Monday, February 10, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsburg at Unleashing Readers cohostIt's Monday! What are You Reading weekly on their blogs.   To see what others are reading and recommending each Monday, or to participate, be sure to head over to these blogs. 

I'm late to the Kate DiCamillo party, but I finally got to Flora and Ulysses. I have to say a huge thank you to Kate DiCamillo for being such a master at finding the sparks of stories in every day objects and events. Older students may steer away from it because of all of the illustrations, but younger students will be challenged by some of the complexities of the plot. In any case, what an incredible imagination Kate DiCamillo has and what an incredible job she has done at blending serious childhood issues with humor, fantasy, and quirkiness! Although this would be a tricky read aloud since so much happens within the pictures, it is a wonderful book for launching discussions about empathy. It's also an incredible mentor text for teaching young writers to know their characters well--how about Flora's father who drives with his hands always at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel?

My daughter picked out Remarkable by Lizzie Foley at the bookstore and I was in need of a book, so I took it from her nightstand. This book is full of wonderful characters, complex plot twists, subtle humor, and less subtle messages about celebrating normal. Remarkable is a town where everyone is gifted and everything is the best, except for the heroine, Plain Jane. Except for the length, this would be a great read-aloud, full of vocabulary, references, and content information, all woven together in a compelling, multi-layered plot. If you have students who enjoy mapping out character relationships, they will especially love this book!

Professionally, I have been reading and rereading the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies.I am hoping that this document will launch social studies into a more prominent place in American education, as the connections between so many of the CCSS are so accessible through social studies. Through an inquiry arc, the C3 emphasizes formulating questions, learning content in order to answer them, evaluating and critiquing the sources, and then taking informed action--writing papers, having debates, making presentations...Every time I reread this document, I am more in awe of it and hopeful of the impact that it could have on what students learn in schools.

Happy reading,


  1. Yes, I agree that Flora & Ulysses wouldn't make sense as a read aloud, but the kids will love it, & thanks also for the 2nd one, Melanie-looks nice! Since we don't do the CC at my school, I am surprised that Social Studies doesn't have a large inclusion in meeting those standards. If not social studies, then what? The book does sound good, exactly what my school is all about, questioning, finding answers, questioning again... Thanks for sharing about this book!

  2. I just handed my copy of Flora and Ulysses to a student! It's an unusual read, but I found it magical - and so do the students who have read it. Certainly a book to hold in one's hands to savor the pictures...and the story.

  3. I really enjoyed reading Flora & Ulysses aloud to my son. Read the first couple of chapters aloud in my Children's Lit class this week--glad to have a doc cam handy to display the illustrations!

  4. Hi there Melanie. I'm very excited to read Flora & Ulysses with my 12 year old. I gave it to her for Christmas but as she is in a Harry Potter phase right now, she has not had much time to check this one out. So I'm even much later to the Flora & Ulysses party. :)