2012 Book Challenge – My own personal challenge.

I have a few confessions. Are you ready? Pull up a cushy chair (feel free to conjure one in a chintz-print if you have Dumbledore-like talents) these may not be as juicy as you want, but they’ll have to do.

1. I have never participated in any kid of yearly book challenge, ever. I’ve never been enough of a web presence to have any sort of accountability, and let’s be completely honest, I’m fairly lazy.

2. I don’t keep track of how many books I read. I just move from to the next like an addict. A book addict.

Juicy enough for you? Probably not, but it’s all I have to offer.

So, I’m challenging myself to tracking. In 2012, I will track every book I read. While I love technology, my go-to tracking device is going to be an old-fashioned notebook. Composition, of course. I have a love of those notebooks I can’t even begin to describe.

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Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen

The first book I finished for my book-a-day challenge over break was Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I feel quite accomplished having finished this book first, as it is absolutely the longest title on my list. (If I were one of my students, this would count for two books)

Ms. Dessen’s books are always incredibly popular choices among my middle school girls. By the end of the school year, I always have at least one less Dessen book on my shelf, mysteriously enough.

Along for the Ride delivers just as well as her other books. Auden, a recent high-school graduate decides to spend the summer with her father, his new wife, and her new infant sister on the coast, in the small town of Colby. A nocturnal girl, Auden finds a friend in Eli, a “local boy” with issues of his own. Dessen’s characters always have some issues to work through, but they’re always vulnerable enough that as a reader, I want them to succeed and grow.

One thing I love about this story is Auden’s relationship with her step-mother. It’s a good relationship. There’s no wicked-step-mother-vibe and their relationship grows in a healthy way. It’s refreshing.

I liked it, but I like all of Sarah Dessen’s works.

Now I’m off to finish my next book!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I skipped last Monday, because I had some crazy things going on in my life (among them being admitted my final portion of my reading and literacy master’s degree program, woot!) and so my brain wasn’t processing, and I forgot to post. But, I’m back in the game today and posting what I’m reading.

Mostly, what I’m reading comes from my previous post on my Break Book A Day plans. I’ve never been great at picking up one book at a time, so I’m technically 3 days behind, because I haven’t finished a book yet! I’ve got a great start on “Rules”, a big chunk of “Along for the Ride” finished, I’m still working on “Vesper’s Rising” which isn’t on my Book-a-day list, but is definitely being read.

I’m going to go hop in a toasty bath and get reading. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to tell you about all eleven books I finished over my break. (Sad that next Monday will be my last day of break:( )

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. The Middle Grade Version is hosted by the ladies at Teach Mentor Texts.

Book a Day, Break is Finally Here!

Today marks the first day of my holiday break from school. (finally). We are off from today through January second. I have decided to spend my break doing mostly one thing. Reading, of course. Yesterday before I left school, I gathered up a pile of books I wanted to read. Eleven days of break makes for eleven books I needed. Here’s what I came up with.

booksFrom the top down.

1. Rules – Isn’t it ridiculous that I haven’t read this book yet? I even have a literature circle set! This is the first book I’m going to try and knock off my list.

2. The Scorch Trials – This is going to a challenge for me. I struggled through “The Maze Runner” and yet, when this book arrived at my door as a gift from my PTA, I found myself putting it in my to-read pile instead of labeling it and putting it directly out for my students. I’m going to try it though.

3. Vanished: Stories of the Missing – This came free from Scholastic. I used my online ordering coupons (love those!) to purchase it. I need to do some serious bulking up of my non-fiction genres in my classroom library, so I snapped this up, and the short length inspired me to put it in my book-a-day pile.

4. Bystander – A book about bullying, and the importance of being the bystander, and how you react as that bystander. The effects you can have on someone’s life.

5. Along for the Ride – I’m a sucker for a Sarah Dessen novel. And every year without fail, her books are the ones that mysteriously disappear from my shelves at the end of the year.

6. Woods Runner – I need to get some historical fiction books in to complete my own 40 Book challenge, so Gary Paulsen’s book about the revolutionary war was a natural choice.

7 & 8. Among the Hidden and Among the Imposters – Another book series I can’t believe I haven’t read yet. My students eat these books up. (In fairness, I’ve read all of Haddix’s “Found” series!)

9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – This book is all over my school right now, kids are LOVING it. So I figured I’d hop on that train and see what all the love is about.

10. Igniting a Passion for Reading – I’ve actually read this book before, but as I am working on an author visit (from Anne Ursu, how lucky am I?!) I wanted to re-read the book to pick up some tips on just how to make our visit spectacular.

11. Reading Ladders – This book was recommended to me by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts. Matching kids to great books for them is a passion of mine, so I fully intend to devour this book and keep it on had for years to come.

Of course, The Book Whisperer is at the bottom of my pile, it’s not on my book-a-day list, it’s just a constant presence on my desk at school!

I’m off to read!

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

It’s Monday what are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

I actually had a slow reading week last week. I get swamped with home life things, and some things fall by the wayside. Reading for pleasure is usually the first to go, sadly.

So, I’m asking for suggestions, instead of telling you what I’m reading. What should I put on my list? I teach middle school, and I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade fiction lately, so I need to bump up the stakes a bit and lean more towards young adult for awhile.

Hit me.

I’m planning an author visit.

I’m lucky. I happen to know a fairly well-known local author. I would definitely call her an acquaintance, and she is ultimately responsible for me meeting my husband, though somewhat indirectly. I attended one of her recent signings and this lovely, lovely lady generously offered to visit my school.

Here comes Anne Ursu.

I’m at a new school this year, new building, new district, new everything. Being able to bring in an author to visit is definitely not hurting my value (I’d LOVE to stay at this building). But moreĀ  importantly? My students are going to get to meet an author. A real, live, published author!

I immediately ran to my literacy coach, and we put the wheels in motion. We have a tentative date set, and kids are being told via word of mouth (for now) that they should look into reserving “Breadcrumbs” at the library, picking up their own copy via book order, amazon, independent booksellers, or borrowing a copy from a friend. (The waiting list for my classroom copy is 15 kids long, and I only have 45 students!)

I can’t wait! I’m so fortunate to be able to bring someone like this to my school, and it’s something my students are wicked excited about.

Now, we just have to get all the hard work done!

It’s Monday, (late Monday) what are you reading?

The lovely ladies at Teach Mentor Texts are hosting brought to my attention a meme on Mondays, titled “It’s Monday, what are you reading?” Well, I forgot to get my blog post scheduled for this morning, and I don’t blog from school, big no-no where I work, so I’m chiming in late today!

But, what am I reading? What aren’t I reading? I’m finishing up my re-read of Cinda Williams Chima’s Warrior heir series by reading “The Dragon Heir”. I did a book talk today on “The Warrior Heir” and the boy’s pencils were flying over their to-read lists waiting for their chance at my copy. Next on my list is Kate Messner’s “The Brilliant Fall of Gianna-Z.” Can you believe I haven’t read it?

Professionally I’m reading “Making the Match” all about matching students with books and a book on grading practices of which the title escapes me right now.

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

I finished up this book last week, but couldn’t get to my review until today. Adrienne’s injured, and so her summer plans have gone from an exciting canoe trip into Canada, to a summer lying by the pool and doing water therapy on her knee. Her mother is having none of this, and ropes Adrienne into a mother-daughter book club with four other girls stuck in town for the summer as well.

It’s a mis-matched group, and hijinks ensue. Though hijinks probably isn’t the right word, as it’s not a funny book, but it does move along at a good pace. Dipping in and out of subjects such as family, friends, popularity, this story draws parallels from some literature classics such as “The Awakening” and “The Left Side of Darkness”. The book ends quicker than I’d have liked, not really solving anything, but just moving on into the end of summer. It’s a wee bit abrupt for my taste (much like my blog posts, I suppose).The character development is a bit lacking, and teh tragedy is sudden, and kind of an afterthought.

Overall 2 out of 5 stars.

From the publisher: I’m Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn’t want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee’s parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of “The Unbearable Book Club,” CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren’t friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under motherdaughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I’ll turn in when I go back to school.

*I received a copy of this book for review purposes free of charge from the pubisher via netgalley.com. All opinions are my own.

Professional Organizations

Since early this summer, I’ve contemplated joining a professional organization. While I’ve been unfortunate enough to be cut from positions for the last two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be teaching full-time (or near it) for all three years of my career so far. I decided that I wanted to join a professional organization to further my professional development.

I did some research, and looked into the IRA (International Reading Association), NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), the MRA (Minnesota Reading Association), and a few others, that I didn’t consider long enough to list here.

After passing on the MRA, looking for a national-based organization, I just about decided on NCTE. (Due in large part to the fantastic stories I was reading on Twitter about the latest convention). I spoke with my literacy coach at school who recommended NCTE (she’s a former member, no longer belonging as she is no longer teaching), and that really sealed the deal for me.

So here I am. The newest member of NCTE.

I feel so grown up.