Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book coma, Christmas, and more

 It has been FOREVER since my last post!  Yes, I exaggerate...and I'd like to think that the delay in posting is strictly due to busy-ness in my life.  Alas, it was also due to a lack of in-depth reading.  I can only post so much on my everyday reading of emails, teacher manuals, workshop materials, professional books, comics, and classroom read-alouds without the fear of boring my band of intrepid followers to Snoozeville.  But wait, there is news....

I HAVE READ A BOOK!!!  An actual book, full-length, no pictures, more than 32 pages.  My original plan was to read this book over the course of three days, getting other tasks on my vacation to-do list done as well.  And then it happened.  By page three, I was sucked in, only to find myself turning the last, 313th page, with a sigh--six hours later.  Cooking not started, laundry left undone, crocheting untouched. I had once again fallen into a book coma.  Readers, you know what it's like, right, to have the opportunity to get enmeshed so deeply in a story that all else falls away?  I did that so often growing up, before housekeeping and job and children-related tasks ate up most of my waking hours.  But today, on winter break, with the chicken still defrosting and the teen children minding their own business, I was able to blissfully enter the world of....

John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.  I bought the book awhile back, after reading other novels by Green for Young Adult Lit in grad school.  And there it sat, on my coffee table, gathering dust and getting buried in other book purchases, until an email popped up in my inbox, asking for volunteers to read it for an SHSU book study involving book formats.  I quickly signed up for the "print group" (as opposed to the ebook and audio groups), and set my goal for vacation reading.  So today, I sat down, and six hours later, this is what I posted on the Edmodo group for the study:  

" I love love love John Green's writing! For me, it wasn't even the type of story in which I anxiously awaited the next page; I just got sucked into this world, and didn't want to leave, no matter how sad or tragic. There was just too much love, humor, compassion, and optimism--even wrapped in teenage witticisms--for me to want to let go."

Okay, so there you have my review.  I know The Fault in Our Stars has moved many readers to tears, so I'm putting it out there in case you're interested and don't like being blindsided.  While I had some "oh" and "awwww" and teary-eyed moments, the hope and wisdom I got out of almost every page just wouldn't let me wallow in the sadness that also pervades the story.

Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A Holiday Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)Santa Calls[ SANTA CALLS ] by Joyce, William (Author) Sep-28-93[ Hardcover ]
No more about that; don't want to give too much away!  So on to the books that were found under our tree this Christmas.  Santa brought two books to my children:  Santa Calls, by William Joyce, and Hercule Poirot's Christmas:  A Holiday Mystery by Agatha Christie.  My son found the cutest board book with an owl finger puppet attached, to add to my owl collection, and he gave his sister a book on Japanese idol statues (they're both fans of anime, and she's studying Japanese in college).    And I'm pretty sure most of us have gift cards to bookstores burning holes in our pockets right now!  It just wouldn't be Christmas without new books.  :-)
Little Owl Finger Puppet BookIdle Idol: The Japanese Mascot

My latest read, both for read-aloud at work and for my own pleasure at home, is Laura Geringer and William Joyce's Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, part of the series on which this season's "Rise of the Guardians" movie is based.  I'm hoping to get it done before winter break is over.  If not, I'll find out what happens along with my fourth grade group at work.  I can at least be satisfied that I read at least one book over the holidays!
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (Guardians of Childhood Chapter Books)

Happy Holidays, and here's hoping there were books as gifts for you this season!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An apology, and reading beyond the book

I realize it has been OVER A MONTH since I've posted anything on this blog!  I apologize to anyone who has wandered over this link as of late.  In my defense, I have been blogging on my professional website, .  I've also moved my eldest into college five hours up the road, seen my youngest start his last year of middle school, and somehow managed to work about fifty hours a week at my paying job.  It's been a busy time in our household!

Needless to say, reading longer texts has gone by the wayside, as I tend to nod off not long after my head hits the pillow at night.  What I have been reading: articles and notes from the facilitator of my online learning, professional and personal interest magazines, picture books and a chapter book with my students, teacher manuals, emails, Facebook  and Twitter and blog posts, beginning-of-school-year parent forms, and catalogs.  In the educational field, we refer to this as "environmental text"--stuff we have to read to get by, get informed, get connected.  If there are parents reading this post, please do not ignore this type of reading with your children!  It is an essential life skill; after all, we want them to know how to take their medicine, which bathroom to go to, and whether they should push or pull on a door.  And if there are students reading this, know that reading occurs EVERYWHERE!  It can be the words on your favorite bag of snacks, the directions on your video game, the scrolling announcements on your classroom TV.

Just for today, think about all the ways we read beyond a book...and remember to thank a teacher or parent who helped you figure out what all those letters and words mean.  Oh, and please, ask your librarian about Banned Books Week; one of your favorites may be on that list!  Take another moment to think about the importance of being able to read whatever you want, and why that matters in our democratic society.  Hopefully there will be some book discussion in my next post!

Door image courtesy of Simon Howden /

Freedom image from 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Avoiding the inevitable by reading just a little more...

I am a teacher.  At this time of the year, I should be going in before my work calendar officially starts, like all my good teacher friends are, and setting up my classroom.  I should be shopping in teacher supply stores, and finishing up last-minute summer projects at home. But what am I doing instead?  READING, of course!  (To be fair, I did accomplish some online teacher stuff shopping this morning.  But back to the reading part...)

The Bookman's Promise (Cliff Janeway Novels)My college-bound daughter had a dorm-room preview day last weekend, and so the whole family loaded up in the car on Friday for the five-hour trip.  Luckily, my neighbor had loaned me John Dunning's The Bookman's Promisea "Cliff Janeway Book".  I needed another "grownup book" in my repertoire for this summer, so I brought it along for the ride.  I was unfamiliar with Dunning's work, but I have to say, this was a nice introduction!  Janeway is a cop-turned-bookhunter/ bookseller, and in this novel, he makes a promise to an old woman on her deathbed to find the books she believes were stolen from her family.  I'm not schooled in the ways of bookhunting (but obviously, I like books!), so the glimpses into the world of rare and antique book markets were interesting.  There was a historical section that I ended up skimming through because the pacing was a bit slow for me, but the main storyline moved along nicely and had some unexpected twists and turns.  A little romance, a lot of mystery, and some cop drama made for a good read that I finished by the time we got home.

Ready Player One: A NovelAnother Amazon box arrived today, this one containing Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (a fellow Austinite!), Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire (a graphic novel), and the hardback edition of the Academy Award-winning animated short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  I can't wait to read Ready Player One along with my teen son, who is really into his video games.  It's also a fantasy/scifi book, which is up my alley--finally, a book we can both appreciate!  The Fantastic Flying Books... short was just so great when I shared it with my students last year, that I just had to be able to hold it in my hands as well.  

The Underwater WelderI got Underwater Welder on a whim, and read it in one sitting (okay, I was really lying on the couch).  It's a belated coming-of-age story about a 33-year-old  underwater welder who is expecting his first child with his wife.  This major life event, coupled with the upcoming Halloween holiday, is enough to trigger a Twilight Zone-type experience in which he has to deal with ghosts from his past--mainly, his deadbeat alcoholic father.  The pictures truly tell the story, with only minimal precise wording to focus on the feelings of the characters.  A good "guy read" for late middle school on up--younger readers might not have the background to truly "get" the story and its delivery.

So now there's another book on my growing to-read pile.  Hoping that since grad school is now out of the way, I'll get a bit more reading done outside of the classroom this year!  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer's winding down--cramming in the reading!

Today is basically my last "day off" for the summer; I have workshops both real and virtual taking over most of the last two-and-a-half weeks before the official first day of my teaching calendar.  So what have I done the last two weeks?  Reading!  Still haven't finished my self-help nonfiction selections, but I'll get there.  They were put aside for some fun kid/teen books:

The Hunchback AssignmentsThe Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade was originally picked out by my middle-school-aged son, who then said he wouldn't have time to read it, so offered it to me.  It's a steampunk story (though light on the steampunk) that incorporates British history, fantasy (a morphing main character), a bit of Jekyll/Hyde, a bit of "Hunchback of Notre Dame", and some good old-fashioned undercover work.  While making connections with the stories of Jekyll & Hyde and the Hunchback were great, it's not necessary to know them to enjoy the plot...and may entice readers to explore the classics.

Black Hole SunI do tend to favor sci-fi novels, and Black Hole Sun by David MacInnis Gill was a fun read.  Set on Mars in the very distant future, it's about an outcast teen soldier-for-hire who adheres to the ethics by which he was trained, which results in his agreement to defend a ragtag band of miners from a cannibalistic horde.  Twists and turns along the way as well as a lot of action keep the story moving, with some surprise details thrown in towards the end.  Corporation corruption, some wacky characters, and the bleak Mars landscape reminded me of a mix of Dune, Star Wars (without the interplanetary travel), and the Wild West.

Extra Yarn


Picture books!  At a friend's recommendation, I had to get my own copy of Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (remember I Want My Hat Back?), and Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers.  Extra Yarn reads like a good folklore story, and would be great to discuss character traits like generosity and greed with students.  Stuck is just outright fun silliness; it will be interesting to read to my classes and see how quickly the students figure out that they are smarter than the main character, discussing his inept problem-solving strategies.

I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a WordTo add to my collection of books about libraries and librarians, I purchased a copy of I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word, by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton and illustrated by Herb Leonhard.  Instead of the fly and other items swallowed by the old lady in the classic rhyme, the librarian swallows a word, then a book, then the book cart....It keeps you guessing what the word is, until the very end.

Today's library day, but I think I'll return my books and focus on my home to-read pile rather than check any more out.  Back to school soon!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fairy tale time!

The Grimm LegacyJust for fun, I joined in on SHSU's Library Science Goodreads bookclub selection this month, The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman.  I found it to be a fun, "light" read--you know, the kind you can put down at the end of Chapter Three on Monday, then pick up again on Thursday and not be too lost going into Chapter Four.  The story centers on a high school girl who is living with her father and stepmother (fairy tale detail number one), writes a report on The Brothers Grimm for her history class (detail number two) because she and her now-deceased mother read fairy tales together (number three), and gets asked by said history teacher if she wants a job at the "New-York Circulating Material Repository", where they just happen to store "The Grimm Collection" (bingo!).  Without giving too much away, there is history, magic, romance (though not too much to gross out younger readers), and intrigue. Definitely a fun summer choice for readers from fourth grade on up!  It might even spur some interest in reading traditional fairy tales; there were a few mentioned in the book with which I was unfamiliar, and may have to add to my reading pile!  I read this one on my Nook, but with the library connections, it may have to be added to my print collection for sentimental purposes.  
What else is being read in the Margocs household?  My college-bound daughter satisfied her Stephen King penchant by checking out Misery from the library, and my eighth-grade son is making his way through video game magazines like Nintendo Power.  (He gets his magazine reading habit from his mom!)  And a trip to Salado yielded yet another small-town organization cookbook (see post from June 4th to read about my cookbook collection).  And while I do still have the Mount Everest of books waiting to be read, I think I'll give my eyes a break and indulge another favorite hobby--crocheting--for the rest of today.  The books will be waiting for me at bedtime! 

Happy reading!  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The right book at the right time

My wonderful husband gave me the gift of a solitary weekend hotel getaway for my birthday back in March, and I finally had the time to cash in on the offer this past weekend.  So off I went to Salado, TX for the first time, knowing that there was shopping and eating to be done there, but bringing along books nonetheless.  As usual, I brought more books than I knew I could read in 36 hours, but I wanted a selection to suit whatever mood I happened to be in during my stay. 

Product DetailsI have a penchant for self-improvement books, so in went my new copy of Wishcraft by Barbara Sher (a classic, never out of print, and edited for its 30th anniversary in 2009).  I also revisit the topic of feminism from time to time, and so my repeat reads of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd and Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh landed in my bag. 
Product Details
It's been at least a year since I picked up the last two, and the first I have never read.  I'm not one for remembering specific passages from a book; rather, it's the feelings I get from a book that stay with me, and that's why I chose the last two books as traveling companions--they resonate in a positive way, even if I can't say specifically why.

Product DetailsSo which book did I ultimately take out of the bag and out to dinner both nights in Salado?  Gift from the Sea (Pantheon, 2005)--and it couldn't have been a more perfect choice. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote this book while on sabbatical on a Floridian island, taking a break from the demands of marriage, children, home, and work.  She speaks about the fragmented life we lead, split between the tasks that come with our ever-increasing connectedness and global awareness.  Her solution for restoring balance to this crazed existence is regular periods of solitude:

"Solitude, says the moon shell.  Every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week, and each day. .....But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves:  that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of the whole web of human relationships." (pp 42, 44).

And there I was, sitting in an old inn, eating a solitary dinner in total peace, feeling comfortable in my solitude, with Anne Morrow Lindbergh telling me I was just where I needed to be.  What amazes me about this book is that it was originally written in 1955, yet Lindbergh's observations are still relevant, the needs of women still ringing true almost six decades later.  Truly a classic volume, and the right book at the right time for my weekend getaway. 


Product DetailsProduct DetailsOf course, I can't stay away from children's books this summer.  My two latest purchases are Jon Klassen's I Want My Hat Back --a Geisel Honor Book-- and Karen Cushman's Newbery winner, The Midwife's Apprentice, which I picked up in a musty old bookstore in Salado.  If you haven't read these books, PLEASE do so ASAP!  The first is a picture book, and so entertaining that even my teens love it; I can't wait to use it for an inference lesson in my classroom.  The second is another classic, short read (I finished it in two hours on the couch last night).  I was transported to 14th century England during that time, where Cushman gently described the harshness of everyday life before literacy and modern-day medicine were commonplace.  What we do have in common with those times are our human issues:  foibles, doubts, and the highs and lows of relationships.

Off to do more reading--enjoy these summer days with a book in your hand!  Here's hoping you find the right book, at the right time, for you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

February follow-up,summer reading, and freedom!

After talking to some friends today about my blog and extensive discussion about Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, I went back and re-read my post on the book, and realized I had not reported on the changes I made in my language arts class in February.  I am happy to say that I was pleased with the results of my project!  Overall, my students' reading enjoyment, perceptions of themselves as readers, and amount of reading done all increased.  Even if the changes were small, they were still heading in the right direction.  I was encouraged enough by the results that I'm going to start at the beginning of the year with the same systems in place, and see how far we can get in a full school year!

The Iron Thorn The Iron Codex Book OneSummertime, and the reading is easy.....yay!  Aside from a brief six-hour stint of madly cramming for my certification test (I will know the results in a few days!), I have been reading for fun EVERY day!  Sometimes it's just a magazine, sometimes it's professional journals (yes, they can be fun to read!), and's a book!  I finished reading The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge on my nookColor e-reader, and downloaded the next in the series, The Nightmare Garden.  This is a young adult steampunk story set in the post-Korean War era.  Not as much history interwoven in these as was the case with Leviathan by Scott Westerfield--maybe because there are fairies, elves, ghouls, and "nightjars" (vampire-types) lurking about the settings!  A strong girl protagonist is at the center of the story--and people who know my bias know that I like that!

By Wally Lamb: I Know This Much Is TrueMy daughter and I went to the public library last Friday, and of course I had to check out some books there, too.  One is on home spas and relaxation tips for women (ahhhhh!), and the other is Wally Lamb's I Know This Much is True.  If any kiddos are reading this, the latter is a grown-up novel!  I don't know if my attention span has shrunk, or I'm in a lazy stage post-graduation, but I could not read the book cover-to-cover.  So I scanned my way through, finding the bits that were diary entries (they were in a different font), and read back-and-forth among the important events of the storyline.  When you are reading "for fun", it is okay to read a book any way that makes sense to you!  If I'm not sure that I'll like a particular book, I will often read the ending, and decide if it's good enough to go back and see how the characters and storyline end up there.  Remember your readers' rights!

Speaking of readers' rights....during my studying, I came across the "Freedom to Read" statement endorsed by the American Library Association (ALA).  I went online to find out more about it, and discovered the Freedom to Read Foundation, affiliated with the ALA.  I am proud to say that I am now a member!  Here's the foundation's webpage, should you also be inclined to join:

Think I see some couch time with a good book in my very near future!  Read on.....

Monday, June 4, 2012

Read to cook!

I promised some friends back in April that I would  blog about some of my favorite cookbooks, but with two graduations in our house (mine and my daughter's), a funeral (my grandpa's), and the usual end-of-school-year tasks, it's taken me this long to get around to doing so!

I've written before that much of my reading is done outside of books--and cookbooks are a big part of my "outside reading."  I like to plan my family's dinner menus every two months, which means pulling out a few of my dozens of cookbooks to help with meals and shopping lists.  There are certain cookbooks I only use for certain seasons (I rarely cook stews in the summer, for instance).  I usually use five or six of them each time I plan, and spend a couple of hours a day for two or three days to finish the process. 

How do I know what's in each cookbook before I plan?  Because as I collect them, I usually read through each one.  Yep, I have even been known to read cookbooks before I go to sleep!  That doesn't mean that I read through each and every recipe; I just go through the sections, and read the ingredients and directions for the recipes that sound good and/or interesting.  I usually tag the "good" ones with sticky notes for future reference.  After I've tried a recipe, I write notes in the books themselves, and give one to three stars for how well they are received by my family.

Now, I don't advocate writing in all your books, but I like writing notes in my cookbooks, and I LOVE finding old cookbooks with someone else's notes written in them.  It's a connection with history, kitchen to kitchen.
So enough blathering....let's get down to the cookbooks.  My latest purchase is The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, by Ree Drummond.  I read it during our recent roadtrip; it has great passages about life on the ranch and living with real, honest-to-goodness cowboys.  Not to mention some great recipes picturing every step along the way!

My all-time-favorite slow-cooker cookbook is The Busy Mom's Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Jyl Steinback.  We use the pork meatballs-and-sauerkraut recipe every New Year's Day!  There are vegetarian options, side dishes, bonus recipes...and each and every recipe has a SHOPPING LIST!  Thank you, Jyl, for making my life that much easier!

An oldie-but-a-goodie is the 1981 edition of Better Homes and Gardens' New Cook Book.  It has my go-to recipes for chocolate chip and spritz cookies, lemon curd, and how to cook cuts of meat with which I'm unfamiliar.  I even got the 2006 edition...but I haven't used that yet!

I was addicted to Gooseberry Patch cookbooks for over a decade, and their seasonal cookbooks still get pulled out four times a year.  The two I use year-round are Country Quick & Easy and In the Kitchen with Family and Friends

Another all-time favorite, especially during the school year:  The Four Ingredient Cookbooks.  Literally four ingredients per recipe...doesn't get much easier than that!

Magazine cookbooks are usually pretty good, too.  I like the Woman's Day Cookbook, and keep meaning to use the Investment Cooking section sometime (cook all weekend and freeze a bunch for later).

Last, but not least, is an example of my favorite kind of cookbook:  the organization publications.  You know, the ones that churches, bowling leagues, fraternal groups, etc. publish for fundraisers.  You can find the best home cooking recipes in these!  I get them at garage and estate sales, plus I've inherited a few.

I've got over three bookshelves full of cookbooks, and collect even more recipes from magazines.  They make for good reading, and even better cooking!  Hope you've enjoyed this little foray into my kitchen and my "outside reading"!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm Walking!

Across the stage, that is!  If you're just dropping in to my blog, I have big news--I'm graduating from Sam Houston State University this weekend with my Master's Degree in Library Science!  One step closer to becoming a librarian.  The next two steps are passing my TexEs certification exam in June, and finding a position as a librarian.  Until then, I will continue teaching at my neighborhood elementary school, and reading and talking and blogging about books. 

After 19 months of graduate school, I'm looking forward to a LOT more reading "for fun" this summer, so look for some new covers to grace this blog.  In the meantime, celebrate with me by reading your favorite book this weekend! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yes, I'm still breathing!

Oh, I have not been the best blogger, I admit!  I am in the final forty calendar days of my master's program, and final forty work days of the school year.  Deadlines are coming at me fast and furious from both graduate school and my teaching gig, so blogging has taken a low slot on the to-do list!

Just so you know I've been reading....this was my Spring Break:
 An Automation Primer for School Library Media Centers and Small Libraries

220 pages of technical information about library automation systems (you know, the computer systems that let you scan your book to check out, lets your librarian know when your book is overdue, and does a jillion other really cool things regarding collection management) and how to implement and manage a project team if you need to initiate, upgrade, or change out such a system.  Being that I consider myself to be a digital immigrant (versus digital native) the first half was VERY hard for me to read.  NOTE TO STUDENTS:  EVEN TEACHERS READ AND REREAD TEXT THAT IS VERY HARD FOR THEM!!!  I must have read chapter one three times, and I know half of that information didn't sink in.  Thank goodness for highlighters and the open book test at the end of that unit!

This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us AllSince then, the two books that garner what little time I've got to read these days is Brain Jack by Brian Falkner (yes, still reading it, though now I get to read during my language arts block at school!) and This Book is Overdue:  How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson.  The former is a great read, just as my 7th grade son said it would be--good suggestion for young adult "computer geeks" or scifi fans.  The latter is just plain funny:  a nonfiction book written by a nonlibrarian who became fascinated with librarians, and spent a lot of time in their company to research everything from activism and intellectual freedom to blogs and Second Life. 

I can only read for 10-15 minutes at a time/ per day, but hey, that's about 3000 words a day, right?  So if I can do it, so can you--Keep on reading!  Oh, and I'm experimenting with adding media to my blog--here's a book trailer for Brain Jack, from Book Trailers for All on SchoolTube:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Growing readers instead of teaching reading

BlackoutI finished reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer and enjoyed my brief foray into reading just for fun (and it was a fun read, though I was taken aback by the abrupt ending.  Cue next book in series...).  Though my mountain of books-to-read at home is comparable to Everest, I am still compelled to buy more, usually from my wishlist on Amazon while trying to fulfill the $25 requirement for free shipping.  This is an almost weekly ritual, and in one of those orders to purchase a Sherlock Holmes movie for my daughterand the Caldecott-winning Blackout by John Rocco for my classroom, I bought The Book Whisperer (published by Jossey-Bass, 2009).

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every ChildI became familiar with Donalyn Miller through Twitter, of all places.  Dr. Lesesne required us to follow several different "types" of people on Twitter during our time in her YA Lit class.  One of those types was a language arts teacher, and I noted that Dr. Lesesne followed Ms. Miller, so I followed suit.  I enjoyed her tweets during book and library conferences, and notes about her sixth grade language arts class.  I also added her book to my Amazon wishlist, with no sense of urgency.  After finally reading it this weekend, I only regret not doing so sooner!  It is now sporting over two dozen sticky flags to remind me of activities, quotes, and "aha!" moments I encountered in this MUST-READ for teachers of literacy.  Let me share a few of my flagged notes and quotes from this resource which has changed the focus of my language arts time for the rest of this school year!

"Books are boring."  (p 73)  Ms. Miller handles this one with an honest "Some books are boring!", and emphasizes the rights of readers to abandon books, even in the classroom setting.

"Forty-Book Requirement"  (p 78) This is the number of books her 6th grade students are required to read each school year.  She chooses a number from each genre, and includes nine free-choice chapter books--but students are free to choose their own books within each genre.  For those students who read books over 350 pages, she allows those books to count twice.

"Are we teaching books or teaching readers?  I would rather have my students read books of questionable literary value than not read at all." (p 85) Ms. Miller emphasizes instilling the motivation to read first; moving on to 'meatier' books will be a natural progression.

Read-alouds, lessons on identifying genres, examples of student-recorded lists and response entries--these are all activities I've tagged. 

"...I read every day of my life and that I talk about reading constantly.  I am not mandating an activity for them that I do not engage in myself.  I do not promote reading to my students because it is good for them or because it is required for school success.  I advocate reading because it is enjoyable and enriching."  (p 106)  I myself am guilty of constantly trying to make that "real-world connection" with reading to my students (partly because it is part of my evaluation!).  But the reality is that if students aren't intrinsically motivated to read, none of that will matter.  The joy of reading needs to be communicated above all else, and it is best done by modeling.

"...teachers who have an aesthetic view of reading have the greatest influence on their students' motivation and interest in reading....and have more impact on the long-term reading habits of their students than those who see reading as a skill to be mastered, the instructional edge goes to the teacher who sees reading as a gift, not a goal." (p 109)  This bears out in Ms. Miller's experience, as her students go on to pass and ace the state reading tests year after year. 

"Traditional reading instruction that focuses on mandates outside of the students and stirs fear-based motivation hijacks reading away from readers.  Give it back to them." (p 139)  Ms. Miller has definite opinions on schoolwide reading programs (such as AR), home reading logs, traditional book reports, and round-robin reading.  So many aha! moments for me. 

"The only way you will know that your students read every day is to watch them read right in front of you." (p 144)  This is now my new guiding principle for my own language arts class.  Though I have always known--and taught students--that we become better readers by reading, I have not dedicated the time in the classroom where we are all engaged in reading at once, and to include myself in that activity.

I could go on and on....but I will end by saying that this book has been the most inspiring text I've read on literacy.  I've already decided to redesign my classes and an evaluation project based on the information and activities Ms. Miller has provided.  I hope to report back at the end of the school year on my students' reading success!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One more book read, now back to the textbooks

LeviathanYes, I did manage to complete a book before my final semester of Library Science studies took over:  Leviathan, by Scott Westerfield.
It was my first steampunk novel, too!  For those of you not familiar with this genre/trend, it's a mix of historical fiction and sci-fi.  This book is set at the beginning of World War I, and features the same key players and countries.  One of the main characters is the son of the Austrian duke and duchess whose murders touched off this epic event.  The sci-fi comes from the inclusion of Clanker vehicles and war machines from the Eastern European countries, and strange beasts formed from recombined DNA assisting the Darwinist West.  I am not a history buff, nor a historical fiction fan, but this was a fun and easy read for me...I may even move on to the next installment of the series!  But not before I dive back into the textbooks and the book for SHSU's Goodreads book club, Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  I downloaded it onto my nookColor--I need to be using my "toys" more often to read!
Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles

An update on my progress towards becoming a librarian:  I am in my final semester, which means internship time!  I've already spent several hours working in both my elementary and the neighborhood high school's library as well, and I'm thoroughly enjoying every minute.  I can't wait to get behind my own circulation desk and among the stacks, booktalking to students and sharing my love of reading!  My hope is that by this time next year, there will be a link to this blog from my very own library webpage.