Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsburg at Unleashing Readers cohost It'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.
Even though I haven't been blogging as much as usual, I've been doing a lot of reading and writing. I had the pleasure of working with Renée Watson through the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program, and I purchased two of her books. What Momma Left Me by Renée Watson is the story of a middle-grade girl with family secrets and family challenges. Even though the subject matter is intense and emotional, the voice of the main character shines through with insights, reflections, humor, and important realizations about people and life. Upper elementary students will both relate to and learn from Serenity, the eighth-grade narrator.
I read This Side of Home by Renée Watson in less than 24 hours, and it's not short. I started it with a pen in hand to make notes on the craft and structure, but the story was too good. I'll read it again for craft analysis, but I needed to just be in the world of Maya, her family, and her friends. While this book deals with important cultural, economical, and political issues with important historical references woven into the text, it also has a tight and engaging storyline about growing up in a changing demographic. There is nothing R-rated in this book, but most elementary students won't understand the references to high school life.
Meg Kearney is the director of Solstice, so I also purchased one of her books, The Girl in the Mirror, the second of a trilogy. Told through journal entries and poems, this book would be a perfect mentor text for poetry forms and the power of telling stories through different genres. The narrator is a high school senior and a poet, and a tragic event defines her senior year of high school.
Trouper by Meg Kearney is a not-to-be-missed picture book about a three-legged dog who needs a home. E.B. Lewis's pictures are beautiful, and the story is all about hope, friendship, and what really matters in life.