Monday, May 12, 2014

It's Monday! Here's What I'm 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.

I was able to find some reading time during a really busy week. Even though I love May--it gets warm, the gardens are beautiful, the rain slows down--the annual pace of this month always stuns me.

Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan has been on my reading list since I heard she had published a new book. Patricia MacLachlan is my personal writing mentor. The combination of simple text, complex characters, gentle plots, and important messages that she creates humble me. Fly Away, at its core is about family and the importance of valuing each member for who they are and what they do. Lucy, the main character, is a poet, so the magic of poetry weaves through the text, but Patricia MacLachlan is magic when it comes to injecting snippets of character clues foreshadowing and this would be a great book to study either concept, since the text is simple and relatively short.

I also have been meaning to read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba. This is a true story, and would be a great classroom book for narrative nonfiction, about a boy growing up in Malawi, wishing for clean water and enough food. His family's struggles with basic needs prevented him from attending school, and he tinkered with what most of us would label garbage. Eventually, he created a windmill that became an important energy source of hope for his village. In sixth grade, we study geography, human rights, and the evolution and impact of technology, and I will incorporate this book into our curriculum. It is an inspirational story about ingenuity, resourcefulness, and resilience, as well as a resource for our students to find ways to be impactful, global citizens.

I have not previously read any Ladybug Girl books, but I picked up Ladybug Girl Goes to the Beach by David Soman. I have a demonstration story that I have written that I use when I am working with second and third graders on narrative writing that has to do with riding a wave, so I picked up this book at Barnes and Noble. David Soman has written this story better than I! Even though it is a dawn to dusk time frame--why can't we have more small moment mentor texts???--there is great tension development and there is always the lingering question of what the story is really about. Even when Ladybug Girl is trying to distract herself with other activities at the beach, a close reader will realize that she really wants to overcome her fear of going into the ocean.

Happy reading!


  1. Three great books, Melanie, and I'm always thankful that you share good lessons that they will be useful for. I know about the MacLachlan book, but still haven't read it. She writes so beautifully. And The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind should be in every classroom-it is a model for students who don't believe they can make a difference. I don't know about Ladybug girl at all, will look for it. Thanks much for highlighting these!

  2. While I've been seeing these three books around, I haven't had a chance to read them yet. The Boy who Harnessed the Wind sounds like another picturebook biography that I must include in my text-set, will be pinning this one in my Pinterest board. I know what you mean by Patricia MacLachlan - there is really elegance in the simplicity of her narrative. Thanks for sharing all these. Have a great reading week!

  3. Love the details you shared about this Ladybug girl title. I think these books are quite adorable. I have a few in my room. I haven't read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. It has been on my TBR list for a while so I need to get to it!