Monday, February 06, 2012

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

It's been a while since I've participated "It's Monday: What Are You Reading?" hosted by TEACH MENTOR TEXTS! I haven't read a ton in the last few weeks but wanted to recap the last few weeks now.

I read two books that are MUST READS--OPENING MINDS by Peter Johnston and WONDER by R.J. Palacio.

CHOICE WORDS by Peter Johnston is one of the most powerful professional books I've ever read. It is a book that changed who I am as a teacher and it is one I revisit often.  So, I was thrilled to see that Peter Johnston had another book about the language we use with children.  OPENING MINDS: USING LANGUAGE TO CHANGE LIVES is out this month from Stenhouse and it is brilliant. I had planned on reading it quickly--in a sitting or two.  But I found that I had to read it over a week or two. That I had to read and then reflect and process.  Just as in Choice Words, Johnston packs a ton into a small book.

I didn't have huge expectations for this one.  CHOICE WORDS was so life changing for me that I would have been happy had Johnston have rehashed that. But this new book is just as powerful of a read, if not more powerful.  Johnston talks again about the messages our language gives to our students. He talks about the subtle differences in the things we could say to children and how they impact their learning, most particularly their sense of agency.   He focuses on learning but he also focuses on giving kids a voice. He talks about collaboration and creativity. I need to revisit this book after I've lived with what I've learned for a bit. I am already paying closer attention to the things I say to children every day and how I could rethink some of the phrases I use.

With OPENING MINDS, Johnston adds a new layer to what we already learned from him about the importance of the language we use with children.  This new layer has given me a great deal to think about and it will definitely make me a better teacher.  I so love this book. (You can order it directly from Stenhouse and preview the entire book online there.)

Another must-read in my eyes is WONDER by R.J. Palacio.  I have only been hearing wonderful things about this book so was excited to read an ARC.

Several others have written about the book:

Here is the official Book Trailer for Wonder:

This book would make a great read aloud or book club book. So much to think and talk about.  A definitely 2012 favorite already:-)

I also read an ARC of Patricia Maclachlan's upcoming book, KINDRED SOULS. This book reminded me of the books I read when I fell in love with Maclachlan years ago.  This book is about a little boy and his grandfather, two kindred souls.  The book has themes of joy, loss, family and love.  It is a quiet book, and reminded me a bit of reading Sarah, Plain and Tall.  I love how Maclachlan keeps coming back to the same life themes in different ways over the years.

I also read a few picture books.
EXTRA YARN is a great story with a great message. Not only that, but it was great to see that even after the bear ate the rabbit in I WANT MY HAT BACK, that it was only a temporary thing and they are now friends again. See, they were merely playing. That Jon Klassen is genius..

DEAR CINDERELLA by Julie Olsen is a book of letters between Snow White and Cinderella. It is a fun "retelling" of the stories. And I can never have enough pink/purple sparkly books in the library. I try to only pick those that are quality and this one fits both categories:-)

I read two ALA award winners.  TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS was a Geisel award winner and a Pura Belpre Honor for illustrations was THE CAZUELA THAT THE FARM MAIDEN STIRRED by Samantha Vamos.

I'm not sure what's up next. Some books I've previewed/read a bit of include BEAUTY QUEENS, THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE, THINKING FAST AND SLOW, SIX INNINGS and WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING.


  1. I love Choice Words and am so excited to get Opening Minds. Think I will order it this week. Wonder and Kindred Souls both look amazing. Can't wait to read them. Enjoy your reading week - Beauty Queens is a riot and I adore Deza in The Mighty Miss Malone.

  2. I just received an e-mail from Stenhouse that the two books by Peter Johnston are in a special package sale right now. I'll be sure to get them. I can't wait to read Wonder & Extra Yarn, which looks so cute. Not only do I get to buy books for my school, but for my toddler granddaughter-extra reasons! Thanks for the strong recommendation for the Johnston books.

  3. I am so excited to read Wonder- I hope I get approved to read it on Netgalley.
    Choice Words is a favorite of many, I have to get my hands on it.
    Beauty Queens is a one of a kind book, definitely worth reading.

  4. I've heard so much about Wonder and I can't wait to read it! I just finished Might Miss Malone today and I can already see the ladders for that book, lots of connections with other books. And I so love Extra Yarn! I was so happy to see rabbit and bear together again. I love them. Glad you joined in this week!

  5. I just ordered a copy of "Opening Minds" - It looks like a thought provoking read.

  6. I was just looking at Choice on Amazon last week, I will go back and re-examine after reading what you have to say.
    Wonder is a book I have put in my wish list already after lots of others talking this book up. I am new to all this so it is taking me some time to get on board with all the excellent books out there.


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