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In the Clutches of a New School Year

It’s been too long. No excuses! I always find the beginning of the school year exhausting. It feels like that old cliche of everything happening all at once. Although, maybe standing in the eye of a storm and dodging all of the debris and detritus is a more fitting description. September is too short and too long all at once. Between my day dreams of long naps and endless hours of reading I have managed to squeeze in some actual reading. I don’t currently possess enough free brainpower to write a full review, and were school not closed today I don’t know that this post would exist. However, forward, onward, and upward - I have five thing to say.

  • The first is The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash. This is my independent reading book. The one that sits on my desk and that I pick up when my students are reading their own independent reading books. I haven’t gotten very far since I read it in 10-minute bursts that are interspersed with actively monitoring my classroom. It feels familiar. I’m digging it. It feels like a book written during the angsty height on my own adolescence. I think that’s what people call timeless, and even though there are obvious signs that it is of its time the story and the characters transcend the modern trappings of text messaging and SnapChat. Maybe it’s the slow savor that’s making it feel so familiar and so good. I plan to review this when I finally finish.

  • Next comes Masterminds by Gordon Korman. This was a recommendation from one of my 7th graders. He sold me with his enthusiasm for a story told from multiple perspectives. I was also sold when he used narrative, narrator, and perspective in his impromptu booktalk. I was definitely teacher proud since I was his 6th grade teacher. Masterminds is action-packed, character driven, and Kormon clever. It’s the first in a series and I plan to add it to my shelves.

  • I took my classes to the media center on Tuesday to check out books. It was a great day. Everyone left with a book, and some even left with three! When I went down with my final class of the day one of my students just couldn’t figure out what he wanted to read and my powers of persuasion were failing me after seven hours of being the most successful book pusher on the block. Our media specialist swooped in and found exactly what my student needed - Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri. Having never heard of the book I decided to read it with him, and just like that I was back in the book pusher game. He went from apathetic to excited because I was reading a book with him. He puffed himself up and let everyone know that I was reading his book. By Wednesday morning students in my other classes knew and a new tradition was born. I promised to read the same book as one student in each class on a rotating basis. Since it started with my seventh period I’ll work backwards in two to three week increments. I’m down for whatever grows readers always have been and I always will be.

  • One of my students checked Everything, Everything out of my classroom library, but she brought it back the next day. I knew she hadn’t finished it, but I waited for her to approach me. She said after talking to a friend she wasn’t comfortable with the S-E-X. I was so proud of her. I’ve always said that children self-censor. They don’t need adults defining their comfort levels for them because they can define their boundaries for themselves. Not only can they, but they do. Self-advocacy is part of choice.

  • Speaking of my classroom library . . . five early front runners have emerged. Three because I book talked them like Richard Gere tap danced in Chicago. I was all razzle dazzle and jazz hands. Those three are The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, and One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. The final two are on my book talk list, but honestly they sold themselves with a little help from my book covers corner. They are Miles Morales:Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds and Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. What can I say about Jason Reynolds and Leigh Bardugo? Jason Reynolds makes everything better. His writing is absolutely poetry and emotion, and he brings politics to those who will help shape a future where humanity reigns. Leigh Bardugo builds worlds so well I’m at this point convinced she could speak one into existence.

This is where I leave you. I’m going to return to my “too little time, too few naps, but gosh teaching can be the coolest” life. Until next time . . .

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