I recently watched my son struggle to get through Pride and Prejudice these past few weeks. He couldn’t connect. He complained every day. And I get it. Not every genre or every title is going to please the masses. But I couldn’t help but wonder if teachers kept the same sorts of books and curriculum year after year because they truly loved the stories and lessons– or was it more of a lack of funding to buy new material– or was it a lack of imagination to find what might deliver the same results but with something that could connect the students to reading in a better way?
I have taught many different ages. I have taught preschool. I have taught middle school. And now, I teach elementary age students. One thing I never stop doing, is looking for new literature to spark interest and conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I keep “oldies but goodies” in my closet and teach them with just as much vigor as the bright and shiny new books, but I try to make sure I stay true to showing my students different genres that push boundaries of topics of conversation and still stay relatable. It’s hard to please everyone. Some books transcend time- they are loved no matter who reads them and their themes are universal and poignant. I have yet to find a student who didn’t get their heart in their throat when reading On My Honor, or Bridge to Terabithia. But I also saw them moved when reading A Long Walk to Water, or I Am Malala.
Maybe it doesn’t matter what book it is, if the teacher can bring emotion and purpose to the reading, it will engage the students strictly by modeling great reading habits. Whether teaching old books, or new, students need to feel they can relate. They need to feel purpose, and they need to learn empathy so that they can put themselves in the place of the many characters they come into contact with. What books do you find connect with our students today? What sparks conversation, debate, joy, and true emotion? I try to get all of those things from my first graders with simple picture books. I love a great picture book!
Post and comment your favorite books you think should be taught in school. Are they books from your school year memories? Books you teach? Books you wished were taught? Is there a book that changed your life, or at the very least, your perspective about the world we live in? That’s all I’m looking for. I want kids reading so that their hearts are full of all the possibilities of the world, and so that they know- with a book- they are never alone.
Everyone has their New Year’s Resolution. But I am ready to commit to a new kind of resolution. And that is to read a variety of genres this year. I typically steer toward historical fiction (hence- my time travel series), but I feel the need to expand my horizons. I would like to include some nonfiction entries, a sci-fi, and maybe…just maybe… a fantasy. That will be a hard reach for me. I am currently enjoying some fictions reads from my goodreads list that I make based off of my book club suggestions and word of mouth..but I would love to hear some suggestions of well loved books from the genres I just listed.
I also have the goal to start writing again, and I have a few ideas floating around in my head. Of course, all are so different that I have no idea which way to go. I have dystopian, young adult, and a little “based on a true story” going around as well as a good old survival story. Dystopians have flooded the market and I may have missed the boat on that one…Young adult is always a fun place to be, but the older I get, the less I feel I can fully relate. And the true story is a little close to home and may not be received well by all…Hmmmmm..Leaning toward a good old fashioned fun survival story so far. Thoughts?
Hope your new year is starting off well! Stay healthy! Stay safe! Keep reading!
What books are on your holiday list?
I know I will be spending some of my teaching break doing some baking and cleaning, but I will definitely be doing some READING! First of all, they are making an old favorite of mine, Redeeming Love, into a movie, so I am rereading that one. True love story and the message is strong! Also, a friend passed on The Nature of Fragile Things, as I love historical fiction. And- I have a pile of other books just waiting. My Online Book Club just released the 2022 titles to be reading and I can’t wait to explore them. Some of them that caught my eye are:The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano, The People We Keep, The Tobacco Wives, and The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot.
So many stories- so little time! But..I wish you all a healthy, prosperous New Year filled with stories of your own! Make sure you check out Linked Through Time- my YA trilogy that has some historical aspects and down home true stories of life from the farm.
I’ve always loved time travel. The idea of being immersed in times that are beyond my knowledge or understanding. Just to experience, not necessarily simpler times, but the unknown of times so unlike what we see today…I took that obsession and put it into my trilogy- taking readers to a real place with a few actual events and challenged myself to imagine what it would have been like growing up like my father did in rural Minnesota. If you enjoy the country, take a trip back with Linked Through Time….and then take a trip even further back in time with Lost Through Time. A quaint Minnesota town with a little bit of murder…
Check it out!
As a teacher, I come across so many books for children. I love picture books so much; they are amazing teaching tools even for those “too cool” big kids! Just like the regular novel, there are great books for kids and some not so great. Sometimes, when I pick up a book aimed at my little 6 year old audience, I wonder who makes those final decisions on what makes the grade? I try to keep up with my YA books ( I’ve fallen behind since I left teaching middle school) and now I am always on the prowl for that next great picture book for my first grade students. Certain books work (I Need My Monster) and certain books fall flat. Recognizing what students love, what they understand, and what visual stimuli works is such a big project. I love the cute ideas like The Bad Seed and The Paperbag Princess, The Interrupting Chicken, or Click Clack Moo. I applaud the authors and illustrators who just plain “get” kids. I find myself getting excited to read the books to my students because I love them so much. Mo Willems is an excellent example of knowing what kids love and what draws them to read. I mean, the pigeon? Who doesn’t love the pigeon character? I know no matter how old I get, I will always be looking for that next kid read. When I have grandchildren, they will be inundated with all of the characters I have “met” over the years.
What is your favorite childhood story or character? Is there a story you have fond memories of hearing?
Thank goodness for picture books…..
After taking quite the hiatus- I am trying to get back into the book world- not just in devouring books myself, but talking about them and possibly, writing again. In the meantime, I spent most of COVID lockdown reading so many types of books- and leaving many books unfinished (which I never used to do) I realized I am searching for that life altering book. That book that leaves you with a book hangover because you are so altered by how invested you are in the characters and their lives.
I have to say joining an online book club on Facebook really helped direct me to better choices in books. I went through a dry spell where I couldn’t invest in ANYTHING- and this book club really helped me find readers with my same interests and passions, but also helped me go outside my comfort zone. Some of my favorite titles this past COVID lockdown time were: The Authenticity Project, Anxious People, In Five Years, The Language of Flowers, and Finding Georgina. One book that I really loved and didn’t expect to was, Have You Seen Luis Velez. Some heartfelt reads there in the list and not some of my usual picks.
I realized it is close to a decade since my book trilogy had its meager beginnings, and as my children get older I am finding that maybe I can return to the keyboard once again. But first, let’s see if I can manage a few posts on the old website. Here’s something to think about….what do you look for when choosing a book…I’ve used several methods including the “eye catching cover”…but the one thing that never fails me, is to read the first page. The perspective/viewpoint is what gets me every time. I find this is what I want to keep in mind when I write my own stories. Certain voices are so catchy- they grab you from page one. Authors that can master that voice intrigue me, because to me, they have mastered getting into the human brain so well it feels like they could write about something mundane but make it so relatable and interesting you don’t even notice-
Why do you read? to learn? To escape? To feel? All I know is…there is nothing better than a good book. You can take a story anywhere….
Unbelievable- get the entire Linked series for FREE! The weekend of February 15, 16, and 17th 2019, all three of my books will be free to download from Amazon. Copy and paste the following links into your browser to get these downloads!
YA Time travel- Follow Kate Christenson through time as she discovers that the past is not always what it seems. Revenge, mystery, suicide….or is it murder? The secrets in her family history are darker than anyone can imagine-
It’s that time of year- time to make a New Year’s Resolution! I think your year can only get better by adding some amazing books to your list. This year, I had some great reads- one of my favorite- Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I also liked Trevor Noah’s- Born a Crime. A few others on my list- Before We Were Yours, Lilac Girls, and Three Wishes. Some fun reads! Don’t forget to support new authors out there- it’s so hard to break into the business and get noticed. And don’t forget to leave reviews online! I know that’s a huge factor on my choices- but most importantly, tell friends! I get a lot of my book recommendations from book clubs and my neighbor, Lexi. It helps you try new genres and branch out a bit!
Start out with my YA trilogy book #1- Linked Through Time- Time travel is in- if Outlander has anything to say about it!
Best of luck in 2018 and send in your favorite reads from the past year!
What books were your favorite in 2016? What’s on your list for 2017?
My faves for 2016: Love Anthony, Ordinary Grace, Big Little Lies, Take Me With You, When I Found You, (I reread Outlander books 1,3, and 5 because of the show!!!) WONDER (LOVED!), Me Before You, Wool series.
Upcoming for 2017: A Man Called Ove, Fallen Giants trilogy
I have been trying to read a variety of genres and it’s really opened my eyes to some talented authors out there. I am teaching 6th grade literature so YA is on my radar. Anyone have a good classroom read aloud?
Cheers to you and yours–and here’s to you finding that book that leaves you with the best book hangover you can imagine.
Check out time travel: Linked Through Time seres: https://www.amazon.com/Linked-Through-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B007V2SH9Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483279729&sr=8-1&keywords=linked+through+time
So excited! Linked Through Time has been chosen as Pick of the Month for September 2015~!
Here is the link and some comments Ms. Donovan had for Linked Through Time:
Good morning –
I wanted to add that your book has ALSO been selected for profile as my ‘Pick of the Month’ for September!
You can read about it here: http://donovansliteraryservices.com/pick-of-the-month.html
It’s often hard choosing a top ‘winner’ each month, but this one stood out from the crowd so it’s my pleasure to give you additional kudos and exposure. I’ve read young adult timeslip novels since I was a teen, from Edward Eager to Edward Ormodroyd, so it’s a particular pleasure to see a story that goes a step further!
I wish you the very best with this fine book – it deserves much mention and many accolades!
Best regards -
Diane Donovan, Editor