Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

Leave a comment

IMWAYR: Do Emails Count?

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is imwayr_2015vincent_logo.png

Hi reading friends! I haven’t read anything in the past few days except back-to-school emails. Does that count as reading? I’ll see you again next week for better updates (I hope)!

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?


Leave a comment

#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?

Leave a comment

IMWAYR: Back-to-School Reading Begins

Will you look at this mess? LOL Yes, I staged it (a little). This stack of books on my desk grows each day, and I love it! This week:

Maybe He Just Likes You, by Barbara Dee

Barbara Dee has a way of making must-read books for middle graders. This one will be perfect for our students. Needed. Important. Timely. Thank you for sending this to me, Barbara! October is going to be a busy month for reading.

Things You Can’t Say, by Jenn Bishop was also in my #giveaway prize mail from Barbara Dee (Thank you again!) recently. Coming in 2020 from Aladdin Books, I’m sure you’ll want to add this to your list now.

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.


Leave a comment

Book Review: Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

Consider this colorful picture book for your first days of school…for all ages and grades.

Yellows, Blues, and Reds live peacefully in a city, until one day, a Red declares, “Reds are the best!” The whole community is thrust into chaos — so much so that the three color groups must live apart, forming segregated neighborhoods. One day, Blue and Yellow are seen together with a new color…what will become of the union? In Mixed: A Colorful Story, Arree Chung shows us a world of colors, teaches us about tolerance, and how “mixing it up” might just be the best thing for everyone.

Why I Like This Book: My current school is a mix of old and new — students who have attended there and students who are now enrolled due to school closings and consolidation in our district. This is a perfect book to make students (and teachers) think about ways we can come together, and that being united is better than being alone.

Why You Should Read This Book: It’s colorful! (Hint: there’s an art lesson here — primary colors, secondary colors.) It includes simple and fun characters, but it also introduces a big message about communities that we all need.


#PB10for10: Picture Books I Will Share With My New Staff

I’m moving to a new school, and I couldn’t be happier with my fine arts academy and middle school staff. I am lucky to be a part of the arts integration movement, and the school library will be the best place to support our curriculum. Here are ten picture books I will share with my new staff and students.

To Start the Year/Build Community (We are the Bears, and we are Brave):

Mother Bruce, by Ryan T. Higgins (2015)

Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall (2017)

For The Visual Artists:

Drawn Together, by Minh Lê (2018)

Vincent Can’t Sleep, by Barb Rosenstock (2017)

I Cannot Forget My Math and Science Friends:

7 Ate 9, by Tara Lazar (2017)

The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires (2014)

For My Choir and Band Buddies:

When Marian Sang, by Pam Munoz Ryan (2002)

Incorporate Beauty, Research, and a Little Love:

Red & Lulu, by Matt Tavares (2017)

It’s All About Perspective/The Joy of Learning:

They All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel (2016)

It’s NOT Jack and the Beanstalk, by Josh Funk (2017)


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.


Slice of Life Tuesdays: Rain Delay

Our city had some water troubles. A record 8.6 inches of rain fell between 7 am Monday to 7 am Tuesday. Bad for the drivers, but no real damage like other states this past week. My husband had several detours this morning while heading to work, but we were ok. I thought about it again…

Last night before bed, I heard a “drip, drip, drip” coming from above my head. I thought I was just hearing things, so I went back to scratching Jake’s belly (old dog still loves Mom). Then I heard it again. What? I got up and walked around the room. Yep, “drip” – right on my head! The new roof was leaking. Called for service. Thank goodness it wasn’t too bad, so I went off to work this morning. Didn’t think anything of it. It will be fixed, and we can move along with our week. I thought about it again…

As I walked into school, I saw several people walking around with vacuum cleaners, and heard a buzz of chitter chatter in the hallway. Hmm.

“Rain poured all night.”

“Yeah, record-breaking 8.6 inches.”


“Awe, man!”

I turned the key to my classroom and felt my toes get wet. Crud! Water had filled my classroom. “Thank goodness there’s no kids today,” said the engineer. Yeah.

I waded around in ankle-deep water to move boxes and tables, and check out the damage. Not really a problem — most of the books were put away on the shelves already, and I only lost 2 boxes of books and 2 boxes of new chart paper. My new rug was hanging outside on a pole (Thanks, Miss Vanessa!) to dry before students come tomorrow.

Our meeting was fine, and I got my rosters organized, decorated the show case, and counted textbooks and locker numbers. Now I’m ready. Tomorrow will come early.

I’m beat. Let’s pray it stays dry. Good night!




Slice of Life Tuesdays: Ready to Go! (?)

Slice of Life Small LogoAm I ready?

Yes. Tomorrow is the back-to-school staff retreat where my school colleagues will meet and prepare for the new year. We have several new staff members this year, and I am ready to meet everyone and get started. Today I finished my part of the PD on reading instruction, so I can’t wait to see how that goes.

No. Summer is over? No! I still haven’t finished the landscaping project on the front yard, and I wanted to relax a little more before heading into the stress of school. (Ok, I’ll be honest. The stress will start with setting an alarm in the mornings!)

Are YOU ready for the school year? Have a great one!


Slice of Life Tuesdays: Back to Work/Back to School

Slice of Life Small LogoBack to Work/Back to School

Yes, I’m back to work — back to school! Monday was the first “teacher day” and today I welcomed my 20th group of homeroom students into Room 138. Where does the time go? One of the first questions I ask students on the first day of school is, “Who likes to read?” Today, I saw a bunch of hands shoot straight up, excitedly reporting the data. Yes! We like to read! I’m so happy to start the year with people with whom I can share my passion. Passion is Powerful! (That’s Lucy Calkins’ phrase that I carry with me everywhere.)


After introducing myself I gave a quick tour of the fairly empty room. My OLW, LEAN, works at school, too. I cleaned the clutter and the room is squeaky clean and quite bare at this time. Over the course of the next few days, my students and I will unpack boxes and discover the joys of new and old titles, of new and worn books. The magazine subscriptions will start coming in the mailbox. The charts and student work will hang on the bulletin boards. This is the most exciting time of the year — the discovery days that will move us forward.

In our meeting area on the rug, I read aloud BIG PLANS by Bob Shea and Lane Smith. Those two authors crack me up! The students listened intently as I shared my big plans with them. Reading! Writing! Learning! “I have BIG PLANS, Big Plans, I say!”

After reading, we wrote “about the tiger.” My school’s mascot is the Tigers, so I chose the large stuffed animal in the room to help me — allowing students to show me their writing style. I said, “Write about the tiger.” I will learn about their writing style, conventions knowledge, and stamina for writing time. I am happy with the work that students did today. We had a great day.

I apparently did not reveal enough details about my BIG PLANS, however. When I asked if there were any questions I could answer, a young inquiring mind from each class section asked me, “When do we go to the library?”

I love this group!



Slice of Life Tuesdays: Start With the Why

During the summer, I attended the All Write Institute which advertised the theme, “Start With the Why.” I’ve been thinking about the WHY today as I prepare to start another school year. I’m torn. I want to get back to work, but I would love to read more books, have more time to travel, and get household activities done. So…here are my WHY lists for both.

WHY go back to school?

Ok, let’s be realistic. I need the paycheck again. But “I’m in it for the money” is not what teachers say. First, I want to share all the wonderful lessons and book titles I learned about this summer. I read many books, wrote a little, made new friends, attended functions, and traveled, and I want to tell others about all of it. Second, I miss my friends. (Students sometimes come to school just to see their friends. Teachers do, as well!) Third, it will be nice to be on a productive schedule again. I haphazardly complete tasks when I know there’s not a deadline. I look forward to school; I can socialize with students and colleagues, continue to grow in my practice, and help students to grow and learn, too.

WHY stay home?

I’m still trying to live my One Little Word this year, LEAN. I need to finish cleaning the clutter in my office and in the empty bedroom (formerly home of my daughter–who has moved out on her own). In the spirit of cleaning, we need to finish the home projects, and I cannot wait to get them done. It’s going to be fabulous! Other reasons to stay home? More Reading! More Writing! (Oh, wait. I can do that at school.)

Yes, I am looking forward to going back to school now. WHY? It’s going to be a great year!



Slice of Life Tuesday: Running Out of Time

Running, running, running…

To the school supply stores, to the doctor, to the dentist, to the SCUBA shop, to Ohio for SCUBA day…wait! Today is National Book Lovers Day! I have to read! I cannot believe these are the last days of summer. I agree with a fellow Slicer; I’m not ready!

Running, running, running...

I have draft-planned my first few weeks of school. There are so many great ideas, stories, and lessons. Mostly, I want my students to read and write well, and have fun doing it! Yet, I feel a sense of urgency, and the meetings for staff development start next week — wait! Oh, no, it’s THIS week!

Running, running, running…

With all of this running around, I should be in great shape to start the school year. We shall see!