Friday, September 10, 2010

Week in Review: More Great Reads

I'm starting out this school year with a student teacher, so I'm actually having some free time to read and to write, but because I tend to read about 20 books at a time, I've only finished two more this week. I'll tell you about those in a minute.

But first, I want to share something fun that allows my students to buy into making reading recommendations to both of us and feeling validated when we read them. I made a spot on the chalkboard and wrote: Books Mrs. Staheli and Ms. Powell Should Read. Then I numbered a list 1-20 and asked our students to start their list. As they have added books and the two of us have set to reading them, we initial the books we finish and star the books we've both read. Right now our list has 16 books. I've read six of them, plus two books from one listed as a series. Ms. Powell has finished one of them.

Because I know someone will ask, here's the list so far:
1. The Rangers Apprentice (I'm currently reading book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan)
2. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Wolf Brother (Sitting on my desk)
3. The Icemark Chronicles (I've read The Cry of the Icemark and Blade of Fire. Still need to read #3)
4. The Alliance (I read this one years ago)
5. Shakespeare's Secret (Both of us finished it this week)
6. Goose Girl (I've already read this one)
7. Fallen (I'm currently reading this one)
8. Levan Thumps and the Gateway to Foo (I've read this one already)
9. The Hunger Games (I started this once before and abandoned it. Guess I'll have to read it this time.)
10. Tunnels (I own it, but haven't read it yet)
11. Forbidden Sea (I hadn't even heard of this one.)
12. Where the Red Fern Grows (I read this aloud to a class and CRIED!)
13. Having Hope (Read this least year)
14. Just Listen (I own this one too, but haven't read it yet)
15. The Sister Pact (Hadn't heard of this one either)
16. At First Sight (Or this one. How did I miss a Nicholas Sparks novel?)

So, what did I read this week?

Shakespeare's Secret -- Elise Broach
This is a book recommended this week by one of our students. Ms. Powell picked up a copy from the city library and read it quickly, then she loaned it to me. I already owned a copy, but of course I couldn't find it at first in that crazy room filled with books at my house that is supposed to be a library. Anyway, once I found it, I read the book in a day as well, and both of us really liked it. The premise revolves around a possible link between Queen Elizabeth and Edward deVere, who some scholars believe to be the true Shakespeare, and a missing diamond taken from a necklace. Fans of Blue Ballitt's Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3 will likely enjoy this book.

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
Donalyn Miller
This book was recommended to me by the other English teachers here at Payson Jr. High, and as I read it I felt validated. Not only does Donalyn use the same mentor references as I did in my own book and newspaper columns (Janet Allen, Nancy Atwell, Chris Crowe, etc.) but she also teaches her elementary classes in much the same way as I do those in juinior high, and our results are just the same--high test scores, improved writing, and an instilled love for lifelong reading in our students. Our students leave our class as READERS. The vast majority of them cannont get enough of a good book; those who entered as non-readers, or apathetic readers, discover a new joy, a favorite book, a genre or an author they now enjoy, and often come back to both os us, sometimes years later, asking for a recommendation for a book to read. (I now teach children of my former students, and these parents always report about books to me when they come in for parent teacher conferences! Once their teacher, always their teacher.) The point of the book is, if we want our children to become readers they have to read. This does not mean book reports or worksheets, it means giving them time to engage in texts that will mean something to them and letting them read for pleasure in school. I could lecture about this point all day, and give you example upon example of when I've found it to be true,  but I'll let this book speak for itself and just affirm that what she has to say is true.

Oh, and speaking of readers, I just looked at the chalkboard. My students have added four more books to the list, so I'll go ahead and share those here with you.

17. The Mysterious Benedict Society (I've heard lots of good kid reviews)
18. The Missing: Found (Loved this. Now on Book #3 of the series)
19. The Rescue (Who is my secret Nicholas Sparks fan? Haven't read this one either.)
20. When You Reach Me (Hadn't heard of this one)

I'd better close this blog before the list grows again!


Ms. D. said...

When You Reach Me is a wonderful book. I got it from the Scholastic Book orders.

donalynm said...

Thank you for recommending my book, The Book Whisperer. I am glad that you found it validating! I can just picture your students happily reading away and enjoying the reading community you have built.