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Books, books, books!

Ever since I can remember I have loved to read, and I still do. I have fond childhood memories of visiting my neighborhood library in Brooklyn, on the corner of Ocean Ave and Kings Highway, many times as I was growing up. On a recent visit to NY, I was saddened to see how rundown it has gotten over the years; it was always airy, light and clean when I was growing up but no more. But that's a topic for another post.

The point I am trying to make is that I read a lot. When I was younger, I would  read under the covers with a flashlight, presumably so my mother wouldn't notice that I hadn't gone to sleep yet. I don't think I ever got caught so that tells you that my mother never checked or she simply ignored the late-night-under-the-covers reading.  Either way, I'm glad because it helped me develop a love of reading that continues to this day. I am never far away from a book. In fact, I usually carry around a book with me for those just-in-case moments at the doctor's office, waiting for a red light (just kidding!), or waiting for my son at his bus stop. I have so many books waiting to be read that I really should establish a moratorium on buying books until I've made a dent in my to-read pile. Ha! Fat chance! I just can't have enough books. Here is a peak at some of the books I've read lately, am currently reading, or waiting to be read:

  • The Daily 5 Book and The CAFE Book, both by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, are worth a read even if you don't adopt their framework exactly as they describe it. Actually, you should never adopt someone else's framework as they have developed it because even if you tried to do that, it wouldn't work since you didn't have a hand at creating it. Therefore, if you are already doing the Daily5 and/or CAFE in your class, you will most likely adapt both systems to your particular needs and students. There are a lot of ideas in both books worth considering.
  • I was not expecting Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah to end the way it did, especially the afterword where she talks about Stage IV breast cancer as being the reason for writing the book. For some reason, this admission made the book less valuable in my eyes because it seemed as if the purpose of the story was simply to warn people about this kind of difficult-to-diagnose breast cancer. It seemed like a case of the means-justifies-the-ends and I believe that is never the best way to go.
  • I am currently writing a review of Making Teamwork Meaningful by William Ferriter, Parry Grahm and Matt Wight for MiddleWeb so I don't want to say anything other than it's an interesting read. 
  • El Cuaderno de Maya by Isabel Allende - what can I say about Isabel Allende without sounding corny? Not much. I have read every single one of her books except for La Casa de los EspirĂ­tus because it reminded me too much of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Paula because it was too painful to read. El Cuaderno de Maya is by far her most unusual book, although it's easy to say that about each book that Allende writes. Let's just say that although Maya is Allende's most unusual, infuriating and troubled character, she triumphs in the end. This is not a fairy tale ending by any means, just an amazing journey taken by a troubled young woman with a past even before she has had a chance to live her life.
  • I am currently reading Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg. I loved Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe so I figured I couldn't go wrong with this book. I have to admit that I'm finding it difficult to get into the story because there are too many characters to keep track of. Also, I've been reading this book in bits and pieces which slows me down and doesn't pique my interest. Now, that I've read a little bit more, I am enjoying the subtleties of the story.
  • If you want a refreshing look at how to assess students using miscue analysis rather than DIBELS or DRA or any of the myriad online tools now on the market, then you have to get your hands on a copy of Miscues Not Mistakes by M. Ruth Davenport
  • I wrote a review of A Culture of Excellence by Ron Berger for MiddleWeb. You can access it here.
  • My book club read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and I loved it. In fact, at the end of the book I was hoping that Riggs would write a sequel since the book ends at another beginning. Unfortunately, I couldn't go to the book club meeting where this book was discussed but apparently I may have been the only one who liked this book. Some felt it was too reminiscent of Harry Potter. Since I've never read any of the Harry Potter books (public confession) I was saved from having to make this comparison.
  • Not looking forward to reading Perfume by Patrick Suskind, our last book club book of the school year. Has anyone read it? Is it worth the time?
  • I spotted I'll See You Again by Jackie Hance and Janice Kaplan at a store in the Miami airport. I was drawn to the cover and so I scanned the first few pages. OK, it looks like a very tragic story and why would I want to read about someone else's sad story? But, for some reason, I was drawn to the message of hope in the jacket description and so I purchased it for my Kindle.
  • I have read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and devoured them both so I figured that And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini would be just as good. I don't think I will be disappointed.
  • Last, but not least, I am looking forward to reading Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff, one of my daughter's favorite journalism professors at Boston University (BU). This is Zuckoff's second book about a survival mission gone wrong. His first book was Lost in Shangri-La. Both books have been on the New York Times bestseller list, which is always an amazing accomplishment. Not only is Zuckoff a bestselling author, he is also an excellent teacher; he was voted Teacher of the Year in the School of Communication at BU this year. 
So, what are you reading, have finished reading or are planning to read?
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