It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/8/15


Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to participate in the kidlit version of this weekly meme.

On the blog:

In reading:darth vader and friends

I enjoyed the first of Jeffrey Brown’s cartoon collections set in the Star Wars universe. My knowledge of Star Wars is limited to the first three movies (the real first three movies), and I was able to get the jokes. But Brown’s knowledge of Star Wars far outpaces mine, and he lost me many times in Darth Vader and Friends. There were a few jokes that made me laugh, but I also made a lot of blank faces. A fun choice for the more hardcore Star Wars fan.

what comes next and how to like it

Abigail Thomas is one of my favorite memoirists (if you haven’t read Safekeeping or A Three Dog Life, start there). Her new book, What Comes Next and How to Like It, focuses on friendship, family, art, and, most of all, aging. It’s a hard memoir to describe, as it meanders and Thomas often seems to be trying to capture whatever is on her mind that day rather than focusing on a particular thread, theme, or set of experiences. Perhaps the best way to describe it is to say that Thomas is trying to capture life here, in all its mess and contradictions, serenity and despair.

writing outside your comfort zone

I’ve been reading several professional development books and finally finished one, Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughan’s Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres. In this book, the authors, a college professor and high school teacher, share several versions of a writing project that serves as the core of their writing workshop. In this major project (which, in its shortest version, takes about four weeks of workshop time), students select a genre that’s unfamiliar and challenging to explore, analyze, and write in. Fleischer and Andrew-Vaughan have created a well-designed project with many different components that balances research, reading, and several types of writing. And they do have some interesting things to say about why it’s useful to study genre as well as interesting approaches to genres familiar (memoir, journalism) and not (author blurbs). If you teach through genre study, you’d probably find this book a valuable read. It’s a bit heavier on the how-to than I like my professional development books now, but that makes it a good choice to share with my pre-service teachers, who tend to be much more concerned with the how than the why. The authors do attempt to balance the how-to with a chapter of why-to at the beginning.

a rule is to breakA Rule Is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy is really a book after my own heart. I’ve never met a rule that I don’t want to break. But I thought the premise and promise here were greater than the ultimate product. There is something unresolved in the concept. The message isn’t quite coherent throughout. There is the spread early on with “When someone says, ‘Work,’ you say ‘WHY?’” but the rest of the book contains quite a bit of work. Making your own costume. Growing your own vegetables. I wasn’t really sure what rules were meant to be broken–or why. Ultimately, this is a rather tame and sweet little book about listening to yourself to figure out what’s true and best for you.

I’ve got to keep my Monday post short today. My son broke his finger this weekend, and I am on beck and call. But we did also enjoy:

perfect petin the tree housepapa and pioneer quiltwhingdinghillythe cheese





13 responses to “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 6/8/15”

  1. Linda Baie Avatar

    Oops, sorry about the finger. Happened to one of my students a couple of weeks ago-had to have her mother type for her! Thanks for the books as always, Elisabeth. Will look for some, & thanks for your opinion on the others.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Linda. This is not a kid who’s used to sitting still, so we’ve got a challenging couple of months ahead of us but hopefully lots of good opportunities for attachment.

  2. Michele Avatar

    The writing book is the story of how I feel about writing. So not in my comfort zone!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      LOL, Michele! I decided to do a version of the project in my online Comp 2 class this summer–excited to see how it goes.

  3. Cheriee Weichel Avatar

    You’ve captured exactly what doesn’t work with A Rule is to Break. Maybe it is true, but anarchy is a much more complicated idea than this book addresses. Still, I think it provides a venue for discussion. I laughed when I read Book riot talking about TBR lists. I am not nearly this obsessive about the books on my list – I sure don’t think I have to finish every book I start. In my opinion, life is too short to read bad books. Wouldn’t it be interesting to do a post on books I just couldn’t finish?
    I like the idea of reading Safekeeping, but A Three Dog Life feels like the kind of book that hits too close to home for me. Enjoy your reading week.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree with you that life is too short to finish bad books but I do sometimes push myself to finish a book I’m not enjoying just so that it can go on the list. I love seeing my reading stats for the year adding up! It’s silly. I would love to read a post on books you couldn’t finish–great idea! I’d like to reread the two Abigail Thomas books now–hoping I can find them somewhere on my very disorganized shelves.

  4. carriegelson Avatar

    Healing vibes and accepting vibes to your son! I really liked In the Tree House. I just pulled it off the shelf actually as a read aloud possibility in these last few weeks of school.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I loved the illustrations in In the Tree House–and a nice story too. Love love love the idea of “accepting vibes”! Yes please! Acceptance. OF SO MANY THINGS. LOL.

  5. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    Glad to see you enjoyed Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone. I actually haven’t read it yet, which is terrible since Cathy is my advisor and mentor for my MA program — and just in life in general. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m using a version of the Unfamiliar Genre Project in my online Comp 2 class right now–excited to see how it’s going to go. Students are really fired up about it–class just started on Monday and several have already chosen their genre, even though we aren’t starting the project until Week 4.

  6. crbrunelle Avatar

    I too found the rules book a little lacking. I liked the idea of it and enjoyed some of the humor, but it didn’t quite work as well as I had expected. Like someone else wrote though, it is one that could lead to discussions.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m going to try it out in my Methods class this fall and see how that goes. I think students will find it interesting to talk about.

  7. Myra GB Avatar

    Child’s Guide to Anarchy – count me in! – lovely to read your refreshingly candid thoughts as always. Lots of picturebook love here. 🙂

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