Friday, November 23, 2012

Three More Book Series For Kids Who Think They Don't Like to Read

I love this time of year at school.  This is the time of year that many students really "take off" with their reading.  Even students who did not think they liked to read have discovered something that interests them.  Here are a few more books/series that have my students hooked.

The Amulet Series by Kazu Kibushi

Ages 8 and up from the publisher

This a a graphic novel series that has my students begging for more.  Currently there are 5 books in the series.  We just got the 5th book and there is a waiting list for it.  Students who love adventure, monsters, and missions will enjoy these books.  

 The Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger

This year my class loves this series. So far there are three books, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Fortune Wookie.  Although I have only read the first book, I found it to be very funny and accessible to a wide audience including "dormant" readers grade 3-6. 

The Popularity Papers Series  
by Amy Ingatow

Ages 9 and up (From the publisher)

This series has been a blessing to many of my 4th grade girls.  Currently there are 4 books in print with the much anticipated number 5 coming out in March 1213.  The students love the situations the girls find themselves in and the unique format of the diary-style books. They even have a Facebook Page.  These books appeal to students in grades 3-6 who think they don't like to read and those who already do.

What books or series do you use to "hook" readers?

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Monday- November 19

Please visit the amazing blog: Teach Mentor Texts 
who host this terrific meme each week. 

Here is what I finished this week.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Third Wheel 
by Jeff Kinney

Such a nice addition to this series.  Click to see a post about our book release party.
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
 by Bette Bao Lord   

I have been wanting to read it for a while and I 
really enjoyed the audio book.   

My Friend with Autism 
by Beverly Bishop

Very sweet story.

Andy and His Yellow Frisbee  
by Mary Thompson

Another adorable read about autism.

 What's Next?

Finishing The Sea of Monsters

 Listening to  
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

 What Are You Reading?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Review of Nerd Camp

Author:  Elissa Brent Weissman

A Maine Student Book Award Selection 2012-13

Ages 8 and up (from the publisher)

Ten year old Gabe has always dreamed of having a sibling. Now that his father is getting remarried, he is certain that he and his new step-brother Zack will become great friends.  

Gage is an exceptionally intelligent boy who loves school and learning. He loves learning so much that he applied to a summer enrichment camp for "gifted" students.  When Gabe meets Zack he thinks he is just about the coolest kid he has ever met.   He oozes coolness with his middle school attitude and cool clothes. So when Gage discovers that Zack makes fun of brainy "nerds", he decides to try to conceal any of his "geeky" tendencies.  These scenes are very funny.  

When Gabe shares that he is going to sleep-away summer camp, Zack is very impressed and even envious.  Gabe, however, does not share that at this camp the campers will write poetry, do science experiments and memorize digits of pi just for fun.  

Gabe has an absolute blast at camp.  He is in his element with his fellow nerds and makes some great friends. He has promised to write letters to Zack telling him everything. But, in his letters he gives Zack the impression that the camp is a typical summer camp with swimming, arts and crafts, and campfires each night.  Zack writes back with such messy handwriting and atrocious spelling that Gabe is embarrassed to show his friends. 

This is a wonderful story of self-acceptance.  Throughout the book Gabe starts to look at himself through Zack's eyes.  The reader will wonder if Gabe is going to learn to accept his nerdy self and show Zack who he really is.

You don't have to be a nerd to enjoy reading Nerd Camp.  Although there is a bit of a summer romance subplot, I would recommend it for grades 3-6.  It would also make a great read aloud. 

So pack your sleeping bags, grab your pocket protectors and head to Nerd Camp!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Classroom Idea- Host a Book Release Party!

My 4th graders and I eagerly awaited the release of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book- The Third Wheel.  

Leading up to the release, we discussed the books, checked a countdown clock daily and planned a celebration event. 

Yesterday, the release date, the students practically erupted when they saw the Scholastic box holding these much anticipated books.    
Our celebration consisted of many things.  

First, I did a read aloud of the beginning of the book as I held it under my document camera so everyone could see the pictures.

 Next, we had a "read in" time in our library.  The students could read alone, with a partner or small group. Many ordered the new book, but those that did not, choose from the many Wimpy Kid books that the students brought to school. 

Following this, we were treated to refreshments organized by our AMAZING parent volunteers, complete with decorations!!

The end of the day consisted of a drawing lesson online by the author, Jeff Kinney.  Check out our drawings of Greg Heffley!

 It was such a fun celebration!  Events like this that get students excited about books are important in motivating students to read!
What are some events you have had that 
celebrate books and reading?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Mini-Review of Jeremy Bender vs The Cupcake Cadets

Jeremy Bender vs The Cupcake Cadets
by Eric Luper

A "sweet" book about determination, misconceptions and a little vanilla frosting. 

Ages 8 and up (from the publisher)

A Maine Student book Award Selection

Jeremy Bender loves boats.  One day while trying to spruce up his dad's boat, he and his friend Slater accidentally ruin the engine. Too scared to tell his father, Jeremy decides to try to win $500 by joining The Cupcake Cadets and winning the $500 in the Windjammer Whirl.  There is only one problem.  The cadets are a girls-only organization.  So the boys decide to dress up pretending to be Jenna and Samantha, two new cadets that no one knows because they are home-schooled.

The boys assume that being a cadet will be easy. How hard could it be if girls can do it right?  They were so wrong. It is amusing to watch as the boys start to appreciate everything that girls can do after they spectacularly fail at most of the things they attempt. This includes ruining the camping trip and giving the troop food poisoning with their home baked pie. The boys begin to realize that even qualifying to enter the race may not be nearly as easy as they thought. 

Jeremy and Slater are able to keep their cadet scheme a secret from family and school mates for a long time.  Things become complicated as a fellow cadet discovers their secret and decides to blackmail them in return for not revealing their betrayal.  

There is also a sub plot about a bully at school that keeps tormenting the boys.  The bully happens to be the son of the Cupcake Cadet troop leader and is spending lot of time around Jenna and Samantha The two disguised cadets bribe him with cupcakes so he will leave their "friends" Jeremy and Slater alone.

Readers will enjoy how this story unfolds and its sweet ending (pun intended).  With its accessible text and constant humorous conflicts, Jeremy Bender will be most enjoyed by girls and boys in grades 3 through 5. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Couple of Easy Ideas for the Classroom

Here are two very easy ideas to help promote reading in the classroom.

Book Spines
One thing I have been doing for the last couple of years is having students keep track of the books they read in the hallway of our school.  

Students write the title of a book they have read on a paper "book spine".  These are piled on top of each other to form stacks for all to see.  Having their books visible and to see their stack growing is motivating for many students.

Student Book Reviews 

This year I started "allowing" students to write a book review on our white board easel and we put the easel at the beginning of our hallway.  

This activity is optional, but many students really enjoy it.  They love to see their writing on display and having others read their review. The best part is when another student will ask to read the book after reading the review.

What are some strategies you use to  promote reading in your classroom?

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Are You Reading Nov. 5, 2012

Please visit the amazing blog: Teach Mentor Texts 
who host this terrific meme each week. 

Last Week I Finished Reading.... 

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I honestly didn't think this book was for me, but I loved it and downloaded the next book on my Kindle. 


Jumping The Scratch by Sarah Weeks 
I enjoyed this book which is well-written and narrated by the main character who has a terrible secret.  Not appropriate for elementary students.


Ian's Walk by Laurie Lears
A very sweet story about a girl whose brother has autism.  This story hits very close to home for me.  Great short read aloud.

What's Next?  

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
As part of my quest to read the Newbery winners. 


In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson 
by Bette Bao Lord

What Are You Reading?