It’s Monday, What Are You Reading (Nov. 5 edition)

I’m back! Be sure to visit teachmentortexts to see what others have been reading!

Over the past few weeks I’ve read:

Bear Has a Story to Tell – written by Philip C. Stead & illustrated by Erin Stead
Another lovely story by the team that brought us Amos McGee. 

Boot and Shoe – written & illustrated by Marla Frazee
Frazee’s writing and artistic style make her storytelling an absolute delight. I especially love the ways that she blends colors to show depth and movement.  

This is Not My Hat – written & illustrated by Jon Klassen
Another fantastic story by Jon Klassen. My 8-year-old and I read this together standing in our local independent bookstore. She kept flipping back and forth between pages and pointing out how much the eye on the “big fish” was telling her. 

One Crazy Summer – written by Rita Williams Garcia
This was a reread for me in preparation for a discussion in my children’s literature courses. I was again blown away by Williams’ writing, particularly her character development. This book is a must read example of historical fiction. 

Blackout -written & illustrated by John Rocco
I read this aloud to my students last week as we talked about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the role that children’s literature could play. 

This week I’ll be reading…

Graceling – written by Kristin Cashore
Another reread for me, I’ve been listening to the audio and reading depending on my location (car or home). This will be the first time I’ve used this book in my children’s literature courses and I’m anxious to hear what my students think when we discuss it next week. I love it as an example of fantasy – creating a consistant and believable world, and also as a book to talk about female characters. 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – written & illustrated by Brian Selznick
My 8-year-old is reading this to me. While I’ve read it before (and even used it in class), having her read it to me is making it an entirely new experience as she shares her thinking and questions while she reads. 

Teaching Literacy for Love and Wisdom – written by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm & Bruce Novak
I’m working on my dissertation right now, and this book is both inspiration and a source of knowledge for me. 

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Slice of Life #1 – Mrs. Arney

Thanks to some twitter and blogging friends, I’ve discovered the Slice of Live 2012 Challenge being hosted over at Two Writing Teachers. I’m not going to lie – at first I was intimidated by the idea of writing every day. I mean, I just started this blog (Jan. 2, 2012) and I’m working at trying to maintain it while maintaining life as a ph.d. student, mom, teacher, etc. But then I thought, everyone is trying to balance stuff! And one of the big reasons that I started a blog is because I want to meet and converse with other people – about children’s books, teaching, thinking, and everything in between. And if I’m not writing – well then, that isn’t going to happen.

So here I am. And here is my first slice of life…

Mrs. Arney – Librarian Extraordinaire 

I remember Mrs. Arney so vividly, mostly I remember her laugh. She was the librarian at the Peninsula Community Library, which happened to be located in my elementary school – Old Mission Peninsula School. I remember vividly the day that she gave me FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konigsburg and said to me, “Kristin, you remind me of the main character in this book and I think you’d really like it. Will you please read it and tell me what you think?”

WELL!!! Let me tell you, not only was I excited to read something that made Mrs. Arney think about me, but she wanted to know my opinion. And I gave it to her: good, bad, and everything in between. She wanted to really know what kids thought, and if she thought I  was feeding her a line of baloney, she’d look me straight in the eye and say, “Kristin Arnold, you tell me what you really think. That’s what matters, not what I think.”

Though I don’t remember that specific conversation, I’m convinced that Mrs. Arney is one of the biggest reasons why I am so committed to supporting the authentic use of literature in schools. And while I love helping to match up younger readers and books; I’m now challenging myself to try to match my undergrad students with books that they will enjoy and will tell me what they think (good, bad & everything in between). My hope is that by giving them that same experience, they will pass that along to their future students.