Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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IMWAYR: In the Wild Light PREview

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). Delaney’s adventures include discovering a new medicine in those caves, a medical science breakthrough that leads to an invitation. Middleford Academy in Connecticut offers Delaney a scholarship to the prestigious private high school, but she says she won’t go unless Cash joins her.

How does a teenager just pick up and leave the only home he’s ever known? What will happen to Papaw if he isn’t home to take care of him? Papaw will surely die from emphysema if Cash leaves. Mamaw cannot handle working night shifts and taking care of her husband all by herself. Cash’s decision to stay might just mean he’s stuck in the little Appalachian town forever, with little hope of a better future. Delaney’s decision to leave might just mean Cash loses his best friend…forever. 

Packed with references to commonly recognized settings (Dairy Queen, Little Ceasar’s Pizza, the Greyhound Bus Station, New York City…), readers will relate to Cash and Delaney and their story, eagerly following the two friends to their new home at Middleford Academy. The gorgeous language of Zentner’s storytelling, especially the details of scenes and scents, make the reader stop and appreciate nature, especially the river and how it nourishes the soul. Readers will also cheer for minor characters, other students who ascend on the school from everywhere in the world, who connect with Cash and Delaney and provide a family away from home.

In a welcome surprise, references to another Zentner title will help readers reminisce — a throwback that brings one forward to hope and renewed love of story.  Follow Cash Pruitt’s path from small town boy to boarding school  poet, living his dreams with him. Appreciate the intelligence of a strong female character with attitude, who can kick your butt, then give you a hug in the same scene, while all along working in the science lab to save the future. Grieve your losses alongside each of the characters, and lift your head back up to see the “wild light” that is waiting for you at the end.

Thank you to Net Galley for providing this digital ARC, and to Jeff Zentner for writing yet another wonderful book that celebrates nature, family, and friendships. In the Wild Light has an expected publishing date of August 10, 2021.


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NerdCampMI – another year of fabulous fun!

“What is Nerd Camp?” Wow! Fun-filled, exhausting days of learning, reading books, writing, meeting #kidlit authors in real life, reuniting with like-minded people, and visiting with fellow campers until the wee hours of the morning. #NerdCampJr was awesome this year, and those 3rd graders were amazing! THANK YOU to Alaina Sharp, Colby Sharp and family for hosting (again) the BEST summer PD EVER! Don’t forget, if you need books, order from Kathy at The Brain Lair Bookstore. One year with dreams of many more to come! I can’t tag everyone, or this post would be pages long, but please know that it was nice to see each and every one of you and I can’t wait until next year! ❤️

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Sunday Snippet – A Bit Of Thinking

Maintaining the Motivation – 

     Last week students at my middle school were lucky to hear author Sarah Aronson talk about her writing process and share information about her upcoming picture book biography, Just Like Rube Goldberg. I went home that night with renewed interest in researching and reading…and writing. 

     Four days later, I struggled to sit my “butt in the chair” today and write anything of substance. Why is that? How can we maintain the motivation for reading and writing after a big literacy event?

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#MustReadin2019 — Books I Didn’t Read From 2018

Carrie Gelson of “There’s a Book For That”( hosts a hashtag for all the readers who didn’t get to finish their TBR lists in 2018 – #MustReadin2019. (Thank you, Carrie! I see I’m not alone.) I read over 140 books in 2018 (I’m terrible at posting on, but these are the titles I didn’t get to yet. As I head back to work tomorrow, my 2018—>2019 list of “Must Reads” looks like this:

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorrman

Marshfield Memories by Ralph Fletcher

Blended by Sharon Draper

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Becoming by Michelle Obama  

I’m finishing Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (from Simon & Schuster, 2014) by Benjamin Alire Sáenz tonight.

What are you reading in 2019? Share with us in the comments, so we can add to our To-Be-Read lists. Happy reading!

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A giveaway opportunity to start the summer…

I’m writing again! Can you believe it? It’s been a long time, but here we go!

My fellow middle-grade-crazy friend, Dr. Jagger, told me about this FABULOUS giveaway from Mixed-Up Files (MUF) of Middle Grade Writers, and I thought I share.

Happy Summer Reading and Writing!

Heres the link to the giveaway…

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Summer PD Planning — Exciting Year Ahead for Reading Teacher Writes

It’s been an interesting year here at Reading Teacher Writes. I got to live my dream of serving students and spreading book love as a school librarian in my fabulous middle school. The highlights of the year included

  • Kwame Alexander, poet and writer extraordinaire, visited our city and surprised one of our students (and his teachers) during the Rebound Bus Tour. Amazing! I cannot thank him enough — reading DOES change lives, and Kwame made it happen here!
  • Josh Funk gave his time for another wonderful, fun-filled Google Hangout. I always appreciate Josh’s friendship and willingness to entertain and inform our students.
  • Jess Keating sent us “The Curious Creative” magazine (online) each month, with articles, interviews, and activities for the curious science students (and teachers!).
  • I bought the books kids wanted, and I extended my knowledge and support of #WNDB (We Need Diverse Books).
  • I presented my PD series, “Picture Books are Perfect…” (my current passion) and led a PD/Book study at school using Jeff Anderson and Whitney La Rocca’s book, Patterns of Power.
  • I wrote, and stopped writing, and started writing, many times over this year. It’s a daily struggle, but I’m planning to write much more in the near future.
  • My personal professional development is awesome– I am reading, reflecting, learning each day with my online/social PLN (Professional Learning Network)! My friends at #G2Great and #NCTE continue to inspire me to be the best teacher I can be.
  • Ralph Fletcher asked for our students’ contributions to his current writing project (our 6th graders have some great stories!). I thank him for the opportunity.

With just 4 days left of school, I planned my summer. Wow! I have a LOT to do. Number 1: Relax and enjoy my time. Number 2: Attend the most awesome PD ever! Number 3: Present PD more often and extend my offerings to a wider audience. Here are some of this summer’s plans (Who will join me?):

  • The Lead Learners (formerly All Write), Warsaw, IN
  • NErDCampMI, Parma, MI
  • Teachers Write – writing with the Facebook group, led by Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, and Jennifer Vincent
  • Book Love Foundation Summer Book Club – led by Penny Kittle and others

When I looked at my fall calendar, I found that filling up, too! The best year ever is coming! I look forward to many new opportunities:

  • NCTE Annual Convention, Houston, TX in November — I’m a Presenter! I’ll be at the round tables with many other amazing colleagues during the #whymiddlematters session,  “Writing From the Middle Level Classroom: Overcoming the Fear and the Seemingly Impossible.”
  • RSAC (Raising Student Achievement Conference), St. Charles, IL in December — I will spread the book love with a “Picture Books are Perfect” session.

YES, it’s been an interesting year here at Reading Teacher Writes. Thank you for joining me. If you haven’t joined me yet, please consider your upcoming year and include Have a Fantastic Summer!