The Great Realization - PB Review


We now call it The Great Realization

and, yes, since then there have been many.
But that’s the story of how it started . . .
and why hindsight’s 2020.

Wow. I am typically not this emotional in reading a poetry picture book - especially before 8am, but reading through this remarkable poem thinking back to the beginning of the pandemic, reality hit me in the face hard. I have seen several other books come out in regards to the pandemic and trying to make it understandable, for children especially, but The Great Realization is so accurate for adults and children alike, to me it's a necessary purchase on September 1 for your classroom. 

My brain is already churning on how I can use this in the classroom. While yes, I want to avoid any traumatic topics that may bring up worry in the kids, I also want to talk about the elephant in the room from the pandemic - the fact that we as American were forced to "stop and smell the roses" even if it wasn't for as long as we should have. In that time though, I remember picking up groceries and driving through the neighborhood and seeing more people outside in that time frame than I had in 20 years. There were positives from this pandemic, from the shut downs, and I definitely think we need to reflect on those now, and years to come. The Great Realization is just that. The perfect tool to discuss with students theme, inference, plot, foreshadowing, characterization. Really, any standard you teach in your classroom, you can adapt and fit this story. I think I'll be reading this with my middle schoolers next week and we will be picking it apart and putting it all back together again. 

To order The Great Realization: CLICK HERE. 

Together with award-nominated illustrator Nomoco, debut author Tomos Roberts brings his stunning performance piece, viewed over 6 million times on YouTube alone, to life in the picture book adaptation THE GREAT REALIZATION (on-sale Sept. 1, 2020). Relevant and universal, THE GREAT REALIZATION is a poignant book told in the unique style of a bedtime story, and delivers a much-needed message of hope in this uncertain new world.


Tomos Roberts is a spoken word poet, performer and filmmaker, born in New Zealand to Welsh parents. He launched his YouTube platform on 22 March 2020  and, just five weeks later, uploaded a performance of ‘The Great Realisation’, featuring a cameo from his seven-year-old brother. The video has since been viewed over 60 million times. Tomos has been interviewed on This Morning, by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, and his story has been reported all over the world, including in the Daily Mail and the Washington Post. Celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Khlo√© Kardashian and Jake Gyllenhaal have praised his heartfelt work. Tomos lives in London.



Nomoco is a Japanese artist and illustrator, whose joyful artwork has been publishing and exhibited all over the globe. Nature and sound are key inspirations for her work, which is realized in a range of different media, including inks, silkscreen and lithography. Nomoco is the illustrator of Once Upon a Raindrop, written by James Carter, which was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal 2020 as well as being shortlisted for the UKLA Award 2020, Information Books category. She has produced artwork for clients as varied as the Royal School of Music, the Guardian, the New York Times, Moschino, Marc Jacobs and Pocko. She lives in Tokyo.




THE GREAT REALIZATION publishes in the US on September 1, 2020—

Leave a comment below if you have heard this poem, or when you read the book what you plan to do with your kids! 


Guest Teacher Post: Stella by Starlight Review


Hello, my name is Samantha Goldstein. I teach sixth grade language arts in the heart of New Braunfels, a Texas boomtown with a small town feel. Today, I’m going to tell you about the most remarkable book I read this summer: Stella by Starlight. 

This unmatchable novel accomplishes the very difficult task of exposing some darker parts of American history, the Jim Crow Laws and the Klu Klux Klan in the segregated south, in a way that feels raw, real, and age appropriate for young readers (ages 10-12). A remarkable tale of bravery, courage, and fighting for your rights in the face of danger, this story is told the through the point of view of Stella Mills, a young black girl from Bumblebee, North Carolina. She is an extraordinarily dynamic character. You cry with her. You laugh with her. You swell with pride alongside her. You feel the anxiety of her family and community. You mourn with her. You root for her. 

Jonah Mills, and two other prominent members of the black community in Bumblebee intend to fight for their right to register and vote no matter what scrutiny and threats come against them. The story opens up with our young protagonist Stella writing in her notebook outside at night—she’s embarrassed and thinks her writing needs improvement so she practices late  outside while no one is around— when she sees the flicker of a flame in the distance. It is a burning cross. Trouble is coming. Read this powerful work of art to learn how the community battles its own deadly dragons for the sake of their family’s future and the next generation by standing in the face of injustice until they earned their rightful voice in the world. Stella is finding her voice too. Will she learn to write the way newspaper writers do? Can she make a difference with the stoke of a pen? 

This book brilliantly balances the impossible— the painstaking struggle of social justice, the vibrance and life of black joy, and the story of a girl struggling with very normal twelve-year-old girl problem like trouble with writing assignments in school. 

Stella by Starlight would be a great read aloud because it’s chalk full of history that could be paired as non fiction pieces. There are embedded excerpts from the poetry and songs of former slaves and gospel hymns throughout the story, and the book shows the true writing process (mistakes, crossing our words and all) with chapters that are strictly Stella’s writing. Use this as a mentor text not only for it’s rich southern dialect, themes, and figurative language, but also to mirror good writing as wells as the truth of the writing process when you have a growth mindset. 

I savored this book sweetly to the very last drop. It is a timely must read in the middle grade world.

*Thank Samantha so much for her insight as a middle school teacher. This book is currently being offered on First Book Marketplace if you are able to purchase from there, or on Amazon by clicking here.

*If you would like to guest post on Teachers Who Read - please fill out this google form! We look forward to your submission. Guest Post Submission


(RE) Introduction & Giveaway

 Welcome to the newly redesigned Teachers Who Read blog. I started this blog about 2 years ago with a mission - a purpose - to share new titles with teachers across the US so that they are aware of new titles that are out there for their students. In sharing these title I wanted to make sure they knew the premise of the story, what themes it would hit, occasionally lessons to do with those books, or with teaching books authentically versus a basal or a one size fits all model (which we all know doesn’t work). I brought on two friends of mine who teach in different parts of the US but share the same vision - get books in kids hands. We work collectively on this blog together, we collaborate often, and we want to share the discussions we have with you. 

Times have been busy. Times have been hard. Especially lately. But with this redesign our hope is to be a support system for you to fall on when you need ideas in your classroom. 

With that being said; we wanted to formally RE introduce ourselves on our blog. I also invite you to head to our instagram pages for a giveaway for a set of ProjectLit books. 

@mrs_cmt1489 @h_shaffer @theliteracyjunky


What is your name, what do you teach, and how many years have you been teaching? 

Cassie Thomas - I am now a reading interventionist for the middle school 6-8. This will be my 8th year teaching. Prior to this I have taught kindergarten, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. 

Tell us a little something about yourself. 

I am married with two beautiful kiddos, Gunner and Hunter Mae. I was born and raised in Oklahoma, received my bachelors in early childhood education there. Moved to Texas in 2012 and have never looked back. I had a really rough middle school experience. There’s actually a blog post about it if you type in the search engine “Stargirl” you can read that post. Now that I’m in the middle school I just feel compelled to share how I got to this point. After surviving those years, one teacher solidified my desire to become an educator. I saw a whole bunch of what I didn’t want in the education system. Teachers who talked bad about kids and they could hear, teachers who didn’t believe kids when they brought up bullying because they were friends with the child’s parent, teachers who just disregarded anything a kid came to them with because they were a “child” and didn’t know, etc. The list goes on. I explained my middle school story during my College of Education interview and I will never forget their question immediately was, “Then why are you choosing early childhood instead of secondary?” I was a young 21 year old not realizing that those issues were still relevant to today’s kids, and even more problems were occurring in middle school than I ever even knew existed. I thought if I started young I could help alleviate those issues. But boy, was I wrong. Now, here I am. In middle school. A place that needs the empath me more than they need another adult who won’t listen. I’m beyond excited for my new role and I can’t wait to share with you all that I do. 

Tell the readers about your teaching philosophy. 

Teaching to me is a calling. Like I said, I knew at a young age I wanted to be in the classroom, but what I didn’t know is how much of a difference I truly would be making. Teachers are so much more than just an educator. I take every bad word about any educator so personally. The kids aren’t just kids, they’re humans, maybe miniature humans, but we are the ones training them to be GOOD humans for our society. 

I believe in the power of a book. (Again, see Stargirl post) 

I believe in choice. 

I believe in relationships FIRST, everything else second. 

I believe in the power of collaboration.

I believe in flexibility.

I believe in ensuring a positive environment.

I believe in the research that teachers need to be doing less talking than the students. 

I believe in the statement that a child doesn’t hate reading, they just haven’t found the right book. 

I believe in supporting one another for the student, not for yourself.

I believe that when you enter that building you have the biggest job in the world to do. You don’t HAVE to be there, you GET to be there. Changing your mindset to knowing that you could potentially be the one positive in a child’s life and waking up every day to get to be there for that student, and many many more who need you just the same. That’s huge. It’s why I’m there. It’s why I love what I do. 

What is your favorite part of teaching? 

The moment a student finally figures out what type of book/story they love. The first book they fall in love with. When the lightbulb goes off and they just get it.

Who are your biggest influencers in your educational life? 

My entire social media PLN. There are so many, but they have seriously shaped and sculpted me into who I am today - not only who I am today, but they are growing me every single day and future Cassie I am forever learning. I am lucky to live during a time where I know my heroes and I know my favorite authors. 

Any advice for educators on how to use books in the classroom? 

I wholeheartedly agree every educator needs to read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. These two books set the foundation for my classroom and what direction I wanted to go. 

Independent reading should be a non-negotiable and happening every day. Not books you as the teacher choose, but books they choose and get to read and enjoy during your class and can take with them to read. I have gravitated towards a lot of book clubs - specifically books that build empathy. They have different tasks they are assigned to do every other day during their group reading. I also teach the signposts, which are a great way to navigate and ensure comprehension of texts. Notice & Note has a fiction and nonfiction book written by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. 

Relationships first. Get to know your kids in the first few weeks and continue building that relationship to be able to recommend and talk books with your kids. 

What are you top recommended books for teachers in the middle grades/middle school?

This is always THE HARDEST question for me to answer. I can give MY favorites, but that doesn’t mean they are a one size fits all type story.  

I will tell you what have been my BEST read aloud to teach and discuss. 

  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds

  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang

  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

  • Gloomtown by Ronald Smith 

These have been my top read aloud in the last two years - all so very different. 

If you could be stuck in one story, which book would you choose? And why? 

Hands down, I want to be a Vanderbeeker so badly. The Vanderbeeker series by Karina Yan Glaser is one of my favorite fiction families. I also always think about the characters in Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard and want to be there to check on them and see what all they’ve done.


What is your name, what do you teach, and how many years have you been teaching? 

Hello Everyone! Welcome! I am Andrea aka @theliteracyjunky on Instagram and Twitter. I have been teaching for 9 years (WOW). There was a time I didn’t have a job for longer than a year. I currently teach fourth grade.  I have been writing for Teachers who read for about a year now and I have loved every moment. I love sharing books with my followers and especially my students. I currently own about 2,500 books. This includes my home library and my classroom library (the 2,200 are at school LOL). 

Tell us a little something about yourself. 

I have four children and I have been married to my husband for 3 years, but we have been together for 15 years. I live in St. Louis, Missouri where I was born and raised. I have never lived anywhere else. Not the same for my husband who has lived in so many different places. I have visited other places and one day would love to move. Maybe when my kids get older I’ll move to where they live LOL! I have a very small family. I don’t have any first cousin or a lot of sibliging, so my friends act as my extended family and I value them so much! Especially because we all have the same interest BOOKS! AND getting books into the hands of children (note most of my friends are also teachers). 

Tell the readers about your teaching philosophy. 

I have always loved school and learning. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but didn’t always think that was possible. My mother, grandmother, father never attended college so I didn’t think it was possible for me. When I finished school, it was the best feeling in the world and I want that feeling for my students. I want to believe they are able to learn and reach their wildest dream. I believe everyone is capable of learning and the relationships we build help make that possible for students. I believe students' schools have choice and say in the classroom and in what they read (duhh.. I have to put books in there somewhere LOL). Ultimately I believe that if you care about your students they will rise to any expectation!

What is your favorite part of teaching? 

I love getting to know my students and books they love to read. The best part of my day is getting to talk to read to them and talk about books. 

Who are your biggest influencers in your educational life? 

At this time in my career, I would say all the people I follow on social media. I have learned so much just by listening to what they have to say. Social media isn’t just a way to share your life with others, it’s also a place for learning. I have gotting recommendations on books, classroom management tips and engagement tips, and I have also gotten better ways to teach social studies to my upper elementary students. 

Any advice for educators on how to use books in the classroom? 

Books have the power to open all doors. They can be used with literally any subject you teach. I would start with just picking a book you like off the shelf to read and just talk about it. Share why you picked the book, why you liked it and the parts you liked the most. This get students into reading. Always remember there are books to teach math concepts, science concepts, to understand history and how to write. 

What are you top recommended books for teachers in the middle grades/middle school?

Ghost Boys

Black Brother Black Brother


The Fire Keeper

The Stranger

Some Places More Than Others



If you could be stuck in one story, which book would you choose? And why? 

I hate having to choose books, but it would have to be something action packed. LOL I love to go go go of books. I would love to be in any of the Rick Riorden presents books (mythology) or even something with magic. My favorite books are ones that keep the reader's attention from beginning to end. 


What is your name, what do you teach, and how many years have you been teaching? 

Haley Shaffer-This is my 15 year teaching and I was just reassigned to 6 grade after spending 12 years teaching 8 grade. I also hold an administration license and am certified to teach gifted students.  I spent my first five years teaching 5-8 ELA and Social Studies in a gifted setting. 

Tell us a little something about yourself. 

I am a proud graduate of The University of Cincinnati and started my teaching career in a suburb of the city. As a small town girl, born in a NE Ohio town with no stop lights, little diversity, and a lot of cows, I credit much of my teaching style to my years spent living in Cincinnati. After I earned my Masters degree my husband and I moved closer to home where we started a family in the Youngstown, OH area.  I have three kids: Keeton, Callie, and Cooper, and spend my days shuttling them to various practices. My family loves Cleveland sports, drive-in movies, and day trips to Lake Erie.

I thrive on change and it’s something that often makes me an outsider amongst my colleagues. I tend to dive rather than wade into new challenges and that can be intimidating for some people. My passion and creative spirit were almost snuffed out when I moved back home, but I found a core group of colleagues who compliment me in just the right ways. Instead of judging my unorthodox teaching style (i.e. book clubs, stations, writing workshop, read alouds) they were open to new experiences and ideas. Together, we became a team that was able to create solutions and find opportunities to continue to grow and learn.  It’s taken me 15 years to realize I don’t need to apologize for seeking opportunities to learn or try something new. I’d be lying if I said it was easy-I am still mostly a pariah in my district-but it doesn’t stop me from advocating for what’s right. 

Tell the readers about your teaching philosophy. 

My philosophy is constantly evolving. I use a blended approach of workshop coupled with explicit instruction of skills and strategies. Independent reading is a non-negotiable in my classroom along with authentic writing. 

What is your favorite part of teaching? 

Making connections with students! Through quickwrites, read alouds, or independent reading, there’s plenty of chances to really learn about each student. 

Who are your biggest influencers in your educational life? 

If I think back to some of my best memories in school, I think about Mrs. Rutski with her huge reading tub filled with stuffed animals.  I think about Mrs. Rubbo, who sat down beside me and helped me write a story about a bear who lived in my backyard. I think about heated class discussions over read alouds in my mom’s 7 grade Language Arts classroom (yes, my mom was my teacher). Looking back, I realize that these teachers were ones who provided choice. Choice in books, writing topics, seating arrangements, read alouds. These were also people loved to teach and it was reflected in their classrooms. 

I’m also influenced by my virtual colleagues. People who challenge my thinking or help me see things differently. People like:

  • Shea Martin: @sheathescholar

  • Jess Lifshitz: @Jess5th

  • Dr. Kim Parker: @TchKimPossible

  • Christie Nold: @ChristieNold

Any advice for educators on how to use books in the classroom? 

Aside from silent reading and read alouds, I like to pull excerpts from books for mini-lessons. The first few pages of Scythe for character dialogue and narration. Chapter 1 of This is Our Story for pacing. The illustrations in The Line Tender to show how a theme evolves. Not only does it provide engaging material for the mini-lesson, it exposes students to dozens of books throughout the year. 

What are your top recommended books for teachers in the middle grades/middle school?

I have favorites for different situations, so I’ll include a few of those here. 

Top Recommendation for Read Aloud:

Orbiting Jupiter: It’s a short read, and allows for perfect mini-lessons on pacing and flashbacks. In addition, you can pull in nonfiction articles about Jupiter. 

Top Book Club Recommendation for Grades 7 & 8: 

Long Way Down: If you haven’t included this in your book club choices, it’s a must. It lends itself to rereading, discussion, and character motives. 

Top Recommendation for a 2020 book:

King and the Dragonflies: This book touches on heavy topics-homophobia and toxic masculinity in the Black community. I love the setting and descriptions of dragonflies. 

Top Recommendation for Nonfiction for Grades 7 & 8:

Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories: A collection of poetry, essays, artwork, photographs, and interviews from the survivors of the February 14, 2018 school shooting. I’ve used excerpts for lessons on primary sources and conflicting information on the same topic. 

Top Author Recommendation for Grades 7 & 8:

Tiffany Jackson: Her new book Grown had my head spinning. But then again, all of her books leave me with a major book hangover. She is the queen of plot twists. 

If you could be stuck in one story, which book would you choose? And why? 

Is it weird if I say The Baby-Sitters Club? I know this is old-school and probably my nostalgia speaking, but I liked the authentic relationships. They struggled through real-life issues, fought, grew apart, recognized each other’s strengths and weaknesses.