Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers


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 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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Updated Book Lists

Dear Reader Friends,

I finally had a chance to play around with my lists today, updating my book list for “Picture Books are Perfect for Writing Workshop” to reflect current books I used for my #ISLA20 presentation last weekend.

I also loaded a list called “My Favorite Memoirs/True Stories.” I think you should read all the books on that list; it’s a good one (my opinion, of course).

If you’re looking for a good book to read next, check out my lists. Happy Reading!




Slice of Life Tuesday: Farewell to 2014!

I cannot say it enough: The year, 2014, was a Grinch! Stink, Stank, Stunk! Many, many events happened this year, positive and negative, but when I look back, I want to stomp the year into the ground. Please forgive me for this end-of-year post, but I promise that I’ll say some nice things, too! I’ll even end with a “funny,” OK?

January: Snow storm. We didn’t go back to school after break. That’s a good thing, right? Well, yeah, then it was actually nice. We got to clean, stay up late and play games a few more days, put Christmas items away in storage, read and relax, etc. But…relaxing comes with a price (see June).

February: My dad died the day before my youngest daughter’s “sweet 16” birthday. No explanation needed there.

March: Still cold, I worried about ISTEP testing (we had to back it up due to the snow days). LONG month.

April: April was pretty good. Yes! A bright flower month to welcome spring. Spring Break was great! (OK, so at this point, the WHOLE year didn’t stink. I’m sorry, April 2014. I didn’t mean that you were a Grinch.)

May: I didn’t get to go to IRA (conference) due to ISTEP testing. Don’t even get me started on what I think of standardized testing…My birthday helped ease that blow, though. OK. Continue.

June: Make-up snow days! Stink, stank, stunk! But…I DID get to go to Indianapolis and learn about conferring from Conferring Carl (Anderson). That was awesome — and I even won a Donalyn Miller book in the door prize! (I see where you’re going here, 2014. You’re mixing the good with the bad. I see. Thank you.)

July/August: Summer fun, family time, and reading books! I planned to do some new and exciting things for the new school year, especially teaching an honors section of reading/language arts with my awesome teaching partner. I looked with great anticipation for a superb school year! I told my principal, “I’m pretty excited; I won’t have to worry about my dad being sick anymore, and I’m looking forward to less stress!” (I remember she said, at that time, “Well, as long as there are no surprises.” I thought, “Hmm. I’m ready for a low-key, less-stressed-out year anyway. I wonder why she would say that?”) Bam!

August/September/October: Spent the months worried and upset again. After losing my dad, my mom had a heart attack and bypass surgery. I tried to be as positive as I could to help her out, and my kids and I traveled every day we could to take care of her. We raked the leaves that were piling up in the yard, mowed grass, etc. My own home and campground went to the wayside, as they should, (no one minded at all). But still…

October/November: I didn’t get to travel to TCRWP for the Saturday reunion, and I didn’t get to go to NCTE and meet all my “Slicer” buddies! (Sounds like May, huh?) I didn’t finish my writing work that I wanted to do, and I didn’t get that second job that I really wanted to make some ends meet. My car started acting up (and it’s still not fixed!) and we had an early snow storm. Crazy cold weather! Not the months for me.

December: I counted the days until 2015. One left! It WAS great to see family friends, and cousins, but not at the funeral of my husband’s grandmother! Geesh, 2014, didn’t you give us enough? And the stomach flu! Merry Christmas to all, though, and it was great, and everyone got everything they asked for! My Christmas tree was beautiful, and I’ve relaxed and hung out with my best friend. Not bad, December! Thank you for helping me out this last week.

So,Year 2014, I cannot say “Fond Farewell”, but rather, “Good Riddance.”  — Please don’t let my new door hit you on the way out!

(Note that makes that last line funny: I got a new back door for Christmas! It will be installed early in 2015. :))