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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IMWAYR: Picture Books and PD

Another busy week is behind me; I’m ready for the week to come, thanks to good books.

I finished the graphic novels and picture books from last week, and added another picture book. I won Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell in the Perma-Bound webinar drawing! Thank you, Julie, Perma-Bound, and Matthew, for the signed book. It’s beautiful!

As I prepare for next quarter’s professional development, I will turn (again) to my reading mentors, Kylene Beers and Bob Probst and their new title, Forged By Reading: The Power of a Literate Life.

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: Distracted

I know I said I was going to start A Promised Land, but I got distracted by book mail at school. Our students are doing virtual learning this week, but teachers are still working in the buildings. Opening book boxes made me feel like Christmas came early. Look at what I pulled out to read before students return…

Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant and Frank Morrison (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020). I’ve heard about this one, and now I have it, too. So exciting!

Look at this magnificent cover! Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History by Sarah Prager and Sarah Papworth (Harper, 2020) has encyclopedia-like entries about people I’ve heard of, but my students may not recognize. This will be perfect for our research studies over the winter. I have to say, I stopped typing this post to read a little first…intriguing!

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: Continued…Happy Holiday Weekend

Reading…continued…I will finish up the graphic novels from last week — Superman Smashes the Klan, The Oracle Code, and Doodleville — and add a new one to this week’s list, Twins (by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright). I’m so happy my indie bookstore, Brain Lair Books, had a copy for me.

Then I will start a new adventure. It will take me a while, but I’m up for the challenge. Barack Obama’s story, A Promised Land. Seven hundred, six pages plus a 45-page index. My goal is to have it finished by December 31st.

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: Graphic Novels Count as Reading!

I pulled a little collection of graphic novels out this week because we have three of them in our Battle of the Books stack this year and because Junior Library Guild delivered more with our school subscription last week. They will keep me busy, trying to keep up with the students and promoting the message, “Graphic novels are real reading!” Try some of these in your own reading life.

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh – Snapdragon lives in a town with her mom…and a witch neighbor. Jacks is scary, lives alone in a dark house, and sells skeletons from roadkill on the internet. When Snapdragon needs a favor, Jacks is the only one left to ask for help, so the two become companions, whether Jacks likes it or not. There are mysterious happenings and surprising relationships, and Snap wants to know what it all means, and how she is involved with the bigger picture of this little town.

This graphic novel comes complete with suspense and awe, and a cute little dog pal, to boot. Readers will take Snap in as a friend, and feel a family connection in the end.

Recommended for middle schoolers and up.

Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne – Middle school students are going to love Beetle and her cute ghost-BFF, Blob Ghost. This graphic novel is perfect for independent reading time and focuses on friendships (new and old), family, and finding a way to stand up for yourself in times of trouble.

Beetle is a 12-year-old goblin-witch who is homeschooled by Gran, the Town Witch. She’s not very good at her lessons: she can’t fly a broom well and doesn’t know how to make potions. Beetle would rather dream about becoming a sorceress and hang out at the mall with Blob Ghost. But the mall is being sold, and will be demolished in one week under the control of the new owner, Marla Hollowbone, a former resident and Gran’s nemesis.

Can Beetle and her old friend Kat (Ms. Hollowbone’s niece) find a way to help Blob Ghost escape the mall and be free? Will Kat find a way to stand up to her power-hungry aunt? Will the town ever be the same?

Next up…Superman Smashes the Clan by Gene Luen Yang, with art by Gurihiru.

Doodleville by Chad Sell. Cardboard Kingdom by Mr. Sell was such a hit, we had to get this one into the library! I haven’t read it yet, but I will this week.

The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp and illustrated by Manuel Preitano (DC Comics, 2020)

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: Listening to Words/Thinking About Craft

It’s the day before Election Day in the USA. Times are tense. Anxiety runs high. I’m focused on reading.

To keep my mind at ease, I think about the authors who craft their stories and question how they seem to get it all right so easily. I know that’s not true – there are many revisions, many edits, many days and months of struggle to get messages to readers. But still…it amazes me how simple it seems.

The first book I picked up after last Monday’s post was This Poem is a Nest by Irene Latham. I wonder how long it took her to craft all those little poems, the nestlings, she called them, from one longer poem, “Nest.” I love how she introduced the book, telling the reader how she painstakingly (must have been an awesome task!) weaved each word from the first poem into the 161 nestlings that became the rest of the book. She explained how she expanded the concept of blackout poetry and found poems to “find the whole world” inside “Nest.” I immediately began writing my own poems about nature, the moon, and responses to other poems. She inspired me! If you haven’t read This Poem is a Nest yet, add it to your list. You’re going to enjoy the creative process here.

I’m listening to some Libro.fm audiobooks this week. I want to experience the words in a different way. I’m used to reading, creating my own version of voices and pictures in my head. But with audiobooks, I get to hear those voices from narrators, many of whom are the authors of the books, which is interesting. Authors reading their own works allow me to hear their stories the way they want me to hear them.

This week, I will finish The Trial of the Chicago 7, but it’s a little deep for me right now. I started listening to Greenlights, which is Matthew McConaughey’s memoir – funny and light, but also thoughtful and introspective. Recommended by a friend, I’m glad I listened to her, too.

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: Chilly Evenings Call for Chilling Books

It’s getting darker earlier. It’s cold outside. The end of October is here. This is a good week for some chilling tales (and more).

Chilling Tales…

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, brought to life by Danica Novgorodoff, literally gave me chills. The graphic novel is so much more haunting than the original!

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker was a Newbery Honor Book and I’ve saved it especially for this week — “The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No Fox Kit Is Safe.” Eek! I’d better have my blanket for when I need to cover my face.

And More…

Class Act, by Jerry Craft — I don’t know what to say, except…WOW! This companion novel focuses on Drew, Jordan’s friend from (Newbery Award Winner) New Kid, and his story is everything I expected and more.

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.


Leave a comment

IMWAYR: Chilly Evenings Call for Chilling Books

It’s getting darker earlier. It’s cold outside. The end of October is here. This is a good week for some chilling tales (and more).

Chilling Tales…

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, brought to life by Danica Novgorodoff, literally gave me chills. The graphic novel is so much more haunting than the original!

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker was a Newbery Honor Book and I’ve saved it especially for this week — “The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No Fox Kit Is Safe.” Eek! I’d better have my blanket for when I need to cover my face.

And More…

Class Act, by Jerry Craft — I don’t know what to say, except…WOW! This companion novel focuses on Drew, Jordan’s friend from (Newbery Award Winner) New Kid, and his story is everything I expected and more.

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: Book Mail!

The book mail I received today is FIRE! Thank you Elly Swartz and Paula Chase for the wonderful gifts, which will go to students soon. I can’t wait to show them these awesome titles!

I will finish listening to Charming as a Verb tonight. It’s such a good book! (No spoilers here!) Then tomorrow on my commute I’ll start The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Libro.fm. Look at all those narrators — an all-star line-up! I’m looking forward to this one. (The movie is on Netflix, but I’ll wait for that until after the book.)

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?