room, what they want to read immediately, and have an idea for the future.

library

Again, I’m feeling so thankful to be learning all of this helpful information before I head to the classroom. Some teachers have struggled for years teaching and being pushed around by the curriculum and administration. I feel so prepared, now that I am armed with knowledge!