If You Like, Then Try...the YA Version

It's that time of year. Crayons, Sharpies, and binders cover my kitchen counter. Papers are scattered on my bedside table, filled with ideas I think of at 2am.

School starts on August 20. I return August 15, and I can't get into my classroom yet. Which wouldn't be so bad except I moved classrooms for the second year in a row. I have over 3,000 books in my classroom library, and I'm itching to start setting up my shelves. Instead of stressing out (okay, I'm still stressing), I decided to make book recommendation posters to hang.

I purchased five clear plastic pockets from Target which will allow me to slide posters in and out without laminating. Because let's be honest-once November comes, I'll be neck-deep in everything else and won't spend the time to make these, let alone laminate them.

If you're looking for a MG version, check out Cassie's post!


Bullet Book Reviews with @IowaAmber

I’m going to try something new for book reviews. It’s definitely not groundbreaking, but I think it will be convenient and fun. I like reading book reviews that are short and quick (I think Instagram has ruined me) and I was recently inspired by a format that I saw in the most recent issue of Book Page magazine (which I pick up monthly at my local library). 

Here’s a couple of books I’ve read this summer and loved:

Full disclosure: I received both books from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I will be adding both books to my 5th-grade classroom library.

Image result for wonderland barbara o'connorImage result for wonderland barbara o'connor
By Barbara O’Connor
Release Date: 8/28/18

For fans of: Wish, Raymie Nightingale, Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, Just Like Jackie, and Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

First line: Mavis Jeeter sat on the bus stop bench beside her mother and whispered goodbye to Hadley, Georgia.

The book: A story about a young girl named Mavis that moves around a lot with her mom, but she has finally found somewhere that she wants to stay. She has finally found a real best friend in Rose. Then there’s Rose. Rose’s best friend is an old man named Mr. Duffy. Rose worries about everything. Rose and Mavis need each other. You will find yourself cheering on both girls and rooting for them throughout this entire book!

The author: Barbara O’Connor has written many award-winning books, including Wish and How to Steal a Dog. Her books are always full of whimsy and remind me of Kate DiCamillo’s writing style.

Read it for: A whimsical summer story about two girls (and a dog!) that discover they really need each other

 Image result for harbor me jacqueline woodsonImage result for jacqueline woodson
Harbor Me
By Jacqueline Woodson
Release Date: 8/28/18

For fans of: Amal Unbound, Brown Girl Dreaming, Lucky Broken Girl, Nine Ten: A September 11th Story, My Family Divided, Inside Out & Back Again,

First line: We think they took my papi.

The book: Six students are put into a room each Friday called the ARTT room A Room To Talk. They can talk about whatever they want. Anything at all that is bothering them or on their mind. Each person in the room is very different but soon enough, they realize that they have more in common than they think. They begin to realize that despite their differences, they can all take care of each other in incredible ways and be a safe harbor for each other

The author: What’s not to love about Jacqueline Woodson? She’s an award-winning author that does it all from picture books to books for adults. Her messages are always important and her writing is always profound and genuine.

Read it for: Stunning prose that shines a spotlight on kids that feel so realistic, I was convinced they were real and not fictional.

Have you read Harbor Me or Wonderland yet? Let me know in the comments what you think if you have!


Shark Week Book Recommendations


Nerd Camp 2018

Photo courtesy of the Nerd Camp Facebook page

There were so many moments during Nerd Camp this year that I felt so touched and overcome with emotion. I started keeping track of these moments in a note on my phone. Here’s what I wrote down.

Thank you Colby and Alaina for all the work you do to organize this event. You both handle everything with such grace and poise. I’m in awe of you both on so many levels.

Thank you Donalyn and Colby for starting Nerdy Book Club.

Thank you to the stranger I was sitting next to in the Being the Change session with Sara Ahmed and Chad Everett. You offered me a piece of gum and it was so nice. We chatted a bit and you said that your daughter has been in Nepal the past two years and you were going to see her that day. I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer with your daughter.

Thank you speaking of daughters so many of you that follow me on Instagram said that you love seeing my videos and pictures of my daughter on Insta-stories. It warmed my heart each time and I’m honestly tearing up right now thinking about it. This year I decided to make my Instagram account focused on books and teaching (but mostly books, if we are being honest) and not a hodgepodge of everything in my life. I often worry that I should be more focused with my social media outlets, that maybe I annoy those people that are only here for the books... but, I’m so glad that my book-loving friends also like seeing my daughter. She’s the light of our lives and I was missing her so much this week. Next month we take an adults-only vacation and I don’t know how I’m going to leave her 6 days (trying not to cry right now!)

Thank you to all the authors that gave up time to attend Nerd Camp and let us teachers fan all over you. In the past, I know many authors have funded this trip out of pocket. I’m not sure that is still true because it has grown over the years (and really, you should be paid for attending), but it is something that I think about a lot because I also fund my own trip out of pocket.

Thank you to all the teachers that gave up time (and money!) to attend Nerd Camp. I don’t know anyone that is paid to attend or given funding for it. I know you attend because you truly love it.

Thank you to Laura Komos, who used one of her TWO book tickets to get me a copy of Resistance by Jennifer Nielsen because she knew I was looking forward to reading it so much. (Here I go again with the tears). It was so thoughtful and it just reminded me how giving our community is. Thank you. You’re the best and so, so, so kind.

Thank you to Melissa Biehl for letting me borrow her coveted copy of Hey Kiddo to read on Tuesday. I had no idea that ARC was so hard to find, but I'm glad there is a lot of excitement for it! I read it in between sessions as fast as I could so I could get back to her that day and oh.my.gosh. This memoir tore my heart in two. It is a graphic novel memoir but intended for an older audience. I would say 8th grade and up. Maybe 9th grade and up. However, I might still buy it because I want to support Jarrett Krosoczka’s work.

Thank you Kirsten Biehl (Melissa’s daughter!) for inviting us out to the brewery with her big group on Monday night! We had such a good time chatting with everyone and people watching. Kirsten is such a sweetheart and has recently started a fitness coaching journey - she is super inspiring!! 

Thank you to my friend Kris for driving EIGHT hours to Parma and EIGHT hours back. Yes, she drove EVERY SINGLE MILE and I am so grateful because I’m not a fan of driving. Luckily, she likes to drive. We also love having her comic relief. She had us laughing the entire time!

Thank you to my other friend, Julie for introducing me to this community. I don’t think I would know what Nerdy Book Club was if it wasn’t for her. If you’re not following Julie, you should be. She has YEARS and YEARS of experience in education spanning from early childhood to 8th grade and is a wealth of knowledge. I keep telling her she cannot retire. I just won’t allow it.

Thank you Holiday Inn Express for the daily hot breakfast. We switched hotels this year and I think it was a very good decision.

Thank you Book Bug for enabling me to buy all the books. This year I bought two shirts (for my toddler!) and SEVERAL books. Shhh don’t tell my husband. ;)

It was an amazing Nerd Camp full of incredible experiences. If you have ever thought about going, DO IT. You won’t regret it. 


Who Was blog tour and TV show

Thank you so much for stopping by today for the Who Was Blog Tour to celebrate the Who Was? Book Series from Penguin and the new Who Was? Show on Netflix that brings these books to life.

The Who Was? series have been a staple in all of my classroom settings. I have taught K, 3, 4, and now 5, and children of all ages can benefit from these stories. Actually, people in general can. The Who Was? books are written in ways that allow you to grasp the accomplishments, failures, successes, and much more of many individuals from all around the world.

Who Was Louis Armstrong? is written in a way that highlights all of Louis's accomplishments as well as history on the jazz music that was his life. The details in the words and the illustrations play a huge part in recognizing just what Louis was known for. The story provides students with an insight of following your dreams and that if you work hard enough, you will accomplish those goals. Louis lived a life that required him to have struggles, but through perseverance, he was able to have many accomplishments. 

Who Was Marie Antoinette? is written in a way that provides students with an understanding of a dark time period in a way written lightly. Marie's life was not one that people envy, and her life ending definitely isn't something that children today are going to be able to connect to, BUT this book provides detailed information that is informative, factual, and easily understandable for children. 

The Who Was? series is a series I am constantly still buying for my classroom. Anytime we do biographies or any type of informative writing, all of the books are written in ways that students can use as mentor texts and mirror the writing for their own individual. They are a must have addition to any elementary classroom, in my opinion. 

Who Was? Show 

Fresh voices bring some of the most famous names in history to life. A live-action sketch comedy show based on the series of best-selling books.

Season 1 now available on Netflix.

The Who Was? show on Netflix takes you through the books featuring two different people per episode. The shows bring history to life through hilarious reenactments by teenagers. 

I know that my students already thoroughly enjoy this series as we started watching towards the end of the school year when it first came out. I would utilize this show as an introduction to biographies or an independent study over a specific person we may be researching. This is also a great tool for students to watch and then come up with their own skit over their own person - as an educator you could include many standards as part of a PBL (project based learning assignment) for students to learn more about a specific individual and bring that individuals story to life as the show does. 

I am so excited that this show was created. It's one of those things that I didn't know I needed as an educator until they created it. I already knew the books were such a great creation, and now adding on a TV show just brings the stories to life even more. 

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One 
July 2 – Word Spelunking – Episode 1: Gandhi + Ben Franklin 
July 3 – Crafty Moms Share – Episode 2: Albert Einstein + Joan of Arc 
July 4 – A Peace of Mind – Episode 3: William Shakespeare + King Tut 
July 5 – A Rup Life – Episode 4: Isaac Newton + Amelia Earhart 
July 6 – Teachers Who Read – Episode 5:  Marie Antoinette + Louis Armstrong 
Week Two 
July 9 – InRandom – Episode 6: Sacagawea + Blackbeard 
July 10 – Dream Reader Kids – Episode 7: Susan B. Anthony + Frida Kahlo 
July 11 – Two Points of Interest – Episode 8: Marie Curie + Harry Houdini 
July 12 – For Mommy’s Dragons – Episode 9: George Washington + Marco Polo 
July 13 – Bookfoolery – Episode 10: Genghis Khan + George Washington Carver 
Week Three 
July 16 – The Boy Reader – Episode 11: Pablo Picasso + The Wright Brothers 
July 17 – Jenn’s Book Vibes – Episode 12: Galileo + Queen Elizabeth 
July 18 – Coquette Maman – Episode 13: Julius Caesar + Bruce Lee