Category Archives: What Are You Reading?

Hearts & Muscles – A book… pre-review

Shhh… I’m fairly sure you aren’t supposed to write about a book you are ABOUT to read but haven’t read yet

I’m not exactly a rule follower.

In my head, I’ve been writing a post about nonfiction. I’ve been calling it “Falling in Love with Non Fiction.” (Just a little homage to one of my favorite books, Falling in Love with Close Reading  by Kate Roberts and Christopher Lehman.) Everyone seems to be talking about how important nonfiction is. “We need to teach our students how to enjoy,  how to read, how to understand nonfiction.” I get it! I’m on it. I hear you, nonfiction pushers!  Reading Nonfiction:  Notice and Note  is next in my professional book pile, I promise.  Just testerday  I told a teacher that I can feel my brain beginning to switch over from thinking people just need to chill out – to really seeing past the common core and PSSA reasons.  I understand the heart of why kids need to be reading more nonfiction: We need to teach kids to be life-long learners via nonfiction reading.  They need to know how to get and understand information. See? It was going to be my next post. I have a lot to say about it. But not right now.

Last night I fell extra in love with fiction, even though I haven’t read this book yet.

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My college friend’s new book is getting a lot of publicity (one of my favorite interviews is on NPR here). So, when I heard Sunil would be at the local bookstore, I jumped at the chance to say hello, hear him speak, and of course get my book signed. Mr. Thought couldn’t come, so it was just me and the kids. Three tired kids. Three tired kids who learned a ton. (And one tired mama who took notes on her phone!)

We walked in just as he was reading some inappropriate language. Oops.

(I don’t think my kids heard it all… and what they hear,  we talked about: “He’s a grown up. He used those words for a reason. He’s a writer. . .” and as H put it, “He was just using it as a describing word, mom.”)

It was almost bed time, and E  asked a couple of times, “When will he be done talking? I’m thirsty for water.”  But, they listened. I love that my kids heard a published author talk about writing, and hard work, and empathy.

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I heard these things too. I heard Sunil tell the story of how his finished manuscript was stolen. How he had to start again. My teacher brain yelled, “Perseverance! Stamina! Grit!” I heard him talk about how you have to write every day – you have to “sit at the desk every morning and hope the muse meets [you] there.” My teacher brain yelled it again, “Stamina! Structure to guide creativity!” Sunil said he loves the sound of words, but that meaning is more important than sound. My writer brain is thinking on that.  Then he said that his book is about people, and empathy. My whole brain just nodded in agreement: Empathy!  In his NPR interview,  Sunil says, “We live in an age where revolution — you don’t need to pick up a rifle. Sometimes empathy is enough. Sometimes empathy is a revolutionary thing.” Empathy. I think we need empathy at least just as much as we need facts.

Sunil talked about why this book, about the real life Seattle WTO protests of 1999 was a fiction book. He could have written nonfiction; the protests were a real event. I’m sure there was enough drama during the protests to write a hefty piece of informational writing. Pardon my paraphrasing here… He said he chose to write this as fiction because that way he could make connections and expand on characters. His fiction book happens during the protests in 1999, but the book teaches us more than that. It teaches us about people–their good and evil side, and about current events that parallel those in 1999. It connects to past riots, and those sure to come. It gives characters– people– a voice for what is in their hearts. This was a good reminder to me about one of the reasons I love fiction: Fiction teaches. It isn’t false or just pretend. Fiction books have stories that teach us, sometimes even more than nonfiction.

I’m looking forward to reading this book. So here’s my book pre-review… I think it’s going to be awesome, and I give the book reading, discussion and signing 5 stars.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


 Visit Teach Mentor Text and Unleashing Readers to learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Nerdy Book Club for information about the Book A Day challenge.

I’m loving Book A Day! What a challenge. Thank goodness for picture books! It took me a couple of days to read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and in the meantime I read a bunch of picture books, including:


IMWAYR goodreads


On Saturday, I took my kids to the library, and read a bunch of picture books, and it took me back in time to when I had time like that. In college, during my Language and Literacy block, I did so much reading. I lived and breathed children’s literature that semester and I loved the feeling of sitting in the library or at the book store and just reading! I loved the feeling of really getting to know authors and books and feeling connected to it all. It wasn’t quite the same with my own children there, but it was nice nonetheless. I’m on a mission this summer to find more picture books to use in my classroom mini lessons. Among other things, I want to find a picture book in as many genres as possible to start the year. I’m taking suggestions!

I’m also just getting to know goodreads (I know I’m late in the game here.) I have used it before, but (not unlike my students…) logging and reviewing the books I’ve read hasn’t really been a habit. Ok, it hasn’t been a habit at all. But, with the app’s ability to scan the isbn… it is working better for me. I’m still learning though…

Next up? I don’t know. I’m thinking I will dig into one of my professional books in my TBR pile… decisions decisions. My daughter’s TBR pile is also calling my name, though… she’s got some good titles!


What are you reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


 Visit Teach Mentor Text and Unleashing Readers to learn more about It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Nerdy Book Club for information about the Book A Day challenge.

It’s Monday!

I’m currently reading The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (gotta finish the series…) and I’m enjoying it, while also wondering how there are 4 books! But soon I will find out. 🙂 I’m planning on finishing it tonight.


One of my favorite times of the day is getting the kids all snuggled in and listening to my husband read Harry Potter to them. Even though I’ve read the series multiple times, I can’t help but listen in and enjoy the story. Currently, we are on Harry Potter And the Order Of The Phoenix . I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve read it. But if you haven’t, please do. I’m forever awed, entertained and inspired by the Harry Potter series.

While cleaning up my classroom today, I took a short break to read A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I ordered it months ago, and it’s been in my “To Read” pile ever since. I can’t wait to read it to my students next year.  I love that it is non fiction, I love that it is beautifully written and illustrated, I love the theme and the word choice, and the lessons. “The biggest part of you…is inside, where no one can see.” 

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What will I read next? I was a little worried that I hadn’t created my TBR pile. . . and then I went in my classroom and gathered the books I have been waiting to read, need to read, want to read…

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I think I’ll be fine.

I’ll happily post my TBR pile later, but I’ve got to go finish The Second Summer of the Sisterhood!

Happy Monday, Happy Reading!