Student Book Glog: The Skull of Truth by Bruce Coville

I was never a huge fan of Bruce Coville, so I can’t comment much on this book choice by one of my boys. I suspect he liked it only because he had to have some reading book and because the word “skull” was in the title. This student is one of those tricky ones — given a real choice, he would not read … at all. But his digital poster shows some thinking about what he was reading, anyway. I suspect he wanted something a little better.

Peace (in the skull),


Student Book Glog: The Underdogs by Mike Lupica

This is another in a series of projects done around independent reading. You know, Mike Lupica has done more to get my sporty boys reading than any other authors (except maybe Rick Riordan), and I was happy to see this student immersed in this novel about a sport he loves to play. The book is The Underdogs.

Peace (on the field),

Student Book Glog: School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari

I’ve seen some students walking around with School of Fear (and thought, to myself, with that demented teacher voice, how appropriate … heheheh) and you can’t help but think, here is a book where the cover certainly attracts your eye. All the students who have read it have said they really liked it, so I’ll put it on my future reading list, too. This student worked hard on her digital poster project, and struggled a bit with what to say. In the end, she did fine, though.

Peace (in the school of no-fear),



Student Book Glog: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

I have to admit: when a student came into our independent reading unit with this book by David Sedaris (ironically, the ONLY book by Sedaris that I have not read), I was more than a little surprised. A sixth grader … reading Sedaris? But I only reserve my “no way” for books that really don’t belong in the hands of an 11 year old, so if she was game — why not? What I like is that she was a pretty critical reader of the stories in the collection. See her digital poster on Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.

Peace (with the funny stuff),

Student Book Glog: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is part of a series of digital poster projects done by my students around their choice independent reading books. You may be sick of reading about The Hunger Games, but I still have a lot of students who are devouring the whole series.

Peace (in the peace),

Student Book Glog: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

We are just finishing up an independent book project using Glogster, and as I did last year, I am going to feature a bunch of student projects over the coming days to show how using the digital poster site can engage readers and also, provide the classroom with recommendations for books to read (which is the main reason that we do poster projects, anyway, and with Glogster, I am archiving the book recommendations for each following year.)

Today’s featured glog is about Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick.

Peace (in the poster),


Book Review: Inside Out & Back Again

You know how you read that “one great book” in a certain genre and then everything else in that genre that you read gets compared to that one great book? When it comes to novels written in the form of poems, I can’t let go of Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. She did such a masterful job of using poetry to get at the heart of a story. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai is not Love That Dog but it is something special in its own right.

Inside Out & Back Again shares the inner thoughts of a young girl, Ha, whose family must evacuate Saigon when that city falls during the Vietnam War. The father is missing in action — a weight which the entire family carries with them wherever they go — and Ha and her mother and brothers end up re-locating to Alabama. The short poems are touching, and full of voice of Ha, and our perceptions of the world through her eyes as she faces a loss of home, remembering a father she never knew, and then assimilation into an American town that is reluctant to accept her family as its own is powerful to experience.

I have to admit: when the neighbor (a retired teacher) finally becomes the one person that Ha can turn to for advice and help, and then you learn that she lost her only son in the Vietnam War, and Ha asks her if she blames Ha for the death of her son …. I got choked up and had to brush back tears. It’s a moment that comes suddenly, and so openly, that you understand then how the writer’s use of poetry to tell the story from an emotional standpoint makes sense.

Unlike Love That Dog, the poems that make up the story here would not really stand on their own as poems, I don’t think. But woven together, they form the tapestry of an immigrant story and remind us that those who make their ways into another country have stories to tell, even if they don’t have the language to tell it. Their outwards silence masks an inner voice that is alive and powerful, full of fear and confidence, and we should not be deceived by appearances.

Inside Out & Back Again (which won a National Book Award and was a Newbery Medal Honor winner) is a terrific book, and reminds us of how stories can transform lives. A short note at the end by Lai informs us that Lai’s journey is similar to Ha’s, and her own experiences in the aftermath of the Vietnam War here in America are what inspired her to write the story. For the reader, it is a reminder of how we all need to be more accepting and more kind to those who are trying to forge a new life here amongst us. All students need to hear that message.

Peace (in the poem),


At the Nerdy Book Club: A Note to the Book Thief

I have a post up at the Nerdy Book Club this morning. This is how the post begins:

Dear Student Who Stole My Book,

Listen – I get it. The book is wicked cool. That’s why I read it in the first place and that’s why I recommended it to all of you as my students. So, I understand why you wanted to take the book and read it. I kept it right there – smack dab on our classroom shelf – for that very reason. I want you all to read good books and I want to recommend good books to you. I’m happy to see them in your hands.

But the problem is, you took it and you never returned it.

Head on over to the Nerdy Book Club blog to read the rest of my piece to an anonymous student who pilfered one of my favorite books.

Or you can listen to the podcast version of the piece, too.


Peace (in the note),