10 Must Have Nonfiction Book Series


Oh Snap-Using #booksnaps as a Reading Response Tool

I'm constantly hunting for new ways to engage my students in meaningful ways. Not a fan of using technology just for technology's sake, I carefully select the tools we use in the classroom.  So when booksnaps took social media by storm about two years ago, I filed it away as an engagement idea. This year, I finally got around to incorporating it! Better late than never?

Students who chose to use #booksnaps to respond to their independent reading books created them using Google Drawing. This was our first attempt, so I showed students mentor texts and when brainstormed characteristics in order to create an anchor chart.  

If you're interested in trying this, but not sure how to start, make sure to check out Tara Martin's page, who founded booksnaps. She has a ton of ideas about how they can be used in grades k-12. 


An interview with Elana K. Arnold!

Sometimes you meet a character and you just cannot say goodbye... Bat from A Boy Called Bat was one of those characters for me. Saying goodbye to him was just not okay. I needed more Bat! I wanted to know more! Thank goodness Bat and the Waiting Game comes out on March 27th! I'm here to say, the second book featuring Bat is just as good as the the first. You don't want to miss this one! Also... if you are as big a fan of Bat as I am, you will want to read on for some really good news about an upcoming book ...
In anticipation of the new release, we asked Elana a few questions that she so graciously answered. Read on to find out more about this talented author that created one of my favorite fictional characters! 

TWR: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book? 

Elana: I began writing when I was eight or so, but I didn’t write a complete novel until 2011. It’s a young adult novel called Sacred. The relationship between a girl and her horse is central; writing about human/animal friendships is one of my particular loves.

TWR: Where did you get the idea for Bat’s character? 

Elana: My brother has an initial name—that is, his name is Z Anton Kuczynski, and we call him by his initials, ZAK. I wanted a character with a name like this, and I wanted to include my dad’s name, Alexander. As soon as I knew that, the name—Bixby Alexander Tam—came to me, and as soon as I knew he was a boy called BAT, other parts of his character came to me, as well.

TWR: What is your writing process like?

Elana: I tend to write a first draft in a season—about ten to fourteen weeks—and then revise after stepping away for a month or so. This isn’t always true, but it’s what I aim for. If a book takes too long to write, I feel that I begin to lose the strands, or get sort of distant from the book’s texture. Once I’m about three quarters of the way through the first draft, I get very excited about writing the ending (by then I usually know what the ending will be), so I feel a great wonderful rush of energy that propels me through. In revision, I think about the book I’ve created and what I’ve learned through the process of writing; I consider what the book I’ve made is “about” thematically (something I never begin writing with any concept of), and then I look for “threads” of that thematic truth and consider ways I can reach into the book, as if with a crochet hook, and pull those threads up to the surface so that the reader feels what I feel. 

TWR: What challenges do you face when writing?

Elana: I write everywhere. Right now, I’m sitting on the floor outside my daughter’s dance class. This morning, I wrote in bed, surrounded by pets and pillows. One challenge for me is to focus on the exact task in front of me rather than allowing the other things I could be doing to creep in and take over my thought process. “Blinders on,” I tell myself, and sometimes I cup my hands, blinder-like, around my face so that all I can see are the words on my screen. It helps!

TWR: What would you be if you weren’t a writer?

Elana: I think I’d be a good film director, or perhaps a professional matchmaker.

TWR: Are you working on a new book?

Elana: Always! I am working on revising the third and final (I think!) BAT book, and I just finished edits of my next young adult novel, Damsel. I’ve also got a first draft of my next-next YA completed, and I’m excited to chat with my editor about it. And, I’ve got an idea for another middle grade novel and an adult novel, as well.

TWR: What middle-grade books do you love? 

Elana: I love Kelly Barnhill’s books, especially The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Witch’s Boy. I love Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy. I love Tracey Baptiste’s wonderfully scary The Jumbies. I love this year’s Newbery winner Hello, Universe. I love Orphan Island. 

TWR: What book did you love when you were 8-12 years old?

Elana: Harriet the Spy, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Bridge to Terabithia, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, A Wrinkle in Time, Bunnicula…the books I read as a middle grader are probably, more than anything else, the books that made me the person and the writer I am now. Middle grade books are my absolutely favorite books to read.

We can't wait to hear what you think of Bat and the Waiting Game! Let us know what you think in the comments below! 


It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Hi, everyone! Are you on Spring Break yet? My district has their break a little early this year, so I'm currently enjoying reading as many books as I can in addition to packing because we move at the end of the month. If you're on break, I hope you are enjoying it. If you're not on break, it will be here soon!

Here's what we are reading this week! I've included my own comments below each photo, including the genre.

Happy reading!

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  • Thunderhead, the second book in a new trilogy from Neal Shusterman is phenomenal! It is Young Adult, so definitely preview it if you are a middle grade teacher. 
  • Aren't we all excited for The Wild Robot Escapes? I know several teachers in my building are excited to receive it over break and read it while they are off! 

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  • I recently learned about this YA novel while browsing Goodreads yesterday and then when I saw Haley reading it, I knew the universe was telling me something. Have you ever had those books that just seem to pop up everywhere? This book is about a boy that goes missing and his twin brother sets out to find him. What his brother, Marvin finds is chilling and is a story that has shown up in our news too many times. Grab a copy of this for students that crave more books like The Hate U Give and Dear Martin.

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  • Confession: I do not have The Wild Robot Escapes in my hands RIGHT NOW. *However* I have been tracking my Amazon pre-order and it's looking good... my plan is to begin reading it as SOON AS it arrives on my doorstep. Please cross your fingers that the USPS is on top of their game tomorrow! 
  • The Great Alone is not young adult or middle grade, it is an adult fiction story. Which, you may or may not be interested in at all. One of my reading goals this year is to read at least one adult novel per month and considering it is March and I have not begun that goal yet... I'm not doing too well. Oops! Well, nevertheless, this has been a good novel to start out with. I'm about 40% through it and fully invested in the story. I would recommend it so far! 

Have a great week, everyone! 


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