Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#MustRead2015 Update

The fantastic Carrie Gelson organized a reading challenge to help herself and others whittle down the books on their To Be Read list/pile. My #MustReadin2015 list has 53 books on it and is housed on a Goodreads shelf.

I've read 30/53 books on my #MustRead2015 list. Many of them have been simply amazing. Here are the ones that stand out from the rest.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

The more I look at the list though, the more titles I want to say are stand-outs. I think I will leave it at that, but know that many of these were fantastic books that spoke to me.
I have two of the books on my list checked out right now. I'm currently reading Circus Mirandus and have Boarding School Blues on deck. 

I'm so glad that Carrie has this challenge going because it does keep these titles fresh in my mind so they aren't forgotten.

Monday, June 22, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week:
Picture Books

The Monkey King, Have You Seen My Dragon? and The New Small Person were my favorites, but all of these picture books were good. 

Middle Grade

90 Miles to Havana and I Lived on Butterfly Hill are historical fiction and both were Pura Belpré award books. Both tell about leaving a homeland for the United States. The Screaming Staircase is an excellent fantasy. I look forward to the rest of the series.

Young Adult

I got The Summer of Chasing Mermaids as a digital ARC from Edelweiss. It's an excellent romance. I'll review it soon. Another review book is I Will Always Write Back. I will share it over at Rich in Color soon. I won it in a giveaway that the author shared on Twitter. Here in Harlem was a download from and shared poems in different voices. Each voice is a personality from Harlem. Anne Frank was a re-read for me in preparation for a visit to the museum. This time I was struck by how well Anne wrote. I had not remembered that she wanted to be a writer. She observed so much around her and was able to share that through her writing. The world lost an amazing voice.

Young Adult/Adult
These aren't marketed as Young Adult books, but they seem like they would appeal to young adults. The nonfiction book, Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures, was a great companion to her diary.  I appreciated having both to read together. Signal to Noise is a coming of age novel, but it has another component. The book is set up with a woman coming back to her hometown, Mexico City, when her father dies. The book flashes back and forth between her teenage years and her present life showing how the past has influenced her future. The book is filled with music references and I loved that aspect. I heard about the book through Rincey's video. I'm glad she recommended this one or I never would have found it since I had to request it via ILL.

The Coming Week: 
I'm reading Circus Mirandus and am starting Boarding School Blues. I have another audio book, Anne Frank Remembered that I may finish before we visit the museum. I have quite a few ARCs that I'm may start, Another Kind of Hurricane, Goodbye Stranger and Fuzzy Mud. 

Reaching Challenge Updates:
Diversity on the Shelf/Diverse Books - 111/100
Goodreads - 239/520
#MustRead2015 - 30/53
Diversity Reading Challenge - 10/12
Around the World With Books 2015


Sunday, June 21, 2015


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

This week was filled with family and friends again. One of the nicest parts was a shopping trip. If you know me, you would realize that was a strange sentence. I am not a shopper. The idea of shopping is not pleasant, but two friends may have completely changed my mind about that. Two co-workers met me to shop for summer clothing for some traveling I will be doing soon. They had me smiling and laughing in the changing room.

I also got to have lunch with a good friend who is passing through town on the way back to Texas. It was so nice to see her again.

My son came home from college for a couple of days before setting off on a road trip with four friends. I can't wait to hear about their adventures when they return.

While my son was home, we celebrated my husband's birthday. Seeing everyone at the table together made my heart happy. We hadn't been all together for several months. It feels good to have my chicks in the nest even if it was only for two days.

I also got to be a little creative and made a travel journal. For my summer trip I wanted to have a journal with blank pages. Looking at stores, I wasn't finding exactly what I wanted so I started looking online to find a way to make one. Fortunately, many people share how to do things. It was fun to decorate the cover and choose the cardstock colors to use. I look forward to filling the pages with thoughts and observations from our trip.

One other celebration is finally having the time to spring clean. I've taken eleven grocery bags of things to the Goodwill and have four more waiting. I still have to go through the closet under the stairs and one child said they would go through their room too so there may be more excess stuff leaving the house. I love walking into the rooms and opening closet doors that now contain less clutter.

I wish you wonderful moments to celebrate in the coming week.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Father's Day from Afar

Bestselling storybook Guess How Much I Love You celebrates 20th anniversary as deployed military parents use it to deliver a special 
‘I love you’ message to their kids back home this Father’s Day

I heard about this cool project through Candlewick Press. I love that families are able to connect through books. Here is what Candlewick has to say about the project:

"While millions of children will be celebrating Father’s Day with their dads on June 21, for many children whose fathers are serving in the military, dad won’t be at home. But thanks to nonprofit United Through Reading and a very special storybook, there’s a way for every dad to tell his kids he loves them this Father’s Day – however far away he might be.

Nonprofit United Through Reading keeps military families connected by offering service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children at home from locations worldwide. Although the story may be recorded in a tent in Afghanistan, the child sitting at home watching it can feel like daddy’s home for a few moments before they go to sleep, or whenever they need him. Guess How Much I Love You celebrates the unique bond between father and child, and has struck a chord with many military families. The story serves as a reminder to children that no matter how far away they may be from their parent, their love remains strong enough to bridge even the greatest distances.

This heartfelt video was created especially for Father’s Day and features military parents reading Guess How Much I Love You to their children back home in a United Through Reading recording."

The statistics that United Through Reading provides are pretty impressive too:

  • 81% of participants report a decrease in their children’s anxiety about the deployment
  • 78% of participants report increases in their child’s interest in reading and books
  • 83%% of recordings are watched nearly every day or more often
  • Each recording may be watched more than 250 times during a ten-month deployment
  • 25,000 recordings, with an average of two children at home, over the course of a year of deployments adds up to more than a million bedtime stories each year
This makes my heart happy.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. Jen Vincent over at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers decided to put a children's and YA spin on it and they invite anyone with an interest to join in. You can participate by creating your post then visit one of their sites to add your site. Finally, visit at least three participant blogs and comment to spread the love.

If you want to know more about what I am reading, visit me at my Goodreads shelf. Images via Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

The Past Week:

This is Sadie is just as wonderful as other people were saying. I love this celebration of imagination and creativity. Sadie stole my heart. My Cousin Momo is another that is embracing creativity and a unique personality. Momo also teaches readers to learn from others. Lines Everywhere is a playful look at what a line is and where we can see lines in everyday life. I can see it as a springboard to drawing. Young readers will enjoy the "line" that is represented by a cut out space to see through. Sea Rex is another fun book featuring this adorable dinosaur and friends. This time they're at the beach. The Lonely Typewriter tells of a typewriter that has been hidden away in an attic and finally gets to come out and be useful again. This was the perfect book for me this week since I found a 60+ year old manual typewriter this week at school. It was part of my celebrations this week.

 I featured most of these on my Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge post. They are all quite good.

I have enjoyed all of Mitali Perkins' books so far and Tiger Boy was no exception.  I learned a lot about The Sunderbans (a unique area in India and Bangladesh). I also appreciated this story of family love. The main character has to think about what he is willing to do for his family.

 The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves is exactly what the subtitle says. Queer writers have shared the letters they would have written to themselves when they were younger. It's excellent to hear these voices. This is definitely one of those books that can be a mirror or window. Love Edy is a contemporary romance with a few twists. I'll be reviewing it at Rich in Color on Wednesday and we'll be giving away a copy of the book too, so be sure and check that out.
The last two books are graphic novels by Lucy Knisley. Heart: Seed, Snow, Circuit was a puzzler for me. I wasn't sure how it all fit together exactly. It was fun, but wasn't as interesting to me as her travel memoirs. French Milk was more of what I am used to from Knisley. I think Heart was self-published and it's more a comic than a graphic novel in my eyes.

The Coming Week:

We'll be visiting the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam later this summer so I am re-reading her diary and a photo essay about her. Summer of Chasing Mermaids is for review and the rest are just for fun. I hope you have a great week filled with reading.

Reaching Challenge Updates:
Diversity on the Shelf/Diverse Books - 105/100
Goodreads - 220/520
#MustRead2015 - 29/53
Diversity Reading Challenge - 9/12
Around the World With Books 2015


Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres has a link-up on weekends where people link to posts that are celebrations about their week. I love this reminder to celebrate every week.

My final day of work was Monday. I finished packing in the morning and then there was a lunch celebration for several of our teachers. One was retiring, one got married during the school year and one is getting married later this month. It was nice to end the year with such a happy time together.

This was also the week that we said goodbye to our Korean student. He had been living with us since last July so it was hard to send him home. It's an adjustment, but we know he was looking forward to seeing his friends and family. We hope that we made his year here a positive experience.

On Thursday, I had lunch with friends and then went by my school. We were told to go check and make sure that nothing was accidentally placed in with the sale items. I was glad that I stopped by otherwise some library speakers and a large tote of extension cords would likely have been sold in the auction yesterday. I also found this fantastic old typewriter on a shelf. Students are going to love using it.

Later on, I also found a book to go with it when we were in Minneapolis for the weekend. It's called The Lonely Typewriter. 

We were in the cities because a friend was getting married. We drove up a little early to have lunch and stop at Wild Rumpus. They had a fantastic window display. 

I think it said "Books can be our mirrors + windows. See yourself see each other." There were many inclusive books on display in the window with a few hanging mirrors. There were tons of inclusive books displayed throughout the store too. Yay Wild Rumpus! As usual, there were also entertaining animals wandering around the store. The fluffy chickens would fit right in with Sophie and her unusual chickens.

We were also able to visit Lake Harriet for a while before the wedding. It was a perfect day to sit and watch the water.

Finally, we got to share in the beautiful ceremony that united two lovely people in marriage. 

There was so much to love about their wedding. They even found a way to include their three rescue dogs. Lola, Doc, and Dudley were adorable walking down the aisle. 

There was so much to celebrate this week. Having time to spend with family and friends is a spectacular gift.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction. I am thankful that she has this challenge because I know I have read more nonfiction texts as a result.

I haven't been participating lately because the end of the school year happened. My library is completely dismantled now and packed away - really - in storage waiting for our amazing new space. Summer vacation has begun.

I was able to stop in at the Rochester Public Library in Minnesota today. Here are the nonfiction books I quickly read and enjoyed before my parking meter expired.

The first book I grabbed was this beautiful book about families. The text and photos highlight how there are many ways that a family can be - many people or few, living together, living apart, and with many different compositions too. Wonderful diversity here.

Families by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly

Goodreads summary: Celebrate diversity with a picture book for very young children about the many faces of contemporary families. Big or small, similar or different-looking, there are all kinds of families. Some have one parent, some have two, and many include extended family. This inclusive look at many varieties of families will help young readers see beyond their own immediate experiences and begin to understand others.

There were two inspirational books that caught my eye. Both encourage readers to try new things.

Sweep Up the Sun by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Goodreads summary: Baby robins, open-beaked in their nest. Mallards winging to a new clime. Whether chickadees or cardinals, sparrows or starlings, here are commonly seen birds in their natural settings, captured in photographs of rare beauty and grace. In perfect synchrony, a lyrical narrative evokes images of play and flight, perseverance and trust. At the end, readers will find profiles of the featured species. This stunning book is an ideal gift for bird lovers of all ages, graduates, or anyone embarking on an adventure.

Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey - Illustrated by Soyeon Kim

Goodreads summary: From the creators of You Are Stardust comes a new informational picture book that brings the big ideas of their first book down to earth. Wild Ideas looks deep into the forests, skies and oceans to explore how animals solve problems. Whether it’s weaving a safe place to rest and reflect, blowing a fine net of bubbles to trap fish, or leaping boldly into a new situation, the animals featured (including the orangutan, humpback whale and gibbon) can teach us a lot about creative problem solving tools and strategies. Like You Are Stardust, this book uses lyrical text grounded in current science alongside wonderfully detailed art to present problems as doorways to creative thinking. Wild Ideas encourages an inquiry-based approach to learning, inviting readers to indulge their sense of wonder and curiosity by observing the natural world, engaging with big ideas and asking questions. An author’s note at the end delves deeper into the research behind the text.