Comfort Reading

I have not been feeling well for the last week or so, and while I’ve been making it in to work, it’s only through the use of coffee and sugar that I’ve been getting through my days. My afternoons and evenings have mostly been spent with a good book, and by that I mean an old favorite. When I’m sick, I just want to curl up with a “comfort book” that I know and love. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying:

candymakers The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
I love the way she manages to surprise the reader with one plot twist after another, even though she’s telling the same story three times from three different points of view.

skulduggery pleasant Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy
Equal parts wit and action, I just revel in the clever banter between the skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleaant and 12-year-old Stephanie (aka Valkyrie Cain) as they battle evil together.

red blazer girls The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael Beil
I was a huge Nancy Drew fan growing up, and this modern-day “girl detective” story takes me right back to my youth. So glad it’s just the first in a series!

penderwicks The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy byJeanne Birdsall
This is another book that reminds me of my childhood reading because the family reminds me of the Melendy siblings in the book The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. (So glad that series was re-released!) The four sisters in this book are all individuals, but they have a wonderful all-for-one-and-one-for-all family spirit.

no more dead dogs No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
The premise of this book grabbed me immediately, because I have a firm and unwavering aversion to sad dog books. I wish Wallace Wallace (yes, that’s his name) could transform some actual tragic dog stories (Old Yeller, I’m looking at you) the way he did Old Shep, My Pal. Definitely one of my all-time favorite authors, Korman is one of the few who can actually make me laugh out loud while I’m reading, and as they say: Laughter is the best medicine!

Which books are your comfort reading? Please leave a comment and share them!

 

 

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My Final Summer Reading of 2014

I spent one final long weekend at the beach last week (goodbye, Summer!) and thanks to all the rain we had, I was able to finish four of the novels I took along with me:

one for the murphysOne for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

This book has been in my To-Be-Read pile for awhile, and I finally got around to reading it this week.
Carley has just been placed with a foster family after a devastating family incident, and her new situation is completely different from what she’s used to.  Letting her guard down and sharing herself with new people isn’t easy for Carley, but neither is trusting her own family again after what happened.
Please have some tissues ready because this story gets you right in the heart!  Best of all, it keeps you guessing about how things will turn out; and it has some plot twists that you don’t see coming, yet are totally believable and not at all forced.

hiding out at the pancake palaceHiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Marino

I just picked this book up at our local bookstore right before the trip, partly because of the “NPR Best Book of the Year” seal on the front, partly because it takes place during the summer, and partly because hey, PANCAKES!
The plot revolves around a contestant on a musical reality show seeking privacy after an embarrassing freeze onstage, and a local girl who is desperate to hear the song the pine trees played on the night she was born.  Each fills a need for the other as the two join forces in their attempt to connect with music again.
The lyrical text says a lot without saying too much, and it’s a feel-good read that’s not at all syrupy.  (Pun intended!)

timmy failure mistakes Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

     Calvin And Hobbes meets The Riot Brothers (and Chet Gecko and Greg Heffley) in this grin-a-minute romp with Timmy and his sidekick/business partner, Total the polar bear, filled with silliness that your reluctant readers will flip for.
The book trailer gives you a taste of what to expect:

The advanced vocabulary words sprinkled throughout the text are rendered less intimidating by the super-short chapters and the cartoon drawings on every page.  You can find lots of fun resources for kids, parents, and teachers at the Timmy Failure website.  Book Two (Now Look What You’ve Done) is already out, and Book Three (We Meet Again) debuts in October of 2014.

fourteenth goldfishThe Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm

I accessed a preview copy of this book via NetGalley, and I can’t wait until its official release on August 28 so I can add it to my library!
When Ellie’s scientist grandfather (Dr. Sagarsky) shows up on her doorstep looking like a teenager and announces that he’s found a way to reverse the aging process, it marks the beginning of a period of discovery for Ellie as well.  In this funny yet thoughtful story, we follow the two of them — along with an unlikely accomplice from Ellie’s school– as they attempt to recover Grandpa’s notes and specimens from the laboratory he no longer has access to.
Holm does a wonderful job of painlessly injecting plenty of science into this coming-of-age (for the second time for Grandpa!) novel, as well as encouraging readers to ponder the idea that scientific discoveries, for better or for worse, inevitably change the world permanently.  It will serve as an inspiration to girls who already enjoy science, and may spark an interest in the subject for girls who don’t.

 

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Snapshot of My Reading Life

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014For week 3 of the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge, bloggers were asked to “post a photo that gives readers a glimpse into your reading life.”  I decided to go with this screenshot of my NetGalley bookshelf, since this is a relatively new addition to my reading life.

NetGalley Shelf

Click photo to enlarge.

 

NetGalley is an online service that “delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles.”  Members look through the available titles and request approval to download the ones that look interesting.  There is no cost to join or to preview books.

I haven’t been a member for very long, but it’s a lot of fun to get a sneak peek at upcoming books, and it gives me a little edge when I’m preparing book orders.  Perhaps it’s something that you’d like to try!

 

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And Now a Word From Our Students

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014For week 2 of the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge, bloggers were asked to answer the following questions individually and with a child or children:

1. I think everyone in the world should read…

2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

4. The genre or author that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

5. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

I decided to open up two of these questions to the students at my school, and I created Padlet walls where they could post their answers.  Here are our results!


Click here to view our 3rd Grade Wall

 

 

 

 



Click here to view our 4th Grade Wall

 

 

 

 

 

Our students were excited about the opportunity to share their opinions with the world, and I think some of our teachers will begin using Padlet as a class brain-storming tool.   Win-win!

 

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Read Aloud Memories

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014The topic this week for the World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) blogging challenge is:  What is your earliest or fondest memory in which someone read aloud to you?

It’s hard for me to remember my earliest read-aloud experiences, because my mom and dad read aloud to me from the time I was a baby.  I feel so blessed to have been surrounded by books all my life, and to have parents who were readers themselves.  As a young child, I read aloud to my dolls, my cat, and my baby brother.  I was raised in a home where sharing books was an everyday part of life.

charlottes webA more specific memory is of my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Holden, reading aloud to our class.  I loved Mrs. Holden; she was young and pretty, she wore fashionable clothes and shoes, and she was so kind and funny!  She read many books to us, but the one that stands out in my mind is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  Every day after lunch she would perch on her stool, facing us as we sat in our desks, and read to us about Fern and Wilbur and Charlotte and that nasty yet strangely fascinating rat, Templeton.  When Wilbur received his special award at the fair, we all rejoiced; and when Charlotte died alone, we all cried together.  I don’t remember any of the phonics worksheets I completed that year, but I will never forget that special reading time.

As teachers we need to remember that it’s not enough just to teach kids how to read; we need to teach, model, and promote a love reading as well, because there may not be anyone at home who is doing that for our students!

read-across-americaIt just so happens that World Read Aloud Day is on March 5 this year, which is the day that our school is celebrating Read Across America Day.  Therefore, our read-alouds will all be Dr. Seuss books!  In addition to teachers reading, we’ll be bringing in guest readers from the community, and we hope to bring in some middle school students to share books with some of our elementary kids.  It’s a half day of school for us, and we plan to make it a pajama day for our students and have read-in sessions throughout the school.  What could be more fun?!?

 

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Reading Plans for the New School Year!

It’s that time again when I begin to feel a tingly excitement about the all the possibilities of a brand new school year!

Last year, with the support of my principal and a new flexible library schedule, I focused heavily on collaborating with teachers and supporting them in implementing the Common Core curriculum.  I will certainly continue that this year, but I also want to spend devote more time and effort to building a school-wide culture of reading.  One of my most important roles as a school librarian is to be a “reading cheerleader” and I have several new ideas for doing that.

I have already noted a variety of local, national, and international reading events on my school library calendar (you will see them in red), and I will spend the next two weeks rounding up teacher and parent volunteers to help with planning and execution of these programs.  Ideas that aren’t scheduled yet but that I’m working on creating include:cocky reading express

 

  • a visit from Cocky’s Reading Express (“Cocky” is the University of South Carolina mascot.  He travels around the state with USC students who read to school kids and share the importance of reading.)
  • a Teacher Book Club that involves reading and discussing chapter books that would make good classroom readalouds
  • a Family Reading Night that allows children and parents to enjoy reading activities together
  • a Reading Partnership program between our students and students from the middle school next door
  • Bedtime Stories at the Library for our Kindergarten students (and possibly a separate night for 1st graders)
  • Wee Bee Reading – a monthly story time for the 2-3 year-old siblings of our students (the name comes from the fact that our school mascot is the Busy Bee)
  • mandatory “sustained silent reading” time in the classroom each day to provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in pleasure reading

book buzz new logoI also want to encourage students to participate more in online book discussions via my Book Buzz blog.  I’m thinking about asking students to write guest posts for the blog to talk about their favorite books and authors.  I’d also like to see more teacher participation in the blog, so maybe I’ll ask for some guest posts from them too.

What innovative ideas are you using to build excitement for reading at your school?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

 

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