Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA Day 4: Non-Fiction



We're glad you're back! What a fun week of talking about books and blogging!


Kellee:

We bridge the genre gap from fiction to all things non-fiction.  Do you read non-fiction?  Why or why not?  Is there a specific type of non-fiction that you prefer to read (i.e., historical, true crime, memoirs, biographies, etc.)?  What is the perfect book for a first-time non-fiction reader? I was never a nonfiction reader as a child. I didn't mind researching and finding out new information, but I never said to myself, "Hm. Today I want to read about snakes." So, when I became a teacher, I knew I needed to close this gap in my reading because nonfiction is too important. One of my goals was to find nonfiction that was of high quality that students would enjoy, so I began reading nonfiction to find the best titles. There are two types of informational nonfiction in my opinion: narrative and picture book-ish information filled texts. I, personally, have grown to love narrative nonfiction. My favorite authors are Jim Murphy, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Candace Fleming, and Tanya Lee Stone. Even though I love these books so much, I have found that within the classroom it is the other type of informational nonfiction that flies off the shelf: Guinness Books of World Records, any animal book, books of lists and weird things, Ripley's Believe it or Not. I'm still working on embracing these types of books, but I make sure to have them in my classroom for my students. 
     As I've grown as a teacher, I've come to realize that nonfiction in the classroom can include picture books. Picture books are a great way to teach about a topic in an interesting, shorter way. Participating in Alyson Beecher's weekly Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays has helped me expand my knowledge of nonfiction picture books and has helped me be introduced to such an extensive number of nonfiction books. Check out our Nonfiction PB Wednesday posts to see some of our favorites. 

Jen:

We bridge the genre gap from fiction to all things non-fiction.  Do you read non-fiction?  Why or why not?  Is there a specific type of non-fiction that you prefer to read (i.e., historical, true crime, memoirs, biographies, etc.)?  What is the perfect book for a first-time non-fiction reader? So today the topic is to talk about all things non-fiction...oops! Because I totally talked about that on Tuesday. That's okay though because I love non-fiction and I can just keep talking about it. For a while now, Kellee and I have been participating in Kid Lit Frenzy's Non-Fiction Picture Book Wednesdays and I'm always finding new non-fiction to add to my list of books to read because of it. Recently, Aly from Kid Lit Frenzy shared that she will be part of a series started by Great Kid Books with 100 Scope Notes, & The Nonfiction Detectives called Common Core IRL: In Real Libraries. I was so impressed by their Common Core IRL posts when I saw them and I can't wait for more installments. They told me there will be more on the way. I would love to hear how you find out about non-fiction books. Do you have a favorite book blogger or resource who shares non-fiction texts? Please share! 
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA Day 3: Giveaways & Literature

The fun of Armchair BEA marches on! Today we are sharing how books have changed our lives. It's also giveaway day for Armchair BEA! Thanks to Walden Pond Press, we have a giveaway of The Girl From Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson. Visit our review to fill out the form and get yourself entered to win.  Jen also has a giveaway of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg for you, see below to read more about it. 


Jen:

Which works of art have changed your life?  Be creative and make a list outlining books featuring specific subjects (i.e., animals, recommended prize-winners, outstanding authors, etc.). Truth be told, every book I have read has changed my life. Of course, I'll admit, some impacted my life in much larger ways than others. James Joyce's book A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man completely changed my teaching life. I had a super, mega, insanely difficult time reading Mr. Joyce's semi-autobiographical novel when I was in high school. 
A few years ago, I realized that if you asked me about reading at that point in my high school career, I would have spewed out my frustrations and utter dislike of Mr. Joyce. Lucky for me, I already loved reading before my encounter with the man otherwise known as Mr. Joyce so my reading life and I survived. BUT, I do have Mr. Joyce to thank for changing my teaching life because when I remembered my supreme and ultimate dislike of Portrait, I was able to totally get that we can't force kids into books. Choice is so important. When I made this connection, I totally went through my bookshelves at my parents' to find my copy of Portrait and I have showed it to lots of students since then...especially all the places where I wrote, "huh?" in the margins. I have aboslutely no idea what I even kept that book, but I did and I'm glad I did! I tell people how if you don't like reading, then you just haven't found the right book yet! And I do believe that if we can connect kids with that book that's just right for them, then we find the book that changes their life.  

In high school, I yearned for girly books with characters experiencing some of the same things I was. It's the best feeling to know that young adult literature has completely blown up because there are so many more books out there for kids to connect with. Over the weekend, I devoured Elizabeth Eulberg's book Take a Bow. Where was she and where were here books when I was in high school? Actually, she was probably in high school, too...but still, totally wish her books were around then but let's celebrate that they are around now! 
I saw Elizabeth recently for a book signing of her most recently published book Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality. I haven't read it yet but it sounds awesome and I'll definitely be reading it soon. And maybe you will, too! Click on this link to enter a giveaway of Elizabeth Eulberg's book Revenge of the Girls with the Great Personality!

Kellee:

Which works of art have changed your life?  Be creative and make a list outlining books featuring specific subjects (i.e., animals, recommended prize-winners, outstanding authors, etc.). I am lucky enough to be part of a the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award committee. Our goal is to find a book that is the epitome of literary merit, has widespread teen appeal, and promotes a positive approach to life. Since I cannot talk about the books we are discussing currently for the 2013 award, I would love to talk about the finalists and winner from last year.
     When a book is literary, it is so easy to realize because you get lost in the words. You can imagine every little essence described in the book and you are filled with emotions as you delve into the plot. Last year's five AEWA books are perfect examples of this. While reading all of the books that were honored, I kept my flags near by because I couldn't stop marking amazing pieces of text. Today I want to share with you some of my favorites from each of the books: 

"She said God had blessed me with an abundance of spirit, and not to ever squash it down. She said there was goodness in everything and everyone, and it was our job to let that goodness shine...'God loves you even on your blackest days, and He will always, always be there to guide you home. All you have to do is look for the light of his love. As long as you remember that one thing, why, then you can cast off the darkness and shine again, can't you?'"(Shine, Ch. 9) 

"I often practiced drawing by sitting in the basement of the gallery and copying works from my father's collection. All the expressionist artists had different styles, but they tended to use thick, harsh paint strokes or thin, jagged pen lines.  There was nothing smooth or easy about any of their work or the worlds they depicted.  I preferred their paintings and drawings of whores, exposing themselves to men on the street and in brothels. 
     But Dix, Grosz, and most of the other modern artists my father represented had fled Germany since the Nazis' rise to power. Hitler had deemed their art degenerate, and galleries were forbidden to show their work.  Many artists were arrested for public indecency or on political charges." (Berlin Boxing Clubp. 27)

"Lugh got born first. One Midwinter Day when the sun hangs low in the sky. 
Then me. Two hours later. 
That pretty much says it all. 
Lugh goes first, always first, and I follow on behind. 
An that's fine. 
That's right. 
That's how it's meant to be." (Blood Red Road, p. 1) 

"They took me in my nightgown. 
     Thinking back, the signs were there- family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning form work.  My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs.  Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape.  We did not escape
     We were taken." (Between Shades of Grayp. 3) 

"and the moon in this place
is wearing a pale, thin dress
as it seems to jump from behind
one cloud to another, hiding
its exquisite face from us." (Under the Mesquite, p. 144)


Is there a book that changed your life? We would love to hear about it! Is there one book that really resonated with you or made you a reader? We always love to hear your stories!
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA Day 2: Blogger Development & Fiction

It's Day 2 of Armchair BEA and we are sharing our favorite genres! What is your favorite genre?

Kellee:

What draws you to a specific genre?  Do vampires, zombies, or witches float your boat?  Or, do you prefer the heat of romance?  Recommend your favorite genres and/or books and help build reader TBR shelves a bit more! I try to say that I am not biased when it comes to the genres I read and I do my best to spread my reading across all genres; however, when I looked at my Goodreads shelves, I had to admit to myself that with 477 read, realistic/contemporary fiction is obviously where a majority of my reading goes. This is the genre I would have probably guessed would have been my most read genre because it has been a favorite while the other genres filter through as favorites. My most recent favorite genre is historical fiction, specifically contemporary historical fiction which is a genre that I named to embody the books that have taken place since WWII until the Afghanistan War. I really enjoy learning more about these times in history that were also such huge impacts on my life. 

Realistic/Contemporary Fiction
Endangered Waiting Olivia Twisted Ask The Passengers

Contemporary Historical Fiction
Gone, Gone, Gone Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty Personal Effects Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 

Historical Fiction
Hattie Ever After (Hattie, #2) Wonder Show


Jen:

What draws you to a specific genre?  Do vampires, zombies, or witches float your boat?  Or, do you prefer the heat of romance?  Recommend your favorite genres and/or books and help build reader TBR shelves a bit more! This is super hard for me! I love reading so many different genres and kinds of books and across grade levels. I guess, if I look at all of the books I've read, I read mostly picture books, I have done a whoooooole lot of non-fiction reading in the last year though. Being in a new position where I support all the new teachers in my district (which is over 200 teachers this year), I wanted to really focus on learning about myself and others and collecting ideas for engaging teachers so they embrace a growth mindset when it comes to their own professional development and then to teaching. Some of my favorite posts this school year stem from my thinking after reading these books.





Here are the adult/professional books I read since last June! It's crazy to see them lined up like this! I would love to hear what professional books you have read recently that you definitely recommend or love. I already have Notice and Note on my list for the summer for sure! 




Be sure to tell us what genre you love and why! 
See you tomorrow when we discuss literary fiction and have a giveaway!!! 
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA Day 1: Introduction & Classic Literature

Hooray for Armchair BEA for those of us who can't make an appearance in New York for the official Book Expo America or the Book Blogging Convention this week! The book blogging community is such an awesome collection of passionate literary people and participating in Armchair BEA is just another great way to connect with these mega-bookish people. This week, our posts will be devoted to Armchair BEA. We'll be participating in their daily prompts and sharing our love of blogging and all things book-related. 

Today we are sharing our introduction post. We each chose five questions to answer from the Armchair BEA list of questions to answer! We hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit more about us and be sure to chime in with your own answers to see how we compare!



Jen:

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? I started blogging in February of 2008. I had been a long-time scrapbooker and then I discovered blogs and found that it was similar to scrapbooking in that I was sharing pictures and telling stories about my life. 

 

Peanut, 9 months old, when I started blogging!


Peanut now, 6 years old!
And we also have this guy in our lives now!

I blogged for a few years about my family and being a mom and all of our adventures...and lots about books. Finally, my friend, Laura, wondered why I didn't have a blog devoted to books. And that made me wonder. And then I realized it made a lot of sense to start a blog to share all the great books I was reading as a resource to other teachers and parents. As a hearing itinerant teacher who worked with students from preschool through high school, I read so many books and a huge variety of books. Going through the National Boards process encouraged me to read even more and to think about how I could share my passion for using authentic texts in classrooms. Finally, I took the plunge into book blogging and started Teach Mentor Texts in May of 2010. Kellee joined in on the fun in July of 2011 but will be leaving to work on her own blog, Unleashing Readers, this June. I'm super thankful for her collaboration here at Teach Mentor Texts but excited to see what the future brings. 

2. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event? I participated in Armchair BEA in 2010 and 2011. What I loved most was meeting other book bloggers. Both years, I remember finding book bloggers who were reading such unique genres compared to the books I read and I loved seeing how passionate they were about books and blogging. Sometimes keeping up with a blog can be a lot of work but events like Armchair BEA remind me of how awesome it is to be able to share my passion for books and that there are tons of other people out there who share my love of books and blogging.

3. Name your favorite blog(s) and explain why they are your favorite(s). Two Writing Teachers is a blog that I'm in love with right now. My love of reading led me to looking as books as mentor texts in my teaching and more recently to my own writing. This summer my kids and I are planning to do lots of writing. We went and picked out writer's notebooks and have been taking them with us wherever we go. In the fall, I'm hoping to adopt a classroom and work with students with mentor texts and writing. Ruth and Stacey share great ideas and have developed a wonderful community of readers and writers at their blog. I'm looking forward to joining in on their Slice of Life challenge this summer. 



4. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you. I played the violin from 4th grade all the way through high school. I tried to get private lessons when I was in college but realized what I had always loved about being in the orchestra was the friendships more than the time and energy that goes into practicing in order to be a great musician. The highlight of my violin-playing days was traveling all over Italy, playing and sightseeing along the way in my sophomore year of high school. I can still read music and could probably play. My senior year I took music theory and even wrote some music...but at this point I think I'd much rather read and write words! 

5. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why? I would really love to visit New York. The only time I visited was on a layover to Florida. We saw the Statue of Liberty out our window and sat in the airport and ate dinner. Technically, I've never been! I would love to visit the zoo and see the penguins like Mia does in Princess Diaries, I would wander around Central Park where Lily walks dogs in Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and I would marvel at The Panorama in the Queens Museum of Art like they do in Wonderstruck. There are tons of others bookish places I would want to see in New York, making it my number one literary place to visit...someday! 


Kellee:


1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Hi! I am Kellee Moye. I am a middle school reading, journalism, ESOL, and gifted teacher in Orlando, Florida. I have been blogging with Jen now for 2 years here at Teach Mentor Texts, but will be leaving June 24th to begin blogging with another partner at http://www.unleashingreaders.com. Ever since joining Twitter in 2009, I have been pushing myself to be the best teacher I can be which meant becoming a better reader. Soon I was reading over 100 books a year and wanted to be able to share the great books I was reading with others, thus getting interesting in blogging. Luckily, I found Jen who was kind enough to co-blog with me and here we are!

2. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you. I don't talk about these very often, but next to my family, reading and teaching there are some things I really enjoy: animals, TV, and baseball. The animals part may not be a shock because I think many of my followers know how much I love apes. Ever since I first read Hurt Go Happy, I have become quite an ape advocate, but I also love cats (my first word was kitty), turtles (I have quite an extensive collection of turtle paraphenalia), and penguins (my sister and I have adopted penguins named Frank and Stella). Pretty much, though, I am not animal bias. 
Frank on the left and Stella on the right in their burrow
     I have always enjoyed some good TV. I loved Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's then TGIF and Nickelodeon followed by Seinfeld and ER and now love How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, So You Think You Can Dance, and so many others. My DVR is constantly full of good shows to watch and if I'm not reading,  you will probably find me in front of the TV. 
      Finally, Baseball is a major part of my life and I can hardly remember a time when it wasn't. I have liked the Chicago Cubs for 24 years now (my very first crush ever was Ryne Sandberg who I actually got to meet on Valentine's Day when I was ten!) and will forever be a Cubbies fan. 
Jim and I visited Wrigley Field for my first time in 2009!
3. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why? This one is easy for me. I have a thing for Ernest Hemingway. I just love how he writes and its masculine beauty just makes me ignore all of the negativity I know about him. I also imagine if I chose the right time period, he would be a heck of a lot of fun. 
Ah, Hemingway (1st edition  Old Man and the Sea!)
4. Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read? This is a really hard question for me. I really liked my Dystopian vs. Post-Apocalyptic series and I know our readers are a fan of my lists especially the ones for struggling readers, sci-fi, graphic novels, and my end of year wrap-ups, but I think my favorite posts are the ones where I get to share what I am doing in my classroom. One of the recent examples of one of these posts is about how I used Jacqueline Woodson's Each Kindness to discuss kindness and bullying with my students

5. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Definitely my favorite part about the book blogging community is that I have an international network of people to book talk for me. All of the blogs I follow make me a better reader and teacher. I specifically like our It's Monday, What Are You Reading? meme (#IMWAYR) because it allows me to visit a plethora of blogs and get a snapshot of what everyone is reading. 

Genre Discussion: Classics- What are your favorite classics? Thinking about the classics brings me back to my literature degree. So, looking back, here are my favorite classics I read when getting a college degree in English Literature: 
The Catcher in the Rye The Sun Also Rises Siddhartha: Siddhartha The Old Man and the Sea The Monk Slaughterhouse-Five The Bell Jar Heart of Darkness The Thorn Birds 
The Hobbit Jane Eyre (Norton Critical Edition)  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight/Pearl/Sir Orfeo Frankenstein

Tomorrow we'll be blogging about blogger development and fiction, 
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