The Week in Reading #imwayr 5/4/20

On the blog:

  • I finished up National Poetry Writing Month!
  • A slice about Nagini, an outdoor stray who has taken up residence in our garage.
  • A new wordless feature for Saturday, better known on the interwebs as Caturday
  • A curation of six articles I thought were worth sharing

In reading:

The third volume of Virginia Woolf’s Diary was my constant companion in April. It was the source material for my poetry project, which was writing poems inspired by words, ideas, or images in the Diary. I read anything from a paragraph to twenty pages each day until I found something to start a poem. I can’t imagine now wanting to do what I did in my 20s–read all five volumes of the Diary straight through. But I did love spending time with it last month.

I don’t know why it took me so long to read Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me, but it was a good read for right now. It’s beautifully written and observed, a bit slow, but a book I’ll continue thinking about.

I really liked Jasmine Warga’s Newbery Honor title, Other Words for Home, about Jude, a Syrian refugee. It’s got such strong character development, and I loved Jude’s voice. I can’t wait to read more from Warga.

I’ll probably always love Ghost best, but Sunny is a close second. I really like the range of personalities and situations Reynolds writes about in this series. Now I have to order Lu!

The Oldest Student is a picture book about Mary Walker’s truly remarkable accomplishment in learning to read at the astonishing age of 116!! I am very glad to know about her, but I wish the illustrations and text had been a little more balanced. She looks so unhappy in every illustration until she learns to read. Her mouth is downturned even holding her baby as a new mother. And the text has her telling herself that she doesn’t know anything because she doesn’t know how to read. If it’s documented that she actually said this, ok, but if this is the author speculating, I think that’s unfair. Walker was incredibly active and hard-working and knew how to do A LOT of things. I am uncomfortable with the message that a person is worthless and without value if they can’t read. (Thanks to Alia Jones whose insightful Twitter thread prepared me to be a better reader of this book.)

A Stick Is An Excellent Thing is full of entertaining and enjoyable poems about playing outside. They all, ALL, rhyme, which made the volume eventually tedious for me personally, but I recognize that I have a very particular taste when it comes to rhyme in poetry.






11 responses to “The Week in Reading #imwayr 5/4/20”

  1. lindabaie Avatar

    I still haven’t read Sunny but have read the others & enjoyed them. Harbor Me made me wish that conversations like that could occur in school classes all the time. I think it would make a difference! Thanks, Elisabeth. Hope you have a good week ahead!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I agree with you that classrooms need to be places for rich, complex, vulnerable conversation. Kids shouldn’t have to leave the classroom and go off by themselves to talk about what matters!

  2. Shaye Miller Avatar

    What a great reading week you’ve had — I really loved Harbor Me, Other Words for Home, and Sunny. All such great books and I think Sunny was actually my favorite of Reynold’s Track series. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed popping in occasionally to read up on your poetry project this past month. In another post I remember you talking about your personal feelings about rhyme in poetry. Heehee. Have a fantastic reading week, Elisabeth!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m really enjoying my reading time with middle grade right now! Always a good way to reconnect with reading when I get a little off track. There’s just so much great middle grade to read!

  3. Completely Full Bookshelf Avatar
    Completely Full Bookshelf

    I really loved reading Jacqueline Woodson’s book Brown Girl Dreaming a few months ago, so I’d probably enjoy Harbor Me as well! Other Words for Home sounds really good as well, and I appreciate your thoughts about The Oldest Student—it’s a shame that it doesn’t do its subject justice. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Brown Girl Dreaming is definitely one of my favorites! I currently have it pulled out for a reread though I haven’t gotten to it yet. I think you should definitely look for Other Words for Home–a quick read since it’s a verse novel and such a solidly good story (and an important one).

  4. Michele Knott Avatar
    Michele Knott

    Thank you for your perspective on The Oldest Student. I want to go back and reread that now… of course that book is at school so I’ll save that for a fall(ish) read!! Loved Other Words From Home. Like you said – definitely looking forward to more from her!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m so glad Other Words from Home was a Newbery Honor. That helped me prioritize it on the stack and get to it sooner than I otherwise would have.

  5. Beth Shaum (@BethShaum) Avatar

    So… since I know we have a lot of the same thoughts about books, and the thing that really bothered me about Harbor Me is that no teacher in today’s world could EVER leave a group of kids to their own devices when they’re supposed to be responsible for those kids (liability, what?). So as much as I liked the IDEA of the book, I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief for that part.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That required some massive suspension of disbelief, didn’t it? I kept thinking I had misread that part!! I really had to put it out of my mind to be able to read and enjoy the story!

  6. aaroncleaveley Avatar

    I think I remember wondering a week or two ago if you would like Sunny. It seems a little polarizing with my group (I here a lot of best or/worst of the series- not including Ghost which is universally considered the best in my school). I haven’t read Harbor Me but have been thinking the description sounds like it would be good right now. I have a copy of Other Words for Home but I think I left it at school. I might grab it next time I get to visit my room as I remember having recently bought it and wanting to read it. Thanks for all the great shares!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: