Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Basket of Picture Books to Invite Exploration of Refugee and Immigrant Experiences

We are reading aloud Refugee by Alan Gratz in our classroom right now. There is so much about this book that makes it an incredible read aloud for 5th graders.  For some students this is the first historical fiction book they've read. And many are unfamiliar with some of the time historical periods and issues in the book. There has been lots of great conversation with lots of questions as the stories in the book unfold. This week I put together a basket of books for students who wanted to read more or think more about refugee and immigrant experiences. I believe that it takes both fiction and nonfiction when trying to understand an issue so this basket is a combination of both. I also think that there are some books that are about many things but that help us think about these real-world issues. The basket will grow-and we'll include video and digital resources as well-- as the year goes on but these are the first books we've included.

Stormy Seas by Mary Beth Leatherdale

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

Where Will I Live by Rosemary McCarney

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

My Two Blankets by Irene Kobald

I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien

Shelter by Celine Claire

A Refugee's Journey from Syria (and a few others from this series)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Charlotte Zolotow

Last week, I wrote about the closing of Acorn Bookshop, and one of the treasures I purchased. (Sorry I didn't make it around the roundup. Life happened last week. Big time.)

In close second place to the first edition Joyce Kilmer is this AUTOGRAPHED book by the one, the only, THE Charlotte Zolotow!

Besides being a poet and prolific picture book author, Charlotte Zolotow was a children's book editor for 38 years. The award bearing her name is given to the best picture book (writing, rather than the Caldecott's illustrating) of the year.

Here's a favorite from the book:

So Will I

My grandfather remembers long ago
the white Queen Anne's lace that grew wild.
He remembers the buttercups and goldenrod
from when he was a child.

He remembers long ago
the white snow falling falling.
He remembers the bluebird and thrush
at twilight
calling calling.

He remembers long ago
the new moon in the summer sky.
He remembers the wind in the trees
and its long, rising sigh.
And so will I
                    so will I.

Love the illustrations, too!

Carol has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Just Ten Challenge

Unsplash photo by Krissia Cruz

This morning, Franki texted me a link to Aliza Werner's post on the Classroom Communities blog, "Halfway Here: The Just Ten Challenge" with the message, "We should do this on the blog."

Aliza got this time of year SO right. So. Very. Right.

I'm down, I'm swamped, I'm behind, I'm frustrated. But all it took was Aliza's reminder that the good in a day isn't so hard to find if you just look for it. Here is my Ten:

1.  It started with one, but by the time we got finished, Sam* had been nominated six times for student of the month. Six friends honored him for his sense of humor, for being a partner, for improving from the beginning of the year. Beaming bright enough to light the room, he accepted our nomination.

Sam is not the kind of student I would ever nominate to be student of the month. Through the teacher lens, he doesn't look like student of the month material -- off task, negative, talking when he's supposed to be quiet, rarely giving strong effort. That's the student. What I'd failed to look at, what my students taught me, was to see the person.

2.  Fred, my student who is a complicated puzzle I haven't yet begun to try to figure out, had a better day today. If only I could figure out how to replicate and amplify that...

3.  A dozen students who wanted to improve their math test scores (some from good to great, others from the dumper into the passing zone) stayed in from only the second outdoor recess we've had in recent memory.  A few of those who most needed to improve made stunning gains.

4.  We are studying the motions of the earth in science -- rotation for night/day and orbit for year/seasons. Learning about the way the observable world around them works has awakened their curiosity. So fun.

5.  Today's job in writing workshop was BIC, no talking, write an introduction to your informational piece that signals the reader what structure you've chosen. And they ALL knocked it out of the ballpark!

6.  Indoor recess creations with wooden blocks and MarbleWorks.

Two story school house.

7.  One of our middle schools created 700 (!!!) cute take-out-box snowmen with positive messages, bookmarks and mints inside. One for EVERY student in our building. Wow.

8.  Seeing my students begin to really stretch themselves as readers.

9.  The cheery "Good Morning!" EVERY morning from Donte.

10. The picture of "Ms. Hahn Super Teacher" on the back of Michelle's word study quiz.

What's your ten? Post on your blog or in the comments. Drop your link in our comments AND over on Aliza's post.

*All names have been changed.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood

I love Susan Hood and am a huge fan of her book Ada's Violin.  When I heard about the book Shaking Things Up and noticed that Susan Hood was the author, I could not wait to get a copy.  Well I finally got a copy and LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! Every detail is perfect. One of my new favorite books for sure.

There is so much about this book to love that I need to make a list!

The Cover- is amazing. I can't stop looking at it.  Illustrator Oge Mora created a purely brilliant and beautiful cover.

The Women--The 14 women profiled in this book are definitely extraordinary.  What I loved about the selection of women included was the variety. There were some women I knew and some whose impact I did not know. There were women who made an impact at different ages (as children and as adults) and they made a difference in a variety of ways.

The Illustrations--The fact that 13 women illustrators created this book together with Susan Hood made me happy. Some of my already favorite illustrators (Melissa Sweet, Sophie Blackall, LeUyen Pham) along with some new-to-me illustrators whose art captivated me (Oge Mora, Julie Morstad)

The Table of Contents--The introduction to this book starting with,  "Women and girls have been shaking thins up for a Lon time, resisting those would would box them in..." was perfection. This fabulous introductory paragraph is followed by a beautiful Table of Contents. You don't often find a TOC that is this beautifully designed.

The Timeline--Following the Table of Contents, the author gives us a timeline (another beautiful piece of this book) that gives us information about the women in the book.  A timeline that shows women have been chasing the world since the early 1780s!

The Poetry--Susan Hood has written an original poem about each on of the women. She uses a variety of forms and I am amazed at how much we learn about each woman from these poems. The poems are followed by a short blurb with some incredible info about the woman.

Quotes--Each illustration includes a quote by or about the woman illustrated. These are fabulous extras details.

Author's Note-- I loved this peek into the Susan Hood's thinking.

Sources--At the end of the book, Susan Hood gives us a list of resources for readers.  She gives us some fabulous books and websites for each of the women she wrote about.  It is a fabulous list (and it is also beautiful).

The Cover Under the Jacket--You'll have to get your own copy to look at this!

This book is truly incredible. It is a must-read, must-have, must-revisit kind of book.  It is perfection!

(Shaking Things Up was one of the books that Olivia of @Livbits recommended for our blog booklist in December. You can hear more about why she loves this book in her new video!)

Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood Will Give You Heartbeeps ❤️ from TheLivBits on Vimeo.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Sorrow and Joy

After 25 years of business, our favorite local independent (secondhand and antiquarian) bookstore, Acorn Bookshop, is succumbing to the pressures of bookstore chains and Amazon. To give you a sense of the loss that many in the community are feeling, here's a poem (not by me) that George shared on the Acorn Facebook page:

The following poem was written by one of the Acorn family of friends/customers.


Not an acorn falleth, but our God doth know,
Even when e-commerce lays a bookstore low;
Seeds are scattered ‘round the earth, bookstore-ies are set free.
What once was just a mortal nut is now immortal tree.
Far more precious surely than the books that fly
Off the shelves are people who all came in to buy,
Or chat with George or Christine or other Acorn kind
‘Bout every sort of history or author on their mind.
Then off they’d go to browse around; such treasures to behold.
A myst’ry why there’s any left; so many you have sold!
Remember all your book fans as you turn the page;
for memories grow more precious as they come of age.
Though pages now are numbered; dust each off and see,
How many hearts you’ve gladdened; The acorn’s now a tree.

An Acornista

(with apologies to Louisa May Alcott)

Last summer when I did a fairly massive clean-and-purge, I sold a bunch of books to Acorn and so we had a sizable amount of store credit. I was looking forward to working with George and Jack to build my collection of signed editions by U.S. Poets Laureate. When they announced the closing, they didn't have any such editions on their shelves, but I bought four gems I'll be sharing in the next couple of weeks.

 First up, a 1914 first edition of Joyce Kilmer, containing his (yes, HIS!) most famous poem, "Trees."

There aren't many other poems in the book that I particularly care for, except this one:

Lots of folks in this snow-covered coldcoldcold land are looking forward to spring!

The page after this Easter poem contained the biggest surprise in the book: evidence of the previous reader/owner, who marked up a poem with directions for reading it aloud! AND...tucked in at that spot was a magazine clipping with poems by Aline Kilmer, who, come to find out, was Joyce Kilmer's wife!

As I was poking around learning about the Kilmers, I discovered that the University of Delaware has a collection of 50+ letters that Sara Teasdale wrote to the two of them. Fascinating. I'd love to poke through that collection some day!

My students are astonished by my lack of knowledge about current popular culture -- movies, video games, sports, YouTubers, etc. Who has time for all that when you can get lost in literary rabbit holes?!?

Kay has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at A Journey Through the Pages.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ban This Book

Ban This Book
by Alan Gratz
Starscape, 2017

"...for all the amazing things books can do, they can't make you into a bad person." p.232

Nope. They open our minds, make us think, introduce us to new worlds and different ways of living and being, entertain us, and call us to action. But they don't make us into bad people, or good people, or any kind of people at all. It's up to us to take action and be the person we want to be.

And that's precisely what Amy Anne learns in this book. She has always been the quiet mouse of a reader, chewing on the ends of her braids, having conversations in her head but not standing up for herself out loud...until her favorite book in the world is banned from the school library. The book is not banned through the formal board-approved process of review. Rather, it is banned because one powerful mother goes straight to the board, bypassing all the rules, and gets what she wants.

Not only does Amy Anne learn to say what's on her mind, she also learns the importance of empathy. It's not until she looks at the situation from the point of view of the book-banning mom is she able to provide the school board with the argument that wins her case -- you can't ban books because a single reader finds fault with them. If you did that, you might as well ban all the books in the library.

Hooray for the teachers in this book and their study of the Bill of Rights. Hooray for Amy Anne's friend Rebecca who wants to become a lawyer and who knows all about Robert's Rules of Order (and wears a suit and carries a briefcase to the school board meeting at the end of the book). Hooray for Alan Gratz for giving book-loving kids a book where the reader is the hero, and a story where the misuse of power is defeated by democracy.

I'm going to add Mrs. Jones to our list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature even though she's a librarian. She gets fired because of Amy Anne's BBLL (Banned Books Locker Library), but she doesn't hold it agains Amy Anne. She tells her, "Well-behaved women seldom make history. Consider this your first taste of behaving badly in the name of what's right." p.223

I'll end with this: "All the book challenges, the real ones, were because one person saw a book in a very different way than somebody else. Which was fine. Everbody had the right to interpret any book any way they wanted to. What they couldn't do then was tell everybody else their interpretation was the only interpretation." p.195.


Monday, January 15, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

One of my 2019 goals is to balance my reading life a bit. This week felt balance and I read some great books.  Thanks to Jen and Kellee for hosting this weekly event!

I know Mary Lee already wrote about LOVE here on the blog but if you have not read this book, buy it now--and buy one for everyone you know. This is an amazing book. I keep picking it up and reading it, seeing new things in the incredible illustrations. Matt de la Pena and Loren Long--WOW!

I am so happy I am making some time for more young adult reading in my life. I heard about Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu from Pernille Ripp and Donalyn Miller and I am so glad I read this one. What a great book--so many great characters and teen girls starting a feminist revolution, questioning things the way they've always been done in their high school.

Don't Forget Dexter by Lindsay Ward is a fun picture book for young readers. Dexter is a fun new character that loses his friend in the doctor's office. This is a fun story of Dexter looking for Jack. This book is filled with talking bubbles and humor and of course has a happy ending. I think Dexter is a new character that we'll be seeing more of. A great book for primary kids and I am keeping this one in mind for baby/toddler gifts too.

I am so glad to have received a copy of Festival of Colors by Surishtha Sehgal. This is a great addition to any classroom library.  This book is a celebration of Holi, the Indian festival of colors. It is simple story but the gorgeous illustrations and Author's Note make it a great one for any age.

A Refugee's Journey from Syria is another I read this week.  I learned about this series from Aliza Werner. So glad to know about it. This is the first book in the series that I read.  A few of my students have read it already too.  This is an incredible series that is well-written for middle grade students--packed with information and stories of refugees. I purchased a few more from the series for my classroom this week.

I also read two newish picture books about Malala. I am always looking for books that share important topics and issues with middle grade students.  These are two very different book about the important work of Malala and I am happy to add both of them to our classroom library.  Malala's Pencil and Malala: Activist for Girls' Education

Friday, January 12, 2018

Poetry Friday -- Love

Unsplash photo by Myur Gala

by e.e. cummings

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

If you haven't seen Love by Matt de la Pena (illustrated by Loren Long), grab a copy (and a hanky) as soon as possible. This is an example of true picture book magic -- the words and the pictures are perfectly paired.

Before you watch the trailer, you might want to read Matt's article in TIME, "Why We Shouldn't Shield Children From Darkness."

And then read Kate Di Camillo's response, "Why Children's Books Should Be a Little Sad." (another hanky alert for this one)

Another new picture book you should not miss is Be A King by Carole Boston Weatherford.

For this week's not-to-miss poetry, Jan has the Poetry Friday roundup at Book Seed Studio.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Be A King

Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream and You
by Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by James E. Ransome
Bloomsbury, 2018

Next Monday, the nation will pause to remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This new book by Carole Boston Weatherford encourages us not to simply remember Dr. King, but to live every day in a way that honors his life and work. We can each "be a King" by standing up to bullies, admitting we're wrong and apologizing, finding ways to include everyone, and by breaking "the chains of ignorance. Learn  as much as you can."

James Ransome's illustrations complement the simple text by telling the story of the children on the cover who are creating a Wall of Justice, and with historical allusions to King's life (Morehouse College, the Edmund Pettus Bridge from the March to Montgomery, a bus like the one on which Ruby Bridges refused to give up her seat.)

The epigraph says it best,
"Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity  to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Fairy Tales and Princesses

I read two great books this week. There are several fairy tale readers in our class this year and I think there are probably lots of fairy tale readers in all middle grade classrooms who will love these two books.

I was lucky enough to get an arc of Liesl Shurtliff's newest fairy tale at NCTE. Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I love this series and so many students love it. I finally got ahold of this book after it being passed around the classroom since I brought it back from NCTE! Everyone loved it and many said it was their favorite in the series.

This is a great retelling of Snow White. Really I don't know how Leisl Shurtliff does this over and over again--reimagining these fairy tales in ways that can't help us think about them in new ways.  I love this series and really enjoyed this newest book.  Grump is a great character as is Snow White.  I love the humor and the few surprise nods to other fairy tales woven into the story. This was a fun read and a great addition to the series. I can't wait to see which one comes next.

I also read and loved  Who Wants To Be a Princess? by Bridget Heos. With all the princess craze this is a fun informational book that straightens up a few misconceptions about princesses. I think princess fans as well as fans of all the middle grade fractured fairy tales will enjoy this book. The book is nonfiction and takes a look at the things we THINK about princesses based on fairy tale movies/books and compares those things to the REAL things about princesses.  For example, a real castle didn't look quite like the one we know as Cinderella's castle.  Each two page spread takes on an idea about princess and tells the truer thing. This is a simple book and a quick read but does take away some of the ways our students may be thinking about princesses in general.  I imagine all of the students in my class who love Leisl Shurtliff's books will also like this picture book. A fun informational compare/contrast book.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Poetry Friday -- #optimism

I dwell in Possibility – (466)
by Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

This year, I covered all my bases. I chose One Little Word: CREATIVITY. I wrote a 6 word story for the new year: More of this, less of that. My hashtag for the year is #optimism (thus the poem by Emily Dickinson, and while we're on the subject, may I just say how very much I miss the view from the window of my former see it in every season in that set of photos...sigh...). Finally, my learn-something-new goal is to create an app. (Insert #optimism here, because I have exactly NO idea how to go about creating an app. However, today I'm beginning work with a group of students who are learning to code at, so I feel like I'll be on the right path to figure it out.)

Catherine has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

2017 Recommendations from Some Amazing People

I love getting book recommendations from people and I have learned that for me as a reader and learner, I am lucky to have so many people whose reading lives I learn from. It is easy to get stuck in one kind of book or to read books that one group of friends is reading But I find that the more friends I talk to about their reading, the richer my own reading (and my life) becomes.

I am lucky to talk to and learn with so many people about the things we read. Each one of these people is a unique reader. I am in a school filled with teachers who read. I have students who read. I am in a district with colleagues who read. I have family members and friends who read. I am connected to NCTE friends and Nerdy Book Club friends and Literacy Connection friends and Choice Literacy friends and so many others. And then there are social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads. I am thankful that so many people share their reading lives on social media.

This week I asked some people I learn from to share a book that they recommend. 2017 was not the best reading year for me and I don't want to miss the must-reads that others believe are important. I had no idea I'd get so many amazing responses. I loved so many things about the responses. First of all, I got very few duplicates which is so interesting to me. What was more interesting was that when I did get duplicates the reasons for recommendations the same book were different. I also love all of the different ways people wrote to me about the books they loved. So many ways to recommend books that work! I love my friends and my TBR stack is set for years! 

I am sharing this list as a way to get the word out about books you may have missed. But I also hope you find a book from someone new, someone you might connect with and who might become part of your learning circle. Connecting through books is a pretty fabulous way to connect. Enjoy!

From Stella Villalba, @stellavillalba

I know this is a book that many Latinx wished they had when they were growing up. Julia, is messy, loving, rebellious and in a constant battle between cultural expectations and her family upbringing. There are more questions than answers for Julia and amidst of all these chaos, she's trying to figure out who she is as a second generation member in her family. Julia wants a big life for herself. She finds comfort in words, in writing which is a concept her parents have a hard time understanding. A beautiful written book about identity, hard truths, anxiety, culture and changing times.

From Chris Lehman @iChrisLehman

Beautifully and powerfully handles teenage experience, love, and identity. Follows a Muslim young woman as she navigates tradition, change and perception. Perfect for High School and beyond.

From Jennifer Serravallo  @JSerravallo

I read this weird and shocking and awesome adult book that I got on rec from one of the NPR Fresh Air book reviewers. Short Sci Fi stories. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado.

Another that I loved and I had to write! Trevor Noah's Born a Crime. Less funny than I thought it would be, but so much more interesting. 

From Cornelius Minor @MisterMinor you know, I'm the kind of reader where the book that I am currently reading is always my favorite... I was so moved by Claudia Rankine's Citizen that I've been reading all of her literary friends, associates and influences. This led me to a deep dive into Eve Ewing, Ben Passmore, Roxane Gay, Samantha Irby & Remi Kanazi... Basically, I can't decide. They are all my favorite... So here are my few sentences.

No one taught me more than Roxane Gay this year. Her book, Hunger, is not just a text, it is a literary moment. Moving forward, life for me will be bifurcated into two parts -- life before deeply considering the issues that Gay presents in this book and life after. Gay does not just offer a critical look at issues facing girls and women, she fosters critical understanding and catalyzes her readers to deliberate action. As an educator, this is important. As a human, this is essential.

From Julia Torres @juliaerin80

I recommend Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds because it is a real, true, original, masterpiece that is accessible for all readers, yet keeps the reader's mind working on several levels.  Reynolds said one of his goals was to humanize those who perpetrate violence...He did that, and so much more.

I also recommend Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur because she harnesses the power of poetry to be at once personal and universal.  Students like it because they can relate to its message(s).  I loved it for the same reason, and also because it is visual, artfully crafted, and uses uncomplicated language to explore complex ideas.

From Jason Blair @epesart

Daring Greatly—  Brene Brown.

I love this book for so many reasons. It has inspired and challenged me to dare greatly both personally and professionally. Vulnerability can be intimidating and empowering at the same time. This book changed my perspective, to shift from  focusing on those watching/judging me in the arena of life, to focus on those actually in the arena with me, supporting me unconditionally. We all need to find the courage to dare greatly in a world where we tend to seek vulnerability in others, but do anything to cover our own. A must read  for 2018!

From Regie Routman @regieroutman

An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan (Random House, 2017) is a must-read book for gaining inspiration, honoring the unique contributions of immigrants, and for realizing what’s possible with hard work, courage, dignity, and love. Khan tells his compelling story of growing up poor in Pakistan while never losing sight of achieving a better life in America. While he became a highly accomplished U.S. lawyer, he and his wife also suffered mightily as their American-born son was one of the first Muslims to die in the Iraq war. Kahn’s reverence for our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and American values—and his soaring spirit-- are a model of us all. Highly recommended for all readers and concerned citizens from middle school through adult.
From Troy Hicks @hickstro

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi

I've listened to the Note to Self podcast for a few years, including the time when she did this challenge with her listeners. I shared the book with my 15-year-old daughter, and she got her friends to try the bored and brilliant challenge, too. It makes us ask serious questions about when, why, and how we are using tech in our day-to-day lives.

From Scott Jones @escott818

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

I love when I can learn along with my students with a picture book. I already knew the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France. I already knew it welcomed immigrants and symbolized a new start. Yet, I was shocked to learn her right heel is not planted, but lifted, as if she is in mid-stride, breaking free from shackles of oppression. Having a class with many immigrant students, Dave Egger’s Her Right Foot sparked one of the most insightful and inspiring discussion of all the books I’ve read during this year’s #classroombookaday. After reading this aloud, one student pointed out, “The Statue of Liberty came from France, so she is an immigrant too, walking to great the other immigrants." I could tell it left the class with a feeling of hope and inspiration.

From Brian Lawless @mrlawless5

Train I Ride by Paul Mosier

I got all the feels from Rydr’s story, which balances real, raw emotions with great storytelling to provide a sense of home for a young girl in search of belonging. Ryder’s perseverance throughout her journey across the country to Chicago was heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time.

“I’m not the bad things that have happened to me. I’m nothing but who I choose to be.” - Train I Ride

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes

Beautiful, poignant Golden Shovel style poetry that pays homage to the influential poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Grimes’s original poems, entwined with the likes of Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson and others stay with you long after reading by highlighting real life issues of modern day that readers of all ages can relate to.

From Dylan Teut @dylanteut

Sarabella's Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner
While teaching first grade and while teaching undergraduates, I've seen plenty of them: Daydreamers.
Often times across classrooms, daydreaming is dismissed as a distraction. Judy Schachner writes an ode to daydreamers in this perfect picture book. Sometimes there are images that come across our thoughts and minds that are so eloquent and so magnificent, there is no way we could describe or recreate them in the real world. Using her magnificent techniques, Judy somehow finds a way to convey these daydreams across several spreads of this book. The story itself celebrates those among us (and who among us doesn't) who think beyond the realm of possibilities and imagine things beyond our wildest imaginations.

From Barbara O'Connor @barbaraoconnor

A book I loved in 2017: Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly. I LOVED this book with a capital L. I’m a sucker for a multiple viewpoint story, especially when each of them is so well developed and their individual stories so perfectly entwined. This book is masterfully written, heartwarming and just plain fun.  

From Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp

I didn't know what to expect as I cracked open the page of Dashka Slater's The 57 Bus. After all, a dual perspective nonfiction detailing the event of what appeared to be a horrific hate crime against a teenager in Oakland, California couldn't really be an amazing book. And yet from the moment the story started to unfold, it was evident that was not a clear case, nor a straightforward story and as the harrowing and heartbreaking tale came to light, my heart was sucked in deeper and deeper. This is simply one of those books you must read and then pass on so that others will be able to discuss it with you. There are a few books that will stay with me for a long time from 2017, and this book, The 57 Bus, is one of them.

From Jen Allen 

I found the book nourished the mind, fed the soul, and inspired new creative professional development ideas that I could use with staff. The paper and notes included within the book are a bonus! 

From Bill Bass @billbass

Innovation As Usual by Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg
This is a business book but it has helped inform my work in my school district by making me think about how to create conditions where innovation can occur as opposed to being the person to drive innovation in classrooms. This approach has brought about more wide spread opportunities for the kids in my district as opposed to smaller pockets and has helped meet more of our students' needs.

From Karen Szymusiak @karenszymusiak

The Sound of Glass by Karen White
1. I love the author...Karen White - After skipping school one day in seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, she knew she wanted to be a writer.
As a Gone With the Wind fan, I feel a real connection to this author.

2. I enjoyed the book's complexity, its characters, its multi-stories entwined into one.

3. The main character's stepmother keeps a "Journal of Truths" that includes bits of wisdom from her own mother and words of advice she wants to remember and pass on. As I read, I saved some of the "truths" I wanted to remember. Here are a few:
"My momma always said that to plant a garden meant you believed in tomorrow."
"The greatest moments in life are usually the smallest."
"Life doesn't get easier. We just get stronger."
"Everybody carries their hurts in different ways, but everybody's got them. Everybody. Some people are just better at hiding them."

From Ann Marie Corgill @acorgill

Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity Through Projects, Passions, Peers, and Play

The whole idea that creativity is collaborative and how we build on the thinking of each other. I think about just the friendship with you and all the people you’ve introduced me to and how I’m a better teacher because of being able to think and learn with others....the other thing I like about this book is the big idea of that expectant view of children we must have—instead of seeing kids through a deficit lens. One of Pernille’s latest posts really made me think more about this and how I must do a better job of peeling off the layers and seeing, finding, helping kids live joyfully and showcase their

natural talents and gifts.

Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters
Irene is from Birmingham. 

I love the way she and Charles Waters, her co-author, talk about race through their eyes as children. He’s black and she’s white. Each two page spread has one poem written from her perspective and one from his. I can imagine great conversations with kids around these and great models for writing.

From Penny Kittle @pennykittle

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios traces a high school relationship as it becomes increasingly dangerous. Girls in my class are passing this around and discussing it with insight and courage. An essential book by a superb writer.

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan considers the factors that led to a college freshman’s suicide. My classroom library has too few books on the raw struggle of mental illness. This book shows how complex anxiety and depression are, especially when students make the first move away from home.

From Kristin Ziemke @kristinziemke

Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee is a terrific addition to any classroom library and a must-have mentor text for lessons in media literacy. In this beautiful picture book a little girl is frightened by all that she sees, hears and feels in the news. Throughout the story her parents model how to "choose brave" and engage in small acts to make the world a better place. The little girl conquers the loud, negative narratives of the media and is empowered to take action to create a positive influence on her part of the world.  

This picture book is appropriate across the grades, but finds a perfect home in 3rd-5th and is tailored to upper grades when paired with the explanation of the book from Holly M. McGhee on her website The Story Behind Come With Me.  Here Holly details how acts of terrorism have changed mindsets for what it means to feel safe. Though despite these acts, courageous individuals make choices to each day to build bridges of hope, connection and love. Holly charges readers to put good into the world, to believe in humanity and to contribute as an agent for compassion "because as small as it may seem, your part matters to the world.

From Kelly Gallagher @KellyGToGo

I have two favorite professional books in 2017: Tom Newlirk's Embarrassment and Maja Wilson's Reimaging Writing Assessment. Newkirk's book is centered around this question: "How can we create conditions of support so that students can fail publicly without succumbing to embarrassment, or more like;y, finding ways to 'hide' so they can protect themselves?" Wilson's book eloquently argues the case against using rubrics to assess student writing, and explains how using them can harm the development of young writers. Both of these books are thought-provoking, and both of them have made me go back and re-examine my practices.

From Katherine Sokolowski @katsok

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
I entered the elevator with Will on page one and my heart was clenched in a vice grip of worry, sadness, despair, love, hate, and anxiety that continued beyond the last page. While I finished this story almost three months ago, I often think of Will, of the racism that exists in our country, of the violence, and wonder what I can do to change it. Breathtakingly beautiful writing that will leave you in awe and wanting more.

From Leah Zuidema @lzuidema 

Right now I'm really enjoying Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. Around the new year I like to read books that help me rethink my routines and priorities. A few years ago, The Happiness Project (by Gretchen Rubin) got me thinking about how often I see my extended family and friends and what kind of attitudes I wanted to cultivate more intentionally. That book had me reconsidering my calendar for the year; this new one about liturgies has me thinking about the most basic things in the day. Warren takes simple activities like making the bed and eating leftovers, and she uses these to point to what is sacred about even the mundane things in life. She is poetic in her observations and in her language, and even though it is an easy read, I'm limiting myself to a chapter a day so that I can think about what she has to say. 

My other pick is Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. 

A friend recommended this one to me, and now I'm recommending it to everyone. The personal stories in this book are all interwoven in such a gripping way--like a novel, though this is nonfiction. Just when I'm caught up in one story and outraged on behalf of one person, the vantage point shifts to show the challenges from another perspective, and I have to admit that it's complicated--there aren't easy answers. Yet this book isn't depressing. The epilogue is a must-read (or a must-listen, if you prefer your nonfiction in audio format, as I do!). Desmond leaves us with hope by describing changes that could make a difference. Reading this book reminded me what a luxury it is that I have time/resources to read and reflect, and it motivates me to do what I can as an educator and citizen to make change where I can. 

From Ruth Ayres @ruth_ayres

I really enjoyed The Revenge of Analog: Real Things & Why They Matter by David Sax.  I'm not sure I could label it as my favorite, but I'm definitely glad I read it. ;)

From Jen Schwanke @JenSchwanke

I read a lot of children's books and young adult books, because I feel like it's important for my work. But in my rare moments of reading for pleasure, I enjoy reading adult memoirs that give me a glimpse into worlds different from mine. My mother thinks I'm crazy--she will ask, "Why do you always read about people who have such difficult lives?"--but I enjoy absorbing perspectives from people who have faced unspeakable challenges and can share their story with truth and hope.

My two favorites this year:

Sherman Alexie, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me

Alexie's life is deeply defined by his mother's troubled, cold, complicated influence. Though Alexie's life seems to have drifted far from his roots as an indigenous American Indian, he realizes he is still deeply tied to his younger self, because the ghosts of his parents continue to visit his thoughts and dreams. For me, a particularly profound moment in the book was when Alexie wonders why he was able to freely forgive his father--who was responsible for many dreadful incidents in Alexie's young life--yet finds it impossible to do the same for his mother, though he acknowledges her strength and commitment to her children. I loved how Alexie is able to be completely honest about his complicated feelings on forgiveness, fury, loyalty, and love.

Much of the book is written as prose, but it is peppered with passages of poetry that Alexie's talent for wordsmithing--there were times the words were so beautiful, I had to stop reading just to breathe.

Maude Julien, The Only Girl in the World

This book was about a childhood of desperate loneliness and incomprehensible challenge-- at the hands of parents deranged from their own difficult lives. It also revealed how the horrors of World War II left irreparable scars on survivors and their children. Though Julien's

story is terribly difficult, the underlying message was of perseverance and the relentless strength of the human soul. Easy to read? No. Worth it? Yes, yes, yes.

Part of why I loved this book was that it was a translation from French, and I find it hugely comforting that language does not get in the way of sharing an important story with the world.

From Stacey Ross @book_glitter

That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares

It is a wordless, mostly black and white picture book with the exception of an exchange of "Hi" from the two characters midway through the book. The children are separated by a fence, and the boy is building a treehouse as a curious neighbor girl peeks over the tall fence. What I love about the book is that the boy begins tearing the pieces of the fence down in what appears to be motivated by the need for building supplies- or is it? As he tears it down, it makes an opening for the girl to join him and to add her expertise to the project. As the friendship blossoms, Miyares's use of color expands illuminating happiness. The story ends with the children covered in paint sharing a proud moment in front of their completed treehouse. This book made me think about the talk of building walls to keep others out and the opportunities for sharing proud moments and illuminated happiness we will miss.

From Janet Rinefierd @janetrinefierd

Professionally... The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor encouraged me to reflect on how happiness is a tool for success instead of a result of success. As a leader, this book inspired me to guide our school staff to consider the power of a positive mindset and how mindsets affect day-to-day lives and work. It helped my team establish a culture goal that we own together and the seven principles Achor shares can help us to understand how mindsets play a significant role in impacting the climate created in schools and classrooms.

Personally... Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult is a great read. It explores social truths that although were uncomfortable to read about are a reality that should not be ignored in light of current injustices and the state of our nation. 

From Olivia Van Ledtje @thelivbits

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

If you like creepy, suspense-filled stories then this book is for you! Tessa Woodward solves a century-old Chicago ghost mystery, and shows the world how brave girls can be!

Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes by Booki Vivat
This is the 2nd graphic novel showing the FRAZZLED adventures of Abbie Wu! You'll fall in love with her necrotic and hilarious mishaps, and you'll end the book 
begging Booki to hurry up with book number three!

Anybody's Game: The Story of the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball byHeather Lang
Kathryn Johnston wanted to play baseball more than anything, but it was 1950 and 
girls weren't allowed to play. This book will show you how a determined Kathryn showed the world that girls can do ANYTHING they put there minds to, including playing baseball!

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood
If you want a book that will give you heartbeeps for girls and women, this is the right pick! You'll read the stories of women who made a difference in the world.
They were rabble rousers and visionaries who blazed a trail for kids like me!

From Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan @ClareandTammy

Here are a couple of books we loved this year.

Enticing Hard-to-Reach-Writers, Ruth Ayres

Ruth's book is one that touched our hearts - We love the way she weaved stories of being a mother, a teacher, and a writer. The research and stories Ruth shares helps us think about the “why” behind students’ actions so that we can become better listeners and more attuned practitioners.

Journeys: Young Readers Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives

We love this collection of letters from The Library of Congress Center for the Book and Weekly Reader annual essay writing contest. They show students the power of books and the power of their writing.

Piecing Me Together, Renee Watson

Piecing Me Together is about perspective. Perspective about going to a school filled with

students from a different race. Perspective about what it is like to go to school in one community and live in another. Perspective about how it feels when others continually assume you need help. As moms, teachers, and mentors, this book made us think about the assumptions we make in our own lives. It challenges all of us to question our assumptions about race, class, and gender.

After the Fall, Dan Santat

After the Fall explores themes of resiliency, growth mindset and perseverance and is a book that resonates with people of all ages. It is a sure hit with kids and also great to use with adults in leadership and professional development sessions.

From Louis Borden @LouiseBorden

So I will choose one from my nonfiction stack:

Amy Herman’s VISUAL INTELLIGENCE : Sharpen your perception, Change your life

Published by HMH in 2016 and I read the Mariner paperback edition pub. in 2017.

I gave Christmas copies this year to friends in publishing - because the book really led to new thinking and new learning about the art of perception. The author has a law and art background and is a consultant with the Navy Seals, Scotland Yard, the FBI, educators, and others. She trains people to see more closely and improve crucial communication by studying works of art.

Additionally, today, on the last day of 2017, with snow flurries and bright sunshine out my window, I’m just finishing the new paperback edition of the 2007 book THE LONG ROAD HOME by Martha Raddatz (called by the Washington Post: “ A masterpiece of literary nonfiction that rivals any war-related classic that has preceded it.”

This book is a page turner and a riveting and heart-breaking account of soldiers who served in Iraq and their families back home. I bought it at the Tattered Cover at the Denver airport on Wednesday for Pete and began reading it on the plane home. Raddatz really takes you into the war zone but also into the hearts of military families in America. So well-written.

From Aliza Werner @alizateach

Leaving My Homeland series: A Refugee's Journey From...(Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, Syria, and more) by Helen Mason, Ellen Rodger, and more
Crabtree Publishing

Scouring the "NEW!" picture book shelves at my local library, I serendipitously ran across the four original books in this series. Immediately intrigued, as I was working on building a refugee text set for my third graders, I checked them all out and was absorbed by their content, clarity, and careful

balance in sharing a complex topic with children. Each book is engaging and informative as it uses a mix of both informational and narrative formats to share refugees' origins, journeys, and resettlement experiences common to people fleeing those countries. The nonfiction text is brought to life through the story of a refugee child and his/her family, providing a lens of humanity and authentic connection for readers. Children can learn about this global crisis in an honest, but approachable and age-appropriate manner. Suggestions are provided to readers for what they can do to help and to learn more. As an adult, I was able to learn about the refugee experience, its causes and effects, catalysts and responses, which is just one more reason you are never too old to read children's books!

From Patrick Andrus @patrickontwit

It was SO hard to pick, but I just tried to pick some of my favorites!

Middle-Grade Novel was Matylda, Bright, & Tender by Holly M. McGhee

*I remember reading this and not being able to put it down. The writing was incredible and beautiful. The friendship between Sussy and Guy was one of a kind and warmed my heart. The interaction they had with an animal was like no other. This was definitely a top read for me during 2017.

Young-Adult Novel was A List of Cages by Robin Roe

*This book definitely is at the top of my young-adult list. Donalyn Miller recommended it. I ordered it online, and read it in one day. One of the most powerful and heart-wrenching stories I experienced during 2017. The writing was incredible and sucked me in like no other story. My heart just hurt during several reading moments. A must read!

Novel Published for Adults was Beartown by Fredrik Backman

*Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite authors of novels published for adults. I was so excited he had a new novel hitting the shelves. Although I remember the story having a slow start, but eventually took hold of my mind and heart and didn’t let go until the last line. The story was strong with a stellar cast of characters. I’m not a hockey fan, but the story line centering around a hockey community was engaging, interesting, and a complete page-turner.

From Paul Hankins @PaulWHankins

How many times have I thought I felt "nostalgia?" And how many times has this feeling ever been "terminal?" At the end of the 2017, shared "The History of Human Emotions" from cultural historian, Tiffany Watts Smith. Always on the look out for titles that might work for my students' inquiry projects, I thought about Sara who was doing a project on "emotional intelligence." I ordered the speaker's The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty--154 Words from Around the World for How We Feel (Little, Brown 2015). I thought I had found a good book for 
Sara over the winter break, but what I really found was a sort of encyclopedia of emotion that I was able to enjoy during my time off that I might not have found if not connected to a larger world of text and textual connections.

From Shelbie Witte @shelbiewitte

The Book Of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Spending a week together, the two religious leaders spend time laughing, sharing, digging, challenging, and supporting one another. I found myself needing more Joy to counteract the negativity of 2017 and this book was just the right balance of philosophy, life lessons, and outlook to recenter my moral and ethical compasses.

From Jennifer Buehler @ProfBuehler

The main one I'm coming back to is LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders. It's so deep
and moving, I'm struggling to come up with a way to explain all it offers and all it says to me. But I have now read it in hard copy form and listened to the audiobook (which I bought, along with the hardcover -- it's that good), and now ten months later through the resources of my library (the Overdrive app for free digital downloads), I am halfway through listening to it again.

I was also blown away by STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING by Ibram X. Kendi. EVICTED by Matthew Desmond similarly left a big impression on me.
GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart, LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND by M.T. Anderson, and VINCENT AND THEO by Deb Heiligman are probably my favorite YA titles of the past year.

Check out these fabulous essays:

From Nicole Mirra @nicole_mirra

George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. While on the surface it appears to be a piece of historical fiction recounting the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son and the intersection of the president’s personal grief with his public leadership during the Civil War, it is deep down a meditation on the messiness of democracy, tolerance, and truth. It is a story told by a cast of dozens, many of whom contradict each other, all of whom are searching for belonging and love. It is strange and hilarious and heartbreaking and tries to point a way forward for America at a time when empathy seems in such short supply. 

From Steph Harvey @stephharvey49

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness
Todd Rose
In The End of Average Todd Rose argues that no one is average. He notes that the average one size fits all model ignores our many differences and fails to recognize unique talent. He shares and

explores three principles of individuality: The jaggedness principle -that talent is jagged, the context principle--that we each have a unique set of behaviors based on situational contexts and the pathways principle--that we all take the road less traveled. I loved this book particularly the idea that all talent is jagged. Viewing kids through a lens of jaggedness encourages us to see what truly makes them individuals. And it is high time we value individuality over sameness.

From Antero Garcia @anterobot
One book I really appreciated digging into last year was Zoe Quinn’s Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate. Starting as a memoir from an independent game designer, Quinn’s experiences with online harassment are harrowing. However, while the book is a no-holds-barred account, it is written from a place of action and activism; the last third of the book offers specific lessons on improving online discourse and supporting broader communities of engagement and dialogue.

From Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts

My family and I have adored Red & Lulu by Matt Tavares. Not only did the storyline capture our
hearts, but the illustrations are edged in our minds. The visual storytelling – the perspectives, use of color, and sequencing of images – really get into the heart of the holiday season and tap into the overall human experience.

We would also love to shout out to Sarah Moon's debut novel,
Sparrow. From the first page, Sarah's lyrical voice takes over and ushers readers into the world of Sparrow Cooke, an eighth-grade Black girl from Brooklyn, who finds peace in flying like a bird. This must-read YA novel of 2017 is delicate and strong, poignant and relatable, inspiring and affirmative to both readers young and old.