Category Archives: Passion for Reading

Teacher Heart

Anyone else remember this?

Anyone else remember this?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about teacher questioning and class discussion. I’ve been mulling over what it takes to get students engaged in what my literacy textbook calls a “lively discussion” about a text (which, as it turns out, is apparently the best way to enhance students’ reading comprehension). Those thoughts led me down the primrose path to Deep Thoughts about learning, memory, and the conditions required for obtaining new knowledge and retaining it. (I know you can feel your eyes glazing over, but please bear with me! I’m going somewhere good, I promise!)

buellerMy thoughts wandered to my own experiences as a student. I tried to remember if I had ever had a teacher who asked the kinds of questions that aroused my and my classmates’ attention enough to have even a halfhearted discussion about a text, much less a lively one. Lo and behold, I did have a teacher like that–my 11th grade Honors English teacher.

What stands out in my mind today is a vivid memory of discussions about The Great Gatsby–the symbolic meaning of West Egg and East Egg, the literary devices gatsby green light quoteFitzgerald used to foreshadow the disastrous outcome of Gatsby and Daisy’s ill-fated love affair, and what the green light really represents. (In case anyone else is doing the math, I was a junior in high school 24 years ago, so my remembering anything from any class is pretty remarkable.) Other, seemingly unrelated details come to my mind, like where I sat, the color of the louver blinds covering the windows, and the expression on my teacher’s face as she facilitated the discussions.

ad44As I reflected on how she taught, I wondered how she came up with those excellent questions. Back then I was a painfully naive 16-year-old, and I assumed she just dreamed up such wonderful questions on the fly, kind of like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Now I realize that she spent time and effort designing questions with the express purpose of eliciting the kinds of responses that would result in lively discussions.

The thing is–and this is where it gets good, so hold on just a bit longer–this teacher was tina-fey_2more than just a teacher to me. She was the first person in my life who made me feel like a person and not just a dippy kid. She interacted with me in a way that affirmed my hope that I was becoming an individual who could and should make things happen for myself. She asked thought-provoking questions even outside of class and about the trivial details of my life, questions that forced me to begin thinking critically about what I believed in and what was important to me. What’s more, her interest in me seemed genuine, even though she taught 3 or 4 different English classes every day to at least 100 other students.

There’s this quote by Maya Angelou that I keep seeing everywhere, and she says it much better than I ever could: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I guess what I’m saying here is that all the research-proven teaching strategies in all the world don’t mean anything if there’s no heart behind them.

  • Highly recommended, probably required, and perhaps mandatory reading for all who have not, yet: Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco. For the rest of us? The Secret Remedy Book by Karein Cates, delightfully illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. I hear that with a small modification in paradigm, I can learn how to be that “teacher heart” I’ve mentioned.
  • (Read them! If you’ve already read both, read them again! You can thank me later.)

Posted by Karen Rapier, a senior in Elementary Education at Utah Valley University, in Orem, UT

Can’t Help Falling…

£££-Blown-Up-House

The state of my house since school started

Beloved reader, it has been six weeks since I last posted. Six weeks! According to the Internet, that’s how long it took Charles Dickens to write A Christmas Carol. (If it’s on the Internet, you know it’s gotta be true.) I hear you asking me, “What’s the deal? Why has it taken so long to write a new post???” Well, I’ll give it to you straight. School started, and life blew up. Kaboom! (From the looks of my house right now, this might literally be true.)

So much has happened since early August. There are countless tales of triumph and woe I could tell. The most exciting thing to happen, however, is that Fall Foliage Watch 2014 has begun chez UVU Forum on Engaged Reading. That’s right–here at FTLOR Central we’re anxiously scanning the majestic mountains of Utah Valley for blips and pops of scarlet and ochre. Fall could happen any day!

goodbye august, hello september

I adore fall. It’s always been my favorite season. (Confession: This might have something to do with the fact that my birthday comes around this time of year.) I know springtime is a favorite for many, but for my money you can’t beat the crisp air, vibrant color, and dappled golden sunlight of late September and October.

For the full fall experience, one of the most beautiful places in all the world in mid October is Park City, Utah. I’m not a skier so I can’t comment on its beauty (or lack thereof) during the winter months, but the beauty of October in Park City and the surrounding area takes my breath away! The scrub oak turns shades of crimson, and the aspens shimmer with burnished gold.

October 6, 2013: Fall colors on Pinecone Ridge near Park City, Utah

October 6, 2013: Fall colors on Pinecone Ridge near Park City, Utah

alternative-health-care-choices-for-chronic-painAs luck would have it, there’s something wonderful happening in Park City toward the end of next month. That’s right, it’s the Fourth Annual Forum on Engaged Reading on October 23-24 at The Chateaux Resort in Deer Valley! On account of my connections with some Extremely Important People, I managed to get a sneak peek at the program, and as I read over it I began sweating bullets. Why? Well, based on what I read, each session is jam-packed with charismatic presenters and irresistible ideas. How will I possibly choose one presentation when I need to be at all of them?

hermione-granger-galleryUnless I stumble upon a Time-Turner over the next month and manage to split myself several ways a la Hermione Granger, I think the obvious strategy here is to divide and conquer. So who’s going? Let’s divvy up the schedule and draw straws. I’ve got dibs on Gene Nelson’s Books 4 Boys presentation!

Tiny Gardens, Young Minds

I think I went to school with that guy...

I think I went to school with that guy…

Earlier this week I tweeted and posted a thing or two on Facebook about fairies–books that describe them, gardens that welcome them, and adventures in finding them. Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about how to incorporate a study of fairies into the classroom. Hold on a second! I know what you’re thinking: “C’mon, are you serious? If I started teaching about fairies, I’d have a flood of parent complaints. If I’m going to do that I may as well enroll a chimpanzee as a student in my class and call it an ‘educational experience’!”

Bear with me for a minute. Without question, the first order of business would be to send home a well timed and carefully worded note that clearly explains the unit you have planned and details the pedagogical value of the unit on fairies. You’d be sure to make clear that you can neither confirm nor deny the existence of fairies to your students, which is best handled by your students’ families. Now you’re asking what I might possibly find in a study of fairies that could have pedagogical value, and that’s a valid question. The following is my answer, which I hope you will find not only legitimate but persuasive as well.  

MiniFairyGarden_top1

The Utah Core Standards for social studies in kindergarten, first, and second grades state that students will be able to use geographic tools and skills, including maps and globes, and 1364782980_1understand map legends and directions. Now, because of that wonderful semester I spent in Educational Psychology (I’m serious! It was hard, but it was also really fun) learning about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, I know that some students’ learning styles are better suited to visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, and naturalist approaches.

I think you know where I’m going with this one. That’s right, a fairy garden is little more than a diorama of a physical (either real or imagined) space, combined with soil, plants, and other living and nonliving natural features. Because it is a 3D representation, it benefits visual and kinesthetic learners. Its use of plants, rocks, and natural objects facilitates learning for those who lean in the naturalist direction. A fairy garden can include houses, streets, signposts with directions, water features, even tiny human people. Depending on how the garden/city is laid out, students can gain a clearer sense of Core Standards concepts such as “grid,” “landmark,” and “compass.” Moreover, because it’s a fairy garden, the unit satisfies a science Core Standard with regard to examining living and nonliving things (such a multi-tasker!).

moreI think I’ve made a fairly strong case for this idea, but I’m not one for resting on my laurels. That’s why I’ve come up with even more applications. In Writers’ Workshop, why not encourage students to write stories set in the class fairy garden? Instruct them to visually examine the garden and then include those details in their writing, so that someone who hasn’t had a chance to see the garden personally can still imagine what it looks like.

Here’s another idea–as a class, identify a tiny object that can be moved within the fairy garden. Explain to students that as soon as they get to school tomorrow they will want to search for and find the object. Then, after students have gone home for the day, hide the object in a particular place in the garden. For bell work the next morning, have students find the object and write a short paragraph describing its specific location in the garden. Emphasize that they should use directional and measurement words. Collect the responses and pull them randomly to read aloud. The first student whose response correctly describes the location of the target object can have the chance to hide the object for the next day.

Once upon a time in a quiet, peaceful village lived a....

Once upon a time in a quiet, peaceful village lived a….

At this point you’re probably thinking you might be able to do this with your class, but you’re not sure where to start. How about this–collect students’ milk containers, rinse them out, and have students make them into houses and other buildings in the fairy garden. In the note you send home explaining the project, tell parents that students are welcome to contribute craft supplies, plants, and other small objects lying around the house. Ask students to gather pebbles, twigs, acorns, pinecones, and other interesting items in nature. Consider writing a grant proposal and submitting it to local garden centers, asking for donations of soil, plants, and a large container for your garden. More than anything, keep it simple and cost-effective, and as a teacher, you’re already really good at that!

Posted by Karen Rapier, an elementary education major at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT

Location, Location, Location!

This weekend, as I write, folks in Orem, Utah (where Utah Valley University is located)orem-utah-420x163 are celebrating the annual “Orem Summer Fest.”  This includes a carnival with rides, food trucks, and craft Summerfest2014booths in a local city center park, a “kick off” parade through downtown, a “cutest baby” contest (and more), as well as a culminating fireworks display.  The Orem High School Marching Band fireworkshas been practicing throughout the neighborhood for two weeks, and I suspect that Mountain View and Timpanogos High Schools have been doing the same thing.

Well guess what?  I thought of a connection to this!  The Orem Summer Fest is all about celebrating what’s great about living in Orem, Utah…  and it made me wonder about fiction for young people that might have their settings in Orem, Utah.  I actually know about one Iforget(and I know the author, too!):  If I Forget, You Remember, by Carol Lynch Williams (Yearling Press, 1999).  I love this book for its plot and characterization as much as I do for its location!

This description is adapted from the hardback book jacket blurb: Sixth grade has just ended and Elyse Donaldson is ready for a perfect summer. She’s going to read her favorite books and write her first novel. She’s even determined to get along with her older sister, Jordyn. But her plans quickly unravel when Granny, whose Alzheimer is getting worse, moves in. Elyse finds change difficult as she watches her beloved grandmother slowly slipping away from them, but she also finds that she is a lot stronger than she knew.

Reminiscing about how much I loved  this book also made me think about a book series that was set in my previous location – Buckhannon, West Virginia.  BuckhannonPhyllis Reynolds Naylor wrote a delightfully funny series of books about the Malloy family (with all girls) who move in across Island Avenue from the Hartford family (with all boys). The take-off from Hatfields and McCoys smallNAYLORgives you a subtle idea about what to expect.  The whole series is a delightfully funny and laugh-out-loud experience – perfect for reading aloud to a variety of ages! My personal favorite will always be the first: The Boys Start the War, but this series could take you 2inONENaylorthrough the entire summer: The Girls Get Even, Boys Against Girls, Who Won the War?,  The Girls’ Revenge, The Boys Return, A Traitor Among the Boys, The Boys Take Control, The Girls Take Over, Boys Rock, and Girls Rule!

Do you know about fiction for young people that has YOUR hometown as its setting location!  Please let us know! Happy “Orem Summerfest,” everyone!

Posted by Nancy L. Peterson, Ed.D., Professor of Teacher Education at Utah Valley University, and Co-Chair of UVU’s Forum on Engaged Reading – “For the Love of Reading”

Summertime! And the readin’ is easy…

Because I wanted to inspire folks for summer reading opportunities all week, I’ve been remembering every book I ever read that had the word “summer” in it. summer-reading(And this was after a few days of brainstorming book titles for “something old,” “something new,” “something borrowed,” and “something blue” for our Twitter and Facebook campaigns!)  Reminiscing about my favorite summer books and finding some new discoveries for every age range of this summer’s readers  has inspired me to create my own “have-to-have” list, and to try to persuade my now grown children into reading down my list with me!   summerBOOKSWhen my kids were younger, we did this every summer… not every kid, but always at least one of them and always with me. We instigated this tradition when my daughter was 13. After meeting Phyllis Reynolds Naylor at a children’s literature conference, and telling her of my daughter’s interest in her “Alice” books (Starting With Alice, The Agony of Alice,  Incredibly Alice,  Alice in Charge, etc., Lovingly Alice, Alice in Rapture, Sort of, etc.) AliceBOOKSPhyllis suggested that an article about mothers and daughters reading the Alice Books as Alice and the daughters “grow up” would be a fun idea.  My daughter and I have been collecting “Alice” books ever since, and beginning with their reissuing in the last 10 years, that collecting has been fun and easy!

Just in case you are not looking for books to share with a preteen or teen daughter, but you are looking for some summer books that will provide a jumping off (or diving in) place for sharing summer dive into booksreads with the children in your life at a variety of ages, here is my new list.  As I said, I’m going to invite my adult kids to read these with me…  and hope to have that experience with grandchildren, someday.

Features #1 through #22 are for readers between the ages of 8 and 12 or 13.  #23 is for young and old — a great picture book. Features from #24 to the end are for teens (and adults!). Enjoy!

1. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. Whether or not you are familiar with this entire series, you will be delighted by this summer read! The penderwicksPenderwick sisters are on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel, where sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts, provide a delightful holiday. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their summer adventures.

2. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia  In this Newbery Honor novel, three sisters travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, oneCRAZYin 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. When they arrive to spend the summer with her, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.

3. Flea Circus Summer by Cheryl Ware  Venola Mae Cutright has spent most of the summer writingFleaCIRC letters, and never giving up, whether begging for a job, nitpicking with a friend, or straightening out a flea company:

Ultra Underwater Flea Circus People

P.O. Box 2000

Destin, Florida

 Dear Flea People’s Bosses

Enclosed is a Tupperware bowl of wet black specs. Please have your doctors analyze these in your oratories and see if there is something wrong with my water. I followed your directions to a tee…

Venola Mae Cutright

P.S. I don’t need any more magic rocks, but I never did receive the circus tent full of tiny elephant and bears and giraffes that the underwater fleas are riding in your advertisement.

4. The Summer Camp Mystery (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #82) by Gertrude Chandler Warner  & Hodges Soileau  The Boxcar Children boxcarare going to summer camp and are looking forward to a week of new friends, exciting activities, and, most of all, the annual camp Olympics, but as soon as camp begins, everything begins to go wrong for the Aldens.

5.  A Summer Secret by Kathleen Fuller (Mysteries of Middlefield Series) Mary Bethsummer secret is a thirteen year old Amish girl with three energetic brothers. She has a sweet, loving spirit and wants to be obedient to her parents (“do not go that abandoned barn out in the field!”) but when she makes a discovery in that barn, she knows she as a work to do.

6. The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin.  Julia and Eliza SummerBEFOREboysare best friends, so when Julia’s mom is sent to serve in Iraq, it makes perfect sense for her to spend the summer with Eliza and her parents. Any other time, Julia would be thrilled to be there. But on top of worrying about her mom, Julia develops her first real crush. The gap between Julia and Eliza keeps widening—until Eliza does something drastic to win back her best friend. In this follow-up to the award-winning Anything But Typical, Raleigh has written a powerful, touching story about friendship, first love, and how the people who are farthest away from us are sometimes the ones we need the most.

7. Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan  Award-winning Phelan has visualized a Blufftonbygone era in this graphic novel. In the summer of 1908, in Muskegon, Michigan, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They’re summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and — lo and behold — a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, “the human mop,” but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends.

8. The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt:  Drew’s a bit of a loner, summerTOflywith a pet rat, her dead dad’s Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom’s cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It’s the summer before eighth grade and Drew’s days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he’s there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.

9. Mom Made Us Write This In The Summer (Max and Maggie Journal series) by Ali Maier, illustrated by Joanna Robinson  When Mom comes up with a plan for them to keep a summer momMADEusjournal, Maggie and Max can t believe it. Worse yet, they have to share! Through their writing, Maggie and Max find out they have very different (and hilarious) views about growing up, family and life a conclusion they only discovered because, as Max and Maggie say, “Mom Made Us Write This.”

10. The Summer Experiment by Cathie Pelletier Roberta is convinced she and her best friend Marilee can win the State Science Fair if only they summerEXPERIMENTcan find an amazing project to showcase. And they’ve got the whole summer to work on it. But in order to win they’ll need to defeat their chief competitor, “The Four Hs of the Apocalypse”: Henry Horton Harris Helmsby! When mysterious lights begin to appear over her hometown, Roberta has a brilliant idea: finding aliens in Allagash and proving they exist would win her first place for sure. Four Hs could never top that…or could he?

11. How Tia Lola Saved the Summer (The Tia Lola Stories) by Julia Alvarez  Miguel Guzman isn’t TiaLOLAexactly looking forward to the summer now that his mother has agreed to let the Sword family—a father, his three daughters, and their dog—live with them while they decide whether or not to move to Vermont. Little does Miguel know his aunt has something up her sleeve that just may make this the best summer ever. With her usual flair for creativity and fun, Tía Lola decides to start a summer camp for Miguel, his little sister, and the three Sword girls, complete with magical swords, nighttime treasure hunts, campfires, barbecues, and an end-of-summer surprise!

12. The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz:  savedWORLDIt’s summertime, and thirteen-year-old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died last year; her parents work all the time; her brother’s busy; and her best friend is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn’t know what “her thing” is yet, it’s definitely not shopping and makeup. And it’s not boys, either. Though . . . has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute?
To survive this summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan for each of the sixty-five days of summer she’ll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference?   

13. Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine For as long as he can remember, Adam and his parents have 3BIRDsummerspent their summers at his grandmother’s rustic cabin on Three Bird Lake. But this year will be different. There will be no rowdy cousins running around tormenting Adam. There will be no Uncle John or Aunt Jean. And there’ll be no Dad to fight with Mom. This year, the lake will belong just to Adam.
But then Adam meets Alice, the girl next door, who looks just like the aloof, popular girls back home—what could he and she possibly have in common? Turns out, Alice isn’t like the girls back home. She’s frank, funny, and eager for adventure. And when Adam’s grandma starts to leave strange notes in his room—notes that hint at a hidden treasure somewhere at the lake and a love from long ago—Alice is the one person he can rely on to help solve the mysteries of Three Bird Lake.

14. Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee: Eleven-year-old Poppy Ray longs to be a veterinarian, but she’s never had a pseaglasset. This summer, she’s going to spend a month with her uncle Sanjay, veterinarian and owner of the Furry Friends Animal Clinic on an island off the Washington coast. With warmth and humor, Anjali Banerjee tells the story of a resourceful, determined girl who can’t wait to grow up, but begins to realize just how much she has left to discover.

15. Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff: Annie Richards knows there are a million things to look out for—bicycle accidents, chicken pox, runaway zoo animals. UmbrellaThat’s why being careful is so important, even if it does mean giving up some of her favorite things, like bike races with her best friend and hot dogs on the Fourth of July. Everyone keeps telling Annie not to worry so much, that she’s just fine. But they thought her brother, Jared, was just fine too, and Jared died. With a lot of help from those around her, Annie just may find a way to close her umbrella of sadness and step back into the sunshine.

16. Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls: The last thing a fourteen-year-old boy expects to find along an old Ozark river bottom is a tree full of monkeys. Jay Berry Lee’s grandpa had ansummerofMONKESY explanation, of course–as he did for most things. The monkeys had escaped from a traveling circus, and there was a handsome reward in store for anyone who could catch them. Grandpa said there wasn’t any animal that couldn’t be caught somehow, and Jay Berry started out believing him . . . This beloved and classic novel, set in rural Oklahoma around the turn of the century, is a heart-warming family story–full of rich detail and delightful characters–about a time and place when miracles were really the simplest of things…

17. Summer Ball by Mike Lupicia: The sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Travel Team! Leading your travel team to the national championship summerBALLmay seem like a dream come true, but for Danny, being at the top just means the competition tries that much harder to knock him off. Now Danny’s heading to Right Way basketball camp for the summer, and he knows that with the country’s best players in attendance, he’s going to need to take his game up a notch if he wants to match up. But it won’t be easy. Old rivals and new battles leave Danny wondering if he really does have what it takes to stand tall.

18. Cam Jansen and the Summer Camp Mysteries CamJANSENby David Adler: Cam Jansen and her best friend Eric are spending three weeks at Camp Eagle Lake, and they couldn’t be more excited. But mysteries seem to follow supersleuth Cam everywhere, and it isn’t long before she’s using her photographic memory to “Click, Click” and save the day! 

19. Summer Reading is Killing Me! (Time Warp Trio, No. 7) by Jon Scieszka and Lane SummRDGkillingMESmith: Sam, Fred, and Joe–the Time Warp Trio–find themselves face-to-beak with a giant, 266-pound chicken … who, unfortunately, looks hungry. As the chicken begins to chase them, the boys realize with horror that they are smack-dab in the middle of Daniel Pinkwater’s The Hoboken Chicken Emergency! How did they get there? Fred accidentally stuck the school’s summer reading list between the pages of “The Book”–a time-warping, green-mist-expelling book that triggers time travel in all of Jon Scieszka’s well-loved Time Warp Trio action-adventures.

20. Summer Bucket List for Kids by Michelle summerBUCKETlistSnow: If you have a hard time helping your kids fill the hours in those long summer days, then this invaluable guide is exactly what you need. Full of fun, original, and thoughtful ideas—sure to use up your kids’ excess summertime energy in a positive, healthy way—this book is guaranteed to stop boredom in its tracks.

21. A Kid’s Summer EcoJournal: With Nature Activities for Exploring the Season by Toni Albert & Margaret Brandt: A Kid’s Summer EcoJournal invites kids kidsECOjournalto write about nature on pages exquisitely illustrated by Margaret Brandt. The author has included short entries from her nature journals, which express her irrepressible and unflagging delight in the natural world. Kids love to read about Trickle Creek, where fawns play on the lawn and young raccoons steal plums in the orchard. The Summer EcoJournal is packed with nature activities for exploring summer. Kids can build a turtle loafing platform, collect insect tracks, make a mushroom spore print, attract moths with a shining sheet, grow a giant sunflower, make sun prints, and enjoy dozens of other summer activities that teach them to love the world of nature. Based on solid science. 

22. Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker: From Clementine author Sara Pennypacker, this is a poignant middle-grade novel about two foster Gypsy mothschildren who must find a way to work together in order to survive. Eleven-year-old Stella misses her (unreliable) mom, but she loves it at great-aunt Louise’s house. Louise lives on Cape Cod, where Stella hopes her mom will someday come and settle down. The only problem? Angel, the foster kid Louise has taken in. The two girls live together but there’s no way they’ll ever be friends.Then Louise suddenly passes away one morning—and Stella and Angel decide not to tell anyone. Now they have to depend on each other for survival. Now they are forced to trust each other with the biggest secret ever. With great empathy and humor, Sara Pennypacker tells the story of two very different girls who unexpectedly become each other’s true family.

23. Rules of Summer by Saun Tan: In a series of loosely linked pictures Tan suggest Rules of SUMa fantastical summer shared by two brothers. Each full-page painting is paired with a one-sentence rule related to the accompanying scene. For instance, “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline” appears next to an image of the two boys crouching against a wall while a seriously giant red rabbit glares at the single sock drying in the sun. How the boys arrived in such a situation is unclear, but speculating is half the fun. “Never leave the back door open” precedes a painting of the two brothers overlooking a living room brimming with an otherworldly forest. Though the rules are occasionally confounding and don’t lend themselves to a clear narrative, and the paintings are tinged with a growing sense of menace that might frighten young readers, Tan’s mesmerizing, gorgeous art is as beautiful and entrancing as ever and will likely have wide appeal well outside the usual picture-book audience, especially among imaginative teen artists. 

For Teens (and Adults!) 

Memories of Summer by Ruth White: It is the mid-1950s, and Lyrics family is finally moving from the backwoods of southwest Virginia to Flint, Michigan, where her father hopes to get an memoriesSUMMERassembly-line job for a car manufacturer. Thirteen-year-old Lyric has always been close to and admired her older sister, Summer, who is pretty and popular. But in their new hometown, Summer unexpectedly and drastically changes. She becomes remote, speaks gibberish, stops taking care of her appearance, and wont go to high school. Lyric and her father try to cope with the devastating effects of Summers mental illness. Ruth White has written a heart-wrenching novel which, despite the sad and serious subject matter, offers readers humor and hope and most of all love.

Revolutionary Summer by Joseph J. Ellis: In a brilliant narrative, Ellis meticulously examines the most influential figures in this propitious moment, inclRevolutaionary Sumuding George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Britain’s Admiral Lord Richard and General William Howe. He weaves together the political and military experiences as two sides of a single story, and shows how events on one front influenced outcomes on the other.

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene: German SoldierThe summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi, but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own.

Summer of the Swans summerSWANSby Betsy Byars: The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars, is a heartwarming story about the longest day in the life of a fourteen year old . A wonderfull theme emerges from the story that every child should hear.

A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry: Meg isn’t thrilled when she gets stuck sharing a bedroom with her older sister summertoDIEMolly. The two of them couldn’t be more different, and it’s hard for Meg to hide her resentment of Molly’s beauty and easy popularity. But now that the family has moved to a small house in the country, Meg has a lot to accept. Just as the sisters begin to adjust to their new home, Meg feels that Molly is starting up again by being a real nuisance. But Molly’s constant grouchiness, changing appearance, and other complaints are not just part of a new mood. And the day Molly is rushed to the hospital, Meg has to accept that there is something terribly wrong with her sister. That’s the day Meg’s world changes forever.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han : Belly measures her life in summers.summerPRETTY Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil FreedomSUMRights in Mississippi by Susan Goldman Rubin: Fifty years after the Freedom Summer murders, this meticulously researched, compellingly told account covers an incredible moment in history. Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney were three young civil rights workers who decided to work for the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) to confront bigotry in Mississippi and register African Americans to vote. They left for Meridian, accompanied by student volunteers from across the United States, Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were killed by Klansmen after being arrested. Their deaths deepened the conviction of the others and served to engender incredible strides in the forward momentum of the civil rights movement.

A Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita: Summer has finally arrived and fifteen-year-old sumSTATEofMINDHarper McCallister intends to spend her days at the mall shopping or by the pool at her country club. But after receiving her latest heart-stopping credit card bill, Harper’s parents makes other plans, and ship her off to camp. Suddenly, the clueless yet ever-popular Harper is the new girl at the bottom of a social ladder she can’t climb in wedge sandals and expensive clothes. She seems to be winning over super-cute camp “Lifer” Ethan, though, and if she can manage to make a few friends–and stay out of trouble–she just might find a whole new summer state of mind. 

Posted by Nancy L. Peterson, Ed.D., Professor of Teacher Education at Utah Valley University, and Co-Chair of UVU’s Forum on Engaged Reading

Mrs. D Taught Us!

This week the “For the Love of Reading” conference is celebrating National Library Week.  And who loves guylibrarianreading more than librarians?  Librarians are no longer just keepers of books, but a valuable instructional resource — a co-partner in teaching students skills in information-gathering, critical thinking, and evaluation.

Last week a friend came over to my house for some help with her research.  I got her into one of the university’s databases and had to leave to answer the door.  When I returned there was my 13-year-old daughter explaining boolean logic to her like it was her native language!  “The more terms you enter, the more narrow your search will be,” she said…and on and on.  I secretly wished that having a librarian mom was the reason she was so well versed in research lingo, but unfortunately it was not.  “Where in the world did you learn all that?” librarianHELPSI asked.  “Mrs. D taught us,” she said as she zipped out of the room.

Mrs. D., her librarian from elementary school, was a “partner in crime” with the teachers for school projects and papers.  She didn’t just sit behind a desk and check out books.  She was a librarian on the move, working alongside teachers to educate students in information literacy, literature and loving to read. LBlibraries

How can we as parents and educators support libraries and librarians’ efforts to instill a love of reading in our children?  The American Library Association offers these tips:

  1. Get to know your school librarian. Ask what the needs are and how you can help. Donations of books and equipment such as computers and video players may be welcome. Offer to volunteer your time.
  2. Join the Friends of the Library, a support group of volunteers who provide fundraising and other assistance. If there is no group, offer to start one.
  3. Help your child be school ready. Enroll your preschool child in story-hours and other programs at the public library. childCOMPlibraryMake sure your child has a library card and knows how to use it. Read together with your child. Research shows that children who are read to in the home do better in school.
  4. Be a role model. Let your child see you reading at home. Help your child explore new technology. Many school and public libraries make computers available for public use. Feel free to ask for assistance. DCC-library1
  5. Support legislators who support libraries and education. Let them know you think the two go together and should be a high priority.

See “The School Library: What Parents Should Know”

Posted by Kim Rollins. Kim has a Masters of Library and Information Science degree from Brigham Young University and is a librarian at Utah Valley University.

Jumping on the POETRY bandwagon…

I’m not really one for jumping on the bandwagon of national-this-or-that days, weeks or months. I promise…  I don’t even do much celebrating of less-than-national days, such as my grown kids’ birthdays (I live in shame for this), my own anniversary national-poetry-month(I go to therapy for this), or  National Day of Prayer (I go to church for this). However, there is one month-long celebration that I’m all in favor of. I go to great lengths to celebrate this one: National Poetry Month. As a passionate proponent of “doing” poetry with children in order to convince them that words are their friends (and very playful ones, at that), and as a “Ralph Fletcher convert” to poetry writing that every child can do (love, LOVE his book, Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem From the Inside Out), poetry mattersI simply cannot resist building my own “bandwagon” and inviting my students, my family, my friends, and you, Dear Reader, to jump onboard!

Here are three elementary-teachers-should” truths that I know about …poetry cover1.   Elementary teachers should  have favorites – favorite poems and favorite poets.

2.     Elementary teachers should collect brief, clever, and delightful examples of poetry with which they can delight and entertain their students.

3.     Elementary teachers should nurture the natural poets children are, rather than assigning poetry.

Here are three elementary-teachers-shouldn’t” truths (I know these truths, thanks to Mike Tunnell & Jim Jacobs):

1.     Elementary teachers shouldn’t force and over-do poetry memorization & recitation.

2.     Elementary teachers shouldn’t force/assign all students to write poetry (particularly with rigid parameters, no matter how many lines or syllables called for).

3.     Elementary teachers shouldn’t force/assign heavy-duty analyzing of poems for their structures and meanings.

And finally, here are three elementary-teachers-can” truths that I know about poetry:

1.     Elementary teachers can  entice children with contemporary poems with humor and some sort of rhythm and rhyme.

2.     Elementary teachers can  empower children with writing poems when they demand fewer conventions and permit “poetic license.”

3.     Elementary teachers can inspire children as poets when they show them that (Ralph Fletcher’s idea here) writing a poem for someone is like giving blood.  It goes from the heart of the giver to the heart of the receiver. (I know, isn’t that brilliantly poignant?)

Are you ready to put your own poetic license“Poetic Teaching License” to work? Needing ideas for some fresh poetry to delight, entice and empower your students?  mooseThe scope of this blog post cannot include everything I wish teachers could know, understand, and do about poetry.  But I cannot resist an opportunity to unload a few things from my bandwagon, and leave them with you for yours:

Check out the Classroom Bookshelf Blog  and scroll through everything you will need, including book reviews, teaching ideas, and supporting resources.  Be sure to “search” the archives for the many new and wonderful poetry books they have included on their site!  Then…  well, in the words of Beatrice Schenk de Regniers,

“Keep a poem in your pocket and a picture in your head and you’ll never feel lonely…”PocketFULofPOEMS

Posted by Nancy Peterson, Ed.D., Professor of Elementary Education at Utah Valley University, and Co-Chair of “For the Love of Reading” conference. 

Looking for a book to love…

Valentine’s Day is past, and I’m feeling guilty that we didn’t re-post our guest blogger’s great Valentine’s Day tradition from last year, so here it is (just a couple of weeks late). It looks like spring may have sprung early (around here, anyway!) and I’m fearing that my leisurely reading hoursBook_Lovers_Day will be prematurely replaced by garden-planning and yard work.  I left my last “lost-in-the-book” experience behind when I drove home from our inspiring conference (UVU Forum on Engaged Reading) at the Chateaux in September.

 

I just haven’t lost myself in a good book, for way too long. Oh, I’ve enjoyed reading some new picture books, and some that are new to me even though they have been around for a while, and I’ve enjoyed classroom and office discussions of the books that my students and colleagues have been losing themselves in.  But I’m feeling pretty melancholy about this, BLANAand I’m starting to worry.  Maybe this is more than a midterm crisis for me – I’m thinking this is serious!  I can’t hear any of my night-stand stacks of “read-me-next” books calling to me.  I look through the Scholastic Book Order leaflets and notice some recent additions, but nothing is reaching out to me. I don’t feel drawn into  bookstores at the moment – not even my favorite ones.  I am stressing over feelings of  guilt about co-chairing a conference that fights the 21st Centure problem of “a-literacy,” while I am exhibiting symptoms of it myself. I don’t want to read a book to “get current” in my field, and I don’t want to read a book just because it received some recent (albeit prestigious) award. I just want to feel lost in a book again.  medalion book-loverI’m longing for a book that holds my heart in between my reading sessions, and that I can hold to my heart as I tell someone about it.

 

I recently came across a delightful poem written by Tom Robert Shields and published (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004) in Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illustrated by Karen Barbour. wonderful-wordsThe poem is “I Am the Book” and it promised to be my friend, stay by my side… bring dreams I’ll “forever keep,” to warm me, and to plant in me a “spring seedling…” while I am reading.  It promises,

 

“… I am the book

You are needing.”

 So, I decided to ask you…  any reader who may have stumbled onto this blog, in spite of the fact that it hasn’t been updated for some time – until now.  What do you suggest?  Is there a book that has been your friend…  brought dreams bklvr1you have “forever [kept],” and planted in you a “spring seedling – some book that you were needing and found — that you can share with me?  Please write soon., because you may know the book I am needing.  Yours truly, An Engaged Reader in Crisis

Posted by Nancy Peterson, Professor of Elementary Education at Utah Valley University, and Co-Chair of UVU’s Forum on Engaged Reading

If I were desperate, I might even look into what Heidi and Jo March were doing.

Guest Blog Post by Mike Freeman

When I was young, I lived on a farm in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri, and literally went to school in a two-room country schoolhouse.  one_room_school_houseWe were the real Waltons with eight children in a smTOWNmainSTfive-room house.  Even going to town was a rarity, and I didn’t care to go anyway because standing around watching my sisters shop was not that thrilling.  My brothers liked to hunt and fish but I didn’t.  We didn’t have a television and videos didn’t exist.

One thing we did have was a set of the Great Illustrated Classics and I liked to read.  Over and over again I journeyed down the Mississippi with Huck and Jim, sought treasure with longJsJim Hawkins and Long John Silver, fought duels with d’Artagnan, answered the call of the wild with Buck, and discovered those grim Grimm’s tales.  If I were desperate, I might even look into what Heidi and Jo March were doing.  All of these books fed the imagination of distant times, worlds and sites, and saved my childhood from utter boredom.

Once a month the bookmobile from the county library would appear at our school, and our teacher would select a single representative from each grade to select the Bkmbooks for the month.  Though the student was instructed to select for everyone, a marked bias always seemed to surface.  I just couldn’t believe the kinds of books those girls would choose.

Nonetheless, I was hooked and now years later, with English and History and Library Science degrees under my belt, I still musketeerscan’t find enough time for the endless lists to read.  Now that I am older, I sometimes revisit those old classics and marvel even now how well they still capture my attention.  Reading is the opportunity to look into the minds and souls of people across the ages, and to ponder all the struggles that have created our modern world.  Reading connects our common humanity, and makes us consider other points of view and ways of life.  Mark Twain said that a man who won’t read is no better than a man who can’t read.  I couldn’t say it better.

mike2Mike Freeman is the Library Director at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT. He holds a bachelors and MLS from University of Missouri, and his MA in History from the University of Utah.  Prior to coming to UVU in 1993, Mike worked at the University of South Carolina and the Orem Public Library in Utah.  He is an ardent Mark Twain fan.

I need to read like a boy…

That’s right – I said read like a boy.  I’m a girl, all grown up, having raised a boy who is now all grown up, and I still do not know what it is in a book that will capture a boy’s heart and soul boys1girl lovingBOOKSand help him become a reader for life.  I do know that all three of my girls loved being read to from the first moment I did it.  All I had to do was hold them close, let them see the book, and let them feel my love for them and the words and the illustrations. Once they grew out of my lap for story time, all I had to do was lie down on the living room floor, or the bed beside them, and read. Reading “like a girl” was easy, and I loved it!

My son, however, was a different story.  “On-the- lap” story time for the two of us was short-lived because boyENGINEERI mother_reading_to_baby_boycouldn’t get him to stay there long enough for a story!  He was one of those kids who love taking things apart and playing with all of those parts.  Maybe some of your daughters do that, too, but this was my experience only with my son. I will love Eric Hill Eric_Hillforever.  My discovery of his lift-the-flap books about a puppy called “Spot,” finally did reward me with a daily story in the lap, and together we discovered many other delightful, engineered books. We had just a few weeks of “in the lap” story time. Before long, I passed him off to some wheres-spotwonderful, book-loving teachers who introduced him, Where's SpotINSIDEthrough a journey unknown to me, to fantasy and science fiction, which he continues to read … and write!

Once I passed my son to those teacher-guides, I went back to my own choices for reading, and I never figured out the key to getting real_men_read_sweatshirtguys to read.  I know that guys reading Young_boy_readingis a cause that has been taken up by many authors out there, and I’m willing to take a look at what they have to say, and to learn from them.  But in the end, I really would like to read like a boy.

I found someone to emulate!  In her blog entry on July 15, 2011, Ruth got my attention! (I just love the blog’s title). In this blog entry on “Teaching With Joy and Purpose” I find good company, and an example for my quest to “reading like a boy.” Here are Ruth’s own words:

“What I have realized is that even if I’m familiar with titles and authors and summaries and reviews, truly connecting with readers is hard when you don’t ever read the same kinds of things they do. Besides, my selections for read alouds, book clubs, reading groups and even independent reading suggestions may make it hard for student readers who are not drawn to the same type of reading I am. The other problem is that I end up with very limited experience to draw upon when supporting these readers. I may not understand as a reader how these texts are set up, how the plots tend to work, or what strategies may really help readers navigate and understand and enjoy and share with others what they are reading.”

Ruth is so right!  And she confirms my belief in her as a model to follow by sharing her personal list of books for readingBoys_Reading that summer.  Since at least 1,000 new books for boys have been published since Ruth’s list, I would love to hear about recentBD1234-001.jpg “boy books” that you, readers of this blog, have discovered since 2011.  Please share!

The Toilet Paper Tigers (G. Korman)

Oggie Cooder (S. Weeks)
A Whole Nother Story (Dr. C. Soup)
The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1 (H. Black, T. DiTerlizzi)
100 Cupboards (N.D. Wilson)

Fablehaven, Book 1 (B. Mull)                  childrens-books

The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow (T. Kehoe)

Powerless (M. Cody)
Stink-o-pedia (M. McDonald)
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (M. Buckley)

And, if you happen to be in the market for a good, recent list yourselves, consider coming to UVU’s Forum on Engaged Reading this coming September 19th  and 20th in Park City, Utah.  GuyREADINGsteveLAYNESbkJoining us to inspire a love of reading are “boy book” authors and fans, GuysREADatOURconfalong with other great authors and fans, all who desire, as I do, to discover many paths to life-long loving of reading.