Tag Archives: historical fiction

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/2/17

2 Oct

I can’t believe it’s October! The older I get, the faster time seems to go! I’m working on trying to read more throughout the week (rather than sitting in front of the television after dinner) and this week it seemed to work!

I got a chance to read:

  • Elsie May Has Something to Say by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
  • Just Friends by Dyan Sheldon
  • You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

I also cracked open The Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste and will finish it early this week. My other titles to read this week include – American Street by Ibi Aanu Zoboi, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia and if I get a chance What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold. I’m trying to read all the titles nominated to the long list for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Most are YA titles, but I’m enjoying the ones I’ve read so far and want to finish out the list.


Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR


Celebrate International Literacy Day

8 Sep

international literacy day (1).png

Today celebrates the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day with the hope to increase literacy rates around the world and to recognize the efforts of organizations fighting this fight. This year’s theme for UNESCO’s International Literacy Day is Reading the Past, Writing the Future which I think is so important in today’s world – we need to celebrate our history and look towards a future where everyone has the opportunity to learn to read and better themselves. So, I put together a booklist celebrating the Mildred L. Batchelder Award, “given to the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.” Here are the past ten year’s of winners and if you get a chance, pick up one of these awesome titles!

  1. Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe (2008 winner)
  2. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi (2009 winner)
  3. A Faraway Island by Annika Thor (2010 winner)
  4. A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux (2011 winner)
  5. Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak (2012 winner)
  6. My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve (2013 winner)
  7. Mister Orange by Truus Matti (2014 winner)
  8. Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak (2015 winner)
  9. The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy by Beatrice Alemagna (2016 winner)
  10. Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved (2017 winner)


6 Sep

vacation titles

I’m on vacation! I’ve got a bunch of posts that will be published while I’m away, but I won’t be on social media too much – too much to see and do! My boyfriend and I are heading to London, Paris and Venice for two weeks on our first true vacation in a long time! Our vacation time is usually spent visiting family and friends, going to weddings, etc. Not that any of those things aren’t super awesome, but they’re not usually relaxing. We’re going to be doing a lot of sightseeing, visiting museums and eating a ton of great food!

  1. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  2. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
  3. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
  4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  5. Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
  6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  7. One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank
  8. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  9. Venom by Fiona Paul
  10. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Top Ten Tuesday: Modern Titles to Pair with Classics

22 Aug


I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of classic literature read in high school – I think it’s difficult to teach, it’s difficult to connect to students’ lives and it’s often filled with a lot of old/dead white men. So, this Top Ten Tuesday is devoted to titles that can be paired with classic literature selected in high school for a even more enhanced learning experience.

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    Great by Sara Benincasa
  2. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    Looking for Alaska by John Green
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  6. 1984 by George Orwell
    Little Brother by Cory Doctrow
  7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
    The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
  8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    The Giver by Lois Lowry
  9. The Odyssey by Homer
    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  10. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
    A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Book

Racism, Children’s Classics and the World Today

18 Aug

newshour.jpgThis post has been in my heart and mind for a few days now and after seeing Grace Lin speak about this very issue on PBS NewsHour and in light of recent events, I think it’s an important subject that kids, parents, teachers, librarians and everyone in between should be thinking about and discussing.

Grace Lin’s talk was titled, “What to do When You Realize Classic Books From Your Childhood Are Racist.” Recently, I’ve seen a number of posts about The Little House on the Prairie books being labeled as racist (and they are). So this wasn’t a new idea to me, but one I hadn’t really thought about much before and that’s where my white privilege comes in. I loved reading The Little House books when I was younger, in fact, historical fiction was one of my favorite genres – Caddie Woodlawn (also racist), Anne of Green Gables (relatively forward thinking) and the American Girl books were my bread and butter. As a child, I don’t think the fact that Ma hated Indians was something I saw as racist, I knew the history of the migration of European settlers onto Indian land and understood that Ma’s hatred grew out of her fear for her family as wrong as it was. The same way I knew that you didn’t use the words that Mark Twain used to describe black people in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or how I have a fond memory of a teacher reading aloud The Indian In the Cupboard, but now as an adult see how truly incorrect the depiction of Native Americans truly was in this story. It’s not that I read them and accepted them as truth, I knew that because they spoke of the past, there were things that didn’t bear repeating in the world today.

You have to realize that many of these classics were written during a time (50+ years ago) that this vocabulary, depiction, illustration, language was, if not widely used, accepted by many. That doesn’t make these stories any less racist, but it does in fact leave an opening for an adult in a child’s life to open up conversation about history (and presents times as we’ve been seeing lately). It’s a chance to teach kids why we don’t use certain words, why a certain depiction is incorrect or why an illustration is offensive, hurtful and just plain wrong.

Does it mean we clean up these stories, removing language, illustrations and whitewashing our history? No. Does it mean we ban these books from children, never letting them read what we grew up reading? No. In fact, I think it’s a great way to teach children current events, history and so much more. I have a teacher-friend who recently shared this story on Facebook – a few years ago he had the most difficult class of children he has ever taught, a fifth grade class that wasn’t afraid to throw racial slurs around the cafeteria and playground like it meant nothing. So he paired the kids up and had them interview each other with a list of predetermined questions and a Venn diagram to illustrate their differences and similarities. Of course it didn’t take long for the kids to realize they had more in common with each other than they thought and were surprised by this revelation.

Kids aren’t born hating people that are different from them. They are taught hatred and  books are a great door in which to show kids the effects of racism, sexism, and just about every other -ism out there, but it’s also about showing them what it means to have respect, empathy, kindness, compassion and hope – all things we need a little more of in this world.

Each summer we offer a book discussion for middle grade students and on more than one occasion, I’ve offered a title with a character who is portrayed as having a disability. Kids are open in a book discussion to asking questions to better understand a character’s life and they feel comfortable in the book club space to be able to ask these questions. I know that asking questions can be microagressive to people who are different from yourself and I think there’s a way to ask questions respectfully and insightfully (which is a whole other post), but I think what this world could use is more instances of kids being comfortable asking the questions they have to understand the world around them, after all they’ll be here longer than we will and I’d love to see acceptance become the norm instead of the exception. So don’t be afraid to talk to kids about what they’re reading, kids want to be able to ask questions and to understand, but if no one is there to ask the questions to, how will they find their answers?

Okay, so this post has been meandering for much longer than I anticipated, but if you’re still with me…. check out Grace Lin’s absolutely astounding Tedx Talk or her books, including Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and so many others, she’s pretty awesome.

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