Friday, January 10, 2014

It was 53.

I forgot that I read this:

I got it for some girls I love for Hanukkah, but wanted to read it first. So I did- because I am the kind of person who will read a book before giving it as a gift. (That's so terrible!). But I didn't finish until after Hanukkah. And it's still sitting on my nightstand.

So that's 53.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

52 Books a Year and a Confession about Encyclopedia Brown

Last year, on January 1st, 2013, I decided to make a yearly goal of reading 52 books a year. I did a little research, and realized that I had already read 52 books in a year, in 2012. More, actually...I could account for 52 books from my notes and by perusing the bookshelf, but I knew I had forgotten some.

I went ahead with the 52-book commitment in 2013. It was going very well until December. I got to 49 books at Thanksgiving- and just stalled. I stalled for much of the fall: choosing to read magazines and just fall asleep, and it took me a long time to read Diane Ravitch's book and Far From the Tree. But I made it 52! And I am sure I have forgotten a few again this year, too.

I was worried that my list was all "kid" books and not many "grown-up" books, but looking over it, I had 25 grown-up books (7 novels,  7 general nonfiction, 11 professional books) and 27 "kid" books/ novels. For 2014, I think I want to read more "grown-up stuff" for me, so I'll see how that goes. I'll post my list of 2013 reads later. Considering Donalyn Miller's Summertime Book-a-Day Challenge, this seems like a very reachable goal. That being said, I do not count picture books or anything lower than about a "Level O."

Full disclosure does require me to make public that I was at 51 books at 11:30 pm on December 31, 2013, so I read Encyclopedia Brown #4 to make it to 52. I was an effective detective to the last chapter, at which point I was very sleepy and perhaps angry about successfully solving cases and not being awarded 25¢ a day, plus expenses. It's not the most important book I read in 2014, but considering the "Incident at Lester School" in Downer's Grove, Illinois*, it still counts. 52 books in 2013.

Encyclopedia Brown selfie

* In 1976, at Lester School, in Downer's Grove, IL, a student that I will refer to as "my sister, Brenda" in this anecdote (since that is her name), once won the reading contest in class by plowing through easy phonics readers that were well below her reading level, with titles like "I See Sam", and turning in reports and counting them as "real books."Normally, I would be appalled and consider this to be treachery, but considering that Brenda's book reports really required such an intense commitment to inference, character motivation, and general embellishment, and typically used significantly more words than present in the initial text, I fully respect the project as an exercise in creative writing and a reminder to teachers that more isn't always better. Sometimes reflecting on the reading life of a second grader of almost 40 years ago inspires a 40 year-old woman to meet her 52-books-a-year-goal by ringing in the New Year plowing through an Enyclopedia Brown book. By the way, it was Bugs Meany.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Month of Thanks: Still Thankful #2- #20

I meant to post more thankful things. I spent the month being very thankful. Here's more:

#2 My Family: I am thankful for my husband, kids, dog, parents, extra parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and everyone in between. I am thankful for the friends who seem like family, too.

#3 My Friends: Friends and neighbors have helped us grow a lovely life in Ann Arbor. All we need now are some local grandparents!

#4 Running: Starting the day with a run is so lovely. I am glad that my body is able to do this.

#5 My School: I love my job. The students, the colleagues, the building administration. What a blessing it is to spend time with readers.

#6 Musical Theater: If listening to XM Broadway is wrong...then I don't want to be right.

#7 Christmas Music: Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away.

#8 Minivans: We drive the van not just for the luxury, but also for the performance. It's like that thing is on rails.

#9 Town Living: Even with all our juggling and busy schedules, we can get everywhere pretty quickly within town. The close proximity enables us to be more involved in our community.

#10 Tap Dancing: My tapping is limited to the kitchen once or twice a month- but it still makes my day.

#11 Books.

#12 People who do more for my kids than I can: coaches, teachers, friends, neighbors, grandparents... Thank you.

#13 My children's teachers: The stars are aligned in Ann Arbor- what a delightful year for our 4th grader and Kindergartner!

#14 Lucy Calkins: As I just penned a letter to Lansing about some ridiculous proposed legislation, I reflected about my advocacy for best practice instruction for students. My work with Lucy at Columbia really provided an amazing entry point into the profession of teaching. Her demanding standards shaped and informed my pedagogy.

#15 Blue Skies

#16 Hot Coffee

#17 Soup

#18 The Ann Arbor District Library

#19 Hiking, biking, skating, and blading with my kids

#20 The realization that this list could go on and on...

So thankful for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Month of Thanks #1: Neighbors

In November, I often feel overwhelmed with the goodness of the world and its people. I've decided to keep track of thankful things. Ideally, I'd post everyday-- I'm sure I can think of more than 30 things-- but I think I'll just focus on staying thankful, not having "perfect attendance."

Giving Thanks #1: Neighbors

Our little street is the best-kept secret in Ann Arbor: best neighbors in the world. As always on November 1st, I am floored by the Halloween decorations and the generosity of my neighbors. This teeny, tiny little street will work together to fill your pumpkin bucket.

I am thankful for neighbors who:
watch my kids,
watch my dog,
watch my house,
make me run,
loan me some chicken broth,
let me take their coffee pot,
smile sweetly when I break their lawnmower,
encourage our ice rink,
host my kids to swim,
have us over for dinner, and brunch, and Superbowls,
babysit my daughter,
endure my neighborly chit-chat,
continue to open the door when my kids ring the bell,
make us laugh,
make us feel safe,
and make our street feel like home.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"A Physical Book is Like a Shark"

Today I read this:

"...a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is."(Neil Gaiman)

And then I read this:

"Everyone deserves access to many books, as many as they wish, but also to the well-worn cover that, years later, still makes their hearts thump." (Pam Allyn)

And I wanted to tell you tonight. 

The paperwork and the glow of the screen will wait. 

Now is the time to read.