Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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IMWAYR: Congratulations to the #ALAYMA Winners!

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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I’m taking a detour here to say CONGRATULATIONS to the #ALAYMA winners! There were so many titles that students recognized this morning and we were cheering and running around the library to pull books off the shelves for a display. I’m happy to say that many of my friends “got the call”: Chris Baron, Kyle Lukoff, Kekla Magoon, Lisa Fipps, Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper, Raul the Third, Traci Sorell, Melissa Stewart, Cynthia Levinson, Nikki Grimes, Grace Lin, Rajani LaRocca, WOW! Congratulations, my friends! I’m so happy for you all! (Note #1: Many of the titles are checked out right now, and I still have a Newbery Medalist book to buy. That’s why you don’t see them all in the picture. Note #2: I correctly chose the Caldecott Medalist for the first time! Congratulations Jason Chin (and Andrea Wang) and thank you for the beautiful book, Watercress.)

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading? I think I’ll revisit some of these titles in the next couple of weeks –So much to celebrate!


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IMWAYR: Congratulations to the #ALAYMA21 Book Award Winners

I think it’s part luck that I chose Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri to read this week, because today the book won the Michael L. Printz Award! I spent most of the day reviewing the complete list of ALA’s Youth Media Awards and celebrating as each book was named during the live webcast. (For the list of #alayma winners, click here.)

I chose correctly! My top pick for the Caldecott Medal was We Are Water Protectors, and it won! Congratulations to @MichaelaGoade for this well-deserved win! Thank you for writing this important book, @CaroleLindstrom.

I chose incorrectly. Whoa! I wasn’t even close on the Newbery Medal! Congratulations to @taekeller for winning this most distinguished award! I still have When You Trap a Tiger on my TBR list. I guess I’d better pull it out next.

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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My Newbery and Caldecott Predictions – 2021

It’s the most exciting time of the year for #kidlit readers — the ALA Youth Media Awards, including Newbery and Caldecott, will be announced on Monday, January 25th, and I AM READY! Honestly, with the 2020 pandemic and virtual school, I wasn’t able to share books with students like I had in previous years, and I don’t have students’ insights into the picks this year. I have been thinking about which books I want to win medals and honors, though. Best wishes to ALL the creators who gave us books in 2020 — I’m sorry it was such a weird year in publishing, but you all deserve to be recognized anyway. Here are my final picks, just 2 days before the big day:

My choice for the Newbery Medal: King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (Scholastic Press, 2020).

Talk about “distinguished!” I read this book back in February 2020 when it was published, and then listened to the audio version on It won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and I’m sure it will come away with at least one more award by Monday. Hopefully it’s the Newbery Medal.

My choices for Newbery Honors: Show Me a Sign, by Ann Clare LeZotte (Scholastic Press, 2020) and When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (Dial Books for Young Readers).


Both of these titles scored at the top of my “distinguished” list, as well. Either one could grab a medal, but I think they will come away with honors. I can’t wait to hear the announcements!




My choice for Caldecott Medal: We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade (Roaring Brook Press, 2020).

In my opinion, this gorgeous picture book is special in many ways, and I hope that Michaela Goade wins the medal. The illustrations add to the text in such a way that children understand the significance of the message AND enjoy the book AND appreciate the art — this title has “Caldecott Award” written all over it.

My choice for Caldecott Honors: I have a whole list here. I cannot decide! I’m glad I don’t have to — the Caldecott committee had their hands full of excellent choices this year. I’ll just wait to see the outcome…








All Because You Matter by Tami Charles and Bryan Collier (Orchard Books, 2020), Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann (Neal Porter Books, 2020), and I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020).

Now we wait. What are YOUR choices for book awards this year? Tune into the Youth Media Awards (ALA Youth Media Awards) live webcast on Monday morning (8 am CT). Visit ALA’s streaming platform at or follow on social media.

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Youth Media Awards – I Was WRONG!

Full disclosure: I’m usually wrong about these book awards. I pore over the criteria, talk to students and friends, read all the predictions, and still…I don’t chose the medal winners.

Today, I was WRONG, and that’s fine with me. I am so happy for Jerry Craft, Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson, and all the other winners of medals and honors today during the Youth Media Awards announcements. Congratulations! It was fun to watch and cheer on all our favorite books.

The Newbery Medal for 2020 went to Jerry Craft for NEW KID.

The Caldecott Medal went to Kadir Nelson for THE UNDEFEATED, written by Kwame Alexander.

Congratulations to ALL the winners of book awards this year. We will keep reading and sharing!

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Youth Media Awards Announcements Are TOMORROW!

I am excited to see what the committees chose for the Youth Media Awards medals this year. From the website:

The 2020 Youth Media Award announcements will take place on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, at 8 a.m. ET from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia. Fans can follow the action live at , @AmericanLibraryAssociation or by following #ALAyma20 .

As I read others’ picks, I think this is the first year I’ve seen so many different titles crop up as front-runners in the conversation. Who will win? We will find out…tomorrow!

I reviewed the criteria for Newbery and Caldecott awards (the two “big ones” followed by school librarians), and I have chosen my favorites:

For the Newbery Medal (tough call), I chose…

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. I loved this story of the kids who live on the bridge (and their dog, of course), their entrepreneurial spirit, their problem-solving skills, and their love for each other.

For the Caldecott Medal (really tough call), I chose…

My Papi Has a Motorcycle, illustrated by Zeke Peña.

I think the artist’s perspective of the city’s changes over time reflect the Caldecott criteria perfectly.

These statements reflect my opinions. You may or may not agree, but please join me in watching the awards announcements tomorrow. Best wishes to all the authors and illustrators who worked so hard to publish the best books for children.



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My Newbery and Caldecott Predictions – 2019 Awards Season

Only a weekend away now — THE book awards season is upon us, and I’m eagerly waiting for the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 28th (live from Seattle, 8:00 am PT, during the ALA Midwinter Conference). I’m so sorry I will miss the live event, but I’m so happy that I will get to follow along and watch from my school library.

Here are my predictions for the two most popular awards, Newbery Medal and Honors, and Caldecott Medal and Honors, 2019:

Newbery Medal: The Journey of Little Charlie, by Christopher Paul Curtis 

Newbery Honors:

Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson 

Louisiana’s Way Home, by Kate DiCamillo 

The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani 

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier 


Caldecott Medal: Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales 

Caldecott Honors:

Drawn Together, by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat 

Blue, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger 

What If…, by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Mike Curato 


If nothing else, I hope I have given you a worthy reading list here. Good luck to all the authors and illustrators — best wishes to all the readers!






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IMWAYR: Revisiting Smoky Night by Eve Bunting

Several weeks ago, I was upset that the news carried stories about devastation from hurricanes, but not the wildfires in Montana. This week fires have destroyed beautiful parts of California, and people are left with nothing. Today for my “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” self-assignment, I revisited Smoky Night, by Eve Bunting. It seemed appropriate. 

Smoky Night surrounds Daniel, his Mama, and his cat on the night of a fire that displaced tenants of an apartment building. It’s a scary night, a sad night, and yet a night of meeting and taking care of one’s neighbors when there is need. People were rioting in the streets, stealing from Morton’s Appliances, and throwing items from Fashion Shoes. It’s chaos, and yet Eve Bunting allows the reader to feel hopeful as firefighters arrive, as the neighbors met at the church hall, which transformed to a shelter, and as the tenants became friends.

Another reason I read Smoky Night again was to recapture the magic of picture books, especially Caldecott Award winners from the past. This book won a Caldecott Medal in 1995, and it is just as timely today. Viewing the matches at the opening, to the splotches of paint, to the bubble wrap on page 4, to the leather shoe bottoms, to the fabric cut to look like flames, to…well, just look! It’s fascinating the art that went into this work of art.

If you find the time, read Smoky Night for yourself — for the first or fortieth time. You won’t be disappointed.

(Image courtesy of My copy’s cover is worn out!)




Slice of Life Tuesday: Analyzing Books for Awards Season

Slice of Life Small LogoI love awards season! The Golden Globes hooked me on Sunday and reeled me into the bedroom so I could watch and not bother the other family members. I love the gowns, the tuxes, the speeches — all of it. I have a passion for awards. I now want to see all the movies and TV shows, and hear all the music that won those awards. It’s only natural, I think, to want to continue participating in the “buzz” that surrounds awards.

This is the same feeling I have when I read books that are considered for awards. I read list after list, recommendation after recommendation, to find the books that I consider noteworthy. I share books with my classes. I read books aloud, I talk about books, I show my students how books affect my life. That “buzz” is the passion that led me to take some time in class to teach a Mock Caldecott unit this year.  Wow! What an experience!

My students are actively engaged, in learning! Yes, we are meeting the standards. I can prove it: 6.RL.2.1 (Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what a text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text); 6.RN.2.3 (Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text); 6.RL.2.2 (Determine how a theme or central idea is conveyed through particular details…) Wow! Our experiences matter! caldecott_2017_classtop6

We narrowed the list to six books and we are voting this week. We took the criteria from the ALA/ALSC Caldecott Medal Terms and Criteria. We made lists. We ranked each point: 4 means “absolutely meets criteria”, 3 means “yes, meets criteria”, 2 means “maybe meets criteria”, and 1 means “nope.” (It’s interesting to see the similarities and differences in the two sections/classes, too.)

We will decide a winner on Thursday. Then we will watch on January 23rd as we find out if the real voters for the Caldecott Medal and Honors books will issue the same awards that we did. It’s going to be great! Just like learning should be.



Slice of Life Tuesday: Who’s Having More Fun?

I just opened the front door and found two boxes on the freezing cold front porch. I stepped outside for a few seconds to carry the unexpected, unexpectedly large boxes inside. The boxes were not heavy, but awkward, and I had to turn them both at an angle to get them in the door. Ok…I didn’t have to turn them 45 degrees or anything; the cardboard containers were not that large, about the size of vinyls or big picture books…OOH! It came!

The first box was my daughter’s new vinyl (I called them records when I was young — times have changed). She’s into music right now. But I — I got the book! I was so excited to receive my granddaughter’s birthday gift early — I Don’t Want To Be a Frog by Dev Petty! I wasn’t ready for it; I don’t need it until July, but I ordered it, and it’s here! “Why did you order it so early?” you ask? Here’s the truth: I love picture books, even more than my granddaughter, more than my kids, more than my students!

Last week, I packed my bag for school, carrying Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Blackout, Blizzard, Snow Day, and Once Upon an Alphabet. My sixth graders buzzed around the room when they saw me unload. “Are you going to read new picture books today?”

“Of course!” I exclaimed. I love to share my new picture books with my “grown-up” sixth graders. They gather in the meeting area, never quietly, always giggling, and I share my new finds. Even though these are the “little kid” books, we read them. We’ve been talking about award-winners in literature, so this was well worth the instructional minutes. (Motivating students to read is always worth the instructional minutes.)

One of my students inquired, “You get really excited about this stuff, don’t you?” Yep. True story.

Who’s Having More Fun?

I’d have to say, “Me!”