Classroom Libraries!

My current (small) library/storage space!

I’m really glad we had the opportunity to blog about classroom libraries because I needed to explore my thoughts in more than just a few tweets.

My first thought on them is that they’re amazing. When I was in high school, my English teacher had bookshelves, but they only had our required readings on them. We also didn’t have an opportunity to read independently for class and weren’t given any time to explore book options in our school library. I have always loved to read, but in high school, I only made time to read independently during summer and winter breaks. I can’t imagine how much I would have read in high school if my teacher had a classroom library!

I’m so excited to build a classroom library when I  begin teaching. Recently, a lot of my money goes to YA books, so I’m excited to share them with students! My book shelf isn’t big enough, so I also have stacks of books at my house! Sarah Andersen’s blog is also very helpful in organizational aspects of her classroom library. I really liked her display book cases. I think having a classroom library is really facilitates children’s reading lives, and being aggressive (in a good way of course) about presenting these books just takes it a step further. Displaying certain books by genre, season, student recommendation is a great way to get students excited about reading. Personally, I’m way more likely to read a book if my peers have raved about it.

I also appreciated the check-out system because I won’t be able to lend my books out to students (or anyone) without any type of record showing where my books are. I liked her binder system and putting names and books on her whiteboard that are checked out. I know it’s not a perfect system, but I’m not sure there is one for checking your books out to students!




A few weeks ago, I read Kelly Cooper’s blog post about Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen and immediately wanted to read it! I also read The Running Dream by the same author and really enjoyed the book, so I was very excited to read this one! Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. This novel tells the same story from two different perspectives: Bryce and Julli. These two have lived across the street from each other since they were seven years old, and Julli has been in love with Bryce ever since he moved in, following him around and even sniffing his hair. Now, they are in eighth grade, and their paths are crossing more than ever. Bryce is beginning to realize that Julli isn’t just the annoying girl he thought she was, and Julli is questioning whether Bryce is all she made him out to be. Kelly told me the story was made into a movie, so I hope I will be able to watch it soon!

I think this would be a great book for junior high and high school students. It touches upon relatable issues like love, jealousy, and friendship. Julli’s uncle also has special needs, so the story touches upon how her family deals with that as well. Her dad didn’t tell any of the kids, and Julli doesn’t even find out until about halfway through the story. She then hears kids making fun of her and her whole family for it. However, they realize that this is obviously nothing to be ashamed of.

Julli and Bryce’s family are also in different social classes, and I think this book does a great job of portraying that money doesn’t make someone a better person, and readers can watch Bryce slowly realize this throughout the story.

Over all, this book was quick and very fun to read! I would suggest it to any student!

Book Banning and Censorship


Photo CC By: Alejandro Mallea

I have been interested in the “appropriateness” of books since I was in high school. At the end of my junior year, we had the opportunity to make book clubs because we went through our required readings so quickly. My group read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close which follows a young boy as he tries to deal with his father’s death after 9/11. I thought the book was amazing, and I read it in a few days. At one of the school board meetings, everyone who qualified for National FBLA had to ask the school board for a donation. At that meeting, a parent of a student in my book club complained about the book and completely embarrassed my English teacher in front of many parents and students. Her complaints were about one paragraph of the book where Oskar, the nine year-old protagonist, rationalizes his maturity by explaining everything he knows about sex. After that, the idea of picking out books for students terrified me.

Deciding what is appropriate and inappropriate for students is hard. It depends on their grade level and also their individual needs. “A Dirty Little Secret: Self-Censorship” pointed out that students can often decide for themselves what is appropriate for themselves. Looking back on my teenage reading experience, I never thought of myself as incapable of deciding what I could read. Much of what I read included “inappropriate” material, and I’m still standing. I’m probably better off because of it. My little sister is a senior in high school, and sometimes I feel like she’s still a little kid. Thinking about her reading about sex does make me a little uncomfortable, but I know she’s perfectly capable of deciding what is appropriate for her. I think adults have the tendency to underestimate students’ maturity. I do it with my sister who is only three years younger than I am, so it makes sense that teachers who have decades on their students would do the same thing.

Readers can also avoid uncomfortable material by only reading inside their comfort zone. “Uncomfortable material” can mean a genre that is challenging or unfamiliar, not necessarily just inappropriate material. My comfort zone is a realistic fiction novel that involves a love story and friendship drama. Looking at what I’ve read so far this semester, every book I’ve read except for the two graphic novels fall into that general category. I am enjoying reading these books, but I’m not necessarily growing as a reader. In my first two paragraphs, I argue for the diversity of books, but I’m realizing that my reading habits don’t support my argument.

Because I procrastinated writing this until Sunday, I realize I may not get many comments, but I would appreciate if those of you who read and comment suggest a book that is outside of my comfort zone!

What I’ve Been Reading

Last week, I finished Savvy by Ingrid Law. Over Christmas break, I started it after finishing Carrie Fisher’s memoir. I didn’t bring many books home, and it was one I already had. My step-mom’s mother gave me a signed copy of the book about five years ago. Anyway, I really enjoyed the book! The Beaumonts are a very special family. When they turn thirteen, they receive a special power. Mibs’s brothers can control the weather and electricity. Her mother can’t help but do everything perfectly. Mibs’s thirteenth birthday comes after her father is in an accident, and no one can tell how the day is going to end up. She’s convinced her savvy will help save her dad, so she and a group of her siblings and friends take a trip to Salina, Kansas, to save him.

This book would probably be best for middle school students. It’s a relatively long book, but it is very easy to read. I found the lack of parental supervision a bit unbelievable, but that’s a common feature of YA novels. Over all, it’s a really fun, easy read! I also recently found out that there are two sequels, so I’m very excited to read them!

I also finished The Graveyard Book last week for my book club. It’s a graphic novel that follows Nobody (Bod) who has lived in a graveyard since he was very young after the murder of his family. Most of his interaction has been with ghosts. The graphic novel only contains the first half of the story, and at the end, readers find out that the man who killed Bod’s entire family needs to finish the job. The beginning of the book was a little gruesome, but I think this would be a great graphic novel for middle school and high school students. The graphic novel we read was an adaptation of the novel by Neil Gaiman. I haven’t read the original, so I’m very curious how it compares.

Book Love

“Every student needs to know the power of a reading life” (23).

This week, we were assigned to read two chapters of Book Love by Penny Kittle. Last semester, I rented the required Penny Kittle book I needed for class, and I hated that I had to return it. This semester, I corrected myself and bought the text, and it has already been worth it. I’m only two chapters in, and I think I’ve highlighted just about every other sentence!

What I loved most about these chapters is that Kittle didn’t completely dismiss the classics. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t read a “classic” since it was required of me, but I think her argument will appeal to English teachers who won’t let them go. “Most of the literature we study in high school was written by adults for adults, and they’re good books – some are great books – but they’re just not interesting to almost all teenagers” (21). It is good for students to be challenged, and the classics obviously present that challenge, but many students are not ready. Kittle said, “Students need to build stamina for those texts through their independent reading” (13). If students establish a habit/love of reading before attempting to tackle these huge challenges, they will be more likely to finish these difficult texts. When I was in high school, we read five to ten novels every year, but I can’t imagine how many I would have finished if I had the freedom to read what I wanted at my own speed. I loved reading, but reading minimal boring books every year definitely did not foster this love.

She also pointed to Dick Allington who said, “When readers are provided with texts that are too difficult, fluent reading is impossible” (12). If students aren’t constantly reading, trying to decipher a difficult text will simply be more trouble than it’s worth for them. We need to challenge our students in their reading, but we also need to make sure they are prepared for that challenge.

The Running Dream


Last week, I read The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. One of my mom’s students recommended it, and I wanted to be able to return it to her when I went home last weekend. This story follows Jessica, a sixteen year-old track star who loses the bottom half of one of her legs in a car accident. The book opens with Jessica in the hospital, and readers experience all of her pain and grief alongside her. Jessica was the fastest 400-meter runner, but she has to learn to walk all over again. Along her healing journey, she befriends a girl named Rosa who has cerebral palsy. Rosa has lived a block away from Jessica her whole life, but Jessica doesn’t know until she’s forced to sit next to Rosa in math class. This story deals with loss, young love, family, disabilities, and especially friendship.

I absolutely loved this book. (1) It is extremely entertaining. I read this whole book in two sittings. (2) It is a great story for young athletes. Jessica is a relatable character because of her athletic success, but this book is about so much more than that. At the beginning of the book, Jessica’s world revolves around track, but by the end of it she is more focused on the relationships she has because of this journey. I think the athletic portion of the book is a great gateway to the other issues discussed. (3) I think it’s a great way for people to learn about disabilities. Before reading this book, I knew the standard information about cerebral palsy: what I learned in my prior SPED classes. However, this book shows Rosa as a person, and I think that’s so important. The Running Dream challenges the high school misconception about who students are allowed to be friends with.

If you haven’t read this book, I would definitely check it out!

First Book Club Meeting

My book club has been communicating for the last few weeks via Facebook Messenger, but last night, most of us were able to meet for the first time in person. We thought it would be easier to decide on our first book in person than to try and decide while messaging each other.

We did, however, come up with our rules and goals before our first meeting. We didn’t think the disciplinary rules would be necessary, but it is nice to have them if we ever would need them. In choosing our books last night, we tried to refer to our goals. We all had the opportunity to share our opinion, and I believe that everyone is excited about the first three books we have chosen. We also tried to choose diverse books. We chose graphic novel The Graveyard Book because many members haven’t read a graphic novel, and we thought it would be fun way to start book club. We also chose The Hate U Give because it’s gotten quite the buzz lately and deals heavily with diversity and racism. Our last choice was Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. None of us have read a verse novel, and we’ve heard great things about Jason Reynolds. It should be a fun semester!


1. Create an environment where every member feels confident and comfortable sharing their observations and opinions.

2. Explore multiple genres of YA literature and read a different genre each book.

3. Read as diversely as we can.

4. Choose books that we all want to read, not books we think we should read.

Ground Rules:

1. Every member will read the amount agreed upon at the last meeting.

2. Every member will bring at least one discussion point to each meeting.

3. Every member will give each a book a thumbs up or thumbs down.

4. If a member isn’t following the rules, the group will talk to them about it. If their behavior doesn’t change, they will be removed from the group.