Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Heroines

24 Feb


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week they post a new list for bloggers to answer.  This week’s topics is Ten Favorite Heroines From Books.

1. Hermione from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

I know it is probably very obvious and we will see a lot of her today, but she is pretty amazing!  Hermione is smart and pretty tough as well.  She is an excellent role model for readers.

2. Vix from Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

This is my favorite book of all time.  I always loved Vix as a character and felt a connection to her even the first time I read this book as a teenager.  Every time I read this book, I connect to a different part of Vix’s life.  She is a character that will always stay with me.

3. Juliette from Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

Juliette begins very afraid, being especially fearful of herself and her power.  I love how she grew in the series and learned to control her power and gain confidence in herself.  She was a character I rooted for and loved to watch develop.

4. Melinda from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda is a character I will never forget.  She went through hell and had to fight her way back, but she made it.  I love her voice and her views of the world as well.

5. Tana from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana is another tough girl.  She handles her situation with nothing but fight.  She doesn’t give up even when things seem hopeless and she does whatever is necessary to do what needs to be done.

6. Astrid from Ask the Passengers by AS King

Astrid is all about giving love, even to people she doesn’t even know flying in the airplanes above.  And she just wants to be herself, not just a label.  She is another strong character whom I adore.

7. Rory from The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I am seeing a theme…I love tough heroines that fight on their own.  Rory works with ghosts and is hilarious!  I can’t wait to continue reading her story.

8. Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is another character I really connected to.  I loved watching her grow to accept herself.

9. Skeeter from The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Skeeter is a girl who strives to be true to herself.  She follows her dream and she strives to stand up for what she believes is right, even if it means going against the grain.

10. Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen

What is not to love about Lizzie?  She is another tough girl who stays true to herself through and through.

Who are some of your favorites?

It’s Monday, February 23, 2015! What are you reading?

23 Feb


It has been a few week since I have checked in with one of these posts!  Here is an update on my reading life.

What I Have Read Lately

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafai

I loved this book and just posted my review yesterday.  Cannot recommend this one enough!

 The DUFF: Designated, Ugly, Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

I read this with movie recently being released.  To be honest, I am a little torn on this one.  I couldn’t put it down, but I’m not sure how much I loved it.  The wanting to keep reading factor had me give it 4/5 stars.  I’m still kind of on the fence though.  I have not been this torn on a book in awhile.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield

I was impressed how quickly I read this 599 page book.  I won’t say much yet because a review is definitely forthcoming.

What I’m Reading This Week

Lola and the Boy Next Door & Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins 

I read Anna and the French Kiss back in 2013 and LOVED it!  I am finally getting to the other books in the series.  I have heard that these are great as well!

What are you reading this week?

I Am Malala: A Review

22 Feb

Title: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Author: Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

Format: ebook on Nook, Personal Purchase

Release Date: October 8, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

Yet again, this is a book that I waited far too long to read.  Ever since I heard Malala’s story, I wanted to read this.  Seeing her interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show made me immediately buy the book. And then it sat on my ereader for months upon months.  I had plans to read it, even mentioning it in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? posts.  But it took the urging from my good friend Jacqueline for me to finally sit down and read it.  So glad I did.

I will admit, it was a little hard for me to get into at first.  The writing seemed to jump around at first and I had a hard time keeping people and new terms straight.  I did not realize until after I finished the book that there was a helpful glossary at the end (a downfall of e-readers – I never pay attention to the table of contents once I click the link to the first chapter) and it was harder to flip back on the e-reader.  However, the look-up function on the e-reader was very helpful at times.  Once I got into the first few chapters, I picked up the flow of the book and was hooked.

One thing about this book is how much I learned.  I learned quite a bit about life in Pakistan: its history, daily life, and people.  I guess I always assumed the Taliban had always been there; clearly, I was wrong.  Reading this book reminded me of how much I don’t know about the rest of the world, even if it is a little embarrassing to admit at times.  This reminds me of the power of reading: to experience and learn about the world outside of where and how you live.

This book also made me very grateful for the life I have and the opportunities I have been given.  Jacqueline and I talked a bit while reading and she hit the nail on the head when she said how this book is a reminder of how much we take for granted.

I enjoyed reading this for all that I learned and reflected on.  I also loved Malala’s voice in the writing.  I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages.

5/5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Book Related Problems I Have

17 Feb


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week they post a new list for bloggers to answer.  This week’s topics is Ten Book Related Problems I Have.

1. Books, books, books EVERYWHERE

I have books everywhere, even with a classroom to store most of the books I buy.  There are piles in the bedroom, office, living room…everywhere.  Even in the classroom, I am running out of room for all the books.  There is probably no less that three books on my desk at this very moment.

2. Getting behind on TV shows 

I love to read, obviously.  I would rather read at night as a way to unwind than just about anything else.  Because of that, even with DVR, I end up getting behind on some of my shows.  I even stopped watching some shows when I have fallen too far behind.

3. So many ideas, so little time

I have so many ideas of the reading experiences I want to share on here and then I get busy with other things and the blog gets pushed to the back.  I want to review so many books, but have so little time.

4. To-Read Pile Never Gets Smaller

The list of books I want to read keeps getting longer and longer and longer.  It seems no matter what I do or read, there will be at least three more books that I want to read.

5. Never Enough Money

Whenever we do the “What would you do with a million dollars?” prompt, I tell the students I am buying a house with a HUGE library to fill up with all the books I want.  This is closely related to item #4 – there is just not enough money for all the books I want.

6. People Don’t Understand References

There is so much in life that reminds me of something I read. I want to share the connection or the joke, but so few people get it.  So many jokes are wasted.

7. I Always Need a Big Purse

My husband is always amazed at how huge my purses are.  I buy purses based on if a book and/or my iPad will fit in it.  I hardly go anywhere without a book, so I need to make sure I have the means to carry it.

8. My Bag is Always Heavy

Whether it is my work bag or purse (see above), whatever I am carrying will always be heavy because at least one book will be in it.  It makes for tired, sore shoulders.

9. Laughing Out Loud/Crying in Public

I will read just about anywhere, especially if I am really into a book.  I also get very emotionally wrapped up in my books.  So if a book is especially funny or sad, I will be that person expressing my emotions wherever I am.  I have wiped away tears during a class, yelled out loud at a book, and laughed while walking on a treadmill, just to name a few instances.

10. Defending What I Read

At times, I do feel I have to defend that I read a lot and that most of what I read is considered YA.  Reading is reading.  There is nothing wrong with loving to read, and there is nothing wrong with what we love to read.  Yet, at times, we still have to do it.

What are your book related problems?

I’ll Give You the Sun: A Review

28 Jan

Title: I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Format: Personal Purchase, Hardcover

Release Date: September 16, 2014

Summary (from Goodreads): Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

So here is how I thought I was going to have to start this review a few days ago: I think this one was a little too hyped up for me.  My expectations were too high.

That is not how I am beginning this review now that I am writing it.  Not at all.  I loved this book.  It took me a little bit to really get into, but once I was, it turned into read-every-possible-second-of-the-day and stay-awake-way-past-my-bedtime-to-get-it-read kind of book.  This book is amazing.  This book is beautiful.

I loved these characters.  Each of them.  Nelson has created characters that are flawed.  This characters make mistakes; in most cases, many mistakes.  Yet, I still cared for them. I could still feel for them.  This made them so real to me because people are not perfect.  And yes, we sometimes hurt those we love the most.  But they love us, too, no matter what.  And that’s what matters.

I really loved how the story was told.  Noah told the story from when they are 13- to 14-years-old.  Jude tells the story when they are 16 and this alternates each chapter.  I really loved the way their experiences are intertwined even with the gap in years in the story.  I wanted to know what happened to go from Noah’s story to where the twins and the people in the lives were in Jude’s story.  It kept me wanting more the more I got into the story.

Nelson’s writing blew me away.  I want to see the artwork that is described.  I want to read all of Grandma Sweetwine’s Bible.  I wish I could be even half as articulate in describing this book as Nelson is in telling the story.  I don’t think I can give it full justice.

While I had to take my time with this and did not devour it the way I expected, I would not have had it any other way.  When I read the last page, I said “Wow!” out loud.  I have not felt this affected by a book in a long time.  I hope you have the opportunity to read this book and enjoy the experience as well.  I look forward to discussing it with readers.

5/5 stars

Picture Books and Poems

27 Jan

Alright – teacher confession time: Teaching writing is hard.  Who is with me on this?  While I know I am always evolving as a teacher, writing has been an area I constantly work on and strive to improve.  I was a good writer in school and thanks to some teachers and professors who challenged me, I became an even stronger writer.  However, I have found that sometimes it’s hard to teach students because, well, writing can be hard.  And hard scares us, both teachers and students.

I have really been trying to shift my focus in writing.  There are of course changes in standards and testing, but I have been thinking what skills do my students need?  Making an argument is very important, of course, but what else is there?  That is not the only type of writing.  What other experiences can we share?

Our department has been looking at synthesis the last few years.  This is one of the strategies that work when it comes to reading.  Plus, it is higher order thinking.  We create our own ideas from what we read.  And, as I explained to students, we read literature to learn about the world and apply the messages to our lives. I want to provide opportunities for students to share what they have learned.

A large part of synthesis is using sources to support your ideas.  We know as we have been shifting our instruction that sometimes students have a hard time with this.  I did too at times.  How do you incorporate another’s ideas while keeping the paper your own?  We use these skills in research for all topics, and I know it can really help students.

So, I wanted to incorporate a synthesis essay at the end of the Raisin in the Sun unit to help students with this.  I wanted them to explore the American Dream to discover the lessons they learned as well as apply the lessons to life.  Now, where to start?  How to help them do this?

My assistant principal is amazing to bounce ideas off of and get some advice from.  I want this higher level thinking, but how do we get there.  She suggested breaking it down for them with shorter, simpler texts first.  She recommended a picture book with another text.  Picture books appear simple, but of course, have many deeper lessons that we can apply. I had success earlier this trimester practice Close and Critical Reading Questions with a picture book. I decided to go for it to give the students practice.

After a lesson planning block, I came across some ideas online.  The picture book that really spoke to me was The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson.  Not only is a beautiful books in general, but the story has a strong message about segregation.  I knew my students would have a lot to say about it.

I wanted to do more work with poetry with my students.  We had read “A Dream Deferred” before reading the play, so I turned to Langston Hughes again.  I love his poetry!  His poem “Merry-Go-Round” seemed to fit perfectly with the book and I thought we could not only practice using sources to show our learning, but have some great conversations.

And we sure did!  Friday, we went through the lesson.  I was amazed with what students had to say about both the book and the poem.  I love when students share ideas and thoughts I had not thought about.  I saw more light bulbs turn on as we started to write what we learned.  I felt so energized from such a thoughtful, productive day in the classroom.

I know that students are still nervous about the essay as it is new and different from what they are used to.  But, we continued discussing today and I have been encouraging them to try and take this risk to grow as writers.  I also tell them, we become better readers by reading and better writers by writing (and of course they help each other).  I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

I also appreciate the reminder from my AP about how important it is to practice and to remember the power of picture books in class.  Even though I thought I’d have it all figured out by now (will I ever?), at the end of the day, I love these opportunities to grow and try something new.

It’s Monday, January 19, 2015! What are you reading?

19 Jan


It is hard to believe another week has gone by!  Is 2015 already flying for you, too?  Here is what has been going on in my reading life.

What I read last week

Cress by Marissa Meyer

I absolutely love the Lunar Chronicles Series!  I have loved how every book introduces new characters and how their story line get wrapped up in the overall story.  I really liked Cress as a character.  Plus, there was a lot of Thorne and I got to love him even more than I already did.  If you like sci-fi and twists on fairy tales, you need to check this series out!  The fourth book, Winter, is coming out in November of this year. To bide some time Fairesttelling the story of Levana, comes out later this month!

What I’m reading this week

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 

I am excited to read what all the fuss has been about this one.  I started it on Saturday and am already falling in love with the writing.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This is another one that a lot of my bookish friends have been talking about.  This one is already on deck for after I’ll Give You the Sun. 

What are you reading this week?


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