Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen Vincent and Kellee Moye 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 check out their blogs Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Some of my very best reading recommendations come from this pathway!

The long weekend offered some good reading time. I read a few picture books and some professional ones, as well.

Fireflies by Julia Brinkloe is an oldie but goodie. This book is one of the featured fourth-grade tradebooks in the new Units of Study from Teachers College. What a wonderful book for teaching personal narrative! There are so many opportunities in this book to explore craft--there's beautiful imagery: "Blinking on, blinking off, dipping low, soaring high above my head, making patterns in the dark"; subtle character development: "And as quietly as I could, so she wouldn't catch me dulling them, I poked holes in the top of the jar with Momma's scissors."; And showing, not telling: "I tried to swallow, but something in my throat would not go down." Really, really great mentor for all writers--I can understand why TC chose it!

Another book that is a part of the fourth-grade tradebooks pack is Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson. While the story line is not a small moment, it does have a tight focus of a big sister-to-be's struggle with the impending rival of a new baby. This story is a tremendous resource for teaching about voice. Just the subtle difference of using "that" instead of "the" when referring to the baby gives the narrator a strong voice that readers hear loud and clear.

Continuing with the pack is Fox by Margaret Wild. Fox is a tremendous story of friendship, loyalty, trust, and betrayal. Told from the perspective of an injured magpie, this book could lead to some serious conversations about how loneliness can lead to evil behavior. As a writing mentor, there are tremendous examples of powerful verbs and varied sentence structure--"Fox scorches through woodlands, through dusty plains, through salt pans, and out into the hot red desert. He stops, scarcely panting. There is silence between them. Neither moves, neither speaks." Wow, I'm impressed all over again as I re-read these sentences.

I've saved one of my new favorite books for last and I thank Carrie Gelsen for the recommendation of The Man With the Violin by Kathy Stinson. I can not quote it because I could not keep this book to myself and it is in the hands of one of my colleagues for the weekend. However, it is a beautiful book about noticing, appreciating, and celebrating unexpected beauty in the world. I think that we will all hear more about this one.

I am going to share my reading of Georgia Heard's Finding the Heart of Nonfiction in a post all to itself. It's that good. Really.

Happy reading,


  1. Fireflies looks great. I will have to look for it. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Wow-all four books shared sound very good, Melanie. I too have put The Man With The Violin on my list-it does sound wonderful! Thanks!

  3. Fireflies is a GREAT mentor text. I also use it for personal narrative. It is an experience most kids can relate to.

  4. Fireflies really is a treasure - as is Fox. Have you seen the most recent Margaret Wild book - also amazing.

  5. I am so thrilled that you liked The Man with the Violin so much! I did rave pretty enthusiastically but now you see why! Pecan Pie Baby is a title I read earlier this year and really liked too.

  6. I found a copy of Fireflies at the book sale room at my local library for 50 cents! I couldn't believe they were getting rid of such a special book. You've piqued my curiosity about The Man with the Violin. I'll have to look for it. Thanks for sharing!

  7. LOVE Fireflies. I caught them with my daughter for the first time this summer and thought of Brinkloe's book the entire time.

    I am such a big fan of Woodson, but haven't read Pecan Pie Baby yet. Adding it to my Amazon Wish List now.

    Will check out The Man with the Violin too.