It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday, Friends!

Whether you are participating in summer #bookaday, setting summer reading goals or simply reading whatever strikes your fancy at the moment, we hope you are enjoying every drop of summer and reading until your reader-heart is full.

We would love to know what you are currently enjoying! Share in the comments below! 

Review: Things That Surprise You by Jen Maschari

Goodreads summary: 
Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice. 

But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.

Hazel is changing too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and have crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong thing. She want to be the perfect new Emily. But who is that really?

Things That Surprise You is a beautifully layered novel about navigating the often shifting bonds of family and friendship, and learning how to put the pieces back together when things fall apart.

My personal review: 
I laid down in bed last night thinking I was just going to read to page 170 so I would only have 100 pages to finish today. Well an hour and half later, I finished the whole book. 

I immediately felt this connection to the book that brought back so many memories of my middle school life. Part of me connected with Emily as well as Mina. I knew from the beginning exactly what Mina was struggling with, as I had struggled with something similar when I got into highschool. I had to be followed into the bathroom, I had to be monitored by teacher's daily, and I hated that I was struggling with it, but I also never realized how much it affected all of those around me.  I feel like the pressures that the girls all face in the story are going to be very relatable to for students 5th and up. It's an ever changing world, and girls especially are sadly put into this mold they have to fit in. I started telling my 4th graders last year that friends start to change in 4th grade and up, it's not a bad thing, but it's that people start to figure out who they are and what they stand for. It doesn't ever mean that that particular person won't hold a special place in your heart, but what it does mean is that you have to grow up and be comfortable with who YOU are and I think Jen does an absolute AMAZING job of teaching this theme throughout the entire story.

Just like the Goodreads summary mentions, Emily is dealing with her best friend, Hazel, changing and molding to fit into the Teen Scene society, the magazine type image of what girls SHOULD be, but Emily doesn't feel that way, she still loves her Unicorn Chronicle adventures, being in school, and staying a kid. 

The "D" word is something that was a tough subject for some of my students last year. I love how this beautifully describes the emotions that students go through when their parents are getting or are divorced. There's a moment in the story where I think all kids finally get to, but it does take some time, and I'm so glad that Jen included that in the story. 

Jen captured the characters so beautifully, so much that I immediately pre-ordered 3 copies for my Mock Newbery. This will definitely be a story I talk about at the beginning of the year of teaching 5th grade knowing that students are all experiencing and will experience the emotions captured in this story! 

Click on the picture to pre-order your copy NOW!: 

Amazon Affiliate Link

Jennifer Maschari will be featured on an author spotlight soon! Be on the lookout for questions students have about her writing and reading life. 

Summer Slide and BrainQuest

If you are a teacher you are more than aware of the summer slide and how detrimental it can be to incoming students, but one thing I have noticed in working with publishers this summer is that a lot of parents and kids don't even know about what we call the "summer slide." That is worrisome to me. 

One of the absolute BEST and biggest ways to beat the summer slide is through my favorite way of course: 

There's a big statistic right there. The importance of reading and how much students do enjoy it over the summertime... 

BUT...of course, there's always a but.... 

Let's say that reading isn't the only thing you're fearful of "sliding" in, what about math? What if you're like I was and just want to get ahead of the game before you start the next school year???

I don't know about you, but as a child I loved learning (probably why I became a teacher) so much that my mom always made a point to get the Brain Quest questions that came in rectangular flip cards. I used to love to study those and have her ask me. 

When I saw a Summer Brain Quest workbook I was super excited for those who are young students now! Brain Quest makes these for students of all grade levels, and they cover every content area *BOO YAH!* 

I think this is a great way to keep up with your academics as well as finding time to read. This can be something that you do together in car rides when you go on vacation, anytime you're waiting at a doctor's office, if they have a younger brother/sister that they can work with... The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding the time to continue your learning. 

If you are interested in reading more about the summer slide and what Scholastic suggests you can do, click here

If you are interested in purchasing the Brain Quest workbook click below! Remember, they have some for all grade levels! 

Considering Class Read Alouds

I’m 19 days and 19 books into summer. One of the first things I think about in planning for the upcoming school year is my why.  Not what I want my results to be. Or how I’m going to get there. Or even what I want students to learn. It’s why I structure my classroom the way I do. Why do I carve out time for silent reading? Every. Single. Day. Why do I let my students choose what they read and write about?  Why do I read aloud poems, and picture books, and short stories, and novels? And show speeches, and commercials, and TED Talks and clips from Game of Thrones? It’s because I value being a reader and writer and I want my students to have authentic experiences in my classroom. One of the foundations of my reading and writing community is our read alouds
Throughout the years, I’ve found some go-to books to start our year, including::
Thunder Dog
Nine, Ten

I love these three books because they’re about differences. All of them lead to powerful conversations that permeate our classroom all year long.

  During the rest of the year, students have choice in the read alouds, and vote based on genre, topic, and how they want to feel when we read it. Below are some read alouds I’ve done in the past, along with a few that I'm considering, categorized by emotions. What chapter books are you thinking about reading aloud?

  The Red Bandanais my top contender for our first read aloud. The kind folks at Penguin Random House sent me an ARC of the Young Adult edition, so I’m anxious to see how that compares to the adult version. If you’re not familiar with this story, it’s about a former Boston lacrosse player who helped people evacuate the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11. Check out the Nerdy Book Club post for more resources. 

IMWAYR- 6/19/17

Back to Top