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Doing good, one book at a time

19 Dec

Earlier in the year, teachers were challenged to come up with a service project for their Lit Core + class. This is a class I see every other day that has rather vague criteria.

I grumbled a bit when the announcement was made. Because I see them for only 40 minutes every other day, it would be impossible to go anywhere to perform meaningful community service. I looked into all sorts of options. And then I found something right on my doorstep.

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Here’s their Mission Statement

We believe children’s books have the power to make the world a better place: Books open minds to limitless possibilities, spark curiosity and strengthen bonds. CBB exists because, otherwise, most Portland children experiencing poverty would not have their own books.

Last year, CBB filled 10,099 children’s homes with community-donated books to keep and enjoy over and over again. We eliminate “booklessness” by mobilizing the community to give underserved children books that increase vocabulary and early reading skills, foster critical brain development and a love of reading, and support parent-child bonding.

This project seemed right up my alley – and their warehouse was a few minutes drive from my house. I could easily drop the books off on my way home.

I spoke to my students. I sent a letter home to parents. I told them that, as middle schoolers they probably had books in the house they’d outgrown. I told them that of there was a book they loved, their heart book, they should not donate it. I told students I hoped we could fill a box. And the response was immediate. Within 12 hours, a parent emailed me back, telling me how she had volunteered there recently and had been inspired. Books arrived in class the next day we met.

Yeah, I told students I hoped we could fill a box. They filled three.

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Not every student in class brought a book. A few kids really brought in most of the books. But a lot of kids brought in one. I am now hoping we get asked to do a service project next Fall. I already know what we are going to do.

You can find out more about the work of the Children’s Book Bank, and how you can help, by visiting their website: https://www.childrensbookbank.org/.

 

Most checked out 2018-19

19 Jun

As always, graphic novels were the most checked out books form my classroom library this year. Here are the top three stats on what kids checked out most in graphic novels, fiction, and nonfiction.

Graphic Novels

# 1 – This One Summer by  Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki

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# 2 – Hey Kiddo by  Jarrett J. Krosoczka

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#3 – Brave  by Svetlana Chmakova

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Fiction

#1 –The Valiant  by Lesley Livingston

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#2 – The Fourteenth Goldfish

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#3 – Fallout by Todd Strasser

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Non-fiction

#1 – The Faithful Spy  by John Hendrix

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#2 – Spooked  by Gail Jarrow

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#3 – Poison  by Sara Albee

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This week’s book talks 4/22-26

26 Apr

Monday

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers

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Tuesday

Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson

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Thursday

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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Friday

Obsessed: A Memoir of my Life with OCD by Allison Britz

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Welcome to Middle School, Andrew Smith

18 Apr

A few years ago, an Andrew Smith novel,  Stick, stirred up some news when it was banned in our district. Teachers, parents, students stood up and spoke up because, although the panel had decided to keep it, an assistant superintendent overruled the panel’s decision. The book got to stay. The assistant superintendent left shortly afterwards, following another controversy.

I have long loved Andrew Smith’s books, especially Winger and Stand-Off. In fact, I think Winger  might have been my first Andrew Smith book. Needless to say, I was delighted to discover that he was writing a book for middle schoolers, and I awaited it patiently. I picked up an ARC at ALA in January and I finally read it. It might be my next read aloud with my classes.

It is called The Size of the Truth and it tells the story of Sam Abernathy, a character from Stand-Off. You don’t need to have read Winger and Stand-Off  to read The Size of the Truth – in fact, you shouldn’t. They are written for Young adult audiences. I don’t have them in my classroom library, but I hope my kids read them someday, when they are in high school.   But The Size of the Truth  contains all the humor, quirks and honesty of Winger and Stand-Off,  and takes hold of your heart in the same way.

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Publisher’s Summary: When he was four years old, Sam Abernathy was trapped at the bottom of a well for three days, where he was teased by a smart-aleck armadillo named Bartleby. Since then, his parents plan every move he makes.

But Sam doesn’t like their plans. He doesn’t want to go to MIT. And he doesn’t want to skip two grades, being stuck in the eighth grade as an eleven-year-old with James Jenkins, the boy he’s sure pushed him into the well in the first place. He wants to be a chef. And he’s going to start by entering the first annual Blue Creek Days Colonel Jenkins Macaroni and Cheese Cook-Off.

That is, if he can survive eighth grade, and figure out the size of the truth that has slipped Sam’s memory for seven years.

Disrupted reading

22 Mar

A sneeze.

A cough.

Giggles.

A metal water bottle knocked over on the table.

These are the sounds that sometimes interrupt our choice reading time. Usually, it’s the students. This week it was me.

No, I am fine. Thanks for asking. I have managed to mostly avoid the cough/cold/flu that’s been going around.

I laughed and I gasped as I read To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer.

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Early in the week, I was laughing. The book is told in the voices of two girls whose dads have fallen in love. They live on opposite sides of the country and are sent to camp together to get to know each other. Hijinks ensue as relationships are formed and fall apart. My LOLing got me some looks that I usually through at students. Touché, young friends!

With yesterday’s sudden turn of events, the audible gasp I uttered resulted in most heads turning my way. I think I might actually have put my hand to my mouth in a gesture of worry.

I was loath to stop choice reading because I was only 20 pages from the end.  As the students worked silently on an in class essay reflecting on the Ray Bradbury’s short stories, I returned to the world of Night Owl and Dog Fish. I’d peeked ahead and thought I knew how the book would end. I was wrong – but this ending was so much better than the one I’d thought was coming.

This week’s book talks 1/14-18

18 Jan

Continuing to introduce new books I added to the classroom library

Monday

Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz
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Tuesday

Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart
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Wednesday

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
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Thursday

Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
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Friday

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix
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This week’s book talks 1/7-11

11 Jan

This year, I received a couple of gift cards from students and decided to use them to add more books to our classroom library. I book-talked some of them this week.

Monday

Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages

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Tuesday

The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy DeKeyser

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Wednesday

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

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Thursday

Echo’s Sister by Paul Mosier

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Friday

Dog Days in the City by Jodi Kendall

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Rebel Librarians, Unite!

19 Dec

My sister told me about a book that wasn’t even on my radar.

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Although it has some classic debut novel imperfections, I loved it so much it is my current read aloud for my 6th graders, who can totally relate to June’s lack of control in her life, and her desire to do something slightly subversive.

 

Bringing Back the Books

12 Jun

Last week, I slowly inventoried my classroom libraries. I keep track of two libraries: one bought & paid for by the school district, the other by me. In total there are about 750 books. As of Friday, 58 books were “missing”. A few were checked out, more were not. Monday morning I charted the missing titles. By Monday afternoon, only 41 were still outstanding.

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We still have a week of school to go. I am confident that, come next Tuesday, most, if not all of the books will be back.

This week’s book talks 6/4-6/8

8 Jun

Monday

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Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Tuesday

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Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith

Wednesday

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Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

Thursday

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Okay for Now  byGary D. Schmidt

Friday

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Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

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