Snapshot Saturday: Growing a Classroom Library

My husband came home from our church’s annual “Stuff Sale” with this wonderful collection of books for my classroom library!  Lots of old favorites and new ones to read!




Summer Fun!

It sure has warmed up today – it is currently sunny and 81 outside!  The days of warmth and late day sun are finally upon us.

I am a planner.  So the advent of summer also means that it is time to prepare my summer reading plan.  I have been putting this blog off all week because I have LOVED YA Lit class so much that I don’t want it to end.  This summer reading plan is one way I can continue the reading fun all summer long.

The Plan

The Idea:

This summer I am going to follow along with many readers out there and try to complete a book a day this summer.  The #bookaday challenge is one that is championed by Donalyn Miller – one of my fave authors of professional development books.

The When:

I am starting my #bookaday on May 9, 2016.  This is the first day of the May/Summer semester and the official end of YA Lit class (at least in my mind).  I will read a #bookaday until 100 days have passed – August 16, 2016.

The What:

My 100 books will consist of a variety of genres, intended audience ages, and formats.  I will, of course, keep reading my YA Lit Summer TBRTBR.  However, I am going to read widely in a variety of formats this summer.

I plan to read/listen to at least 5 audio books.  This is something I don’t normally do, but driving back and forth to NE each week will give me time to get to know this format well.

I am taking classes, so any textbook that I read at least 75% of for school will also count into these 100 books.  However, my math books will not count.

I am going to read at least 3 professional development books.  I’ve got an idea of where I want to go – Passionate Learners and The Book Whisperer are anxiously waiting to be devoured.

My other books will be from my ever growing TBR, old faves (been itching to re-read Wicked these last couple of days), and new finds from the library, browsing at the book store, or that Amazon (my friend/foe) suggests.  I’ll also try to pick up whatever you recommend to me too!

The How:

So, how am I going to keep myself accountable?  First, I am going to continue to blog right here!  I’ll post my weekly It’s Monday! post and share my week’s reading with you.  I hope that you readers will continue the conversation and make recommendations based on my weekly reads.

Secondly, I am going to continue to tweet my reading.  I’ll bug you on Twitter with the #yalitclass and #bookaday hashtags.  Follow me there to get more consistent updates on my reads.

Finally, I’ll continue keeping count on GoodReads.  I will shelve books, group them by genre, audience, etc., and post reviews and star ratings.

So that’s my plan friends.  I hope that you continue to journey through reading and writing  on this blog, Twitter, and GoodReads.  What are you reading now?  What is your summer reading plan?  Let’s chat….

Questions and Actions

I just finished reading Book Love, by Penny Kittle.  I’m not going to lie – this book was inspiring, heart wrenching, and thought provoking.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, you should go right now and read.  Come back in a few hours.  It’s worth it.

Lessons Learned

There were so many things that I highlighted, underlined, starred, sticky noted, and Tweeted in her book.  These final few chapters did not fail to live up to my expectations.  So, rather than bore you with my ramblings, I want to just outline the take-aways and lessons I have learned by reading Book Love.

  • Teaching a love of reading is hard.  However, it is the kind of hard work that sometimes ends in disappointments.  It is also the kind of hard work that ends in miracles like Crystal (p. 159-167).
  • Teaching a lifetime of reading habits is hard.  You will find challengers and naysayers from surprising faces.  You will find the surprise champion for implementing a culture of readers.  You will cry.  You will smile.
  • Teaching others that choice is essential for a healthy reading life – especially for teens or for reluctant readers – is hard.  You will battle for the type of curriculum that allows choice, promotes readers workshops and writers workshops, and flips the whole idea of teaching on its head.
  • Teaching a love of reading is something that is a life mission.  It is something that you must be passionate about and it is something that will permeate your entire life.  Whether you are an English major, an English or Reading teacher, or the school principal (p. 141-146) – you are a teacher of book love.

Questions and Actions – How I will LIVE Book Love
Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

There is too much in this text to analyze or synthesize.  I’ve learned so much that it is difficult to put it into a few hundred words.  Instead, I think I’m going to publicly declare my intentions to be a teacher of book love.

My Declaration of Teaching Book Love

I hold firmly to the belief that we are all teachers of reading.  I have an insatiable desire to share books and stories with all people – young and old, student and friend.

I also firmly believe that as a teacher of book love I must live by example.  I will continue to read voraciously and to share these amazing (and sometimes not the best) stories through my blog and my Twitter feed.  I will help people find THEIR book – that gateway to the door of reading – and get that book in their hands.

I solemnly vow that I will never stop asking this most vital question

What are you reading now?

For it is with that question that I will frame my expectations, that all people will be reading something, and that their reading lives are just as important as what they had for dinner.  I will ask others for suggestions and will endeavor to ask this essential question multiple times a day and in every interaction I have.


What are you reading now?  Let’s talk below…

Expert Book Lists

It is a snowy day here in Wyoming.  Today, I had the pleasure of exploring the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) website and blog.  I’m grateful for the chance to add to my personal lists from the wealth of resources from knowledgeable advisors.

The Book Lists

I think the best feature of the YALSA website is the numerous book lists that they gather.  I found myself lost in the lists, gathering resources for my future classroom library.  These are just a few of the amazing lists I combed today!

  • Best of the Best (2016)
    • Collection of YALSA Top Ten Lists
  • Audiobooks
    • A 10 amazing audio books for teens
  • Best Fiction
    • 2016’s top 10 YA Lit fiction picks
  • Graphic Novels
    • Graphic novels are super popular right now.  This is a list of 10 YA graphic novels to explore.
  • Paperbacks
    • Paperback picks for teen readers
  • Quick Picks
    • We know that we will encounter some reluctant readers.  This page has a huge list of options we might recommend to these readers.

The Hub – a YALSA Blog

The experts at YALSA also curate a blog called The Hub.  I fell down a huge rabbit hole when I visited The Hub.  Some of the articles I loved are listed below!

I really loved all the book lists and the tie-ins to other popular culture (the True Crime article has a tie in to The People v. OJ Simpson, the Serial podcast and the Netflix series Making a Murderer).

What did I learn?

Well, I first learned to explore the YALSA sites with my TBR at hand!  I only added 11 titles to my TBR.  Here are the ones I added.MoreTBRsI also learned that the amazing people at the YALSA are experts at what they do!  The depth of quality and breadth of topics covered on the site and the blog really show their expertise.

Have you added to your TBR List?  Did you find another amazing corner of the YALSA sites?  Let’s talk below…


Snapshot of the Week – March 26, 2016

Snapshot Saturday seems to be dependent on what I got done in the week before!  This past week I got a lot of homework done and a lot of reading done.  I have a few pictures that illustrate my past week and my future reading!

This Past Week – Homework and I’ve Read It Additions
My books, my computer, my TBR list...
My books, my computer, my TBR list…
I’ve Read It Additions





Right Now
Reading this gem for book club!


I’m also working on Inkheart and Hollow City.

My Future Reading

Future reading includes the titles on this ever growing TBR List

IMG_0937 IMG_0941

Books I’ve pulled out for the near future!

What pictures capture your reading week?  Share them here!

Virtual Book Communities

Last week I thought about how talking about books within our classrooms helps develop a sense of our classroom community.  These classroom communities provide our teen students with a place to read books, talk about books, learn about the favorite books of others, struggle with books, and be a community.

But, what happens outside our classroom doors?  How do teens discuss their reading lives when they are not in school?  Some would think they don’t talk about their reading lives.  However, I found this is not the case!

How It Used to Be

Way back in the Stone Age (the 1990s) I was in high school.  My friends and I might talk about what we had read, but there was no Google or Facebook (or MySpace or blogs really) to talk with others.  We had to do it “old school” and talk face to face or even on the phone.

Image Credit:
     Image Credit:

Maybe it wasn’t quite the tin can era.  However, we were limited to people we knew when talking about books.

How It Is Now

Today’s teens have many different avenues for talking about books and developing their community of readers.  There are still all the “old school” ways – talking in class, discussing books at lunch or in the hall, hanging out with your friends over a book, and calling each other on the phone.

Today’s YA readers are going past these prehistoric methods though.  In my web research this week I found out that teens use a variety of platforms and social media services to talk about books.  They are not limiting themselves to people they know in person.  Rather, they are enlarging their reading community to include anyone who has access to the web.

Tech and the Community of Readers
Image Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons

There are about a million different places that teens, and YA readers in general, go online to share book recommendations, get ideas, and talk about (or to!) their favorite authors.

These are a few of my favorites…

  • Goodreads – Goodreads is a pretty amazing site for cataloging your favorite books, rate the book after you have finished reading it, and get ideas from your friends.  You can connect your Goodreads account to your blog (check out one of my shelves on the right of this page), Facebook, or Twitter account.
  • Twitter – This has been the coolest new to me social media this semester!  I never had a Twitter account before, but I have found that it can be extremely exciting to talk books on Twitter.  I can tweet to my favorite authors, join in discussions with my classmates or with other readers, and share my thoughts in 140 characters or less.  Still working on keeping it to 140 characters….but a girl has to have a challenge now and then!
  • Blogs – Following the blogs of other readers is an amazing way that teens (and YA readers) can share their musings, their ideas, and their reviews about books.  Reading my classmates’ blogs has been a strong stitch in the fabric of my YA Lit Class community.  The blogs are places we can discuss ideas about reading and share books that are our favorites (or our not favorites).  I haven’t really explored how a person finds a new blog for suggestions.  Do you know how?  Be sure to let me know in the comments.
  • Pinterest – This is a new social media site for me.  I just joined Pinterest in January and mainly to get ideas for another class (Pythagorean Theorem time!).  But did you know that there is a HUGE Pinterest community that pins different images or articles or sites about books?  I definitely have fallen down the rabbit hole of Pinterest this week and have found some amazing resources.
  • Snap Chat & Instagram – Here are two social media sites that I don’t belong to.  However, it seems that teens are using these platforms to visually talk about books  This is great, especially for those who like to read but do not like to write – they can share their faves via a picture!  Then, they comment on each others’ photos and start the conversation there!

Integrating Tech into My Reading Community

I am very thankful to my YA Lit Class and our professor Dr. Ellington for making us a community.  You see, I take this class online and have not ever actually met any of my classmates in person!  However, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I now have some amazing bookish friends.


My books, my computer, my TBR list...
My books, my computer, my TBR list… and my mess!

I am continuing to integrate tech into my reading life.  I currently use Goodreads, Blogs, and Twitter – especially for my YA Lit class.  I am going to continue to explore the depths of Pinterest to find lists and ideas about books.


I am also very lucky to be part of an “online book club” for YA Lit Class.  We “meet” every week in a Google document and talk about a book.  This week we discussed Crank and had really, really, really good discussion.  Without the web, I wouldn’t be able to have this experience.

Always More Questions

As I shared with the ladies in my book club yesterday, I always end up with more questions than answers.  This is especially true when the topic or idea is something I want to know more about (okay….so everything)!  I’m going to leave you with some questions.  Please answer below and let’s keep this conversation about tech and reading going!

  • How do you discover a new blog to follow?  What are your criteria for a “good” book blog?
  • Would you rather post images and photos or words when discussing books?
  • Is there still a place for the “old school” technology and books?  Do we put enough emphasis on being able to discuss books and themes orally?
  • How do we develop strong writers and readers if they communicate in 140 characters or less?
  • What is the best place online that you have found to get new book ideas?

Reading Response: 20 Better Questions

I finished An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green this afternoon.  The following answers to Twenty Better Questions contain spoilers and illusions to spoilers.  Read at your own risk!

  1. What character(s) was your favorite? Why?

My favorite character is Hassan because he lives life with a sense of humor.  I love how Hassan can take a situation that may be painful or unhappy and see the humor in it.

2. What character(s) did you dislike? Why?

The Other Colin (TOC) for sure!  He always seemed kind of smarmy and like he wasn’t a good person.  I thought that he would be taking advantage of Lindsey all along.

3. Does anyone in this work remind you of anyone you know? Explain.

The way that Colin can remember nearly anything reminds me often of my husband.  He is so intelligent and knows so many random things (that always seem to come up in our conversations because that is how we are).  This aspect of Colin is certainly my husband.

4.  Are you like any character in this work? Explain.

I think there are ways that I am like Lindsey.  I want to be liked and accepted.  I feel like in high school I did change myself some so that I would be more likable by my peers.

5. If you could be any character in this work, who would you be? Explain.

I’d love to be Hollis.  Well, Hollis minus the pink obsession.  Hollis is such a kind and generous person – working all hours of the day and doing everything to keep the people in her town employed and take care of all of them.

6. What quality(ies) of which character strikes you as a good characteristic to develop within yourself over the years? Why? How does the character demonstrate this quality?

I would want to develop Lindsey’s characteristic of caring and authenticity that we see when she visits with people from the factory.  As she goes to interview the “oldsters” with Hassan and Colin, we get a glimpse of the girl she truly is because they all remember her kindness and the compassion she has for the people in her town.

7. Overall, what kind of a feeling did you have after reading a few paragraphs of this work? Midway? After finishing the work?

After reading the first few pages in this work, I really felt like this was going to be an agonizing journey through Colin’s post-breakup depression.  I wasn’t really drawn into this book like I was when I read The Fault in Our Stars.

Midway through the book, I finally got a sense of who Colin and Hassan were and started to feel invested in the story of Colin and his breakups.

After finishing the book, I am pretty pleased with the interplay between math and language.  Ultimately John Green did an excellent job blending my two loves of math and language as he tells this story.

8. Do any incidents, ideas, or actions in this work remind you of your own life or something that happened to you? Explain.

The feeling of hopelessness and the sense that he will not ever be important is something I have dealt with.  I have been in the place that Colin and Hassan find themselves.  I felt like Hassan when I have been nearly paralyzed by the fear of becoming what I am to be.

9. Do you like this piece of work? Why or why not?

Overall I liked this piece of writing.  However, it is not going to be one of my top re-reads because the slow pace of action and not having an instant connection with the characters.

10. Are there any parts of this work that were confusing to you? Which parts? Why do you think you got confused?

I sometimes got confused when parts of the Katherines stories were told.  I think I got confused because that was Green’s intention – to keep us confused as to why the Katherine dumped Colin, and keep the memories of his loves shrouded in the hazy fog of recollection.

11. Do you feel there is an opinion expressed by the author through this work? What is it? How do you know this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

I believe that John Green is putting forth the idea that we all matter to others.  The long-lasting thing about a person is the way that they impact the lives of other people.

12. Do you think the title of this work is appropriate? Is it significant? Explain. What do you think the title means?

An Abundance of Katherines is appropriate because Colin is attempting to explain his love life through creating a mathematical formula.  I think it is important because he is so focused on his breakup with Katherine but is not looking at the world around him.

13. Would you change the ending of this story in any way? Tell your ending. Why would you change it?

I would change the ending by just telling a bit more in the Epilogue.  I would have loved to hear Lindsey’s thoughts and her hopes for the future with or without Colin, Hassan, or Hollis.

14. What kind of person do you feel the author is? What makes you feel this way?

I think that John Green is a person who believes in love and the goodness of people.  In this book we can see that the goodness and friendship that forms between the three main characters lead to the love and resolution of the stories.

15. How did this work make you feel? Explain.

I ended the book feeling like my nerdiness has been filled – I have worked through the story of Colin and the math of his story.  Ultimately, it is a good feeling.

16. Do you share any of the feelings of the characters in this work? Explain.

I feel the fear and apprehension that all three characters feel – the desire to stay in the familiar and not take the uneasy steps into the future that is unknown.

17. Sometimes works leave you with the feeling that there is more to tell. Did this work do this? What do you think might happen?

I did feel like the story just ended and left with some more to tell.  I think that Lindsey, Colin, and Hassan continue their epic road trip for the rest of the summer.  I also think that in the fall they go off to their respective colleges just a little bit changed for the better.

18. Would you like to read something else by this author? Why or why not?

I had already read The Fault in Our Stars a couple of years ago.  I really liked it.  I think I would want to try Paper Towns because I read it was a mystery.

19. What do you feel is the most important word, phrase, passage, or paragraph in this work? Explain why it is important.

“And the other moral of the story is that you, Smartypants, just told an amazing story, proving that given enough time, and enough coaching, and enough hearing stories from current and former associates of Gutshot Textiles that anyone – anyone – can learn to tell a damned good story.”(p.  208)

This really exemplifies the author’s theme that we can all be taught something by everyone we come in contact with.

20. If you were an English teacher, would you want to share this work with your students? Why or why not?

I would share this book with my students.  I would say in a book talk that this is a story of exploring who you were, finding who you are, and being changed into who you will be in the future.