Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nonfiction Wednesday-Lou Gehrig: the Luckiest Man

Please visit the host of this weekly event: Kid Lit Frenzy

Picture book biographies are still a real interest for me.  Here is one from this week.

 Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man by David A. Adler Illustrated by Terry Widener

Published in 1997 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Picture book
Genre: Nonfiction Biography
32 pages
Disclosure:Book obtained from the Windham Public Library
I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I am not much of a sports fan, but of course I had heard of Lou Gehrig.  However, beyond knowing that he had ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig Disease) I knew very little.  This book takes the reader on a journey through Gehrig's life starting with his childhood.  
 In 1903 Henry Ford sold his first automobile, the Wright Brothers made their successful flight, the first baseball World Series was played and Lou Gehrig was born. Although his mother thought it was a waste of time, Lou loved playing sports and, of course, he excelled at baseball. He attended Columbia University where he was on the baseball team. After a scout offered him a good salary and a signing bonus, much to his mother's dismay, Gehrig quit college and began playing baseball for the NY Yankees.  Lou had a great work ethic and never missed a single game. He played though injuries and illnesses earning him the nickname, Iron Horse. The book goes on to chronicle the beginnings of Gehrig's disease where he stopped being able to hit the ball in his usual way to his diagnosis and of course, his famous speech.  After retiring, Gehrig still wanted to give back to the city he loved so he tried to inspire some troubled youths by working on the NYC parole Commission.

My Thoughts
I learned a lot about this important and inspiring man who showed great courage and strength throughout his life.  Gehrig is a great example of perseverance, a trait I feel children really need to learn. The book has big illustrations with muted colors that lend an historical feel to the book. I like how the focus is on his life, his work ethic and his strength, and not on the disease and the end of his life. 

Who Would Enjoy This Book
Students who love non-fiction and, of course, any baseball fan would likely appreciate Lou Gehrig's story. 

Use this book...
As a read aloud during a unit on biographies, or baseball unit.
Use it as a mentor text to discuss character traits, summarizing and fact vs opinion.  
Show students Lou Gehrig's famous "Luckiest Man" Speech.

Info about ALS from Kids Health

Author David A. Adler has written many books including the Cam Jansen series and the Bone Mystery Series.  To learn more about Adler and his books, visit his website
Visit illustrator Terry Widener's site here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

$100 Book Blast Sign Ups- YA Novel King of Bad by Kai Strand

$100 Book Blast Sign Ups – King of Bad by Kai Strand

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad.  Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?


When the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fire and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died, the end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for younger children Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults.
Website * Twitter * Facebook * Blog

BookBlast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 8/15/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Last Chance to Sign up to Win a Kindle Fire HD and More!

Welcome to our Kindle Fire HD giveaway! (giveaway widgets deactivate at midnight) Today's the last day to enter! We just want to make sure everyone knows you can also win 5 middle grade paperbacks from Nancy Tandon. You don't need to do anything special, just enter the Kindle Fire Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below (US mailing addresses only). Oh and make sure you follow Nancy on Twitter!
Sponsored by  Kid Lit Frenzy Read Now Sleep Later Nite Lite Book Reviews The Windy Pages The Book Pixie There's a Book The Late Bloomer's Book Blog Teach Mentor Texts The Reading Date Nancy Tandon Read Write Mom Show our blogger friends some love and at the same time earn entries into the giveaway! The Kindle Fire HD winner (US only) will also get their choice of 1 July or August Kindle eBook from Kid Lit Frenzy 1 YA Kindle eBook from Read Now Sleep Later 1 MG Kindle eBook from There's a Book If you are not from the United States, use the second Rafflecopter to enter to win up to $20 worth of books from  and an ARC or signed copy of a book from Kid Lit Frenzy (A list of possible prizes will be posted after July 14, so check back!)
If you are a blogger, you can earn an extra entry by re-posting the giveaway. Copy the HTML from this page and paste it into a new post. We cannot count your entry unless you leave us the link, so remember to paste the link into the Rafflecopter widget. If you cannot embed the Rafflecopter widget, here is the Share Link for the Kindle Fire HD (US only) and the Share Link for the International $20 widgets.
1. You must be 13 years of age or older to enter, or have a parent/guardian enter for you. All entries are subject to verification.
2. We will notify the winner via email within 48 hours after the contest's end (11:59 pm on July 29).
3. The Kindle Fire HD winner must have a mailing address in the United States. The International ($20 books) winner can be anywhere except the United States.
4. The winners will have 48 hours to reply with their mailing address or another winner will be chosen.
5. Contest sponsors are not responsible for items lost in the mail.
6. We love comments, but please do not leave personal information such as email or mailing addresses in the comments! We are using Rafflecopter because it will keep your information private.
Questions? Please email the organizer, Alethea, at frootjoos at gmail dot com.
Good luck!

Inspired by Kathy at I am a Reader Please check the links at the top of the page for more giveaways!

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? July 29, 2013

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

I was able to read several picture books this week. Here are a few of them. Click on the covers to learn more about the book on

 Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons
About a beautiful tradition of "broom jumping".  Before slave marriages were recognized by the government, many held their own ceremonies and jumped over a broom.  Some carry on this tradition today.  
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars

 Two books by Matt Tavares
Mudball and Oliver's Game
Both were interesting.  Mudball is based on a read event that has been retold so many times, it has become an American Folktale.  Oliver's Game is a sweet fiction story of Oliver and his grandfather.  His grandfather tells Oliver of the one day he wore a Cubs uniform. Matt Tavares is an amazing illustrator.
I gave Mudball 3 stars and Oliver's Game 4 stars. 

 Summersaults by Douglas Florian
Simple and fun book of summer related poems. 
I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

I finished reading Paperboy by Vince Vawter.  Although I do have a couple of small issues with this book I did enjoy reading it very much. I had hoped to recommend it to my 4th graders, but I feel that it is more appropriate for more mature readers.  That is not to say that certain 4th readers would not enjoy it. My issues were the main character is 11, but the writing is more appropriate for older readers.  There is a fair amount of drinking (and being drunk) as was common during the late 1950's when the story takes place. The boy, whose name is not revealed until the end of the book, has a crush on an older woman who drinks and cheat on her husband.  I loved how the boy types the story because of his stutter.  It was a great look inside a person who stutters and the anxiety they can live with on a daily basis.  The message the book sends is powerful and uplifting. I think middle school readers would really enjoy it.
I rated The Paperboy 5 out of 5 stars. 
Click here to view a book trailer.

Audio Book-The Unwanteds (#1) by Lisa Mann
The description on the covers reads: Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games.  I love both of these series so it is no wonder I enjoyed The Unwanteds.  I know of many students that would love this magical fantasy.  
I rated it 5 stars. 
Click here to view a book trailer.

Professional Read
 Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Lylene Beers and Robert E. Probst
I can not say enough positive things about this book.  It is well written and describes a new way of looking at how you address reading comprehension.  I got this copy from my library, but will be ordering a copy for myself for sure. 

Reading Next?

 Always October by Bruce Coville

 The Joy of Planning by Franki Sibberson

What Are You Reading Friends?

Other recent posts
Have you checked out my reading event calendar?


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My First SOLS Post- A New Summer Plan

Each Tuesday Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Stories (SOLS). This is where bloggers link up to share anything they would like to share about what is happening in their lives. This is my first time participating!

I LOVE summer! I especially love summer in Maine since it is pretty chilly, for most of the rest of the year.  I always begin summer vacation with HUGE expectations about what I'll do, where I'll go and what I'll get done.  This summer is no different. 

It doesn't usually takes as few weeks for me to realize my expectations were way too big.  At the beginning of the summer I had planned on reading a ton of children's books and professional texts.  I had planned on participating in Teachers Write for the first time. I planned on writing a short storybook for my son's second grade class describing who he is and what he likes since he has autism and can not tell them.  Every inch of my house was to be scrubbed and organized and all my scrapbooking would be caught up.  Looking at this list, makes me tired.  

It's not like I have been sitting with my feet up.  I have done some things in the house. I have been able to blog more that I usually can. I have read several books. I have also spent time with my family swimming, traveling and just being together. With two children at home, ages 7 and 11, and a husband who is suffering from a back injury, my plans have been modified.

With about a month left in my precious summer vacation, I plan to have no plan.  Sure I'll still read, organize and write, but I won't stress about how much I get done. I will focus more on playing, resting and connecting.  I will take each day as it comes and see what it has to offer.  Right now it is a rainy, cool day.  My daughter has a friend over and they are poring over teen magazines, snipping pictures for collages.  My son is playing his wii and my husband is resting with his feet up.  That looks pretty good to me, I think I'll go give it a try.

Here's to the rest of your summer friends.  I hope it is all you want it to be and more.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? July 22, 2013

Before I talk about the books I read this week, I want to make sure you have seen my new reading event calendar.  It is under the blog header next to the "Home" tab. I also did a post about reading events last week.  Click here to see it.  

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

This week I read...

Nursery Rhyme Comics
50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists

This book was so much fun to read.  Each classic nursery rhyme is illustrated by a different cartoonist.  They each interpret the rhyme in their own unique way.  Artists include Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl), Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty) and Raina Telgemeier (Smile and Drama). 
I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

 The Cloak Society by Jeremy Kraatz
This book is on the Maine Student Book Award list for 2013-14. 
I really enjoyed reading this book.  It is about a boy who was born into a family of super-villains and is having second thoughts.  The young Cloak Society members are training to take over the world. It reminded me a bit of The Lightning thief.  
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads

Currently Reading

Paperboy by Vince Vawter
I am almost done with this wonderful book. 

What Are You Reading Friends?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Liebster Award

I have been blogging for almost a year now and I really love it.  The best part is connecting with other bloggers, sharing and learning along with them.  

Recently I was flattered to be nominated for a Liebster Award by Leslie over at Tally Tales. This award is given to recognize new "up and coming" bloggers with less than 200 followers. Nominations come from other bloggers. I would like to thank Leslie. It means a lot to me that she enjoyed my blog and gave me this nomination. Please check out her blog, it's really awesome!

Rules for participating in this blog award are as follows:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate the nomination.

So here are the 11 questions Leslie asked me to answer.

1. Where is your favorite place to visit?
My favorite place to visit, hands down, is Monhegan Island, Maine. It is a gorgeous, small, rustic island.  It is so peaceful, I highly recommend you visit. 

2. How do you like to spend a Saturday morning?

I have an adorable 7 year-old son who does not believe in sleeping in so I usually get up early and put on a pot of coffee.  Then I love to read all my favorite blogs and usually do some blogging myself before the rest of the house gets up.

3. What is your favorite memory?

WOW! Too tough to choose a favorite.  Obviously, the biggies: meeting and marrying my hubby and giving birth to my two beautiful kids are the best memories.  I treasure small family memories and time with friends. 

4. Why did you start blogging?

It had been something I had been thinking about doing for a while.  I waited until I had a focus or clear idea for a blog. I wanted to offer something, not just share my own experiences. I love to read children's books and I felt that I could offer recommendations and ideas to fellow educators. 

5. Coffee or not? If so, what kind?

Oh YES!! I am usually found at school with coffee in hand (did I mention I get up early?).  I like flavored coffee sweet with cream.


6. What is your favorite book?
Again, hard to choose just one.  I have a couple of picture books I love like Tikki, Tikki Tembo, The Story of Ferdinand and The Giving Tree. The books I could read again and again are the books in the Harry Potter series.  I am a bit of a Potterhead. 

7. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did that dream become reality?

As a young child I wanted to be a marine biologist and work with ocean animals like dolphins. It was not until my junior year that I realized I wanted to teach. 

8. Are you a pet-lover? If so, how many pets (and what kind) do you have?

I like other people's animals but no, I am not a pet person. 

9. What is your favorite TV show?

I don't watch much TV, but I do like to watch "reality-type" shows like Clean House, Hell's Kitchen and my summer guilty pleasure, Big Brother.

10. Winter or summer?

I live in Maine so we live for our warm summers. 

11. Share a great bit of advice you have received at some point in your life.

A coach once had a long talk with me about how your own positive attitude and energy effects those around you. I try to be as positive as I can every day (on very little sleep :)

11 Random Facts About Me 
1. I am a Harry Potter geek.  I own more Harry Potter items than any 40-something year old woman should.
2. I am native Mainer and can't imagine living anywhere else.
3. My parents did not give me a middle name.
4. I have a powerful fear of mice and anything small and rodent-like. 
5. I am very forgetful and it really drives me crazy. 
6. I am a mom of two, an 11 year-old girl and a 7 year-old boy.
7. I have absolutely atrocious handwriting.
8. If I wasn't a teacher my dream job would be to own a bookstore/coffee shop. 
9. I don't really like to talk on the phone.
10. I love food! The only thing in the world I can not eat is raw tomato-yuck!
11. I am green with envy whenever I go on Teachers Pay Teachers because I long to be able to create all the crafty, beautiful things I see there, but I don't know how.

Here are the 11 Questions for my nominees
1. What are some of your hobbies?
2. Use 3 words to describe yourself. 
3. If you could meet one person, who would it be and why?
4. What is one of your pet peeves?
5. What is the hardest thing about your job?
6. What is the greatest thing about your job?
7. Do you have a favorite book or series?
8. Why did you start blogging?
9. If you could travel to anywhere, where would you go?
10. Complete this statement. In the next year I hope to... 
11. What are you reading right now?

I would like to pass on nominations to the following bloggers to receive a Liebster Award. Please visit their blogs and check out the great stuff they are writing about!

1. Julee at Book Egg
2. Ryan at Reading Rocks
3. Jennifer at Reederama
4. Laura at LibLaura 5
5. Stephanie at at Books, Interventions and More!

I can't wait to learn more about these bloggers!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Planning your Reading Events for this School Year

Do you know those people who are just super-organized?  The people who never miss a meeting or deadline and just always seem to be right on top of everything?  Well, I am not one of those people. I really want to be, but I am just not.  Life often moves too fast for me and I have trouble keeping up.  Throughout the school year, there are many exciting events that often pass me by because I just didn't know about them far enough in advance. 

So, in order to help organize my classroom reading events for this year, I have put together a calendar.  I will not likely participate in all of them, but I thought I would share the list (and calendar) with you so that you can use it to plan some of your reading events this school year. Here is a link to the reading event calendar. It is also located as a tab under my blog header.  It is a work in progress and I would love to hear any ideas you may have for additional events. 

Throughout the school year

One book, one school 
This is a powerful school-wide event that can really knit your reading community together.  The premise is very simple, every person in the school reads or listens to one chosen book.  This event could be broadened to include "one library" or "one community".  Visit and One More Page Books to get more ideas. 

Celebrate Book Releases 
Great books are constantly being released throughout the year.  Celebrate with a book birthday event!  John Schu has a book release calendar on his amazing blog so you can keep track of when your favorites will be released. 
Here are some ideas for other reading celebration events as shared on The Nerdy Book Club by Colby Sharp that you may consider weaving into your practice. There are other ideas under the event calendar.


September 8
International Literacy Day
Did you know that more than 780 million of the world's adults (nearly two-thirds are women) do not know how to read or write? According to the International Reading Association, between 94 and 115 million children do not have access to education.  Schools can observe International Literacy Day and support literacy in many ways. Visit Read, Write, Think for ideas. 

September 15
International Dot Day
Get ready to make your mark! International Dot Day is a day to celebrate the power and potential of creativity and self-expression.  Participants read The Dot by Peter Reynolds for inspiration.  Last year there were more than 850,000 participants. This year their goal is one million! 

September 30-November 8
Global Read Aloud
This event was founded by teacher, Pernille Ripp and is in its 4th year. It is intended to connect children around the world using a common read aloud.  Participants are encouraged to connect to other classrooms via Skype/Hangout, blogs, email etc. This year there are 4 book selections for various grade levels. I will be reading Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper to my 4th graders.  You can get more info on using this book during the Global Read Aloud by reading a previous post on my blog here.

January (2014 is Jan. 27)
ALA Youth Media Awards- This is when many children's book award winners are announced including the Caldecott and Newbery winners.  One of my favorite moments from last school year was watching my class' reaction when they heard that The One and Only Ivan won the Newbery. 

International Book Giving Day
Yes, it is Valentine's Day, but it is also International Book Giving Day. What better gift to give right? 

March 3 
Read Across America 
This is a long-running event.  There are many ways your school and class can celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading.

March 5
World Read Aloud Day
On WRAD you can participate by skyping with authors, inviting a guest reader or any way that works for you.


April-Poetry Month and School Library Month
Here are 30 ways to celebrate poetry

April 12
National DEAR Day
Drop everything and read today!

April 18
Poem in your pocket day  
I did this for the first time last year with my 
4th graders and it was so fun.

May- National Share a Story Month

 May 3
Free Comic Book Day- Ok, so it's not really a school event, but you will want to tell your students (and go stock up yourself).

May 5-11
Screen-Free Week- Again, not strictly a reading event, but students should be encouraged to read or participate in another activity instead of having screen time. 
Take the screen-free pledge

May 12-18
Children's Book Week
Yay! A whole week to celebrate books!

Please visit my reading event calendar to see these and other events.  Again, I would love to add your favorite literacy events to the calendar, so please leave a comment if you have an idea. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's Monday What Are You Reading? July 15, 2013

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

 Click on the titles to learn more about the books I read this week.

Finished Listening

Currently Reading

What Are You Reading Friends?

Make sure you enter the Kindle Fire HD Giveaway.

Recent post

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Global Read Aloud 2013 for Middle Grade-Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

This year the Global Read Aloud for middle grades is Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.
I was so excited that Out of My Mind was chosen!  I read it last school year and just LOVED it.  So, I thought I would share a bit of info about the book and Global Read Aloud in this post in hopes that you will read Out of My Mind with your class and participate in the Global Read Aloud this fall. 

Here is the summary of Out of My Mind from

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.
From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.

What is the Global Read Aloud?
In short, the purpose of the Global Read Aloud is to take one book and use it to connect readers around the world via Skype, blogs, email or any other way you choose.  There are 4 books chosen this year for various grade levels. Teachers can certainly choose to read books outside of their grade level. 

Kindergarten: Eric Carle books
Grades 1-3 Marty McGuire by Kate Messner
Grades 4 and up Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Middle School/High School Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Who is involved?
The Global Read Aloud began in 2010.  It was founded by Pernille Ripp, a teacher from Wisconsin.  It was her desire to foster world-wide connections using a common read aloud as a springboard to build relationships. 

Where can I sign up or get more info?
You can visit the sites below to sign up and get more information about the Global Read Aloud.

Global Read
Global Read Aloud Wiki
Global Read Aloud Facebook Page tons of resources about the author and other links. 

When does it take place?
The dates for GLA are September 30-November 8, 2013

Week 1: Chapters 1-6 (pgs. 1-50)
Week 2: Chapters 7-11 (pgs. 51-101)
Week 3: Chapters 12-17 (pgs. 102-155)
Week 4: Chapters 18-23 (pgs. 156-205)
Week 5: Chapters 24-27 (pgs. 206-247)
Week 6: Chapters 28 - end (pgs. 248-295)

There are too many reasons to list.  What an amazing way to connect students globally using wonderful books. 

Here are some resources that you might find helpful while you are reading Out of My Mind.  

Sharon Draper's website
Common Core aligned questions
Paths to Literacy website- Partnering with GRA to offer books for students who are blind or visually impaired.
Out of My Mind book trailer
Some discussion topics from the publisher
Stephen Hawking's website
Kids Health-Info about cerebral palsy
Using Skype in the classroom
Tips on using Google Hangout in the classroom

Possible companion texts 
Click on the title to learn more about these books. 

I hope you will consider participating 
in the Global Read Aloud this year.