Log in

01 January 2017 @ 11:25 am
It is hard to believe but true: in budget cuts over the last decade, school libraries and librarians have been casualties. You know there is only one book for every 300 kids living in poverty in the U.S. Without books, kids can’t discover a love of reading. Our work is so important. Penny Kittle

This stat makes me weep. How can we help put books into the hands of kids who need them most. Penny Kittle's Book Foundation is one way. For more info,

30 October 2016 @ 08:06 am

One of the toughest things for me as I undergo treatments is the feeling of being disconnected from my friends and colleagues.

Read more...Collapse )
28 October 2016 @ 01:49 pm
Here is a link to the best books list from Publisher's Weekly.

Picture books: http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2016/picture-books#book/book-14

From here, you can link to the middle grade and YA lists as well. Happy to report that I have read. Out of these outstanding books already. But the ones I have missed make for a good start to a TBR stack, too.
27 October 2016 @ 09:16 am
You know how I feel about lists. I make To-Do Lists that I then convert to Ta-Da Lists as I check items off. I need lists to help me stay focused on the job(s) ahead. But for the past few weeks, my lists have devolved into lists of questions for the doctors and nurses and lists of test results. When I get a burst of energy, though, I take a look at the lists I see offered on Facebook such as this one which proclaims to be the 30 best young adult books of all time: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/10/the-30-best-young-adult-books-of-all-time.html.

I will admit that, in the pst, my colleagues and I would conduct this type of mental exercise about best books lists. I have tended over the past years, though, to simply keep lists of the books I have read. One reason for this is the idea that I cannot always know the book which will become the gateway book for a reader or the book that might open a new world of reading for another student or the perfect book that changes a reader's world. That does it mean I cannot delineate a literary marvel from the stacks of books I read. However, trying to come up with a best books of all time list seems almost an impossible task.

To be sure, I have read all 30 books on this list. They are all wonderful stories. Many appear on my required reading list for YA literature courses. However, there are still some quibbles I have with the books. A few of the titles are, technically, not YA. Some were published for adults (House on Mango Street) and quite a few for children. The list is heavy with newer books. I prefer lists that chronicle the history of YA a bit more.

What I do like about this list is that it is more representative of the forms and formats beyond the usual. Plus I appreciate the inclusion of diverse books as well.

Are there titles missing for me? Yep. THE CHOCOLATE WAR has been on my required list for 25+ years now. I doubt I will ever drop it. I also wonder about the absence of Chris Crutcher and Francesca Lia Block whose books changed the course of the YA novel in significant ways. Of course, limiting the list to 30 means there are some tough choices. I would find it difficult to even do a top 100 list without second guessing myself tie after time.

So, I will keep on keepings lists of books read. I will consult lists of others to make sure I am not overlooking the next great book. And I will continue to have the discussion with others about books they loved and I did not. As I have said so many times, there is not such thing as a one0size-fits-all book or even a book list that could accommodate the needs and preferences of all readers.

Next on my To-Do List: a nap. That will be a lovely Ta-Da for today.
Current Location: hospital room
Current Mood: pondering
21 October 2016 @ 07:48 pm
On the way home from my radiation treatment today, I stopped and had the remaining hairs on my head buzzed to a bristle. Having been through a round of chemo and 2 weeks of radiation, THIS was the thing I most dreaded. I don't even have a baby picture where I am not sporting my usual curly locks. A CSNY song was running through my head, to wit--Almost Cut my Hair.

Almost cut my hair.
It happened just the other day.
Its getting kinda long.
Could have said it was in my way,
But I didn't and I wonder why.
Feel like letting my freak flag fly.
Yes, I feel like I owe it to someone.

For me, though, my freak flag will be the bristly scalp. Sometimes it will be topped by the cool things already bought for me by Career Girl and a friend going through chemo hair loss as well. Who knows, I might try to pick up crocheting to see if I can make something myself.

I want to thank all of you for the incredible outpouring of love and prayer and vibes. I appreciate each and every one of you. I will not be posting daily for a while, but I do hope to get riled up enough for a post or two down the road. I am compiling loads of ammo for future posts.
Current Location: home sweet home
Current Mood: free
Some of you will recognize the lines from the Beatles' WHEN I'M 64. The rest of you can listen to it here: https://vimeo.com/10898084.

Well, Sunday was my 64th birthday. I managed t spend time with BH and my baby sister and her BH. The menu was limited (bagels) and the ambience left a little to be desired. I spent the beginning of my 64th year from a hospital room. So, there we all were, gowned and gloved and masked. Let me explain.

Several of you have commented that I have been missing from social media recently. The reason is that earlier in thee summer I was diagnosed with cancer. I am finally in treatment: many rounds of chemo and radiation are ahead. And the little bump in the journey so far was caused by an infection that sent me from outpatient to inpatient care. I am on the mend and hope to be mostly outpatient shortly. But regardless of where the treatment takes place, I will be not quite as online as I would like. The little energy I have is for maintaining my classes, grading assignments, working on projects with colleagues, etc. After that, the energy goes to getting better.

What I hate most about this?

1. Loss of control. Anyone who knows me understands that I am a control freak. Now, I have to let others dictate certain processes. Not that I do not question. I do. Just ask my doctors and nurses and health care workers. I ask lots of questions. I write things down. I explore.

2. Missing my colleagues. And in a way, this might be even tougher. I have not had the chance to make a video with Karin Perry for #pppd for weeks. We are going to try to remedy that, but for now, enjoy the guest stars.

3. Missing my conferences. This will be only the 2nd time I will miss NCTE, and I am so sad. I love having out and talking to friends and colleagues and meeting new folks. But travel for me will be restricted to going to and from different treatment centers.

I will post updates from time to time here and on Facebook as I have energy. For now, we are all positive that this can be cured, that I will get better, that 2017 will be a better year. I appreciate any good vibes, prayers, virtual hugs, etc. you care to send my way. I he you will pardon this less-than-personal message. I love my online community and wanted to let you all know why I might be MIA from time to time.
Current Location: hospital room
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
11 October 2016 @ 04:00 pm
The title is an except from an Emily Dickinson poem. Books do carry us. They can take me from an unpleasant situation (flying in turbulence) and spirit me away to new worlds. Books can comfort me in times of sorrow. Every once in a while, a book provides much needed cathartic experiences for me. I can shed tears over Manchee (MANCHEE!) knowing that those tears are also shed for other losses. Conversely, books can elicit laughter and lighten my mood.

And I know I am not alone. These are experiences that all lifelong readers enjoy in their reading lives. It is also why it is important to make sure our students meet all manner of experiences in the books they read. When the former residents of the back bedroom lost their mother to cancer years ago, they found solace in many things--family, friends, faith--but also in books. We read Captain Underpants and other humorous books enjoying the release form the tensions of the day. From time to time I revisit The Tenth Good Thing About Barney to remember that a treasured pet is now doing important work.

So, I read to lead many lives. I read to find myself. I read to see others more clearly. I read because it connects me to a larger world than the one in which I live.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
09 October 2016 @ 11:03 pm
But I am not certain that the Presidential candidates feel the same. In the debates thus far, there has been ZERO discussion of education in the US. It troubles me. I understand that economic issues and foreign relations are also paramount. However, if they are dedicated to "making American great again," education has to play a significant role.

Mr. Trump's "plan" for educations boils down to choice. Vouchers, charters, portability: they are all sides of the same coin. What I long to hear (along with my fellow educators) is how the plan will be implemented to ensure equal access for all. Will he eliminate the Secretary of Education position? How will fudge me different and better under his leadership? Who are his advisors?

Hillary Clinton has a "plan" on her site, but it is insufficient.

So, let's see if someone will speak up...
Current Location: home
Current Mood: disappointeddisappointed
08 October 2016 @ 06:29 pm
Mindi Rench pointed to this blog post to Facebook this morning: http://clutterfreeclassroom.blogspot.com/2016/10/controversial-childrens-books.html/. As I was reading it, I was waiting for an "April Fool!" or at the very least a punch ;in indicating this was an Onion-like parody. But no. It was sincere as far as I can tell. And of course the tell was that the blog post was changed when many of my friends and colleagues shared the post and decried what it was suggesting.

Let me see if I can summarize. The post was entitled 5 BOOKS TEACHERS MAY WANT TO REMOVE FROM THEIR CLASSROOM LIBRARIES. Which books you might ask? And why? This is where the going gets murky. It moves from suggesting books that parents might find offensive and books that are not good role models for kids to read. It states that, if teachers are unfamiliar with the content d books on their shelves, then they need to consider the potential problems with these 5 books. The author of the blog post goes on to recommend that teachers use Common Sense Media to guide their collections. To quote: "Teachers are not expected to read every book in their classroom library from cover to cover, but ultimately they are responsible for what they are providing the students with as reading material. My suggestion would be to go through your library and jot down the titles of any books you have not read. Divide the list into sections and ask parent volunteers to look the titles up on Common Sense Media and/or read reviews on Amazon to see if anything stands out as a potential concern."

Other than the fact that this approach seems unprofessional (why are parents looking up books to determine their "appropriateness" using CSM), it states that keeping books off the shelves or removing them from the shelves is an individual's decision. And it is not. Let's set aside the books being targeted for a moment, and instead talk about selection vs. censorship vs. gatekeeping. Not adding books to a library because there is a potential of a complaint is gatekeeping at best. Removing books because the main character uses non-standard English is highly questionable. And deleting books kids love because of content is wrong on so many levels.

So, here are the books that need to go:


I urge you to visit the blog. I urge you to speak up and speak out.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: angryangry
07 October 2016 @ 05:32 am
I love watching award shows on TV. Even if I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of the productions nominated and considered for the statues, I still watch. What I love is the red carpet work. Watching actors and singers and others walking down the carpet, giving interviews, showing off their "stuff" provides commentators (even armchair commentators like me) a chance to enjoy the pageantry. And, of course, the $25 million dollar question is, "Who are you wearing?" While I am seldom asked this question in my own life, there is a parallel in my reading life.

When readers gather, whether formally or informally, in large groups or small, with friends o strangers, the central question always comes down to, "What are you reading?" And in part this is why we all tend to love coming together for workshops and conferences, It provides us with opportunities to tell someone else what we are reading and what we ae thinking abut the books we read. We also manage to do the same on social media. Yesterday, I read several posts from fired and colleague Karin Perry about the picture books she was reading. I cannot wait to read them so we can talk about them together. Donalyn Miller's flight was cancelled, and so she read and posted about the book she was reading. So now, I have some more books to add to my wish list and TBR stacks.

Despite the fact that it is more than a month away, I am already anticipating the discussions at NCTE and, in particular, ALAN. Touring the exhibits to see forthcoming gems, talking to authors and publishers, and gathering in hallways to compare notes: it is exhilarating and exhausting. I always return from these meetings bone tired but eager for the boxes I shipped home to arrive so I can dig back in.

So, we might not make it to the red carpet of fame in designer gowns. But each and every one of us who loves books and reading, will have ou own red carpet moments as we talk about the real rock stars: authors and the real prize: their books.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: creativecreative