Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Kids of Kabul- Deborah Ellis


“The Kids of Kabul” is a very sad but very inspiring read.  It really put things in perspective for me.  I really shouldn’t complain about some of the things I do.  These kids are growing up in poor conditions with little chance for a good education.  I was surprised by how much I liked this book considering that it’s a nonfiction book, something that is a little out of my comfort zone.

This book made me realize how privileged I am to live in America and to have such great opportunities in education and in the work force.  I think this book would be great for kids who don’t like fiction and are interested in the lives of people from different countries.  Going on my classroom library shelf, definitely.


The First Part Last- Angela Johnson


This book is a very fast read.  It must have taken me about 45 minutes to an hour to finish it.  I think many high school kids, especially these days, could benefit from this book.  There are so many teenage parents these days that need a book that can relate to them.   I really liked how realistic this book is, and how a modern real life situation and issues are discussed in this book.

I think, like I said before, that many kids could benefit from this book.  It’s a very fast read that many people, not just kids, can relate to.  I would recommend this book to anyone interested in teen parenthood.  Going on my classroom library shelf for sure. 

Out of the Dust- Karen Hesse

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I really enjoyed reading this book even though it is such a sad story.  At the time I was reading this I was also reading “Babi Yar” so I definitely do not recommend doing that.  Way too much sadness if you’re reading these books together.

I felt so bad for the main character, Billie Jo and her father.  They lost everything.  Her mother, her brother, their farm, and their house was taken over by sand constantly just like the rest of the Dust Bowl area.  Billie Jo also lost the use of her hands after they were burned.  While reading this story, I had hoped that Mad Dog and Billie Jo would have a relationship but alas, it was not to be.  The ending at least leaves some hope for Billie Jo and her life in the future.

This book is great for teaching poetry and I can definitely see some cross curricular lesson plans in the making.  I think that this book could go in any high school or middle school library and is going in my classroom library.  I think kids will enjoy this book, not only because it’s a fast read but also because they can learn something from it.

Bronx Masquerade- Nikki Grimes


I. Love. This. Book! I loved it so much that I encourage anyone who hasn’t read to go pick it up now.  I read it in like two hours, so it won’t take up much of your time.  And it’s well worth your time.  Especially if you’re going to be a teacher.  I found it inspiring and beautiful.  Loved it! 

This book follows the written works of eighteen high school students, all of whom are facing different life problems.  After each chapter is a poem written by one of the students.  This book reminded me of the movie “Freedom Writers”.  I hope that when I’m a teacher I can inspire my students to write anything, poetry, fiction, everything!  After reading this book I realize that I want to hold an Open Mic every Friday.  I think that this would be a great way to get kids talking and sharing.  It would help them create their own individual personalities.  It would help them become more brave and would help with communication skills. I love the idea of an Open Mic and wish my high school had one when I was there.

This book is definitely going on my classroom bookshelf.  It’s beautiful and may inspire some of my students to write poetry or anything they are comfortable with.  I may even use it for a poetry unit.  Hmmm….I see a lesson plan forming….

Does My Head Look Big in This?- Randa Abdel-Fattah


So my favorite part about this book, and it sounds kinda stupid now that I think about it, was the fact that the main character, Amal, lived in Australia.  The reason for this favoritism is because I went to Australia for a track meet two years ago and am determined to go back.  But this blog post isn’t about me.

Amal is a sixteen year old girl attending high school and decides to take the next big step in her religious practice.  Wearing the hijab.  To a teenager attending a school with many other judgmental peers, this is a brave move to make.  She endures many taunts from her high school nemesis but she benefits from wearing the hijab.  I would probably have never been that brave when I was her age so this is something that I like about her character.

Another thing I liked about this book was the relationship Amal develops with her neighbor. For me these parts of the book, her meetings with her neighbor, were the funniest and most enjoyable to read.  I liked to see how Amal changed her neighbor into an approachable, lovable person that was just as outcast as Amal felt.  I liked how Amal finally got her neighbor to call her son after so many years of silence between them.

My classmate, Jaycie, had a very difficult time reading this book and I completely understand why.  The book had its moments but it just wasn’t as captivating to me as other books I’ve read this semester.  I mean, I liked it…kinda.  It didn’t take me as long to read as I thought it would but maybe that’s because I had Divergent to motivate me to finish the book.

I think I’ll have this book in my classroom library, although I may never read it again.  I think some kids could definitely benefit from reading this book, especially those that need encouragement or inspiration to be brave to do and wear what they want, no matter what their classmates say.  It would help me teach students to be individuals, because that is one of my pet peeves, when people try to fit in so hard that they become fake. 

All in all, I am neutral with this book.  It was OK.

Rules- Cynthia Lord


I won’t lie.  I didn’t enjoy reading this book.  It’s sweet and I understand why some people might enjoy it but I just couldn’t make myself read more than a chapter every two days.  It was because of this that it took me quite a long time to finish reading this book. 

Ok, so now maybe you’re wondering why I dislike this book.  Catherine just seemed a little too self-absorbed to me.  She usually only worried about herself, her image, how other people would think of her.  She never seemed to stop and take time to think about what life might be like in another persons body.  I mean, yeah, she cared about her brother but she was always worried about what people would think if they met him and he said something embarrassing.

I don’t know, I will probably have this book in my classroom library.  Other people enjoy this book, it’s won awards.  Maybe I just need to reread it after some time has passed and then maybe I’ll like it better.  I don’t know, I just couldn’t get into it.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass- Meg Medina


This book was a little hard for me to get into at first but once I did, I couldn’t put it down until it was finished.  I really enjoyed this book, even though it took so long for me to get into. It had a satisfying ending that made me feel like everything in the book had been solved.

The mother daughter relationship is something that truly shocked me.  My relationship with my mother is completely different than the one in this book.  I don’t hate my mother.  I may have wished I could run away but I never actually did.  Admittedly, I did get one block away before turning around and saying, “Just kidding!”  I guess I was a pretty easy child to deal with. 

I really liked the way the reader changes with Piddy as her attitude and maturity changes. Piddy is a very emotional character and somehow Meg Medina is able to make the reader experience Piddy’s change with her. Another thing I really liked was Piddy’s relationship with the neighbor boy, Joey. It seemed to come out of nowhere to me, but I ended up really liking it. Joey was there for her when no one could be. He was her friend, someone for her to escape with, even though she doesn’t leave with him in the end.

Throughout the book I had kept hoping that would meet her dad and start a good relationship with him. It wasn’t until the whole, true story about her father came into light that I really felt for Piddy’s mom and wished that she could get revenge on him for what he did to the both of them.

I will definitely have this book in my classroom library. I would hope that my students will be able to enjoy this book as much as I did, and maybe even help some students get through the horrible trial that is high school/middle school.

An Abudance of Katherines- John Green


I’m not gonna lie; this was not my favorite John Green book.  Don’t get me wrong, it was very good, it just wasn’t my favorite.  I still love John Green books, don’t worry. 

Things I loved about this book:

The math

The history

The language


It’s a very intelligently written.  I had a question while reading this book and that question was, “Is Gutshot TN a real place?”  No, sadly there is not a real place.  John Green says that it was a mixture of places that he had visited as a child.  Too bad, I was planning a road trip.

All John Green books are going in my classroom library, no questions asked. 

Bomb- Steve Sheinkin


I have learned so much from this book! This book taught me more than my high school history classes ever did. Having said this, it did take me a while to get to the end of this book because it was non-fictional instead of my favorite fiction/fantasy stories. It was very well written and was a new way to read about wars and history than I am used to. I enjoyed it very much.

I loved the pictures of the real people that the story follows as time in their world moves on. The very last page in the story is what struck me most. The knowledge of the number of bombs and their amazing destructive ability is heart-stopping. It truly scares me, like no other horror movie or book has been able to.

I would definitely include this book in my future classroom library. I remember many of my high school classmates enjoy history class and wanting to learn more about the wars we were involved in, but our English teachers were never able to provide, or never thought to provide, a book that would fit their interests. I’m going to be the teacher that goes out of her way to find a matching book to each of my students. Kids need to read, we, as teachers, need to help them find the right books for the kids.

My Name is Jason. Mine Too. -Reynolds and Griffith


I really liked this book.  The illustrations were very interesting but fit with the poems really well.  I loved the way the book was put together.  I was literally flipping the book upside down and sideways in order to read the poems and view the illustrations properly.  If I had to chose a poem to be my favorite, I would have to chose the cliche poem.  It was amusing and made me smile.

I would definitely put this book in my classroom library.  I could probably come up with a classroom activity or individual assignments for my future students.  I could bring this book into a poetry unit.  I can see myself using this book in the future and I recommend it to everyone who loves to read.