Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


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My BEST BOOKS OF 2021 List and Reflections

I have perplexing thoughts about my BEST BOOKS OF 2021 list. I curated the titles from my Goodreads account with two rules: 1) The book was published in 2021 and 2) I rated the book with 5 stars. (Titles appear in alphabetical order.)

Thirteen books rated with 5 stars. That’s it? For the whole year? I had a surreal year of reading, writing, and living; some weeks were wonderful and others I avoided action altogether. As I look back on 2021, I’m not unhappy with my reading habits, but I definitely did not meet my goals (especially on the Goodreads Reading Challenge). This list of 13 titles says a lot about my life this year.

Reflection #1: It’s not that I didn’t read voraciously. No, as a matter of fact, I DID read more than 97 books, although my goal was to record 150 titles on Goodreads. I didn’t even log into Goodreads for many of the books I read – I didn’t take the time. (I had trouble writing this year, too.) Also, almost all the books I read, I liked. I rated these books as 4-Star reads on my account. So it’s not like I didn’t enjoy my reading time. I did! As I look back, reading took a back seat to other activities, mostly due to health-and-wellness concerns. Everything is (physically) fine now, thank goodness, but I’m definitely looking forward to generally better days in 2022.

Reflection #2: I maintain that “Picture Books Are Perfect for Middle School” readers and up. Seven of these 13 titles are picture books. I love the art and how the illustrations are essential to telling the story. I love that I can read a picture book quickly, then go back and savor it again and again over time. I love that picture books can bring a smile to my face even on those darker days.

Reflection #3: I leaned on my friends this year. Nine of the 13 books listed here are written by authors and illustrators I know and love. Thank you for being there for me Chris Barton, Jeff Zentner, Jason Reynolds, Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper (RIP), E.B. Vickers, Lisa Fipps (my “local” author ally), Christina Soontornvat, Lauren Castillo, Nikki Grimes, and Matt de la Peña. Your books light my way, as a teacher, librarian, and human.

Thank YOU for reading with me this year. You are special. I am honored to have this space to share my thoughts and learning. My wish is for you to have a Happy New Year! See you next year!