Monday, March 14, 2016

March Book Madness!

It's that magical time of year when a little March mayhem can be harnessed into a fun competition! This year, I was was inspired by Nerdy Book Club contributor Tony Keefer and the amazing Catherine at The Brown Bag Teacher to try the Tournament of Books.

First, I polled my class to record their favorite "Sweet Sixteen" books of the year so far.  There were a lot of amazing "bubble books" like I am Malala, The Tapper Twins Go to War, or The Strange Case of Origami Yoda that were great reads but either didn't quite have the number of readers to recommend them, or didn't get "hot" until recently.  All the 16 books listed had at least 9 of my 24 students read them.

The "Sweet Sixteen"

  • The One and Only Ivan
  • The Honest Truth
  • I Funny
  • Big Nate
  • Hatchet
  • Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood
  • Home of the Brave
  • Auggie & Me
  • The Crossover
  • The Hunger Games
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Smile
  • Flying Solo
  • El Deafo
  • Wonder
  • Sunny Side Up

Next, I printed images of the titles and Catherine's great tournament markers (for FREE - yay!) and set to work with my Fiskars Circle Cutter to make the basketballs.  I found some precut white letters at Staples that saved me a TON of time and added the basketball details with a Sharpie.

Then, I set to work constructing the bracket on the wall outside my classroom.  With a little adjusting - and some helpful input from my colleagues (start from one side and work in) - I got the lines taped and markers added.

And let me tell you - there was some BUZZ in the hallway this afternoon! The 6th graders across the hall were debating which title would win, teachers were commenting on favorite books as they walked by, and my students were groaning over the difficult match-ups.  (Truly - how DO you choose between The One and Only Ivan and The Honest Truth??)

Today my class filled out a paper bracket to predict which book would win, and they started planning how to fit in just one or two more reads so they could vote in as many face-offs as possible.  I loved the renewed energy and excitement around their reading!
Hope you'll join the madness this year and stay in touch through the #2016MBM hashtag on Twitter!

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 10ish Books When You're in the Mood For Something Light

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, please click here!

Today's Topic: Ten Books When You're in the Mood for Something Light!

Children's & Young Adult Picks:

#1 - The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other) by Geoff Rodkey
This series was one of my new favorite discoveries this year!  12-year-old twins Claudia and Reese turn a (maybe?) misunderstanding into an epic and escalating prank battle! I loved the perspective changes, the hilarious parents' texts, and the clever annotations from each twin.

#2 - Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
This graphic novel starts off as a light read about a girl visiting her Grandfather in Florida in 1976.  And while this started out as a simple, fun book for me - this Bicentennial Baby loved the references to that era - it gained more and more depth as we discover precisely WHY Sunny is in Florida and away from the rest of her family.

#3 - My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian
Cute book about a rascally kid who has to deal with the disappointment when his summer plans (light vandalism and mayhem) are thwarted when his parents send him to Learning Camp for most of the summer.  I like how this book was honest about this kid's only partial growth.

#4 - Over My Dead Body (43 Old Cemetery Road) by Kate Klise
Clever little book told all in letters between young Seymour, the grumpy Mr. Grumply, and the resident ghost Olive C. Spence.  Fun read and I loved the language play here!

#5 - The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angelberger
This series is hot in my class this month!  Cute combination of Star Wars, origami, and sweet storytelling.

#6 - The Story of Diva & Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi
Short little chapter book about the friendship between a streetwise cat and  a pampered dog. I'm a sucker for kids' books set in Paris so immediately loved this one!

Adult Picks:

#7 - The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carrier
Delightful series about dirigibles, drinking tea, and defying the standards of Victorian etiquette.  So fun!

#8 - The Boleyn King by Laura Anderson
What if Anne Boleyn had actually given King Henry VIII a son who grew up to be king? This fast-paced novel answers that question and takes you on an amazing ride!  This Tudor fan was fascinated by the twists and turns.

#9 - Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Well - the apocalypse is coming and nothing is going quite as planned! The rank and file demons and angels aren't ever sure they really WANT the end of the world now that it's come right down to it....  Fun, fast, and hilarious read!

What do you think?  What are your favorite reads when you're
in the mood for something light?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, please click here!

Today's Topic: Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Young Adult Picks:

#1 - JK Rowling 
Author of the Harry Potter series (obviously!) - I've read all the books once myself and am now going through them again with my daughters. I need to pick up her adult title and give it a shot. She's such a generous and kind woman, I'm happy to support her. (And she once retweeted me, so there's that - lol!)

#2 - Jerry Spinelli
Author of Stargirl, Wringer, Loser, Milkweed, and SO many other great books that kids love.  When I taught fifth grade, we read Maniac Magee every year....
#3 - Beverly Cleary
All the wonderful Ramona books alone would have this author on my list! But Dear Mr. Henshaw has a special place in my heart along with Runaway Ralph and the Ribsy books.

#4 - Judy Blume
Right after my Beverly Cleary phase, I dove right into my Judy Blume era...
To this day, I still FEEL like Peter, and Sheila, and Margaret were childhood friends. My classroom library would not be complete without Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret. And I'm loving the new updated covers!

#5 - Laura Ingalls Wilder
A confession: I once ate NOTHING but baked potatoes for two days straight to get the FULL experience of The Long Winter. My summers were spent running through the woods across from my house pretending I was avoiding panther attacks in the Big Woods. I BEGGED my mom to make recipes from the Little House Cookbook and was so bummed when we couldn't find a rabbit to stew. HA!  If you want a funny look back on the series, here is great Jezebel post on Little House:"I Play With A Pig Bladder Like It's a Balloon!" (LOL!!)

Adult Picks:

#6  - Jane Austen
My year would not be complete if I hadn't reread something by Austen...  Pride & Prejudice is my favorite but my first contact with Jane Austen was actually Sense & Sensibility.

#7 - Barbara Kingsolver
I was introduced to The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams in high school and have devoured everything Kingsolver has written since. My favorites are Prodigal Summer, Flight Behavior, and The Lacuna (this last is AMAZING - especially on audio!)

#8 - Margaret Atwood
Author of the post apocalyptic Maddaddam Trilogy, the Penelopiad, Alias Grace and SO many other incredible novels, essays, and non-fiction works, I'm so glad she's prolific so I've got lots more reading to look forward to.  The Handmaid's Tale alone should be required reading by EVERYONE.

#9 - Bill Bryson
From his travel books (Neither Here Nor There .... A Walk in the Woods - which will be a MOVIE this fall - YES!) to his exploration of a particular time in history (One Summer: America, 1927 ) - I'm willing to go on any journey Bryson wants to share. My all time favorite Bryson book is A Short History of Nearly Everything - that book totally changed my perception of the universe and my place in it.

#10 - Charlaine Harris
Yep - I've read every one of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series. And even though my interest waned about half-way through I pushed on to the end to see what happened.

Okay, fellow readers! Who are your most-read authors?

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Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - 8/10/15

A less productive reading week this time, but I still fit in some great books while on vacation!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys and then refocused onto KidLit by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. It's a fantastic way to reflect on your reading and discover great new titles by connecting with the other bloggers that link up.  

I finished reading:

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
What can I say about this book? It came so highly recommended that I was worried I'd be disappointed. Not at all! And I'm really looking forward to participating in the 2015 Global Read Aloud this year featuring this book. Ally is a character every teacher should know.

The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel by Ann M. Martin & Raina Telgemeier
I think I actually screeched in the library when I discovered this graphic novel version of one of my favorite childhood series - by RAINA! Win-win! I've only delayed reading it because I couldn't pry it out of my daughter's hands.  :-)

Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy
This collection is amazing and oh so WEIRD! While it includes some familiar stories - Snow White, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, etc...  each tale has a strange little twist to it.  And my daughters' favorites were the bizarre obscure stories like The Prince and the Tortoise (DON'T ASK!), The Boy Who Drew Cats (quietly creepy for sure...), and The Small Tooth Dog (in the words of my daughter: "Wait. WHAT?!!")  We've had LOTS of laughs reading these out loud before bed this week.

Babymouse: Queen of the World by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
I wanted to really like this book and while it was okay.... it was... JUST okay.
I tried prompting my 8 year old to read it (she loves pink! this book is pink!) but she gave up 1/3 of the way through. Meh.

The Boleyn Deceit (Book 3) by Laura Anderson (Adult Audio Book)
Such a great series! I am always intrigued by alternative histories, and I have a soft spot for the Tudors. However... in the midst of the story, I had forgotten the brutality that those fascinating Tudors were famous for. I hate it when awful things happen to my favorite characters, so that was a rough listen, but the ending redeemed the earlier difficult spots. 

I am currently reading:

Less on my plate since I just got back from a fantastic three day trip to Hersheypark in PA. My oldest daughter is now tall enough to ride most of the coasters - my stomach is STILL recovering - ha! Here is me reading on 81 North while my sweet husband drives. 

AND.... at first I was psyched to see hundreds of books in the lobby of our hotel!  THEN I noticed they were all selected because their covers were blue.  Not cool, Sheraton. Not cool...

What was your reading life like this week? Comment below or link up!

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