Saturday, June 22, 2013

Catching up...

I've been playing catchup the last 2 weeks as school ended and I began chauffering my preschooler around to camps, doctor appts, and library visits.  I've finished Raft by Bodeen, Life As We Knew It by Pfeffer, Beholding Bee by Fusco, Fire In The Streets by Magoon, and Fourmile by Key.  I enjoyed them all and I won't bore anyone with the same reviews I posted on Goodreads, but I do want to stress how great these are for middle schoolers.


I would reserve Life As We Knew It for mature 7th and 8th graders, especially those intrigued with Hunger Games and Divergent.  There is some romance involved and Miranda does mention her feelings about sex and becoming a woman.  There is not a lengthy discussion about it but I can see some 6th grade parents being offended by this.  

I had students from all grades requesting Raft and I understand why, now that I've finished it.  If you like contemporary survival stories, this is one for you!  As I was reading, I couldn't help thinking of the Open Water movies.  Fourmile is a great book for boys, especially those who are missing their fathers.  It's also contemporary fiction and topics include farm life and relationship abuse (not heavily mentioned but it is a possibility), as well as dealing with grief.  

As I read Beholding Bee, I couldn't help but recall Water for Elephants during the carnival scenes.  This one is historical fiction but it's a story of a girl trying to find her way in the world with the help of a mysterious woman in a floppy hat.  I really liked the characters in this novel.  Bee, or Beatrice, learns to run, to raise a dog and a pig, and to stand up for herself and friends with the help of some ancestors.  I look forward to recommending these books to my students next year.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why do I read over the summer?

This has been a current theme across Twitter and blogs lately so I thought I'd toss my ideas into the ring too. Most simply, I read because I can and because I enjoy it.  I like meeting new characters, traveling to places real and fantastical, and imagining our world in the future.  With that being said, I'm working on several books right now.

Rump, Eleventh Plague, and Thunder Over Kandahar are consuming my time and attention as I chauffeur my little one around to camps, libraries, and such this week.  I'm excited to see Dorothea Benton Frank's newest is out.  Of course I'm 99th on the holds list but that's ok, many more titles to choose from as I await that southern delicacy.

So again, why do I read?  It's free and easy to access if I have transportation to the library.  I can check out 60 items at a time.  As long as I find Wi-Fi, I can download books and audiobooks to listen to while I cook, travel around Columbia, or spend time at work finalizing invoices/POs/last minute book orders for 2012-2013.

The most obvious answer is that reading makes me happy.  I hope you feel the same way!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer's almost here!

We're one of the last school districts around here to get out for summer and I'm patiently, well maybe not so patiently, waiting to start my summer reading.  I've signed up for the Richland Library Summer Reading Challenge and signed my preschooler up as well.  We're almost 1/4 of the way to the finish line on that challenge.  My personal and professional summer challenges are as follows:

  1. Finish reading the 2013-2014 SC JBA list (20 titles total, some already completed)
  2. Read as many middle level titles as possible this summer (endless list here)
  3. Catch up on some of the series that I've started but not finished.  
  4. Read as many picture books as possible with my son to prepare him for pre-K, or Child Development, in the fall at a real school (his words).  Of course Richland Library lets us check out 60 books at one time and we have 3 cards to choose from so......see where I'm going with this?!
  5. In addition, I'm trying to make sure I fulfill the #bookaday challenge, which shouldn't be that hard if we're covering picture books.
So many challenges, so little time!  

My audiobook apps are loaded with downloaded content and I've checked out the limit of titles for my Nook and........  Whew!  I think I'm overplanning my reading time, or should I say underestimating the rest of my life for the summer.

So the point of this post is to encourage everyone out there, all ages, to participate in a reading challenge or just plan to read daily for as little as 30 minutes.  If you don't plan on traveling, check out a great book that will take you to faraway places and meet new people that way.  If you're a MRMS student, join our Edmodo group (Middle School Reads) and let's discuss what we're reading.  Encourage your friends at BMS to participate also.  Email me if you need the code to join.  Happy pre-Summer pep talk!  Now get out there and find a book.

It's Monday, what are you reading?

I've been steadily working on some middle level novels and I'm so glad I started with Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, historical fiction set in 1960s.  If I ever meet Doug Swieteck in person, I just want to tell him he's not a chump and give him a HUGE high five.  I truly didn't think I'd like this book based on the cover and this is indeed a case where you DON'T judge a book by its cover.

Doug loves and speaks baseball.  His life experiences are sometimes met with a WWJP do question:  what would Joe Pepitone do?  For those of us who don't speak Yankee, he's a baseball player.  Doug lives with an older brother and his mom and dad.  His mom has the most beautiful smile.  His dad has a bitter mean streak and fast hands.  His oldest brother is away in Vietnam but returns about halfway through the novel.  As Doug deals with life in all of its frustrations and glories, he matures and ends up shaping his family's future in a big way.  Don't judge this book by the cover!  Read it and enjoy Doug's voice.  5 stars here!!!