Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They "encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.
It was a hectic week at school as we were gearing up for Winter Break. Even with all of the work to finish, I managed to get in some time for reading. Here it is:
I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King by Margaret Davidson  I really enjoyed reading this biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. I appreciated that it was more substantial than many of the wonderful picture book biographies of this civil rights hero, but at the same time, it was written in kid-friendly language that is accessible to all of the students in my classroom. While I am pretty familiar with many of the details of King's life: his education, his rise to prominence during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, his speeches, his participation in marches for freedom and justice; I still learned quite a bit from this book.

Near and dear to my heart and the hearts of fellow Book Nerds - "Books were a kind of magic for Martin. They took him so many places. They told him so many new things. Most important, they introduced him to so many people who became heroes in his life." In his formative years, King spent a lot of time studying the lives of heroes like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver. Reading about these historic figures inspired the young man to do something big and important with his life. "Whatever he grew up to be, he wanted to help his people. He wanted to make their lives better."

As the struggle for freedom and Civil Rights wore on, however, King had many times when he was tired and discouraged from the fight. After being unjustly arrested, harassed and threatened, he was very close to giving up. At his lowest point, he prayed out loud - "Lord, I'm down here trying to do what is right. But Lord, I must confess that I'm weak. I'm afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership. If I stand before them without strength or courage, they, too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I can't face it alone." As he gained peace and an inner calm from his time spent reaching out to God, we see just how difficult this period of time was for King and how human he was.

This book also provides young readers with a glimpse of the personal, playful side of Martin Luther King, Jr. I think this is awesome, because kids can relate more to him and his family. King traveled far away from home frequently, and so his children would be so happy and excited when he returned - "Oh, how the children loved these times when their daddy was home. Martin could seem very serious when he was giving a speech or leading a march. But at home he was full of fun - teasing and tickling and roughhousing."

Cracker Jackson by Betsy Byars   This book takes a riveting look at a very serious topic: domestic violence. The book opens with Jackson receiving a note from a former babysitter, Alma, warning him to stay away. Jackson is convinced that her husband, Billy Ray, is hitting her. Jackson is only eleven, but he's facing a grown-up problem and he doesn't know to whom he should turn for help. The book is very suspenseful and compelling.

Firefly July A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko, Melissa Sweet (Illustrations)
This beautiful book of poetry is perfect for all ages at any time of year. The illustrations are stunning and really pull you into this celebration of all of the seasons.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy   This book is great resource for people who can't get enough information about great white sharks. Sharks are very popular with my students, and the beautiful paintings that show the feeding habits of the sharks of California's Farallon Islands and the informative text would be a big hit in my classroom.

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers   This book is a lot of fun for kids and grown-ups. Each letter has a short, silly story that goes along with it. The illustrations are hilarious and really add to the fun of the whole book. Because it's so silly, I was excited to turn the page to see what would come next. At one point, the reader is encouraged to skip pages - "E,e How many elephants can you fit inside an envelope? Turn to the letter N to find out..."

I borrowed this book from the public library, but I'm pretty I'd love to have my own copy for both my classroom and to have at home.



  1. I love the variety of books you read this week! I remember loving Betsy Byars books when I was a kid. I probably read Cracker Jackson, but it's been so long I can't remember!

  2. The Martin Luther King book does sound good, especially that it shares more of his life. Cracker Jackson must be an old one, but Betsy Byars books are good, & I'm glad to know about this one. I loved Neighborhood Sharks and Once Upon An Alphabet, both beautifully done. Have a wonderful Christmas week, Jana.

  3. Once Upon An Alphabet was my favorite book to recommend last Christmas. I loved the letter O story!

  4. This Martyn Luther King title looks like a good one. Here in Canada, many of my younger readers have no idea who he was. I love the cover of Firefly July.

  5. I like the looks of Once Upon an Alphabet -- I'll check my library!