Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Books I finished last week:

I reviewed this last week, but I wanted to give it another strong recommendation.  

I enjoy these social commentary books.  There are great suggestions for parents, teachers and schools at the end of the book.  I was obviously a nerd in high school and not at all popular, although I wasn't really bullied and I had a small group of friends.  Popularity in high school usually means that you conform, and you are not too different.  Being unique/different is often what makes you successful as an adult.  As an adult, I am able to embrace being a book nerd, and I think that quality makes me very good at my job.  Unfortunately, it is almost impossible as a teen to see outside of the fishbowl.

This week I am reading:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Game of Thrones

Warning:  this post contains spoilers for the Games of Thrones series (not past book 2 because that's the book I'm on).

So, I do not read much adult fiction.  My preferences when reading books written for adults fall more into non-fiction/memoir land - my favorite authors are David Sedaris, Mary Roach and Malcolm Gladwell.  While everyone and their mama (including mine), was praising this series, I avoided it.  It had nothing to do with not wanting to be a part of a trend.  I do not refuse to read things because they are popular.  For one thing, if I read these things, I can criticize them and know from where I speak.  Actually, I try not to do that anymore; I don't believe on bashing people for their reading choices.  Anyway, I digress.  I avoided The Game of Thrones because I had a fear of commitment.  The series was too long, and would interfere with my book count (yeah, yeah, I am a nerd to care about such things).

Then, I watched the show.  The first few episodes were spent with me trying to figure out who was who, and how the characters were connected.  Once I figured that out, I was hooked on the story.  I still cannot believe they killed Eddard Stark!  I just knew that they would save him at the last minute.  It reminds me of the way Downton Abbey kills off major characters, ripping its viewers' hearts out in the process.  I realized that I would get to the end of the DVDs and want to know the rest of the story so thus, I am now reading the books.  It is slow-going, although it would go faster if I didn't feel compelled to read 5-6 books at a time.  What can I say...commit to just one book at a time?  Impossible.

Tyrion, the imp, is my favorite character.  He is witty, and I love how he takes his sister, Queen Cersei and nephew, King Joffrey in hand (pun intended). While the Lannisters are definitely the villains of the books, I hope Tyrion is spared.  Who knows?  If you do, don't tell me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reading below grade level

So, it has happened.  What could be worse for an elementary school librarian than to hear that your child is reading below grade level?  That happened when I received the midyear reading assessment for my kindergartner.  Christine is reading on a level B, and should be on Level C.  No, I did not hyperventilate.  I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh?” 

As a person who loves reading more than anyone else I know, the most exciting experience I have had as a parent has been sharing my love of books and helping my children learn to read.  More than first steps, more than first words spoken, first words read have been the most significant.  This is because 1) reading is perhaps the most vital life skill a child needs for success in the world and 2) reading is just amazingly awesome.  AWESOME! I tell you!

My recent research on the importance of reading choice has helped me not to freak about the results of that midyear assessment.  We need to remember that any test is a snapshot of one day. It is not an all-encompassing picture of a child’s abilities. Christine is without a doubt the most strong-willed of my three children, and if she doesn't feel like doing something, it isn't done without a struggle.  I'm not worried, because here is what I know:
  • Christine lives in a print-rich environment.  Access to books is one predictor of a child’s success as an early reader.
  • She knows all of her letter sounds, the majority of her kindergarten sight words and can decode C-V-C (consonant-short vowel- consonant) words.
  • We read aloud every day.  She loves to listen to me read and she reads books to me.  Our favorite series?  Elephant & Piggie by Mo Willems

  • She has already moved from merely decoding words to reading with expression.
  • Her love of books is more important than an assessment. 

I expect that Christine will reach the goal of Level D at the end of the year and we will read lots this summer.  Not only does she have a reading model in me, but in her two older sisters as well.  Not on grade level?  So what?  She’ll get there, and we will not sacrifice her love of reading while doing so.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hooray for YA!

Since my school library license is for K-12, I took Adolescent Literature in grad school.  It was one of my favorite classes and even though I work in an elementary school library, I still enjoy reading YA books.  I do have three daughters, one of which will be a teen in less than two years, so I find these books to be relevant.  Even if they were not relevant, they are still enjoyable to read.  I became a teen in 1991.  I cannot remember reading anything YA except for Sweet Valley High.  To say that books for this audience have come a long way in the past twenty years is an understatement.  I am going to review* two recent YA reads. 

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick – winner of the 2014 Printz Award

A collection of seven stories, this book follows two people, Eric and Merle, through several lives.  It starts about 60 years in the future and works its way back to ancient times.  The setting is on an island called Blessed that grows magical flowers.  I enjoyed that this book read like a collection of short stories, but enjoyed the overall connections.  The tragedy aspect of each story is reminiscent of Greek myths.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina – winner of the 2014 Pura Belpre Author Award

The title is a bit deceiving, as this book takes a serious look at bullying.  Piddy lives in a single parent household.  She has recently moved, and finds herself to be a target of Yaqui Delgado, a girl she has never even met.  She also has to deal with the fact that her best friend moved and a new relationship with her former neighbor.  As a mother of a 5th grader, we are looking ahead to middle school.  Reading this book reminded me that I never experienced bullying within the context of social media.  The Internet takes bullying to a whole new level, and I think it is important for parents to keep that in mind.

*I use the term review loosely.  While writing reviews is something addressed in my literature courses in grad school, I am not attempting to write professional reviews.  I want to share my thoughts.  For more inclusive summaries, I suggest GoodReads.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Last week I only finished one book:

In the middle of FOUR more:

What are you reading?