Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


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IMWAYR: Book Birthdays

The last couple of weeks have been amazing “book birthday” celebrations of excellent children’s and teen’s literature. I have my TBR list growing so fast, there’s no way I’ll get all the titles read by the end of 2021. Here’s the plan for THIS week:

NetGalley: I will finish The Vanderbeekers: Make A Wish for its book birthday tomorrow. Thank you for another great story, Karina Yan Glaser! Every time I finish a Vanderbeekers story, I long for a new one.

Libro.fm: I’m not going anywhere this week, but I hope to finish Chlorine Sky while driving to and from work. I love this one so far, but I haven’t really paid attention to it. I need to listen better (story of my life!).

Physical Books: This title got held over and will now be published in October instead of September, but I can’t wait to own a copy of Violets Are Blue by Barbara Dee. Barbara is a master of middle school stories – I love everything she writes! This one is going to be a must-read for my middle school theater and art students. I know I’ll have multiple copies available in the library.

It’s Monday, What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.


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IMWAYR: So Many Books!

I have a huge TBR pile again, and the last three weeks have been crazy for book birthdays (that’s “Tuesdays” to most people) — I cannot keep up! Here are some books I’m looking forward to this week:

Physical Books: I read Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes again because it’s part of our “characters” reads in middle school. I always love it, and I’m waiting to buy Paradise on Fire, which comes out tomorrow. Jewell’s stories always stay with me.

Libro.fm: Okay, I’m behind, but I haven’t driven much lately, so there’s no time to listen. I’m starting Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne next because it’s only 2 hours, so I can finish it in one trip to my mom’s house.

NetGalley: Getting to my home computer is difficult lately, but I have a bunch of downloads now that I need to get through. I’m ready for The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish by Karina Yan Glaser this week.

It’s Monday, What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.


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IMWAYR: Keeping It Real

The title of my newest read is Keeping It Real by Paula Chase, and I feel like “keeping it real” is a good phrase for my life right now. I’m not really reading much of anything today, but I’ll catch up later in the week. What a Monday! Back-to-School is no joke. (Greenwillow Books publishes Keeping It Real on October 19, 2021. We can’t wait!)

It’s Monday, What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.


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IMWAYR: A New Title From a Favorite Author

Physical Books: Brian Selznick is back! Have you heard? Kaleidoscope publishes on September 21st and people are looking forward to this one! I love that my bookseller friend, Kathy, shares ARCs with me, and this is an interesting hand-off. This is a collection of short stories with two main characters who connect through travels, dreams, and strange places. I can’t tell you much without giving it away, but its 200+ pages will leave you thinking, that’s for sure. I’m sure my middle school and high school teacher friends will use the stories in classrooms around the globe.

I’m STILL reading The Firekeeper’s Daughter because I’m interrupted constantly with school work now. I still recommend this title to anyone who is interested.

Libro.fm: I’m going to listen to The Plot next. I put it off before, but now I’ll be driving more miles in the next few weeks, so time is on my side for once.

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.


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#PB10For10: Picture Books To Share in Middle School, Back-To-School Time

About the #PB10for10 Community:

“Picture Book 10 for 10” has been around since 2010. Love picture books? Then you’re in the right place. This community is dedicated to sharing picture book love. Please visit the hashtag, #PB10for10 to learn about picture books you’ll want to read next. Each August is the Picture Book 10 for 10 event, and in February the community hosts Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10. Have fun reading and enjoy all the resources shared.

Today was my first day of school, but since it was a teacher work day, I didn’t share with students. I will share these ten titles SOON, though. Picture books are my favorite books to use in reading/ELA classes because of the versatility and artistic joy they bring to our middle school classrooms. (Ask me about how “Picture Books are Perfect in Middle School” and I can talk all day!)

Honestly, I chose these 10 books because I want students to revisit former author/illustrator friends (comforting “old stuff”) and I want to introduce some new titles that students didn’t get to see yet due to the pandemic (exciting “new stuff”). I use picture books frequently in middle school classes and in the library for mini-lessons, so I’m not worried about what comes first this year. I want students to find inspiring books to read all year long, every day. Let’s get started!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018) — This is perfect for the first days of school. “There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.” Our school is diverse and fabulous, and I love to share titles like this with my students.

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020) — I love modeling JOY and EXCELLENCE for all our students, especially with read alouds like this one. I’m so happy that Mr. Barnes and Mr. James are teamed up here again to celebrate our students. My former elementary school students loved The King of Kindergarten, and this book is even better (in my opinion).

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press, 2011) — I am ordering posters for the library, and if you have seen the new ALA Graphics catalog, you’ll want to get this “Hats Off to Reading” poster, too. (Click here.) Our students remember those “Hat” books from elementary school.

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021) — I want our students to see new perspectives of the world. Students remember this writing duo from Last Stop on Market Street, which was a huge hit (and a Newbery Medal winner!).

Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker and April Harrison (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020) — Grandparents are the best school visitors, aren’t they? This Nana shows a class her tribal markings and then the students create their own. What a wonderful way to get to know someone’s background, culture, and heritage!

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2018) — It’s been tough. We have all suffered and lost this past year and a half. Sometimes you just need someone to listen.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books, 2015) — I loved this book when it first came out when I shared it in an art class, but now I love Red even more. “Everyone seemed to have something to say…” We need to let people (and crayons) be who they really are.

Watercress by Andrea Wang and Jason Chin (Neal Porter Books, 2021) –In Ohio, a family stops by the side of the road to gather watercress, embarrassing the young girl. “Why can’t they just go to the store?” But when a story is told, understanding begins. I encourage my students: Tell YOUR story!

Wishes by Mượn Thị Văn and Victo Ngai (Orchard Books, 2021) — The nouns in this story wish (“The night wished it was quieter…The light wished it was brighter…”). This is one of the most moving, heart-breaking, hopeful stories I’ve read in a long time.

Wild Symphony by Dan Brown and Susan Batori (Rodale Kids, 2020) — I teach in a fine arts academy middle school, and our orchestra is going to get this book as a gift. So much fun! Dan Brown is the composer of the music and his creations are amazing! QR codes lead to the audio for each page, helping readers to fully experience the magic of the symphony.

Thank you for sharing YOUR picture books with your students. Have fun with it! What 10 books will you share this August?


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Book Review: Heartless Heirs by MarcyKate Connolly

Publishes Tomorrow! The long-awaited sequel to Twin Daggers, HEARTLESS HEIRS will finally be available.

My review: Heartless Heirs is the second book of the duology, Twin Daggers by MarcyKate Connolly. The adventure, and the struggle, continues for the Magi and the Technocrats in the ancient-like city of Palinor. Magi leaders have been sacrified, and a dangerous traitor has emerged. Heartless Heirs picks up an hour after Twin Daggers, with heroines Aissa and Zandria, the Magi super-twins with special powers, running away with their childhood friend and Aissa’s new love, the Technocrat prince, Aro. Ahead of them is adventure, romance…and more danger than they can possibly imagine.

Aissa narrates with suspense and intrigue, as she and Zandria escape the city with childhood friend, Remy, in search of safety and answers to lingering questions about what exactly happened hundreds of years ago that split the Magi and the Technocrats into factions in the first place. Zandria is not happy with her sister, who is now a traitor for falling in love with (and binding her heart to) Aro, the Technocrat prince. Meanwhile, the Magi are hiding, the twins must find the hidden Magi library, and the Techno soldiers are hot on their trail, ready to eliminate them once and for all. The Alchemical Alliance, a group desperately trying to find a way to bring the Magi and the Techocrats together, is also in danger of falling apart with traitor, Darian, on the loose. Even the king and queen are heartless, dealing with their run-away son and their unsuspecting citizens. Hidden secrets, spells, and spies make this tale twist and turn. This book is a spell-binding (“spell” and “binding” are key words here) adventure in 350 pages.

Heartless Heirs is a story full of compelling characters and gripping events that will keep the reader guessing until the very end – Can the Magi and Technocrats all learn to live peacefully in Palinor? (Probably not.) Will Aissa and Zandria live to save the day…again? Readers will want to keep reading to find out.

A grateful thank you to Blink YA Books, HarperCollins, and Net Galley for the early read. And don’t forget your educator’s guide!


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Book Review: IN THE WILD LIGHT by Jeff Zentner

I’ve waited a long time to celebrate this book — coming on Tuesday! Thank you for writing another important and heart-filled YA title, Jeff Zentner!

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner. Published by Crown Books for Young Readers.

Cash Pruitt is a hard-working 17-year-old from Sawyer, Tennessee who has a hard past. Now living with his grandparents, Cash mows lawns, attends Sawyer High School, and hangs out with his best friend, Delaney Doyle. The two share heartbreaks (Cash’s mom died of an opioid addiction and Delaney’s mom is headed down the same path) and adventures (traveling on the river and digging in caves). When Delaney’s adventures lead to an important medical discovery, Middleford Academy in Connecticut offers Delaney a scholarship to the prestigious private high school, but she won’t go unless Cash joins her.
How does a teenager pick up and leave the only home he’s ever known? Mamaw cannot possibly handle working night shifts and take care of Papaw all by herself. But new places and faces are an opportunity for Cash as much as for Delaney. When a teacher introduces poetry, Cash discovers that writing can bring home and family to whatever setting he happens to occupy at the time. 
Packed with references to recognized settings, readers will relate to Cash and Delaney and their stories. The gorgeous language of Zentner’s storytelling, especially the details of scenes and scents, makes the reader stop and appreciate nature, especially the river and how it nourishes the soul. Cash learns to navigate life through his poetry, something he can use to reveal his love. Readers will love In the Wild Light and maybe even uncover their own passion for life — the feelings will grip and hold on for a long while. “Home is where the heart is” never had truer meaning.

Recommended for ages 13 and up.

5 Stars *****


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IMWAYR: “Prep For School” Time

It’s “Prep For School” time! I’m excited to go back to work. I’m also nervous and I’m not ready to go back. Summer break is not what it used to be, that’s for sure. Since I’m organizing and attending professional development sessions this week, I won’t have much time to read.

I’ll keep reading Fire Keeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. It’s sooo good so far! I highly recommend this for upper middle school and high school (and adults).

I still have a stack of picture books I received from Publisher’s Spotlight (Thank you!) to read and these look promising! As I head into the school year, I’ll be sure to use them with my middle schoolers and staff in our “Picture Books are Perfect For Middle School” sessions.

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.


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IMWAYR: One More Week of “Independent Reading”

This is my last week of true “independent reading” time, so I’m making the most of my minutes. I’ve been thinking about what “independent reading” means to me — stay tuned on www.readingteacherwrites.org for more writing about this topic as we head into the school year.

NetGalley: I’m trying. Really! I have several titles to read before school starts. The Ghoul of Windydown Vale by Jake Burt is going to be a HIT with my middle schoolers! Compare to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series books. I loved the plot twists here. It’s creepy, and students love creepy!

Libro.fm: I’m so glad I went back to listen to The Barren Grounds on audio. Brefny Caribou-Curtin narrates David A. Robertson’s first book in The Misewa Saga with such VOICE — I fell in love with the main characters, Morgan and Eli, all over again.

Physical Books: I finished It Doesn’t Take a Genius (finally) by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and I loved how Emmett and Luke’s summer ended up. What a great summer camp story! I also read the funny and light (is murder light?) Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto. I will start The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley tonight. The book’s thickness is intimidating, I have to say, but I think that’s just my middle school brain talking. I must begin!

“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.


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IMWAYR: Various Titles

Last week provided hours of fun, relaxation, and reading time. Our family was able to celebrate July Fourth together and the 4-H Fair was a bright spot for us – we celebrated my granddaughter’s various ribbons! She’s growing so fast! I read various titles last week, too: poetry, short stories, and a new PD text that I know will be useful in the fall. It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

Poetry: Bridge the Distance – a collaboration of teacher-writers sharing an oral history of COVID-19 in poems. I was happy to celebrate this book along with many friends who submitted works for this project. Collected by Dr. Sarah J. Donovan, this publication was made possible by the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program and the Oklahoma State University Library. Thanks for writing, friends! I can only imagine what future generations will learn when they read these poems.

Physical Book: I’m still reading and enjoying Blackout by the fabulous women who show us that “even love stories can glow when the lights go.”

PD: A Teacher’s Guide to Mentor Texts by Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell is a must-read resource for middle school and high school teachers. I’m going to share this “classroom essential” from Heinemann as soon as I get back into the school building.

IMWAYR is a weekly blog hop with kid lit co-hosts Jennifer from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers. The original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It’s a great way to share what you’re reading and get recommendations from others. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs each week.