While I fidget over small details like whether I really like the orange background or why I can’t load an automatic links page on this new blog site, it occurs to me that a great first post — on this first day of summer break — would be to post my summer reading list for 2013.
May Spent Assigning Summer Reading
My peer teacher and I seem to have spent the last month going back and forth with each other over exactly what we were going to assign as summer reading for the current fourth grade, as they rise up to meet us in August.
We had our one book the kids always read — Scat by Carl Hiaasen. But what to choose as the second book? Last year it was the first book in the Books of Elsewhere series — but then that was on Florida’s Sunshine State Readers list last year, so students may already have read it. We put forth one possible book and then another, shooting them down for a complicated series of reasons. I have fallen head over heels for writer Rebecca Stead and arrived nearly breathless one morning positive I’d found the perfect book: When You Reach Me. But wrong age level. There were books too advanced for the 4th graders and books too simple. Books too complicated or too specific or too close to something assigned in another grade. I considered another new favorite — Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook by Mary Amato — but Scat was already a school-centered mystery with a boy as a lead.
In the end, our “second book” has students choosing one from among 3 classic Newberry award winners. We like the opportunity to expose the kids to a book they might not otherwise pick up, while allowing them options. We differentiated further by letting them choose from options for how they would reflect their reading. My favorite is the option to write a mini travel brochure for the setting — bound to be a little tongue in cheek since the possible books are Island of the Blue Dolphins, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and A Wrinkle in Time.
Fair’s Fair: Now It’s My Turn
Now that the ink is dry on student summer reading assignments, it’s time I think about what I plan to read this summer.
My Summer Reading List 2013:
- Bring Up the Bodies (2012) by Hilary Mantel. Bring up the Bodies went on my list after winning the 2012 Man Booker Prize, making Mantel the only woman to have won the Man Booker twice.
- And the Mountains Echoed (May 2013), the much anticipated new release by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner (2004) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2008).
- Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (2012), a novel short-listed for awards last fall, by Matthew Dicks – which first sparked my curiosity for its voice: it’s told from the point of view of a child’s imaginary friend.
- Fishing the Sloe-Black River: Stories (1996), a collection of stories by a favorite author, Colum McCann.
Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction
- The Princess Bride (1973) by William Goldman. This nearly-cult classic — often best known for the film version out in 1987 — is the topic of conversation for the month of June among a great group of writers I chat with on Twitter (#WSchats on Wednesdays). It is likely to become the summer’s first nighttime read-aloud with my boys.
- And Then There Were None (1939), by Agatha Christie. Not originally “young adult,” but I look forward to revisiting this old favorite while reading along with my rising-7th grade son’s assigned summer reading. Language warning: in re-reading, we discovered 2 unnecessary uses of an offensive word; email me for advice if you considered assigning this one.
- The Lemonade Wars (2009) by Jacqueline Davies. As with the one above, I’ll be reading this one along with my rising 4th grader, who selected it for his summer project. I’m glad as I’ve been curious about this book.
- A Wrinkle in Time (1963). I look forward to rereading this long-time favorite by Madeleine L’Engle, which we included on students’ summer reading options. I may reread Island of the Blue Dolphins as well.
- 17 & Gone (2013) by Nova Ren Suma (recommended reading level: 9th and above).
- I, Q: The Alamo (releasing July 1, 2013). This will be the 4th in Roland Smith’s I,Q series, which has been one of my son’s favorites. I’m only braced, as Smith is joined by a co-writer on this one. Hmm.
- Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessing & Grading in the Differentiated Classroom, by Rick Wormeli. I’ve been a huge fan of Rick Wormeli since I first started teaching middle grades. An early favorite was Day One and Beyond. Having watched the corresponding seminars online, I look forward to reading this book.
- How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading by Susan M. Brookhart. This is one of two books assigned for my teaching team to read over the summer.
- How to Differentiate Instructions in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (2nd edition)by Carol Ann Tomlinson. This is the second book assigned for all teachers on our staff this summer — which I will love, as Carol Ann Tomlinson was co-writer of one of my favorite books on differentiation: Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom.
For both of those last two assigned books: I teach with a really driven, supportive group of teachers, and it’s great to have a summer “book circle” where we share what we each learned from books read while we were apart.
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Side confession: posting a quarterly reading list has become a little tradition of mine. I’ll likely post a slightly altered Summer Reading 2013 list on my writing blog.
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How About You?
What are you reading this summer — or what did you assign to your students? Parents, what are you reading with your kids?