Ahh! Summer Reading

Imagine reading a book every day this summer. Yep, a whole book, cover-to-cover, every day.  That is the premise behind the Nerdy Book Club’s #bookaday reading challenge.  Picture books maybe.  A really engrossing novel if it’s not too long.  I tried last summer but didn’t make it.  Life just kept getting in the way, no matter how devoted I was to the cause.

But I did read a lot more than if I hadn’t accepted the challenge.  I found and fell in love with Wonder and 13 Reasons Why.  I rushed on to The Future of Us because it was also by Jay Asher.  It was good, but not as powerful as 13 Reasons Why.  I decided that cookbooks count.  Donalyn said so! And I read professional literature.  Barry Lane’s highly entertaining suggestions on what my students should do to write in But How Do You Teach Writing? and then revise in After the End. I played with research ideas in his Wacky We-Search Reports.  I really did read.  I even jumped into Common Core exemplars for next year, Travels with Charley (which left me so grateful for Steinbeck’s return – finally – to his home in New York) and The Catcher in the Rye (which left me wondering which eighth graders are ready for that literary work!)  I couldn’t make myself start The Last of the Mohicans, with apologizes to James Fenimore Cooper and the architects of the Common Core reading lists.

This summer I vow to do better! My stack is never-ending.  I’m now in Cris Tovani’s  I Read It But I Don’t Get It.  I got to see her in summer PD and understand – for the first time – what close reading really means and how it is probably the only way my struggling readers will make it through the Common Core texts that I have been dreading.  You see, I wholeheartedly believe in student C-H-O-I-C-E, and Common Core does not.  This word exemplar I have come to despise.

And tomorrow I spend with Penny Kittle.  I don’t care if she talks about reading or writing, I plan to just soak it all up! Then I dive into the stack next to my chair.  Code Name Verity, a Holocaust thriller which the New York Times claims I will have to read twice, is first.  I do love books set during this horrible period of history.  Then I will finish The Berlin Boxing Club because one of my eighth grade boys told me at the end of the school year that I really needed to finish it.  I had shared it with him because he is a gifted reader who would rather play sports.  I thought it might connect with his interest in sports, and it did.  He told me it was his favorite book of all time.  He knew I had started it but was repulsed by an incident in the opening chapter.  His words to me sounded very familiar, “You really should finish it.”  So I will.

Then the story of a young runner who loses her leg in a tragic accident, The Running Dream, and Girl, Stolen, about a wealthy blind girl who is accidentally kidnapped in a carjacking.  The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is the last one in this stack, but I am sure there will be more.  I might even force myself to read The Hunger Games trilogy, even though it is not my choice genre.  If not, then Chains because I love historical fiction and never have read that one.  And this is just the stack by my chair.  There’s one on the piano, the nightstand, in a corner by the door to the deck.  Oh my.  This could take all summer.  Doesn’t that sound just wonderful?

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