Monday, July 14, 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 love the time that summer offers for reading. This summer, I have been working on a chapter book, so my reading choices have been ones that have been serving as mentors. Patricia MacLachlan remains my favorite writer because of the simple language that contains complex information and meanings. Cynthia Rylant is another favorite for the humor and voice that she weaves into her writing.

I re-read The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan. Although it is a first-person narrative, I was studying it for character complexity. If you have missed this book, it's a more recent one from Patricia MacLachlan, with a characteristic artist, a charismatic pet, an an eccentric older person. I highly recommend it!

I also picked up Patricia MacLachlan's The Boxcar Children Beginning. This book is a prelude to the classic series created by Gertrude Chandler Warner, imagining the events that led to the four Alden children living in a boxcar. While my chapter book is not a precursor to any famous series, (that's way too original and creative idea for me to have thought up) the character development and the sense of impending doom intrigued me as a writer reading this relatively short chapter book.

I spent time re-reading The Turtle from The Lighthouse Family by Cynthia Rylant. In this book, even though it is imaginative fiction, I used it to study how one event drives the story forward. I loved the relationships that were evident throughout this, and may go back to study how Cynthia Rylant includes snippets of information to inform readers about important prior events in the characters' lives.

Not so much for mentor-me reading, I finally got to Prisoner B-3087 by Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener, and Alan Gratz. Melanie Swider's class chose it as their book of the year, and I can see why, since this book is a painfully gripping, and disturbing account of a young man's will to survive the atrocities of persecution, abuse, and torture in concentration camps. Based on the true events of Jack Gruener's life, Prisoner B-3087 provides a lens into some of the most despicable behavior of humans, and could inspire students to want to learn more about an era that should never, ever be repeated.

Currently, I am reading The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern. I am admiring the voice, humor, insight, and determination of the main character and narrator. I am sure that I will have more to say about it next week--thank you to all of the bloggers who have been raving about this one--I'm so glad I ordered it!

Because I am writing a lot, my professional reading has suffered. Stay tuned for next week, as this is a goal for the week!

Happy reading!


  1. I really want to read Prisoner B-3087 and The Meaning of Maggie. I have both of them on my TBR pile in my "reading room" and hope to get to them this summer!

  2. Like Holly, Prisoner B-3087 and The Meaning of Maggie will go on my list, but I loved hearing about the other books, too, Melanie, & how you will use them as mentors for your own writing. I still also need to read The Truth of Me! Thanks for all!

  3. I can't wait to read Maggie. Like you, I've heard so many good things! I've been trying to juggle all my fun reading with an adult read and professional read! It's tough!

  4. The Truth of Me and The Meaning of Maggie are two books that I hadn't heard of before. I will be adding these to the TBR. It sounds like you are finding good mentors for your writing. That struggle with finding time for everything is always there. Good luck finding more time for professional reading this week.

  5. The Prisoner B 3087 was a big seller at our school scholastic book fair with boys and girls.

  6. Thanks for sharing these! Really like the perspective of thinking about what each book has to teach you as a writer, cool.

  7. Do you think that high school students would like Prisoner B-3087? Or is it geared toward younger students?

    1. I think it's better for high school kids. I wouldn't give it to my seventh grader as she would not sleep well. Some of the atrocities are pretty graphic.

  8. Loved The Meaning of Maggie - I'll be so interested in your thoughts about this book, Melanie. I wasn't aware of the "set up" book for the Box Car series, something to look into.

  9. Hi there Melanie, first of all best of luck on your writing. I agree that reading mentor-texts is the way to go to guide you in your own writing. I've read a lot of Cynthia Rylant's picturebooks, but not her middlegrade novels as much, thanks for sharing these titles. :)