Books, Books, Books!

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I have been a reading machine over the past month or so.

Being honest, I just started reading again over the summer.  My check out from the professional world also included a rather ridiculous check out from everything that wasn’t directly related to surviving my new baby.  I just couldn’t focus on anything.  My go-to time filler was Candy Crush…sadly.  It had bright colors, a pretty straight forward purpose, and I only had to concentrate for five minutes (or less) at a time.  I tried to read…really, I did…but I just ended up staring at swirling letters after about thirty seconds.  I really missed it.  Really.  I had always been a pretty avid reader previously, but nothing like what I’ve been up to now.

I started this summer with a “to be read” stack of several children’s chapter books.  My stack included Tuck EverlastingEsperanza RisingThe One and Only Ivan, and Counting by 7s.  I had pulled those titles from my own bookshelves while packing up at the end of the year, encouraged by some Instagram or blog posts that I’d seen.

I was also fortunate that an eighteen-hour car ride for a family trip to Chicago afforded me LOTS of time for reading.  I blew through Counting by 7s and The One and Only Ivan on the trip home.  I was hooked again into the reading world.  I read Move Your Bus, and then The Book Whisperer, which fueled my desire to be a wealth of reading knowledge for my students.

Of course, getting back to school slowed me down a bit.  But it didn’t stop me.  I ended up reading 24 books between June and December.  (Thanks to GoodReads for keeping track for me!)  I’ve loved being able to recommend new books for my students and to chat with them about what they are reading.  I’m working hard to make my class at least somewhat resemble Donalyn Miller’s.  I’m not there yet…not even close.  But reading what my kids are reading has helped to shape a lot of what I do.

I’m working on creating a board where my reading is more visible to the students.  My students love to read, but they tend to book hop.  They also don’t often make plans for what to read next.  I want to show that reading is not only fun for me…because that’s the most important part…but that it is intentional.  I set goals for how far I will read each day.  I want to make my reading life as clear to them as possible so that they can begin to internalize some of the strategies lifelong readers use.

Over this holiday break, I have read and read and read.  I’ve been reading a mix of professional books and children’s chapter books.  What’s been on my list?

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My favorites were The Innovator’s MindsetEchoCircus Mirandus, and The Night Gardener.  The others were lovely, and I am planning to implement LOADS of ideas from Word Nerds, but these are my MUST reads.

The Innovator’s Mindset is by George Couros.  If you don’t read his blog, Principal of Change, go read it now.  I can wait.  You should also follow him on Twitter.  He’s fantastic.  If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further.  If you’re already inspired and need to know you’re not alone, he’s your guy.  I think that every educator should read this book.  Every.  Single.  One.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is also phenomenal.  It’s written in four separate parts.  You get to know a character deeply, are totally invested, and then suddenly…they’re gone and you get to know another character deeply who is totally unrelated to the first one.  Only a special harmonica unites them.  Until…  It’s just so, so, so good.  I finished it while sitting at a table with my husband and I kept poking him and exclaiming out loud and he thought I was completely mad.  It was that good.

The Night Gardener is a bit dark and creepy, but also fabulous.  It inspired me to go on and read his (Jonathan Auxier) first novel.  And Circus Mirandus, well, just go and read it right now if you haven’t.  It has magic and endearing characters and characters you’ll despise, and such goodness and light.

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Currently, I’m reading Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp.  She is the creator of the Global Read Aloud.  If you don’t follow her blog, go and do it now.  Don’t worry…  I’ll still be here when you get back.  Her tone and focus is a bit like Donalyn Miller (LOVE!) and this book continually reminds me of ideas from The Innovator’s Mindset.  I’ve joined a book club through Facebook with educators around the world (and facilitated by Pernille Ripp herself…so awesome) that begins on January 10.  I’ve only read the first three chapters, but it’s wonderful.  If you loved The Book Whisperer, then you’ll love this one.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is Jonathan Auxier’s first book.  It’s darker than The Night Gardener, but I like it even more.  Peter Nimble is the world’s greatest thief, and a ten year-old blind orphan.  He is magically gifted with three pairs of fantastic eyes that are to help him on a quest to save a lost kingdom.  It sounds a bit dodgy, but it’s amazing.  It’s hard to put down.

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life was the only book I read in the “baby stage.”  I started A God in Ruins, her follow-up to Life After Life ages ago.  I’m not sure what made me stop.  I haven’t made much progress with it, but I NEED to have a book ready on my tablet.  Since I’m reading about Peter the old-fashioned way, I returned to this one.  I also felt like I should include some type of reading that isn’t written primarily for children or educators.

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Once I finish my current lovelies, I’ll be moving on to these…

In preparation for my visit to Ron Clark Academy in March, I’ll be reading The End of Molasses Classes.  I’m so very excited to have the opportunity to visit there and can hardly contain myself while I wait.  Immersing myself in all things Ron Clark should help…I hope.

I’m also really excited to read The Doldrums.  I heard about this one from Literacy for Big Kids.  I love every single thing she does and so I started taking her book recommendations as well.  I got Echo and The Night Gardener from her.  It seems in keeping with my kids, on a journey, with a bit of magic theme.

So…  Reading.  My current obsession.  I hope you’ve found a few titles you’d like to add to your “want to read” list.

What are you reading right now?  What is on your must read list?  What books are you so excited to read next?  I’d love your suggestions!

(PS ~ Pop over to GoodReads and connect with me!  I’d love to widen my reading community!)

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