Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ten "New to Me" and "Old" Favorites

     I'm anxious to share in the Picture Book 10 for 10 fun this year! I decided to break the ten books in half - five of my "new to me" and five of my "old" favorites, as I had a hard time deciding if I should do new favorites or old favorites...As you can see, this way I can do both, thus having my cake and eating it too!

New to Me Favorites:


#1: Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds (illustrated by Dan Santat)
I absolutely love the humor in this book! Carnivores Anonymous, really? The first time I read this to my 3rd graders I had tears streaming down my face I was laughing so hard! Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat have teamed up to create a definite winner. I think this is perhaps my favorite "new to me" picture book...
#2: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (illustrated by Oliver Jeffers)
I think the fact that the story is told from the perspective of the crayons is so novel! I have to admit, every time I look at crayons now I wonder...This book also stimulates some great student writing!
#3: He Came with the Couch by David Slonim
This book just cracks me up! I've never seen a couch potato quite like this...It takes a big something to get "him" up off the couch, but you'll need to find that out for yourself. I've been waiting for what seems like forever for a sequel!

#4: Ninja! by Arree Chung

This book is so full of ninja fun! I can almost picture my sixteen year old son doing some of the same things...!

#5: Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
Join these charming bats (yes, charming) in all of their antics at the library! All of us book nerds have always wondered what went on in the library after hours...

Old Favorites:

#1: Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
This was both my kids' favorite book when they were small (and mine too)! It was given to us as a gift when our son was born, and it saw many years of book love! Even my husband remembers this book and comments on what fun it was. I think perhaps what was so wonderful about this book was the mischievous antics of the gorilla. I know it was the first book our kids were able to read as well! What wonderful memories!

#2: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
I absolutely love the premise of this book! I think that says it all...
#3: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
This just might be a favorite of everyone...I don't think a holiday season, or a childhood, is complete without hearing this book read over and over!
#4: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
An unforgettable classic! My dad mentioned one time that he got tired of reading this book to me every night...I checked it out of the library over and over, that "Sam I am"! (I wish I could remember that!)
#5: Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
I am a huge Chris Van Allsburg fan, and honestly had a hard time choosing just one (besides The Polar Express) to include. There is just something about his storytelling that sucks me in! My favorite memory of this book is the first time I used it with a 3rd grade class (many years ago, too). After sharing it multiple times, students responded to the book by creating gameboards in small groups. I had one student who was a particularly gifted artist. I will never forget the gameboard he helped his group create - drawn completely from a top perspective!
Until next time,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#cyberPD Part 3

Chapter 5
     In Chapter 5, I saw both myself as a reader and teacher. I particularly saw myself as a reader when Donalyn discussed reading preferences. I almost felt like she had looked into my reading life and could have practically checked "preferences" off in a checklist:
          1. Read deeply from one genre or author. I have primarily been a  
              mystery/suspense and historical fiction reader from childhood on. Is it weird to 
              find a new author and check out all of their books from the library? (The library
              ladies assure me it increases their circulation...)
          2. A preference for fiction over non-fiction.  Non-fiction is a huge book gap for 
              me as an adult. I have a hard time believing I actually read and enjoyed some 
              biographies as a child!
          3. A preference for series. Whoa! That is so me! I will not read a series until I can 
              read it in order.
          4. A preference for rereading favorite books. At least once a year, I reread 
              several of my favorite feel good "chick flick" type books. I have also been known 
              to reread series multiple times. Does this correlate to watching favorite movies 
              over and over?
     Even with all that said, the point I took away is this; as a teacher I need to find out why students are rereading, especially so I can assist those that may not know what else to read. On the note of rereading, I have had several students come to my class the past few years and tell me they "have" to read a book at least two times before they take the AR test. I don't even require AR tests! This was the requirement of them by the previous year's teachers along with a certain number of AR tests per week. Ack! 

     Last week's #bproots Twitter Chat dealt with graphic novels and what people may perceive to be "light reading." It was a great chat! I have really come to enjoy graphic novels the past year, and have collected as many as I can for my classroom. Babymouse and Lunch Lady are particular class favorites (and mine, too!). Graphic novels have really enticed some of my reluctant readers and encourage some deeper comprehension skills. For one of my students, who tended to be a more reluctant reader since reading did not come easy to him, graphic novels were the best thing since sliced bread. His fluency improved remarkably and he devoured books left and right. I think perhaps he wasn't so overwhelmed with the amount of text on a page, which supports the point that graphic novels provide scaffolding for students and give them the confidence to tackle more difficult texts.

     One of the things I would like to rethink for the upcoming school year is how my students use their reading logs. I will be revamping my form so they can record a rating along with title, author, genre, and date completed. I also think I can make more use of a "Books I Want to Read" form - perhaps that will help those students in the library that don't really have a plan and have no idea of what they want to check out. Even though we have many discussions as a class and while conferring about genres, I have not really implemented a 40 Book Challenge with genre guidelines for my third graders. I'm anxious to read how others are doing and/or have done this.

     I'm anxiously awaiting the Twitter Chat next week! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Some Recent Reads

     It has been a crazy couple of weeks at our house with company, baseball games that ended at 11:30 p.m. (with a 45-minute drive home), and still continuing to work landscaping/lawn care at my husband's work. Oh, and we even took a short business trip in that time as a family with my husband to Kansas City. I have missed sharing some of my recent reads the past couple of weeks, so let's get to it!

Picture Books

Alex Beard has captivated the essence of rumors and gossip in his charming version of the game of Telephone. A perfect book for the beginning of the year, along with a game of Telephone. I wonder if kids even know how to play...

Early Readers

I have so enjoyed the adventures of Fashion Kitty in her quests to help other kitties in their time of need! Even the titles are part of the great humor. Sure to be a popular series!

Nancy Krulik has another winning series with Magic Bone. Written in a similar style as Krulik's Katie Kazoo and George Brown, Magic Bone is told from Sparky's point of view. Be ready to go on some hilarious "dog" adventure!

Middle Grade

I have enjoyed all of Kate Messner's Silver Jaguar Society mysteries (Capture the Flag, Hide and Seek), but I think this is perhaps my favorite. Lots of great intrigue and historical landmarks in both Boston and Paris. I would have loved this series as an avid kid reader! Hoping for a fourth installment...

Young Adult

Ice Dogs was recommended to me by my public library ladies. What a fabulous read! I am not a survival story kind of girl, but this grabbed my attention from the get go. I couldn't let it go until I had finished. Get out your parka and prepare to "Mush"!

Until next time...Happy Reading

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More Recent Reads

I'm excited to share this week's great reads!

Picture Books

A fun read full of great vocabulary and rhyming. I think this book would lend itself well to the Tune into Interesting Words strategy within the CAFE framework, and would be perfect for early readers for rereading. Ahoy, mateys!

A silly book great for reading aloud. Many of us probably have similar memories of our own kids being "interrupting chickens." Too funny!

Early Readers

A couple of weeks ago I attended a mini reading conference in Sioux City, IA, where I had the privilege of hearing "Coach" Ryan Sloth share his books and the stories behind each 
one. He was a dynamic speaker, and the fact that he played football at Iowa State was a definite bonus! Each book has a clear message, from perseverance to patience, and as an author he utilizes great vocabulary and alliteration along with repetition. Sammy Sloth (clever characther, huh?) is a character kids can identify with. I love the fact that Coach Sloth has more books in the works, including writing one with his daughter since he co-authored Jungle Safari with his son. They are perfect for beginning readers! I'm anxious to share these books as mentor texts for writing.

I learned of this series somewhere online - I apologize for not remembering exactly where. One of my favorite forms of humor is the use of puns, and this book is full of them. I loved it when Salem tries to "spell" her way through the spelling bee!  A graphic novel series that younger kids are sure to enjoy! 

Fashion Kitty is so much fun!  Perfect graphic novel for reluctant readers. I immediately ordered the rest of the series upon finishing. You can't help but smile when reading, especially with a fashion superhero to the rescue!

I just had to read this when I came upon it at my public library. I spend a lot of time at baseball games in the summer watching my high school aged son, so this seemed so fitting, and it wasn't one I was familiar with. A typical Boxcar Children book, which makes it perfect and comfortable for younger readers. Take me out to the ballgame!

Middle Grade

The premise behind Below was almost disturbing to me, yet fascinating at the same time. Cassie and Liam stumble upon a mystery at the manmade lake in their town, where their town leaders "drowned" their town more than a decade before. It is sure to suck readers in!


A friend introduced me to Mary Higgins Clark many years ago, and she has always been one of my "go to" authors for a good thriller. I'm still trying to figure out how this book is going to play has definitely gotten under my skin!

Until next time...Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Recent Reads

     I'm excited to share my first post about recent books I have read and/or am reading! It has been a crazy busy summer already and I haven't had as much time as I was hoping for to tackle my TBR pile. I've been working pretty much full time doing landscaping and lawn care at the nursing home where my husband is administrator, and then spend most nights at baseball games. Most of my reading has been done in the car, in between innings at games (have gotten some dirty looks from fans/other parents for that!), and while waiting for the washing machine in the middle of the night. Thinking about the books I've read and am reading has kept me company during those long days working outside (still trying to figure out the best way to listen to audio books)!
    With all that said...
 My Recent Reads

Picture Books

The title He Came with the Couch says it all! This book was originally recommended to me by my small rural public library ladies and is always great for a reread. I find myself laughing more each time I read it! I'm waiting for a sequel...

I was so excited to find this at my public library! (Have I said my public library rocks?) I'm a huge Jarrett Krosoczka fan and have missed out on some of his picture books. My students got some good chuckles out of this, especially the "zinger" at the end!

Middle Grade

I got started reading this series with one of my 3rd graders at the end of the school year and ended up finishing this summer. Every day he would come back with, "Mrs. S., what page are you on?" or "I'm starting book 3, which one are you on?" I loved every one of those book conversations! I think this series has it all - adventure, suspense, and great humor! I hope there will be more in the future...

Firegirl is so heart hurt as I read it. It really made me think about how we treat others and that all important lesson "Be Kind." I think it would be a great companion to Wonder.

A Snicker of Magic definitely lived up to all the rave reviews! (Sometimes I worry I won't enjoy a book as much as others...) I loved the quirky characters and how their lives were interwoven. Truly a magical read!


This book snagged me from the very beginning! It has an intriguing (and one of my favorite) setting, NOLA, and is a typical Karen Robards thriller. I keep thinking I know where the plot is going, but then I'm not so sure the next minute, so I'm anxious to keep reading. Crawfish po boy, anyone?


I think Todd Whitaker is so inspirational! After a very challenging school year (most difficult in 25 years), I got my set of books back out. His ideas are practical and positive, and he has a great sense of humor. He is my "go to" guy when I need a dose of positivity after dealing with difficult colleagues in my high generational poverty school district. 

Until next time...Happy Reading!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why The Nerdy Book Geek?

     I have pondered beginning a blog for quite some time, and finally decided I needed to step outside my comfort zone and "just do it." I have learned so much from others' blogs and been inspired to be a better teacher, that I decided if I am able to share just a small fraction of my learning and reading as compared to what I have learned from others, I will achieve my goal in paying it forward.
     Why The Nerdy Book Geek? I have always been an avid reader. Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew were my childhood favorites and I wanted to be just like them! Now, my kids jokingly call me a nerd and a geek, as I am seldom without a book. I LOVE to read in the car while my husband drives, and I even read while ironing (weird but true!). When I/we travel I pack books first (or make sure I have enough downloaded), pack hair products second, and worry about clothes last. (I can always buy clothes, but what will I do if I have a reading emergency?) Thus, The Nerdy Book Geek.
     I'm excited, yet intimidated, to begin this new professional adventure!