Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Picture Books

I figure if I'm going to school for teaching, I should bring something to the table in September when I start student teaching - yikes!! So I started reading some books. If you happen to have little ones or little ones you can borrow and read to, here's some books:

Cute book, loved the illustrations. I turned it into a reader's theatre script for my Acting Basics class (ages 8+) and also used it to introduce the idea of monologues and auditions. My 13-year-old was not impressed, but the 8-10s loved it.

Probably could make a good introduction to an art activity where they need to fill the whole page with color or use color in a creative way.

"Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark is not afraid of Laszlo. 

Laszlo lives in a house. The dark lives in the basement. 

One night, the dark comes upstairs to Laszlo's room, and Laszlo goes down to the basement.

This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark."
- from GoodReads, too good a description not to steal. I loved this short, short book.

 This is a fabulous historical fiction book about Magulu, a nine-year-old girl who is sold into slavery. On the ship, there's a rebellion, the ship is captured, and all who participated in the mutiny are brought to trial. Magulu and the other children are brought in as witnesses. Its a wonderful account of pain, hope, and triumph. 

This is my favorite. Don't let the cover fool you, it's a wonderful book about conflict resolution and friendship. Adorbs.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Flu Books & Mostly I Talk About Jennifer Lawrence

I missed last week! And I was doing so well :( The problem, fortunately, was not for lack of having books to talk about, but rather that I was having too much fun reading the books to tell you about them. But sharing is caring, so I suppose I will briefly catch you up.

First off, I got the flu and didn't have the energy to hold up a book so I marathon listened to The Hunger Games again because I have a problem and apparently like to surround myself with suffering while I'm sick. I don't think it actually made me feel better, but at least I was entertained. Then I finished and had to turn to some new books, but I was only half awake through a lot of them, so I don't really have opinions on them apart from "I knew what was going on, and I loved them [the characters] because they were my only friends." Because I was too sick to talk to people, not because that's actually true. I hope.

(5 stars) This is my new favorite thing in the universe. You think I read a lot? Nope. Language Arts teacher Donalyn Miller is the teacher I wish I had. She develops this crazy system where she teaches kids to read by actually letting them read. WHAT? I know! How will they become better readers by reading every day? How does that even work?

While reading it, I was in the process of applying to grad school for teaching and it made me feel like I could actually do this thing I want to do, and that Donalyn's classroom would be my dream classroom. But, I also want to teach math. I wonder if there's a book called the Math Whisperer I could read next.
Anyway, cross your fingers for grad school! Read this if you're a teacher or want to help your kiddo learn to read, or if you're such a nerd you like to read about reading.

Now, Donalyn is a bit of a militant reader. When a kid comes to school saying "teacher! I read all through Thanksgiving and barely talked to my family!" (or something along those lines) And while this is something I absolutely did as a child, I don't think it's actually something you should recommend children do...maybe suggest they actually talk to their family? I donno, just a thought.

After reading this book, I am now trying to read a nonfiction book for ten minutes a day. So far it's actually kind of terrible because it makes me think too much late at night which does not make me want to sleep. Perhaps I can learn to wake up and read. But I can barely wake up to go to rehearsal, which is what I live for, so don't hold your breath.

(4 stars?) I really can't talk about this book without spoiling it. Mostly because I don't remember anything except for the end because I had a fever of 101 still. I might have even been up to 102 if that was my post-Hunger Games phase.

Basically it's about two different women in foster care, one in the 1920s, which was just about as horrible as you imagine it was, and the other today. The modern girl is not as bad as White Oleander, which traumatized me in 9th grade. (I read that and The Bell Jar and wrote a lot of bad poetry. I was the coolest.)

It's kind of cheesy. It's also kind of sad. I didn't feel super emotionally invested in the characters but I was just shy of hallucinating so...anything's possible really. Maybe this book is brilliant and I was just too sick to know any better.

(5 stars) This book was so good you guys. You should definitely go read it immediately. My only problem with this book was that I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did not have Jennifer Lawrence's sassypants dialogue down very well. Which is my problem with every book where JLaw's in the movie.

I'm going to steal the GoodRead's description, which I can only assume is on the back of the book because it's much better than anything I could write.

"Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him -- the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat's now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he's being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he's being hunted by Kenny G!"

Emotionally literate. That is beautiful. This book is beautiful, and funny, and just....stop reading this and go read it.

Don't try and watch the movie two days after you finish the book. That is a bad idea. It doesn't matter how brilliant the entire cast is (especially JLaw, who won an Oscar for the role), you will fall asleep. Or I did. It was also midnight. I make good decisions.

Please tell me you're all as obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence as I am. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (5), Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a freshman. A geek. The kind of guy that doesn't really fit in and mostly just talks to his English teacher and reads books. That is, until seniors Patrick and Sam begin to hang out with him and introduce him to the world of smoking, drinking, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

This book was beautiful. I'd heard for years that I should read it and it just stayed packed away on my list of books, getting skipped over for non-YA while I was being a pretentious snob. Then I realized that there are earth-moving YA books and you are still allowed to read them when you become an adult, crazy right?

Anyway, this book is beautiful. It reminds you of the messiness of life and doesn't try and wrap it up in shiny paper and make it all ok, but let's you wallow in the shared misery of being a human. It gives you hope that it's all wonderfully worth it.

The other thing I love about it is that Charlie reads a whole bunch of really good books, which makes me want to go out and read a bunch of really good books.

Charlie's Reading List
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
Hamlet, William Shakespeare
L'Etranger, Albert Camus
The Mayor of Castro Street, Randy Shilts
Selected poems, E. E. Cummings