Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam – Patricia Palocco was published in 1996 but just came across my desk this week. I am sorry I miss this little gem when I was teaching. It would be great for Turn of the Screen Week (formally known as Turn off the TV week – May 5th this year).
A small town has been so taken by TV’s that books and the art of reading has been lost. People are using books are used to pug up holes, repair roofs and fix fences. Eli’s Aunt Chip has long since taken to bed refusing to get out but is a fabulous story teller. Eli slowly begins to realize that Aunt Chip reads from books. They are the source of these wonderful tales and his desire to read changes a small town. But why won’t she get out of bed?
As always Patricia Palocco does as wonderful job of telling her story. She brings reading alive through her words and pictures. If you haven’t read this one of hers look it up. Then add it to your teacher shelf to use next fall as a kick off for your reading workshop or save it as a great gem to share just before Turn off you Screen week.
Professional development – Close Reading and Unpacking the Complexity in Informational Text by Sunday Cummins (release date: Dec. 2014) is my other book about reading. Sunday Cummins new book takes us deep into the thinking of how we teach children to understand non-fiction. Cummins’ first book Close Reading of Informational Text was released in 2012. This book leads us through the steps to help students stop and clarify their reading. Her new book extends the work by looking at authors craft – what are the text structures an author uses and how can they help us make sense of difficult content.
I found this book helpful not only as a teacher but also as a writer. It made me really think about how books are written. It shows how difficult reading non-fiction can be for students and how easy it is for the main idea to be hidden from the reader.
Cummins uses great non-fiction texts as models to help us understand enumerative, sequence/chronology/narrative, comparison, causal relationships and problem solution structures. This book is out in December and would be great for a January teacher study group as your students move into a non-fiction reading genre and report writing.
Last book I read this week was A Tangle of Knots – not really a book about reading but a book to read. Lisa Graff weaves a story of talents and fate. We find a group of people who we see know connection but over time as they share their perspective on what is happening in their life at this moment we see an overlap of lives -past and present. We also meet a stranger who seems to know more that he is letting on. He tells us early in the story “that a knot appears to be a mess but that every twist is placed just so, connecting with others.” This tells the story in one short phrase.
A fun middle grade book – a good read aloud but you need to pay attention so the details. Ah yes, a great mentor text for reading for detail and recall.
On the bed side table for this week:
- Grasshopper Jungle (February 2014) started so I need to finish –
- The Night Gardener (May 2014)
- The Storied Life of AJ Fikry (April 2014)
- Adult reading is: The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker (a debut novel of fantasy and historical fiction – 2013)