Monthly Archives: December 2011

The challenge is on!


As I’ve read different blogs written by the inspiring people I follow on Twitter–blogs by teachers, YA book bloggers, librarians, and more–a theme that I noticed was that of reading challenges. Readers challenged themselves to finish a certain number of books in 2011. Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks) challenged readers to read a #bookaday during the summer and holiday breaks. Many bloggers joined group challenges to read a certain genre or author. Everywhere I looked, readers were challenging themselves to read more.

I have always loved reading…always been a reader. I devoured books when I was young. However, when I entered my junior year of high school my reading dwindled to a small serving every now and again. I moved from a small K-12 school (where I’d known the librarian since I started there in 2nd grade…and had even dated her son) to a large 4A school (where I didn’t even know where the library was). I got “busy” and reading kind of fell by the way-side. When I started college courses,  naturally I was reading, but not what I really wanted to read. I remember reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to my son on a swing outside because I needed to read, and he needed to be entertained. My favorite college class by far was my Adolescent Lit class where we read banned books — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; The Giver; The Chocolate War; and many others.

I started teaching in the fall of 2006, right after my college graduation, but it wasn’t until I read Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle in the summer of 2008, after my second year of teaching, that I ended my reading famine. That book was an eye-opener professionally, and it helped to re-ignite my passion for reading. In the years since, I read almost as voraciously as I did when I was young. (I say almost because it’s a little hard to have “everyone needs to leave Mommy alone so she can read” when there are young ones around!)

So for this upcoming year, it’s not enough for me to just read. I want to challenge myself to read more as well as discuss and engage with others who are reading. As a proud member of the #nerdybookclub, I have joined in on the #nerdcott and #nerdprintz challenges. LibLaura5 is hosting the #nerdcott challenge and discusses all of the info in this blog post. Kathy (@thebrainlair) is hosting the #nerdprintz and discusses info in this blog post. I chose these two challenges because I know that there will be some quality Twitter discussions among all of the participants. I *love* reading YA, so the Printz award titles are right up my alley, and I *love* reading with my children, so the Caldecott titles are right up my alley!

Both of these challenges are pretty “stress-free” (to steal Mr. Schu’s phrase about his #nerdbery challenge), so here are my personal goals for these two challenges this year:
(1) I challenge myself to read 150 Caldecott winner and honor titles, in as close as I can get to chronological order.
(2) I challenge myself to read 28 Printz winner and honor titles, in chronological order/from bottom to top as listed on the YALSA website.

As a whole by the end of the year, I challenge myself to read 200 books. There are some 2012 releases I cannot WAIT to get my hands on (Insurgent, Bitterblue) and there some 2011 titles that I still need to read. So what about you? What are your goals for the coming year? It doesn’t have to be big…just more.


And so it begins…


This summer I attended the Abydos Writing Institute where I learned so much about teaching writing. One of the nuggets I took away was that if I am asking my students to be writers, I myself must also be a writer. I can’t teach them that writing is a valuable process that will stick with them throughout their life if I am not a living, breathing model of that mantra.

So, throughout this first semester of school, when my students write, I write. We share the struggle of coming up with ideas, crappy first drafts, opening up our souls and lives…and it has been wonderful. Getting students to write has been such a struggle in the past, but this year students are asking ME if we’re working on our writing!

I feel that this blog is an extension of this lesson, only instead of writing for my students, I am writing for me. The new year is right around the corner, and I have already resolved that my only “resolution” is to be a better me. I feel that having a place to reflect on my thoughts about the books I read, my classroom, and my teaching practices will help me be a better me.

As I’ve gotten back into the swing of things on Twitter, I have loved reading the thoughts of the insanely knowledgeable people that I’m lucky enough to follow. Hopefully I can give back to my readers some of what I gained!