by: Bruning, Cardillo, Clarke, Coladonato, Patton, & Peltier
Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle’s new book, 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents, published by Heinemann, is a stimulating read during a time of educational dismay. Gallagher and Kittle disrupt the mold of state-mandated testing as well as tightly bound curriculums and bring educators back to their original teaching philosophies. While many education texts provide quick-fix teaching strategies for a specific skill set, this book, as the title suggests, opens up a discussion on what 180 days in the classroom looks like with engaged and motivated students. Gallagher and Kittle work together on lesson plans and teaching approaches in two very different environments—Gallagher in an urban, California school with a diverse student population and Kittle in a rural, New Hampshire school with a homogenous student population. They base their year of collaboration on research and core beliefs, all in hopes of sharing what they believe is most important: creating student readers and writers that are engaged, inspired, and curious about the world around them. Read more
by: Anne Busciacco, Marissa Caldwell, Lauren Foley, Erika Hunsicker, Tom Lang & Dan Lonsdale
Navigating through a maze of students absorbed in their independent reading books, I pause before Ryan. Our second-day-of-school conversation echoes in my mind . . .
“I don’t like to read,” he declared, doubtful seventh grade would change anything.
His friend, Charlie, smirked at him, “That’s because you only read teacher-assigned books.”
Now, four weeks later—after interviewing many texts and abandoning two—Ryan sits nestled in a bean-bag chair, engrossed in Booked by Kwame Alexander. During our last conference, he claimed it as one of the best novels he had ever read.
“ # What child have you seen impacted by a different kind of teaching style?” (79).
In Sparks in the Dark, by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney, you will meet a plethora of students like Ryan whose lives were forever impacted by the power of choice. Read more
by Kelly VirginIn the first chapter of Dear Martin by Nic Stone Justyce McAllister, an Ivy League bound, black teenager, is handcuffed and detained by the police when they mistakenly assume he is up to something as he attempts to keep his drunk and slightly belligerent ex-girlfriend from driving herself home. This incident is understandably jarring for the teen and he thinks to himself:
Yeah, there are no more “colored” water fountains, and it’s supposed to be illegal to discriminate, but if I can be forced to sit on the concrete in too-tight cuffs when I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s clear there’s an issue. That things aren’t as equal as folks say they are.
In an attempt to come to terms with the experience and to deal with the pressures he feels from the neighborhood he managed to escape and the prep school he doesn’t entirely fit into, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, tragedy strikes his life and he starts to question whether Dr. King’s teachings still apply to the world we live in today. Read more
By Lynne R. Dorfman
Different languages, different food, different customs. That’s our neighborhood: wild and tangled and colorful. Like the best kind of garden. (p. 54)
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is an amazing book told from the viewpoint of a red oak tree. Red is a city tree that has lived for 216 years (she has 216 rings). She’s also known as the wishtree, and on the first of May, people of all ages come to tie rags, tags, and even the occasional gym sock to her limbs with wishes scribbled on them. Red is an optimist and has strong opinions about things. Bongo, a pessimistic crow and a loyal friend, are two of the main characters along with Samar, a ten year old Muslim girl. Red is home to owlets, possums, raccoons and skunks. They talk with one another, but nature has one rule: Don’t talk to people. Read more
by Linda Walker
Oh my gosh! I went solo for preschool storytime and I survived. I brought out one of my grandson’s favorite books The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. What a great way to draw in the listener. The reader speaks directly to a young audience by asking , “Hello, little Mouse. What are you doing?” The simple text and large colorful illustrations encouraged childen to make predictions and discover cause and effect relationships.
Of course any storytime should include partcipation and what better way than going on a bear hunt. Read more
by Linda Walker
Choosing a book to review can sometimes be a challenge because there are just so many interesting titles. I will admit the reason I chose The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel is not for the engaging title but because the witch caricature has a distinct resemblance to me and green is my favorite color. This book is a fantasy which would interest grades 3-5.
As a baby, Mabel was abandoned by her birth mother. She was nestled into a large terra-cotta flowerpot at the doorstep of Nora Ratcliff. Nora raises the child as her own. Soon it becomes obvious that Mable has some unusual talents; lifting off the ground, sending objects swirling through the air, making things change color.