Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reading Ladders by Teri Lesesne

I first met Teri at the very first Middle Mosaic in Nashville, first time. She was presenting at a round table and had an impressive list of YA books that would appeal to struggling readers. She is now the blog I read religiously (aka DAILY) and her books are no different. Her newest book is Reading Ladders: Leading Students From Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them To Be, (Heinemann, 2010). I have to confess, I've already read it twice and not just because she is gracious enough to chair our sessions at NCTE when we bumble through our own booktalks, not nearly as eloquently as she does. And, not because she was generous enough to put up her own money to get us the LCD player we had ordered but never showed up (Philly, 2009). And, not just because she is the Goddess of YA Literature. Teri is an amazing woman as well as professor and reader. So, without further ado: Reading Ladders.

Lesesne rightly begins her book with REASONS for giving students time to read in class as well as ways to build lifelong readers. I love how she later connects Laurie Halse Anderson's WFMAD to her suggestion of RFMAD- Reading Fifteen Minutes A Day in order to get ourselves familiar with YA lit. Of course, if you've read recent entries, I seem to stay up into the wee hours if I want to finish the YA book I'm reading.

Reading Ladders are ways to scaffold reading experiences for students that build up to the "classics" that some high schools are requiring in our age of never ending testing. In the book's forward, Jim Blasingame rightly notes that if a student is required to read Lord of the Flies in 9th grade, but the last book he/she read is Harry Potter, the gap is large and the student may have a difficult time bringing the needed reading skills to the table. These ladders are a genius way to help students build the reading skills necessary for the higher level tasks later in schooling.

My favorite part of the book is that Lesesne incorporates so many different genres of books in her ladders. She uses picture books as well as graphic novels and audiobooks (one of my favorites!) I will be suggesting this book to colleagues when I present on blogging, Google Reader set-up and YA lit in a few weeks. I am excited because two people have already emailed me telling me how excited they are that this is part of PD this year!

How Many Copies Do You Have Pre-Ordered?

My oldest and I absolutely CAN'T WAIT for the release of Mockingjay next week. I have to clear time to just read and read. Twins will be @ camp and oldest and I will have time. I have two copies pre-ordered on Amazon (won't arrive until 8/26) and oldest has a Border's gift card ready and waiting. I'm pretty sure there will be another copy in there somewhere, as I will not be able to wait two days to begin and will definitely not win Mother of the Year Award if I steal the one the 10 yr-old bought with her own money. Besides, it will be the most checked out book in the fall. Can't have too many copies!
AUGUST 24, 2010! NOT FAR NOW....

August Nightmares

And, here they are again, boys and girls...those ugly August nightmares. However, after 21 years in the BIZ, they are now interspersed with dreams of delightful classes where all are learning and amazingly quiet and cooperative. Hmmmm....

I am trying desperately to finish projects in my house these last few weeks and get my own children through their never ending lists of school supplies. I know that many districts around the country have already started, but here in Michigan we have a law that says we must wait until after Labor Day due to tourism. Next week begins my bulletin board brigade and the emptying of the boxes I feel like I just packed.

Post NYC

After a week in New York visiting my sister and taking my friend around the city, I am back to blogging. I just finished (because I couldn't stop reading it) SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick. I love, love, LOVE Amber Appleton and think kids could learn so much from her. In a world where everyone seems to be out for themselves, Amber offers kindness, generosity and hope despite her setbacks. Amber lives in "Hello Yellow", the school bus her mother drives, with said alcoholic mother. Hence, no $ for an apt. Despite the conditions of her life, Amber spreads love and joy all around her- and she brightens the days of everyone she meets. Her spunk and energy are contagious! Mid-novel Amber falls into a deep depression after a serious blow in her life. Yet, her friends come to her rescue in a conclusion that I dare you to keep a dry eye for. I couldn't see the page through the tears. What a fabulous, quirky character, in actions as well as speech! This one was sort of off my radar, but my friend Jennifer told me it was a "must read." Was she ever right!

Also listened to a classic Nancy Drew (The Bungalow Mystery) on the way to Indiana for a funeral. I love these books even though they are a bit corny at times. That Nancy sure is a good dresser! I'd forgotten how great Keene was at describing Nancy's outfits. And, there is no peer to Carolyn Keene's "grabber" scenes at the beginning. There is always adventure to keep the reader interested.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I guess I've let the days get away from me. I am reading many, many books and not finishing many because it's summer and I'm reading whatever strikes my fancy at any time. Plus, the kiddos have kept me quite busy.

I did finish Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles and loved it. The messages weren't preachy and I loved how it showed the main character taking responsibility for her actions. I thought the emotions of the males were especially well written and that this novel will resonate well with both female and male readers.

Last night I devoured one of Carlos Luis Zafon's early books, which happens to be a YA novel. The Prince of Mist had me from page one and didn't stop both surprising me and creeping me out! The middle schoolers will LOVE this one! Although I got it from the public library, I will definitely put it on my bookshelf (my own copy, of course) in the fall. BTW, I LOVED The Shadow of the Wind by Zafon also.

Here is what else I'm working on finishing:

The Explosive Child by Ross Green, MD
Play by Stuart Brown, MD
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne (Aussie)
Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
39 Clues- Viper's Nest by Gordon Korman
Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick

And...loads of ARCs!

And...I'm doing this!