Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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. Some of my very best reading recommendations come from this pathway!

It's a busy time of year and I have not been able to sit down and read a book that requires sustained attention. However, I have a few books and articles to share.

I picked up several nonfiction books at the Scholastic Books Warehouse sale a couple of weeks ago. I had read about How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg a while ago and I thought that it sounded funny. It's not only funny, but you can learn A LOT from this book. There are many mini-history lessons throughout this book, as it tells about the deaths of various people from Cleopatra to Darwin to Columbus to Beethoven. Some of the morbid descriptions of death might inspire middle-schoolers to research more about the eras or the people, as there are many historical and scientific references and facts woven into the end-of-life stories. For example, I had no idea that Darwin was afraid of people, obsessive about lists and record-keeping, and married to his first cousin. Did anyone else know that of his ten children, only three were able to reproduce and two died as babies? Sort of ironic given his scientific specialty of genetic survival of the fittest...

Because the CCSS are big on students writing introductions and conclusions to informational pieces, I am always on the lookout for nonfiction books that contain these elements and can serve as mentors for students. I have been consistently impressed with National Geographic's nonfiction books and so I bought Everything Rocks and Mineral by Steve Tomecek at the book sale, as well. This book has an introduction and a conclusion, as well as several text features that I don't always see. There is an interactive glossary, several referenced websites for further research, an index, and many narrative elements woven throughout the pages. It really is a great nonfiction mentor text!

Within my reading life, I have to give a shout-out to What an incredible collection of posts these teachers/writers/amazing thinkers put out each week! While I have always loved this blog and Ruth and Stacey have always been inspirational to me, there are now five writers for this blog and every single post is a session of professional development. Thank you to each one of them: Stacey Shubitz, Tara Smith, Elizabeth Moore, Betsy Hubbard, Dana Murphy and Anna Cockerille. This is an incredible source of learning.

Happy reading,


  1. Love the idea How They Croaked. I know I read a book about Poop a while ago, & like this one, learned so much. I agree about TWT-so many good posts! Hope you have a wonderful holiday, Melanie!

  2. Love those non-fiction books, thanks for the reminder on Everything Rocks and Minerals, haven't seen it in a while and I know many readers would enjoy it at my new school! Happy reading week to you!

  3. I definitely need to check out How They Croaked! Right up my alley! Have a great reading week! ~Megan

  4. Looking at How they Croaked and realizing that my son would LOVE this title. Thanks for the NF suggestions!

  5. I borrowed How they Croaked from the library a few times, but never got around to reading/finishing it. I should give it a chance again. Thanks for sharing snippets of what I missed. :) Have a great reading week, Melanie!

  6. Thanks for the shout-out, Melanie. Such nice words!