Book reviewer extraordinaire!

Posts tagged ‘reading’

Another Challenge

I love my students. I really do. You would think they would learn; however, not to challenge me to a reading competition. Ms. Jones’ fourth grade class has challenged me to read and take AR quizzes on the Carole Marsh Mysteries: Real Kids, Real Places Series (the US cities set), which currently encompasses forty books. We do not have that many in our library at school but we have a great many of them; twenty three in all. If this was the school beginning instead of ending they might have a chance, but as it stands … I am clearly going to kick some fourth grade bum.

Oh, the kicker is, after they challenged me I let them know they only had until the 30th of the month to get it done as all books are due back in the library at that time. I am on my third book … if I don’t do anything else I will finish the remaining three I brought home tonight. Fortunately, I do have a life that consists of a family, a home, a garden, and a few other priorities!

I have read so far:
The Mystery at Kill Devil Hills
The Mystery on the Mighty Mississippi
The Ghost of the Grand Canyon (reading now)

So, why do I do it? My students need a taste of other cultures. They need an understanding of US history outside of the “four walls” of their small community. This is why I like these books. Students get to learn a little about other places. I might challenge another group to read the other series that focuses on places around the world.

The kids love Geronimo Stilton so maybe these will encourage them to learn about what lies beyond their minute boarders.

Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First

Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First.

via Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First.

I love the passion of this article. I plan to share it with my teaching staff and ask their opinion as to whether or not we should keep it and eventually ask to have it removed. Kids need to read and not test. Our students are so tired of being tested. I would love to reward the time and effort put into reading. I hate telling students they cannot check out books that aren’t on their “level” but, for now, it is expected of me. I do not require students in PK-1 to take AR quizzes. I use it as a means for me to help students monitor their own reading but do not push 2nd grade. I use it to print awards for those who are intrinsically motivated to “get to the next level” and those who wish to challenge me, or any number of teachers involved in the library reading program. Frankly, I would rather have the money they spend on AR to buy more books and create better plans and events around reading. When I came to my current school, my students did. It read “chapter books” (aka novels). They were burnt out on AR.

Now, my kids read one book in each genre every nine weeks so they can explore what is in the library. I have number of students who have finished their 3rd nine weeks required genre reading and a couple who have finished their 4th nine weeks. They can read whatever they want when they are finished. What has this achieved? Students now tell me they like different kinds of books. They know where to find their own materials. They discover we have a lot of books on all kinds of things. They help each other find materials and have even started suggesting materials to their classmates.

Next year, I will add a couple of other genres not included this year. Next year, I will include 2nd grade. Next year, I will let students check out whatever they want and compare the growth in reading of those students. Maybe, for this last nine weeks, I will let them choose books based on genre alone and not levels … . My hypothesis? Students will experience greater growth when checking out materials based upon genre and personal desire than genre and level. Radical? I hope not!

 

The Letter D

I have been reading books to my PreK and Kindergarten students. Big surprise. The authors all have last names that begin with the letter D. This week I read a great book to them called Sody Salleratus by Aubrey Davis.

I had no clue what sody salleratus was or meant, all I knew is the author’s last name began with a D and it looked cute. We actually learned that sody salleratus was also known as baking soda. This story is not really about baking soda. It is an Applachian Three Billy Goats Gruff. The Old Woman decides to bake biscuits and needs her sody salleratus. She sends Boy to the grocer to buy some, which he dutifully complies. On the way back home he crosses a bridge only to be accosted by a large grumpy bear. Once the bear eats Boy the story moves on. The Old Woman proceeds to send Girl, then Old Man, and then herself to find out what has taken them so long to return home. All are eaten by the bear. Oh, did I forget to mention that they had a squirrel living on the mantlepiece? Yep, and squirrel goes last to find Old Woman, Old Man, Girls and Boy only to discover the bear and his boasting at eating them all.

Squirrel ends up outsmarting the bear and … well, there is a happily ever after to this story that includes the biscuits, thanks to the sody salleratus, and a bear skin rug.

The kids love the repetitive story line and begin to “read” it with me. They love the roaring and growling of the bear. Sody Salleratus is a fun little tale great to share.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Author Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, per...

Author Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, personally autographing books in the A Series of Unfortunate Events series at an event promoting the books sponsored by the South San Francisco Public Library in South San Francisco, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a fan of this series by Scholastic. When it came out, I bought the first book, A Bad Beginning, at the Scholastic Book Fair to see if it was appropriate for my daughter to read. It was, but I did not care for it at all. Too negative. I found no quirky humor to it and I chose not to read any more. My daughter; however, loved the first one and proceeded to read the entire series, as did my students! Sometimes, you just can’t tell what kids will like!

Well, jump nearly ten years later and I have been challenged to read the entire series before my student finishes them. He is way ahead of me. I am struggling to read them because I do not like the style of book. A couple of my coworkers (classroom teachers and teaching assistants) have gotten in on the challenge as well. They are all ahead of me. Shameful! I am the library teacher.

You see, the main characters are these three kids (Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire) who, in the first book, become orphans as a fire burns down their home and their parents inside. They are then given to a distant relative to be cared for, but instead, he plots to marry the oldest child, Violet, and then kill off the children. To be fair it is written in such a manner that it sounds worse the way in which I wrote it than the way the author, Lemony Snicket, writes. Violet is a mechanical genius, Klaus is a reader of anything and everything, and the baby Sunny does not speak but has four incredibly sharp teeth she uses to bite through a number of hard items. He does write well, using big words and offering definitions, of which I am a fan. Just not the negativity behind it, but what do I know, many of my students love the series!

Just so you know, the children are “saved” from the relative, Count Olaf, but it does not end with the “happily ever after” of most kids books.

Book 2, The Reptile Room, which I just finished, places the children in a new home with “Uncle Monty” who is an herpetologist. A snake scientist, as if you didn’t know. Uncle Monty is awesome and the children are so happy they finally breathe a sigh of relief. They should have known better.There is NO happily ever after in this series. Whatever begins well, does not end well.

These are not my cup of tea but I cannot let this student win, we have a ten-dollar bet going on here! Yep, he bet me ten bucks he could read all 14 books in the series before I could. He is winning. You see, I have a life, a second job, a book study, a husband, family obligations, etc. Yeah, excuses, legitimate ones, but still. So, I must stop blogging and start reading so I can whip his skinny behind and win my 10-bucks!!

UPDATE: 10/2/2013

Book 3, The Wide Window. Same premise. The orphaned children are delivered to a new “relative” to be cared for and Count Olaf shows up to ruin the not-so-happily-ever-after. A new twist is the relative in question is afraid of her own shadow and instead of protecting the children she runs off to hide and save her own skin. Count Olaf is thwarted by the children and the indomitable Mr. Poe, her parent’s attorney and executor of the estate.

Still not sold on the series.

I Love Toni Buzzeo!

Really! The woman is a genius!

I have been reading a”back to school” selection of books to my students this week and I chose Get Fired Up With Reading! for my second through fourth grade students. It never fails to inspire my students to read.They all want to have a contest and get their teachers into the dragon-head costume! Mrs. Skorupski is at it again as she challenges the entire school to read. The winning class is awarded the honor of having their teacher in the head of the dragon costume to be worn in the Read Across America parade. The top readers (measured in minutes read) in each grade level will fill out the body of the dragon.

Two girls in Mr. Dickinson’s fourth grade class battle it out while one kindergartener needs help to be the dragon’s tail! See who wins in this wonderful book that is inspiring my students to read!

Toni Buzzeo is a school library media specialist (this is what she calls herself) in Maine. She has written numerous books about Mrs. Skorupski and her devious ways to get students to use the library media center! She has also written other non-library education books that leave me breathless, such as The Sea Chest. However, I think her brilliance is in the way she inspires educators such as myself to read and explore the library.

School is getting back in session

English: Louise Arnold, a writer of Children's...

English: Louise Arnold, a writer of Children’s Literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Four children reading the book How th...

English: Four children reading the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posts will be coming! I have read a couple of kids books over the summer. Mostly in preparation for the school year and teaching students about the library and its various uses. But, fun reading will ensue. I will plan to do reading club this year. Not like in years past but a real reading club. We will see what happens!

Summer Break

13-Gordon Korman 39 Clues Cahills vs Vespers

13-Gordon Korman 39 Clues Cahills vs Vespers (Photo credit: Scholastic Inc.)

The 39 Clues

The 39 Clues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, folks. This is when I get caught up on my growth up reading! I will not be posting too much for elementary aged children here unless I find something new or unexpected. I did read another 39 Clues: Cahills vs Vespers (#6), Day of Doom, this week. By David Baldacci.

I have to say I liked the way he wrote this final(?) book of this series. A little darkness but also revelations about the who the characters ultimately are to themselves and to those around them.

Warning; however, there is some sadness. There will be death and redemption in this particular book.

Great job Mr. Baldacci! I look forward to more of your writing in this series (The 39 Clues).

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