Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Today I'll be heading to the library to replenish my book stack and I thank Jen and Kellee of for hosting the weekly what are you readings as I will use all of the recommendations and links from their website to help guide my choices.

My daughter and I finished Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (yes, the one you read in high school) since she had to read it for her summer reading. (See my 7/4 post for some of my thoughts about that reading assignment!) I forgot what a master of description John Steinbeck is! If you want to find any mentor descriptions of settings, he includes one at almost every chapter beginning. Additionally, when Lenny kills the puppy, there are amazing opportunities for teaching inference. Talk about the power of what is not said!

I am almost finished with War Horse by Michael Morpurgo and I recommend it for many reasons. Since the story is told from the horse's point of view, a technique that reminds me of Black Beauty, War Horse offers a great opportunity to discuss perspective as a story-telling tool. Kate Messner talks about perspective a lot in her summer program, TeachersWrite!, and it's such a great topic for discussion for both readers and writers! This book also will appeal to girls and boys in upper elementary grades--the girls because of the equine perspective and the boys because it is a war story. However, War Horse  has many important themes and messages, including loyalty, ethical decisions, and the justification (or non-justification) of war.

Professionally, I continue to read and re-read Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth and Christopher Lehman. This book contains so many references to the Common Core and its appendixes that it is slow going for me. However, it contains many important insights for navigating the impending changes and challenges for education. I am also reading Assessing Writers by Carl Anderson. I read this a few years ago so many of the chapters and ideas are familiar. However, I am finding myself saying "I should be doing that!" and "I forgot about that strategy!" in places. My daughters and I have been writing every day and he makes powerful points about initiation and purpose for writers. What an important book for all teachers to read since writing is gaining more and more importance across all subjects!

Thank you to everyone who shares their reading every Monday--you all inspire me and provide me with some of my favorite recommendations. Happy reading!


  1. I just purchased Pathways to the Common Core, because I think any guidance to help make these changes easier will be essential. I loved your post about the summer reading assignment btw. I am worried that the exemplar text list is going to turn into a: "Here's an classic- read." assignment.

    I hadn't heard much about the War Horse book, so thank you for telling me some about it.

    Happy reading this week! :)

  2. I never read Of Mice and Men when I was in high school. I had to read Grapes of Wrath instead. I would have much rather read Of Mice and Men (mainly because it's shorter...) but Steinbeck, in general, is not my favorite author. Anyway! Have you read The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner? She is working with Kate Messner and myself for Teachers Write and she makes references to Of Mice and Men in her The Pull of Gravity. I definitely recommend it!

    I just started Pathways today. It's interesting so far but am kind of waiting for more at this point. :)

  3. :) Just came across this in a search for some info... thanks, Jen, for recommending my book. I'll let you in on a little secret: I was never a Steinbeck or OM&M fan either, at least not until I reread OM&M when I got it in my head that I wanted to use it in my book. I haven't read it again since then (that was probably 2008), but I'm about to reread it with my son for his summer assignment. I wonder if I'll like it more or less having spent the last year endlessly talking about TPoG and OM&M.

    - gae