Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Teaching in Tough Schools: A List of Great Stories

It was forty years ago, in August of 1977, that I was first given the reins of a class. I was twenty years old, and, even though I'd studied education in college, even though I'd babysat with children a thousand times, even though I'd worked with students while I was in high school...despite all those things, I knew nothing. Teaching is a hard job. Teaching is a craft. Teaching is something you learn on-the-job. Forty years later, and there are still days I make mistakes...I am a bit too strict for a sensitive group...a lesson goes a little long...I talk a little too much...or a story doesn't get the reaction I'd anticipated. Like I say, teaching is a hard job.

It's also the most satisfying job. All it takes is a smile from a student who spent the first week of school crying for his mom, an "I love books!" from a child, a moment of silence from a class while they think about a powerful story, and I put off retirement another year.

I've been blessed to have amazing fellow teachers to learn from, kind and helpful administrators, a budget that pays for most of the things I need, a clean and inviting environment, and parents who deeply care about their children.

Not all teachers are this fortunate. Here are some of their stories.


All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island



Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship



Raising the Curve: A Year Inside One of America's 45,000 Failing Public Schools



Educating Esme: A Diary of a Teacher's First Year



Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids, and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform



Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America



Rain School by James Romford



Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade



Relentless Pursuit: A Year in the Trenches with Teach for America



Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America



Work Hard. Be Nice. How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America



The  Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York High School



Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher



Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder



Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you have any recommendations for me of teaching stories that I have forgotten?










Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Back to School: Open for Business (Wow!) and What I Read (Nothing)




Back to School

I remember a long time ago, when my sons were in school, I was talking to a teacher at the high school in our town. It was summer and the high school campus was silent. The teacher said to me, "I love summer. I get so much done without all those students here."

But that's the point, isn't it? The students.


That's the point for me. And this week they returned. Our teachers turned on the shine, big, and the students came in droves for Meet the Teacher Night on Tuesday and the First Day of School on Thursday. Our school is thrilled to be Open for Business again.

What I Finished This Week

The downside of Back to School is my reading. I read a Book-a-Day this summer, easily. Last week I finished nothing. I'm a bit sad about that. But I know my reading will pick up in a few weeks.

The Call for Cybils Judges

The call will go out Monday, August 21, at 9:30 am PDT. The volunteer application will be open until September 11. If you love children's books or YA books, and you love to write about the books you read on your blog, we'd love to have you on our Cybils team. I've been a judge for the last ten years and I must say that the reading is huge, daunting at times. But every year I am thrilled to find so many exemplary books that the decision about which is best is incredibly difficult. I hope you will apply. Keep watching here.

What Arrived in the Mail and What I'm Reading Now



I plan to finish and review most of these this afternoon.





What are you reading today?






What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

NYC at 10 PM: It's True that New York Never Sleeps

Photo taken in June of 2017 from my hotel during BookExpo.



For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Can Books Improve Your Happiness?

I'm obsessed with happiness. I've been reading books about happiness for more than ten years. 

I know quite a bit about happiness. I know that about 50% of happiness is inherited, leaving another 50% that we can work to improve. I know the most important things about happiness that we can try to control are finding a sense of purpose, daily physical movement, daily social contact, feeling gratitude, practicing positive thoughts, and being present in the moment.

I've posted several times in the past about happiness. Here are some of my favorites:
          Happiness Books* (*I know, I know, I just did a post on happiness books.)
          Books That Would Be on My Syllabus If I Taught Happiness 101
          Be-Happy Books (Fiction that promotes happiness)
          Reading. Happily. (The Myths of Happiness)
          Best Books on Happiness
          How Happy Are You? Would You Like to Be as Happy as Pollyanna?
          And the Pursuit of Happiness (Maira Kalman book)

Can reading books improve your happiness? Biblio-therapists (yes, there are such folks) say yes. I recently read an article in Good Housekeeping, "60 Books That Make You Happier." It's a list of books that can make you happier, compiled from biblio-therapists. It reminded me of The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies, a book I read a few years ago. 

I decided to take a look at books recommended by biblio-therapists and then share some books biblio-therapists recommend that resonated with me.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
ZAMM is the book that brought me down off the ledge. Pirsig, too, was up there, at one point in his life, and it was through his study of motorcycles and zen that brought him back to living in the present moment rather than in his head. I've read this book more times than any other book. Here is one long quote I really like:

"Peace of mind isn't at all superficial to technical work. It's the whole thing. That which produces it is good work and that which destroys it is bad work. The specs, the measuring instruments, the quality control, the final check-out, these are all means toward the end of satisfying the peace of mind of those responsible for the work. What really counts in the end is their peace of mind, nothing else. The reason for this is that peace of mind is a prerequisite for a perception of that Quality which is beyond romantic Quality and classic Quality and which unites the two, and which must accompany the work as it proceeds. The way to see what looks good and understand the reasons it looks good, and to be at one with this goodness as the work proceeds, is to cultivate an inner quietness, a peace of mind so that goodness can shine through."


Zen and Zen Classics by R. H. Blyth
I bought this book way back in the 90's when I accidentally joined the best book club I've ever belonged to, the Quality Paperback Book Club. Blyth is one of the few people who is able to write about zen in a zennish way. 

"Man is the eye with which the universe sees itself, and it is free to spit in its own eye if it so desires."


Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
How many times did I read over this Teddy Roosevelt quote Brown uses in her book when I was struggling? "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."


When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron 
There's something so calming about Pema Chodron's writings. 


Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
Lamott shares the troubles of her life, and, oddly, always makes me laugh.


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
One of my favorite stories. I love how the fox sees things:

“I am looking for friends. What does that mean -- tame?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties." 

"To establish ties?" 

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....” 

And if all else fails, try this one....


Better Than Chocolate: 50 Proven Ways to Feel Happier
This is an itsy-bitsy illustrated book with fifty ideas, all with science behind them, to feel a little happier. 

These are my go-to books when I am down. What are yours? Please share them with me.



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!










Sunday, August 13, 2017

The 2017 Cybils Are Coming! And Other Book-ish News....



It's that wonderful time again! The 2017 Cybils Awards, the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, are coming soon. Please watch http://cybils.com for the call for judges in the next few days. 

I am serving as panel chair for Fiction Picture Books and Board Books again this year, and I'm especially interested in finding 5-7 bloggers to serve as panelists (first round) and judges (second round) who love fiction picture books and board books. 

In October, it will be time to nominate your favorite children's and young adult books for the Cybils. It's not too early to start looking over the books you have read which were published in the last ten months or so and begin to write down the names of the books you'd like to nominate. 

I get geeky about the Cybils nominations and love to set my alarm for the middle of the night when nominations begin so that I can be sure to get my favorites on the list. I've been involved with the Cybils for ten years now, and I'm happy to say that I've nominated eleven books that have been finalists or winners in the Cybils.

Do you have questions about the Cybils? Here are Frequently Asked Questions

From the Cybils blog:




The 2017 Cybils Are Coming……


SOON. 
We’ve been busy behind the scenes dusting off the logos, lining up the panel chairs, and generally getting things in place for the 2017 Cybils season. Watch this space… the call for judges is coming and we would LOVE to have your help choosing the best, most kid-friendly books this year! 


BOOKS ARRIVING IN THE MAIL



A fabulous mailbox this week.

I received an email from Books on Tape early on that I'd won an audiobook prize package from BookExpo! Woo hoo! I was allowed to choose adult or children's audiobooks and I went for children's, and yesterday, boom! they arrived. Super excited about these five audiobooks: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen; Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm; The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas; Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain; and Their Fractured Light: A Starbound Novel by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

I also received the fun new children's book, Roger is Going Fishing from Eerdman's and The Physics of Everyday Things. Wow! Great mailbox!

BOOKS READ

I finished off a bunch of books last week:





School starts for children on Thursday so there will be no more reading binges for a while. Well, except for readalouds at school...I am a school librarian, after all!



What are you up to this week? Any good books I should be rooting around for? Please share in the comments!





What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What? A Book of French Christmas Stories? In August?



Ridiculous. I'm sure it seems ridiculous. I've just read A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time. I'm not in France. And it most certainly isn't December.

What's going on?

There are some people who always send you to the good books. Emma, of the blog, Words and Peace, and the organizer of France Book Tours, always sends me to the good books. I just couldn't resist a book of French Christmas stories. Even in August.

So why should you hear about A Very French Christmas? You, especially you, who are not a fan of  stories about France or (even) Christmas?

That's easy to answer. A Very French Christmas is really about France or Christmas. Yes, there's a definite French-ish feel to the stories, and all of them have a little dash of Christmas in them. But these aren't baked-potato-loaded-with-French-Christmas-fixings stories. No one really likes those sorts of stories, do they? These are not French stories. These are not Christmas stories. They are just good stories.


(Spoiler alert)
The first story in the book, for example, is a story of a man who really doesn't like Christmas. It's his wife who likes it, his wife who makes him get together with the family every year, to celebrate with food he doesn't care for and gifts he doesn't want. And he does so every year, even after his wife is long passed away. Until the Christmas comes where his wife gives him one last Christmas gift, a gift he is very happy about.


Yes, these are good stories. More than that, they are remarkably good stories. So good that I think I'll go back and read them again.

Would you like your own copy of this book? A Very French Christmas won't be published until October, but you can throw your name in the hat below and you may win a free copy now.


SYNOPSIS
A continuation of the very popular Very Christmas Series from New Vessel Press, this collection brings together the best French Christmas stories of all time in an elegant and vibrant collection featuring classics by Guy de Maupassant and Alphonse Daudet, plus stories by the esteemed twentieth century author Irène Némirovsky and contemporary writers Dominique Fabre and Jean-Philippe Blondel. With a holiday spirit conveyed through sparkling Paris streets, opulent feasts, wandering orphans, kindly monks, homesick soldiers, oysters, crayfish, ham, bonbons, flickering desire, and more than a little wine, this collection encapsulates the holiday spirit and proves that the French have mastered Christmas. This is Christmas à la française—delicious, intense and unexpected, proving that nobody does Christmas like the French.

THE AUTHORS

Alphonse Daudet, Guy de Maupassant, Anatole France, Irène Némirovsky, Jean-Philippe Blondel, Dominique Fabre, Paul Arene, Francois Coppee, Antoine Gustave Droz, Anatole La Braz


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Buy the book: on Amazon



VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

Tuesday, August 8
Review + Giveaway at The Fictional 100
Review + Giveaway at Reading for the Stars and Moon
Wednesday, August 9
Review + Giveaway at The French Village Diaries
Thursday, August 10Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Review + Giveaway at Readerbuzz
Friday, August 11
Review + Giveaway at Reading To Unwind
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Monday, August 14
Review + Giveaway at Books Are Cool
Review + Giveaway at Locks, Hooks and Books


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Peek into a New York Garden



For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.