Saturday, June 12, 2021

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 
Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!  

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading new books. I always use this time to think about which new books might be must-haves for the classroom. This week I'm sharing some new middle grade novels that might make good read alouds, great choices for book clubs and great additions to classroom libraries. These are some of my favorite new middle grade must-reads!

Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Quintessence by Jess Redman
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado
Efrén Divided by Ernessto Cisneros
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

This week's books were linked at Cover to Cover Children's Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous independent children's bookstore to support, this is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio!

Happy Reading!

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for weekly Text Sets!
(@TextSets will be on vacation for the rest of June. Be back after the July 4 holiday!)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Poetry Friday -- an unexpected #PoemPair

Learning Arabic

is more than just driving on the left in England.
It's driving on the left
with no cognates on the map,
an alphabet consisting of small bits of flowering vine,
and luckily a lay-by
where you abandon the car and the map
taking a path instead
walking like a botanist, field guide in hand,
poring over every blossom, every curving leaf,
breathless when you begin to find meaning
in this brand new ancient world.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Yes, I'm learning Arabic with the DuoLingo app. Why? Because it's beautiful, it's hard, and my friend speaks it. 

I didn't think this would be a #PoemPairs post, but then I listened to today's episode of Poetry Unbound featuring "A special bilingual poem in Anishinaabemowin and English by Margaret Noodin, a linguist who writes primarily in Anishinaabemowin" and then the followup conversation between her and "Pádraig Ó Tuama, about the story behind that poem as well as the Anishinaabemowin language, translation, and the importance of language preservation." I was especially fascinated by the connections the two made between language and place, and between the Ojibwe and Irish languages.

So now, when I'm asked why I'm learning Arabic, I will add to my answer this new thinking from Margaret Noodin and Pádraig Ó Tuama: that language includes a connection to the land and to the soul of a place and its native speakers, and by learning this language, I will help to celebrate language diversity.

Carol has this week's Poet Friday roundup at Carol's Corner.

Poetry Friday -- Call for Roundup Hosts

It's that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

If you'd like to host a roundup between July and December 2021, leave your choice(s) of date(s) in the comments. I'll update regularly to make it easier to see which dates have been claimed.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape, or form (Mr. Linky, "old school" in the comments-->annotated in the post, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you're not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch...and learn! One thing we're finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? You can grab the list from the sidebar here at A Year of Reading, or I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. 

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It's like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

And now for the where and when:

2    Laura at Laura Shovan
9    Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
16  Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
23  Kat at Kathryn Apel
30  Becky at Sloth Reads

6   Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
27 Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections

3   Heidi at my juicy little universe
17 Denise at Dare to Care
24 Laura at Laura Purdie Salas

1   Catherine at Reading to the Core
8   Irene at Live Your Poem
29 Linda at TeacherDance


3   Michelle at Michelle Kogan
10 Cathy at Merely Day by Day
24 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
31 Carol at Carol's Corner

Wednesday, June 09, 2021



by Raakhee Mirchandani
illustrated by Holly Hatam
Little, Brown and Company, 2021
review copy provided by the publisher (thanks!)


From the author's note:
"This story is a window into my family and our tradition, one that started over five hundred years ago in Punjab and that we are proud to maintain and make our own here in America."
This is also a story about love -- the love of a father and daughter that centers around hair and culture, ancient traditions and insider jokes ("hair cheers" and "hip cheers"). For readers looking in through the window of this story, there is information (coconut oil smoothed in for untangling) and vocabulary (papa's joora/bun, patka/bun covering, and turban). Woven throughout the story is joy, shared at the end with friends in the park.


Pádraig Ó Tuama unpacked the poem "Coconut Oil" by Roshni Goyate on Poetry Unbound last week, and while it's not for children, the poem and his commentary are a perfect pairing for adult readers, especially those with "mainstream" (read white person) hair who will share Hair Twins with children and who need to continue to learn and understand how hair can be the source of racism and microaggressions.

For those who want to dig in deeper into the colonialism of beauty, check out this Code Switch podcast, or this PBS Newshour piece on "How hair discrimination impacts Black Americans in their personal lives and the workplace."


Thursday, June 03, 2021

Poetry Friday -- Ways to Reappear

image via Unsplash

Ways to Reappear

In the dawn
Down a path
Through tall pines
Come to
With a grin
In a flash
Down to earth
In a spotlight
In a shadow
Without a plan
Without speaking
On your porch
On your threshold
In the garden
In the pool
In a library
In the corner
In the background
Come out
On a limb
At a moment's notice
In envelopes
In secret
Without words
Without a doubt
Seeking identity
Through dense fog
Down this path
In the dawn

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021 
after Ways to Disappear by Camille Rankine

"Ways to Disappear" was the Poem a Day from on Wednesday, June 2. Camille Rankine writes about her poem: “There are so many ways a person can become not a person in someone else’s eyes. They can be erased through violence of gaze or word or action, by the individual, by the media, by the state, so that their humanity dissolves into nothing in the other’s view, and they vanish. In plain sight, and not there at all.”

Big truth in these times, in this country.

I began to think of possible ways for a person to reappear. If we can erase a person, surely we can also work against that erasure, really see those around us, and make sure they know they've been seen.

The poem is also about losing one identity and reappearing with a new identity. 

Process notes: I found the photo on Unsplash after I wrote the poem. It was a little eerie how well the image matched my words. 

I borrowed the first word in every line from Rankine's poem. Lots of times I used the first two words. To give the poem a more optimistic feel, I changed "gone" to "come." The lines are specific and personal but at the same time broad and general. As in Rankine's poem, the lines sometimes seem connected, but mostly can stand alone. The word "seeking" stood out to me as a turning point, and from there I diverged from Rankine's poem, reversing the pattern of the first three lines, and ending where the poem started.

Margaret has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche. Watch for the signup for July-December roundups next week! Yikes! 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Text Sets: Professional Books for Summer Learning

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 
Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!  

 This week, I'll be sharing some professional books I am excited to dig into this summer. It's been such a great year for professional books and I am looking forward to time in the summer to really spend time with some of the newest professional books I've discovered. Summer is such a great time to relax, refresh and renew our teaching energy.  Professional books always help me with that and summer is my favorite time to dig into these. 

I read En Comuninidad this year and was able to hear the authors speak.  This is an area that I haven't learned enough about and these brilliant authors invited me into this learning.  My next read in Translanguaging will be Rooted in Strength which is brand new.  Such an important topic for all of us to learn about. Thanks to these authors for putting these incredible books out in the world.  

I was able to hear Dr. Detra Price-Dennis and Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz talk about their new book, Advancing Racial Literacies in Teacher Education last month. It is definitely an area that I need to learn more about. And I've learned so much from Dr. Detra Price-Dennis about Black Girls' Literacies that I am looking to the upcoming book on the topic by Dr. Price-Dennis and Dr. Muhammad. (Black Girls' Literacies is due out in early to mid June). 

I loved Steph Harvey and Annie Ward's book From Striving to Thriving and am glad to see these two have written another book on a similar topic (with two other coauthors). Intervention Reinvention comes out in June and I know I'll learn so much about supporting all readers. And I just received my copy of Trusting Readers this morning.  I worry we have come so far away from trusting our learners and the focus on independent reading and trust got me excited about this book right away. I think we all need this one in order to talk against deficit language narratives in literacy teaching. 

I preordered Start Here Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community long ago and can't wait to dig in. I have learned so much from Liz Kleinrock on social media that I am so glad to see a book by this author!  

And one I am very excited that we are now able to preorder Reading and Teaching with Diverse Nonfiction Children's Books (The preorder link just went live this week--woohooo!)  I have been hearing about it on social media for months and it is a topic I need. These editors are incredible experts and the list of authors (listed on the preorder page) is just WOW! This book is a summer must-read for sure! 

Happy Reading!

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for next week's Text Set!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Poetry Friday -- Gratitudes

Dear Poetry Friday Peeps,

I feel like there has been a wrinkle in time, and I am right back where I was last week. 

A week ago, I had completed a rigorous day-by-day to-do list that culminated in packing for a weekend away at a Casting for Recovery alumni reunion. On Thursday evening, I ignored Franki's "How are you feeling?" text and crashed. I will finish my Poetry Friday post in the morning, I told myself. 

But you all had other plans for Friday, didn't you? 😁 😉

There are no words to describe what the gift of your words means to me. I've said "Gobsmacked" on more than one occasion. I'm also humbled, dazzled, blushing, teary, and filled with gratitude. To Franki for hatching this plan, to Irene and Christie for helping to make it happen, and to all of you -- thank you, thank you, thank you!

The hardest thing about this gift is that I've only been able to begin to take peeks at all of the posts. I tried to get started while at the retreat, but the weather was too nice, the bluegills were biting, and the trails needed hiking. Then, when I got home Sunday, I hit the ground running. There was another week-long rigorous day-by-day to-do list: the last of the grading, report cards, RTI plans, field day, final preparations of student gifts, bringing home the last big items from the classroom, and then, last night, after the In Real Life meet-up of my Wright Elementary and Depp Elementary Team Hahn students at a park halfway between the two schools, like last Thursday night, I crashed. I will finish my Poetry Friday post in the morning, I told myself. 

And now here I am. Friday. The last day of the 37th week of my 37th year of teaching. How am I feeling? Tired. Fulfilled. Devoid of regrets. Amazed. I did this thing. 

Finally, FINALLY, I will be able to read through last week's roundup and savor your words. You will help me to look back and reflect on a the magnitude of my impact. I think that's probably the biggest gift you have given me. In case I ever doubted myself (actually, for all the many many times I failed and doubted and despaired), you have shown me -- unequivocally -- that I've made a difference in the world. 

What a gift. 

Thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Text Set: Series Books Featuring Strong Girl Characters for Transitional Readers

  Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 
Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!  

I love finding great new books for early chapter book readers. The stage of reading that typically happens in grades 2-4 is such fun and it often the stage where readers discover a series they fall in love with. I love discovering new series and new series book characters that may hook reader at this age. This week's text set focuses on series books featuring strong girl characters. Maybe you'll find a new series or two to add to your home, classroom or school library!

I was so happy to get to know Ryan Hart last year in Ways to Make Sunshine. The second book in this series Ways to Grow Love was just released a few weeks ago.  I could not be happier to see Renée Watson writing for this age. The character is one you'll fall in love with right away. These books are just under 200 pages so perfect for early middle grade readers. 

I have been waiting for Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-To-Be Best Friend since I saw it mentioned by Debbie Reese. From the new Heart Drum imprint, this new character made me smile from the first page.  Jo Jo is in first grade and this book is just 80 pages long with illustrations throughout. Jo Jo is an Ojibwe girl. Author, Dawn Quigley is a member of the Ojibwe nation. I can't wait to read more books about Jo Jo --she is a great new character who had me laughing out loud a few times! 

I heard Erin Entrada Klly ead from this book at a webinar a few months ago so I have been anxiously awaiting Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey that will be part of a series.  Marisol is a great character who is a bit scared of all things. There are plenty of illustrations throughout that add to the story. I love that young readers will be introduced to Erin Entrada Kelly at a younger age and then maybe grow into her other books.  This is one that would make a great read aloud! 

I love anything by Grace Lin and I was so glad to see the new covers on The Year of the Dog and this whole series a few years ago. Pacy is a great character and this series is a bit more difficult than the others on the list.  I had lots of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders who have loved this series.  Again, I love that Grace Lin has a series that might introduce readers to her middle grade books --then they go on to read all of her others.  

I love anything Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham. One of my favorite duos in children's lit. I have loved Princess in Black since the first book was released and I am so happy that it is still going strong. This is the perfect series for new-to-chapter-book readers.  Great stories, just enough humor, amazing illustrations and stories that young readers can hold onto over time.  

This week's books were linked at Cover to Cover Children's Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous independent children's bookstore to support, this is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio!

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for next week's Text Set!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

#PoetryFriday #PoemsforMaryLee #MarvelousMaryLee

Join us in celebrating Mary Lee's Retirement! 
It's a Poetry Friday Takeover in Honor of #MarvelousMaryLee
Join in the fun with #PoemsForMaryLee!!
We love you Mary Lee!

I retired from Dublin City Schools last May and for the 33 years I was a teacher there, Mary Lee was too!  I can’t remember the exact moment we met but I know that it had to be some literacy committee or district book club that brought us together for the first time.  Over the years we never taught in the same building but we taught and grew and wrote and learned together throughout our careers. How lucky am I?  Mary Lee has been a gift to all of us who have learned alongside her as teachers, colleagues and friends.  Such an incredible career she’s had! Today, let’s celebrate #MarvelousMaryLee with #PoemsForMaryLee as she goes into her last week of teaching before retirement!


Mary Lee is retiring
And today we want to celebrate her
Retirement with a Poetry Friday Takeover!
(You know I love you if I attempt writing poetry for you.)

Let the fun begin!

Everyone join in sharing
Everything we love about Mary Lee!


I have been lucky for

So so long learning from and with Mary Lee!


Really, who gets to have a whole career with someone
Equally passionate about children, literacy and learning
Teaching together, but not in the same school, all these years

Is such a gift

Reaching so many students and supporting so many colleagues

Is what you’ve always done

Now it’s time to

Go on to enjoy your new adventures!


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Text Set: Reading and Writing Different Books on One Topic

  Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!  

This week, we'll at books with similar topics or ideas written by different authors. As writers, studying pairs or sets of books across a topic or idea can really help writers see craft moves the author makes and how the authors approach ideas differently.  As readers, studying books on similar topics helps readers think about the difference between topic and theme. It is helps readers talk about the author's choices and how that impacts the bigger meaning of a narrative.

Our children are living through an important time in history. These three books, Outside Inside, And the People Stayed Home and Keeping the City Going each capture some of what life has been like during this pandemic. Each book approaches the topic a bit differently and the bigger messages are different.  Each of these books can be studied for craft, big idea, and more. Reading them all within a few days of each other will invite critical conversations.

Both The Camping Trip and Fatima's Great Outdoors are about a camping trip. Both have these of family.  But there are lots of differences and writing moves. The Camping Trip is a great mentor for writers who are looking for a mentor for writing graphic novels. Both books give readers lots to consider and to talk about.

Writing about a person you love can be done in so many ways. Me & Mama and I Dream of Popo capture the relationship and love between a child and someone in their life.  The writing, the craft and the focus is different but the feeling is similar.  Both capture every day experiences woven into a different format.

Home is In Between and Amira's Picture Day are two stories of children living between two cultures--the celebrations and challenges told in two very different ways. I love how both of these stories capture the experiences in such different ways.

Picture book biographies about the same person provide great mentors for readers and writers. Malala's Magic Pencil and Free as a Bird are two books about Malala. When readers read several books about the same individual, they can discuss why some biographies include different information than others. As writers, they can study the details writers choose help create a message about the person being written about--they often highlight one important characteristic.

This week's books were linked at Cover to Cover Children's Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous independent children's bookstore to support, this is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio!

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for next week's Text Set!