Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


IMWAYR: Happy New Year! Happy New Reading Life!

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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After realizing that my reading goals were not met in 2021, I’m happy that it’s a new year. Happy New Year! Happy New Reading Life! And I’m off to a great start with some excellent books. Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin (Read by Jason Reynolds and others)

I don’t have the physical book yet, but I’m going to grab it this week. Jason Reynolds can read to me any time – I love his passionate, articulate voice when he reads his own words. I listened to the ebook on (Thank you!). The second read with an ensemble of voices left me breathless. This audio version included a conversation with Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin at the end, which was an added bonus with extra insights. This book about oxygen (and/or lack of it) is organized in “breaths” – a creative way to develop characters who live during the recent pandemic (2020), not that it’s mentioned. It’s a symbolic commentary on our times, which is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. African Icons by Tracey Baptiste (Narrated by Karne Chilton)

I’ve been waiting to read African Icons for a while – I got distracted during December, but now I’m glad to listen and read this excellent nonfiction celebration of African leaders. I’m just at the beginning, where Tracey (via narrator, Karne) discusses the size of Africa and how it is distorted by the Mercator Map Projection. This is a social studies teacher’s dream book about Africa.

Physical Books: Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds and Raul the Third

I LOVE this collaboration! I LOVED seeing that there was a display of this book cover in Times Square! I LOVE this graphic novel! The students are going to need more copies of this one.

Physical Books: The Deadliest Diseases Then and Now by Deborah Hopkinson

Deborah Hopkinson shares information in such interesting ways! Her “Deadliest” series is on my “must-have” list and Diseases Then and Now is timely, upsetting, and yet hopeful in the way it helps us to know that we have the power to change and improve our lives. The chapters are organized by historical time periods/worldwide disasters of disease: The plague, the 1918 Flu pandemic, other deadly diseases, and even COVID-19. There’s a glossary, so teachers have a built-in vocabulary list and lots of “further reading” information, including source notes, bibliography, and photos. Ms. Hopkinson is an excellent researcher who knows how to supply children with what they need to learn, grow, and make the world a better place. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Anyone who wants to learn about how diseases affected history needs to read this.

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?


IMWAYR: Indigenous Peoples Day and Fall Break

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! Three of my favorites from the past are We Are Grateful/Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day, and Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard. There are many more, but I couldn’t read them all in one day.

This fall break, I’m taking it easy. I need to relax! Deborah Hopkinson’s novel, We Must Not Forget, comes out in 2021, but I’m lucky enough to get a sneak peek now. Thank you, on behalf of the #booksojourn readers.

I’m listening to Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe on About 1/3 of the way through and I’m loving it. It’s light-hearted and funny — just what I need for this break.

It’s MONDAY! What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop with kidlit co-hosts Jennifer (at 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.

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IMWAYR: Authors and Bookseller Friends Sent Books!

This is a great week to read. President’s Day Weekend gave me some time to spend with Mom, and gave me time to read books. I finished…

Soldier for Equality by Duncan Tonatiuh.

What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado.

We Had to Be Brave by Deborah Hopkinson.

Thanks to the authors, publishers, and Kathy Burnette at The Brain Lain Bookstore (@brainlairbooks) for supplying books for me to devour this week.

It’s Monday! What Are YOU Reading?

This meme is 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 Kathryn 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.




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Book Review: How I Became a Spy by Deborah Hopkinson

I think it would be cool, but I’ve never had the spirit or the smarts to be a spy, so when I read the advanced reader copy of Deborah Hopkinson’s newest book, How I Became I Spy: A Mystery of WWII London (coming February 12th, 2019), I felt that I had reached a new goal while following the story of Bertie Bradshaw, a young boy living in WWII London.

Summary: Penguin Random House states, “Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving ciphers, practicing surveillance, and searching for a traitor to the Allied forces.” This middle grade novel practically sells itself –“historical fiction by Deborah Hopkinson,” “WWII,” “mystery,” and “solving ciphers” are the book talk keywords here. Students are going to love this one!

What I Loved: I love that Deborah Hopkinson, once again, gives us a real-life peek into history. This time it’s explanations of ciphers and codes, the appearance of actual figures, such as Leo Marks and Dwight D. Eisenhower from WWII reality, and the Special Operations Executive (SOE) that make the story engaging and believable. The SOE organization, with headquarters at 64 Baker Street, trained men and women to become secret agents. In the story, Bertie, his dog Little Roo (LR), his Jewish-refugee-friend, David, and a mysterious American girl are all caught up in the action. There’s a young girl missing — an agent — and Bertie must hide her secret notebook, translate it, and inform the right people before a double agent ruins the Allies’ plans.

Why You Should Read This: How I Became a Spy is an action-packed spy thriller for middle schoolers, or anyone who likes puzzles, Sherlock Holmes, London’s crowded streets, war stories, or doggie heroes. And…

if you ever wanted to be a spy…this book might just help get you started.

Happy reading!