Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/01/12



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!
After doing the meme for a couple of weeks, we realized this would be a fun meme to start up with a kidlit focus - anyone reading and reviewing books in children's literature - it can be picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, you name it in the world of kidlit and it's in! We have loved being a part of this meme and we hope you do too!  We encourage everyone participating to go and visit the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and to comment on as many posts as you can. We love talking books and believe in sharing and discussing what we're reading. We hope you join us!

Bloggiesta Update:
We both ended up having a weekend that did not include as much blogging as we'd planned! Jen and I decided we'll plan a post-bloggiesta mini-bloggiesta for ourselves in the near future so we can get done what we didn't. If you want to see our goals and what we did complete, click on the icon below.

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Jen Says: I have been loving graphic novels lately! I read Page by Paige and will be reviewing it on Saturday. I also read Friends with Boys which reminded me a tiny bit of Anya's Ghost. The characters were my favorite part. I started reading Amulet as well...I know, I haven't read it yet. Talk about a devastating beginning to a book. Sheesh. After visiting a more kid-friendly comic book store on Saturday, we read a DC Super Pets! book that we bought. These books were super cute, colorful, hybrid, early chapter books. Each book is about a super hero and his or her pet and then a villain and his or her pet. We read The Fantastic Flexy Frog! I'm excited to read more in the series with Peanut.

I finished Enclave on audio and started The Neverending Story...and I totally didn't realize it is 12 CDs! That's a lot of CDs. I'm enjoying the wonderful language and fantasy elements in this book. It reminds me of Inkheart in a way. I did start Alice Bliss and Every Day, too and have continued with Visible Learning for Teachers

Kellee Says: This week was a bit better. I am trying to make reading more of my life again. I have made a distinct effort to carve out reading time. Because of this (even with going to Disney all day Saturday) I read 3 novels this week. All were phenomenal! I cannot wait to review them all for you (I added my thoughts of October Mourning to Jen's review from this week). 


-Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
-October Mourning by Leslea Newman
-The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina

Reviewed Last Week:
  The Dot
 
Just click on any picture above to go read the review

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Jen Says: I'm going to keep reading Amulet, Alice Bliss, Every Day, Visible Learning for Teachers, and keep listening to The Neverending Story. I also still have Legends of Zita in my stack that I reeeeeeeally want to read. I saw some great authors at Anderson's Bookshop on Friday night and Heather Brewer was one of them. I remembered that she contributed to a book called Dear Bully that I really want to read...if I can get my hands on it, I'm sure I'll dive into that. 

Kellee Says: I have a handful of novels lined up for this week. First is Sean Beaudoin's The Infects followed by E.M. Kokie's Personal Effects. I hope to get in a 3rd or a 4th as well. Jim, my husband, works overnight Monday and Tuesday so I will be home alone at night, so that means more reading time before bed (though I will definitely miss Jim!!).  I also will continue listening to The Scorpio Races and it is getting really good! I have my car back, so I will be able to listen a lot more than last week. This will be a great week!

This Week's Reviews:
    Where's Waldo? The Search for the Lost Things 
 Linnea in Monet's Garden
Check back throughout the week to hear about these books. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you please try to comment on at least the three blogs that posted before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

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Let Them Read Books!

I'm a huge fan of everyone being free to read what they want to read when they want to read it!

"Read what you want to read!"
-Jen Vincent

Yesterday, Peanut and I hung out with Dave Roman and I told him that I will never forget his response to anyone who says that graphic novels or comics isn't reading:

"Not reading is not reading."
-Dave Roman, Astronaut Academy, Teen Boat

To me, if a child is not reading, that's when a parent or teacher should be worried. I do totally understand that some books might be too mature for kids and parents should know enough about what kids are reading to help guide their child's reading, but when it comes to letting kids read what they want to read after that, I say: Yes! Let there be reading!

It's frustrating to me that anyone thinks it's okay to challenge or ban books, especially when I read the books and it seems obvious that the people challenging/banning it must not have read the entire book if they want to challenge or ban it. I just wish people would be more open-minded and take on the perspective of books being ways to start good and worthwhile discussions instead of books being a way to taint a child's mind. 

I pride myself on being a positive person so I have to stop dwelling on these Negative Nancys when it comes to some books. Let's just get on with it. Here are the frequently challenged books of the 21st century from the ALA website, featuring the top ten challenged books in 2011.
The number one banned book last year was ttyl by the-one-and-completely-awesome Lauren Myracle. I adore her and her ability and continuous desire to write strong girl characters who deal with true-to-life experiences that girl readers can completely relate to. If I had a daughter, I would be buying her every Lauren Myracle book as she grew into them. Lauren Myracle picks up where Judy Blume left off  with Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret for previous generations. I truly believe that a reader being able to connect with a book and to be able to not feel so isolated in his or her feelings (especially when it comes to puberty and everything that goes with it) is so powerful. What are books if not ways to learn about ourselves and others?

Here's what Lauren Myracle had to say about her books being banned in an interview from 2010:
In April, Lauren was interviewed about her books topping the 2011 list. Here's part of her interview:

"I remember going to a library once in Ohio. They had invited me, telling me, 'We’d love to have you talk here.' But when I got there, a librarian said, 'We don’t have your dirty books on display here.' I didn’t want to get into a fight, but I thought, 'You should serve your population—kids have different needs.' I asked if they had a book called Thirteen Reasons Why, about a girl who commits suicide. She said, 'Heavens no! It’s pro-suicide.' But it’s the opposite. The book shows how horrible it is for everyone when you take your life.
Kids are smart. Knowledge is power. Let them figure things out. Don’t turn into that grown-up who they won’t come to."
Bottom line: offer books to kids. Books have to be available to kids. Who is anyone to not make a book available to a student (except a parent for their own child when appropriate)? It's not cool for a library to not have a book available because of it being banned or challenged. It's not cool for a bookstore or book fair to not have a book available because of it being banned or challenged - or even for the potential possibility that it might be banned or challenged. That's just sad.
In April, Lauren also wrote a follow-up post to the ALA's list being published. I love her ability to look at her books being banned in such an objective way. In this article she talks about her latest book Shine. Shine is an amazingly written book that discusses homophobia and gay-bashing. It's a close examination of how people treat other people and how judgments people make influence how others feel. After reading October Mourning by Leslea Newman, published last week, I thought immediately of Shine because they can be paired so well together. Shine is a fictional novel but pairing it with October Mourning can help readers recognize how realistic the issues in Shine actually are. Both of these are perfect books for young adults. When I think of reaching younger readers and sharing this message of compassion and acceptance of all, I think of See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles and Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Both of these books have gay characters and address gay issues without that being the central focus of the book. I hope all of these books make their way into readers hands!


If you want to read what I had to say about Banned Books Week in 2010, you can read about it here
What are some of your favorite books that are on 2011's banned book list or previous lists?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer

Title: My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer
Author: Jennifer Gennari
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: May, 2012
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction-LBGTQ/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Twelve-year-old June Farrell is sure of one thing—she’s great at making pies and she plans to prove it by winning a blue ribbon in the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition. But a backlash against Vermont’s civil union law threatens her family’s security and their business. Even when faced with bullying, June won’t give up on winning the blue ribbon; more importantly, she won’t give up on her family.
What Kellee Thinks: June Farrell is 12 years old and wants this summer to be perfect. She is going to spend her time with her best friend Luke, swimming and boating, and entering her delicious pies into the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition. But this summer was more than she bargained for. Everything changes for June when her mother's girlfriend Eva moves in with them and they decide to get married as Vermont has just passed civil unions. 
     My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer is a fresh early middle grade novel which deals tactfully with a relevant present topic that many children are dealing with but struggle with finding themselves in books. June will be a great addition to protagonists that they can connect with. I also find that although the book is pro-civil union, it never is preachy, it just shows how normal June's family is and the book is about June herself getting used to a change just as any child would when their mother is getting married and they will have a step-parent. 
     I also loved how food and the ocean were described throughout. June is a master pie maker and the way that pies and berries are talked about in the book are so full of gustatory imagery- YUM! June also lives on Lake Champlain and would rather live in her bathing suit on a boat or in the water than do anything else and the way the lake is described makes me want to join her. 
What Jen Thinks: I definitely think of this book as a coming-of-age story. June learns a lot about herself and who she is during this mixed-up berry blue summer. When I think about a coming-of-age story, I think about a character who really grows up but at the same time learns how to be true to him or herself. June does just that. Her mom has a girlfriend and wants to get married now that civil unions are legal in Vermont. This puts June into a difficult situation when her best friend's family disagrees with this and when others in town do, too. June just wants to enjoy her summer and enter her pie into the pie contest but she ends up having to manage her relationship with her mother, her soon-to-be stepmom, her friends, other kids her age, and even people in town. It isn't easy but she ends up learning how to be true to herself and her own needs while realizing who are her true friends. She reminded me so much of  Marlee from Lions of Little Rock. Marlee faces a different kind of prejudice but has to learn to be strong and stand up for what she believes in, too.
Read Together: Grades 5 - 8
Read Alone: Grades 6 - 8
Read With: Pie by Sarah Weeks, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Snatch of Text: "Unlike some people, Lake Champlain was a friend I could count on. I knew her every mood - sometimes she was flat like a cookie sheet, and other times she was whipped up like meringue on a butterscotch pie." (p. 1) 

"Then I smelled sweetness. Or maybe just the sight of the ripe blueberries made my mouth water. They were perfect - a foggy blue that turned purple blue when touched." (p. 96)

Mentor Text for: Imagery, Descriptive, Making Connections
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you stuck by a friend when others weren't kind to him or her.
Topics Covered: Civil Union, Pies, Friendship, Family, Courage, Loyalty
Jen and Kellee *heart* It:
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Bloggiesta!

Bloggiesta September 28-30, 2012
It's time for the fall Bloggiesta 
hosted by Danielle at There's a Book and Suey at It's All About Books
Bloggiesta helps bloggers focus on their blog for a weekend twice a year. 

We have decided to participate in Bloggiesta again! It's always a blast and we get so much done. 
If you've been thinking about spiffing up your blog, this is the perfect chance to see what 
other bloggers are doing and to take the time to do what you need to do. Make sure to 
check out all the mini-challenges offered this weekend! 

Step one for us is always creating a to-do list. Gotta love it. 
We'll be sure to share everything we accomplished on Monday during the meme! 

1. Create a list of goals!
2. Log the hours we put into work on the blog: JEN __0__  KELLEE __6__
3. 5. Reworking Widgets including Pinterest "Pin It" button by the other social media buttons
4. Rethink in regards to Common Core
6. New background? New banner? 
8. Update 2012 Challenges Page: JEN  KELLEE
9. Check on My Copyright settings
10. Schedule reviews/posts 
11. Record We Believe in Picture Books video and share JEN

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dot Day

 

Peter H. Reynolds uses his picture books to share with his readers how important creativity and the need to find, nurture and celebrate it. Because creativity is forgotten too often in a world of standardized testing, Fablevision and Peter H. Reynolds came together with educators from around the world to celebrate Dot Day "by making time to encourage their students' creativity." 

Though I had never celebrated Dot Day before this year, when I heard about it last year I knew it was something I had to do. Then when Terry Shay began mentioning the upcoming Dot Day on Twitter, I jumped right in- talking to my colleagues about it, tweeting about it and beginning to plan for my Dot Day. 

At my school, my colleague Caitlin and I teamed up to celebrate Dot Day for the first time at our school. Since Dot Day was on a Saturday this year, Caitlin planned on doing Dot Day on Friday and myself on Monday. I couldn't wait to hear from her how Dot Day went at the end of the day Friday, and this was what I found out from Caitlin: 

I was excited to celebrate Dot Day for the first time ever with my students this year. It was a day that let us stray from everyday schoolwork and allowed my students’ creativity to really shine through.

I told my kids throughout the week that Friday was Dot Day in order to spark their curiosity. They had never heard of Dot Day before so they kept asking questions. I had to keep telling them that they would find out on Friday. When Friday finally came and it was time to celebrate Dot Day, they were so ready to find out what it was all about. I started by telling them that it was a day that was inspired by the book The Dot and it was all about “Making Your Mark.” I then read my students the book and they all thought it was such a cute story. I then asked them to tell me the difference between Vashti in the beginning of the book and Vashti at the end of the book. My students told me that in the beginning she thought she couldn’t draw at all but then at the end she had become an artist. I asked them how it all started and they replied with Vashti making the first dot on her paper. Vashti had found her inspiration through a single small dot on a paper. I told my students not to be so quick in saying that they can’t do something. You never know how good you are at something until you try and who knows who you’ll inspire along the way. I told them that through trying, you may make your mark on the world in some way. Vashti made her mark by moving others with her artwork

Next, I wanted to see how inspired my students were with Vashti and her dots so I allowed my students to make their own masterpieces. They created their dots inside the same frame Vashti’s teacher used for her artwork. I was so impressed with the dots that my students came up with. They created dots with glitter glue, construction paper, pipe cleaners, markers, crayons, colored pencils, and felt. I couldn’t believe how creative all of them were! Some students were inspired by things that looked like dots. For example, I had a student make a clock, one made a peace sign, and another made some planets in the solar system with stars (also as dots). Some students wrote their name with dots and others just covered their whole paper with multicolor dots. When they were finished with their artwork, I allowed them to hang their artwork on my door and on the wall in the hallway for all to see. It gave them the opportunity of showing off their masterpieces. 

All in all, I think it went great! The students were truly inspired with Vashti’s dots. Hopefully they were also inspired to try new things throughout their lives and to “Make Their Mark” on the world, whatever that may be. I definitely plan on celebrating Dot Day with my students again next year.    

  
  

I then piggy backed off of Cailtlin's enthusiasm and celebrated with my students on Monday and I found the same enthusiasm that Caitlin found. I think that many students are so used to being graded all of the time and being stressed that having a chance to just show their creativity was a sigh of relief within their life. I also found that it was an opportunity to talk to students about some really deep issues like never giving up, their future and teaching. It was a great chance to slow down and really chat with my students.

I think one of my students' other favorite parts of Dot Day was being able to see  the map of all of the schools participating as well as all of the Celebri-Dotshttp://www.celebridots.com/ showing them that they were doing something that was happening all around the world with kids and celebrities. Some of the Celebri-Dot highlights for them were Jeff Kinney, Sharon Creech, Carole Hart (Sesame Street is still popular!), Tia Kratter (everyone loves Pixar), Julie Andrews, and Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!). Though I think the Celebri-Dot favorites were Ame Dyckman, Renata Liwska, and Chris Barton. We only made it through June 3rd, we'll have to spend some time in the future looking at some more.

The students then used this momentum to create their own masterpieces and I was so happy to post them all for the school to see. Below are all of my students' Dots as well as some of my favorites: 

   

   
  

If you haven't celebrated Dot Day with your students yet, it isn't too late to do so. 
Don't forget to make your mark! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan

Non-fiction Picture Book Wednesday
Here at Teach Mentor Texts we are always looking for more ways to support teachers! We've found that teachers seem to be constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction. We know we are! To help with this undying quest for outstanding non-fiction, we are excited to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, you'll find a non-fiction review here - although it may not always be a picture book review. Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives to see what non-fiction others have to share, too.

Title: Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Steve Adams
Publisher: Dutton Juveline
Publication Date: August, 2010
Genre/Format: Biography/Picture Book
Goodreads Summary: People around the world know the story of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, but not many know the story of his creator, J. M. Barrie. Barrie’s young childhood was marked by sorrow, but also held great adventure. His adult life and relationship with the Davies family brought about a second childhood that helped him to create his lasting triumph. Masterfully illustrated by Steve Adams and using Barrie’s own words, Jane Yolen tells the story of the author and the boys who changed his life.
What I Think: What a great picture book biography of J.M. Barrie. As the book states, I, like most, knew very little about the author of Peter Pan. His story is one of imagination, fun, love and passion. The biography begins with his childhood and how he found solace in the freedom of his imagination and continues through an adulthood where he could only find happiness within his plays. 
     Something that Jane Yolen did that I think really made this picture book special was find quotes from Barrie's work and connected it with aspects of his life. I am always a big fan when an author connects an author's life story with their life's work. It shows the reader just how much of an author's life inspires his/her work even if it is fantasy. 
     I loved how the illustrations of this picture book really added an extra element to the story. The full page illustrations look like a daydream come to life. They were beautiful and really worked well with the story. It made you really feel like you were part of the story and living J.M.'s life with him.  
Read Together: Grades 2 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 3 to 5
Read With: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Peter and the Starcatchers (series) by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Snatch of Text: From Peter & Wendy: "(S)he was just slightly disappointed when he admitted that he came to the nursery window not to see her but to listen to stories." connected to "In the evenings, mother Margaret sat by the hearth and the children gathered around her. There she told stories about her own growing up, and read to them books like Robinson Crusoe, which they got from the library for a penny a day." 

From Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: "He was a poet; and they are never exactly grown-up." connected with "Even as a child, Jamie was a storyteller, a gift he inherited from his mother. Whenever his favorite magazine, Sunshine, didn't arrive on time, he would write stories himself. Up on the top floor of the house, he scribbled away."

Mentor Text for: Vocabulary development, Cultivating writers, Nonfiction 
Writing Prompts: Peter Pan is about a young boy who doesn't want to grow up and from J.M. Barrie's story you can see that he never really did either finding friends in children he never had. What is the element of adulthood which scares you the most? If you could stay a child forever would you? Support your answer. 
Topics Covered: Imagination, Family, Death, Drama, Fame, Love, Childhood, Adulthood
I *heart* It: