Showing posts with label reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reading. Show all posts

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What I Finished Last Week

Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes
(review coming soon)

Gem by Holly Hobbie
(review coming soon)

Bully Goat Grim
(review coming soon)

Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop

(review coming soon)

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
(review coming soon)

Flirting in Italian
(review coming soon)

What I'm Reading Now

Eat the City:  A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers,
Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners,
Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers,
and Brewers Who Built New York

Time for Kids Big Book of What?

What I Might Read Next

It's time again for Paris in July, so...

Le Road Trip

Paris My Sweet

Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

What are you reading today?!

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! As part of this weekly meme Book Journey loves to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. Book Journey offers a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment telling BJ how many you visited.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hour 5: Tales from Outer Suburbia

It's not on anyone's classics book...yet. But what a fantastic read! Fantastic is a key word, because every story feels like a fantasy, yet terribly real.

Yes, I, who grew up in suburbia when nobody knew it would take over America like a disease, I always thought of suburbia as a strange world but never ventured into the corners of suburbia that Tan takes us to in this book.

The pictures are perfect and the stories so thoughtful I would love to read them again and again.

Another excellent read. Did I ever pick some great reads for the read-a-thon?!

Hour 4: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Fourth hour, fourth book completed. (Mind you, all my books for the read-a-thon were jump started; I'm not really reading books...I'm finishing them.)

And not just another book completed...another GREAT book completed. I would recommend highly all the books I've read today.

Breakfast at Tiffany's. I'd seen the movie. I've read two other Capote books and was wowed by them. Breakfast at Tiffany's is equally wonderful. The juxtaposition of our narrator and Holly Golightly makes the book. Holly would probably be called manic-depressive today when she was hospitalized but to the narrator and her other admirers she has that rare zest for life that is to wonderous to behold. Others, more thoughtful observers, would also see in Holly the devastation she left in her wake.

A powerful story.

Hour 3: Member of the Wedding

Hour 3 had me responding to a mini-challenge (quite hopelessly as I knew only one of the book covers pictured and made a mad guess at one other...unlikely to win this one).

Then I finished The Member of the Wedding. Third book of the Read-a-Thon. Third excellent book of the Read-a-Thon. I am marvelling at how odd it is that I've finished three books in three hours and they were all three excellent reads.

Frankie provides our eyes and ears for A Member of the Wedding and what a view she gives us readers! Frankie is poised on the edge of childhood and adulthood, that awful spot we now call adolescence, but she is not sitting quietly on the edge; she is teetering back and forth between the worlds and it is not a happy place to be. She has lost her connections to her world. There are only two who try to call her back into the world: Berenice, the housekeeper, and her cousin, John Henry. As Frankie questions the world, Berenice is the voice of the grownup world, trying to ease Frankie into the new world. At the same time, John Henry is the voice of Frankie's childhood, urging her to play, to experience the world, to forget the world of thinking. Frankie's one hope becomes her desire to escape and join her brother and his new wife after their wedding. Of course, this does not happen and Frankie goes back to her world, but she is not the same person she once was.

What a rich, marvelous book! I could read it all over again and I think I would love it just as much. Frankie's encounter with the soldier...the monkey and the monkey owner...the Freaks....the noises and the pictures the author draws of this world...a rich, rich story.

Hour 1: Intro Meme

Where are you reading from today?
I'm in my amazing meditation room right now...comfortable reading chair...relaxing day bed...candle...two laptops...iPhone...and a huge pile of short books....

3 facts about me …
1. I read.
2. I read.
3. I read.

(Surely, you say, there is more? Alas, I must say: I read.)

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
Going to count right now...eek...believe it or not...34!

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
Read and blog, read and blog, read and blog, with a little time out for a bridal shower (ah, but I've still got my iPhone and Kindle!)

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Slow and steady finishes the race.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

TSS: Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough

Geoffrey Canada is a teacher who came up against the most-difficult-to-educate group of kids a teacher can face: kids who grew up in poverty, with broken homes, surrounded by drugs and guns and alcohol. But Canada was not daunted by this group. As a child, he grew up in the same world and, somehow, he managed to transcend that world and make a good life for himself. Canada, unlike other reformers, found much to love in the Harlem in which he grew up. He found support and love among his fellow African American men, support and love he never really found in any other world. So Canada came to want to retain the strengths of the culture all the while bringing in the strengths of the broader American culture.

And did Canada ever have a dream?! Canada wanted to do more than bring in the superheroes to lift a few children here and there out of poverty. Instead, he decided to work in every area of a child’s life to improve the entire world. He started classes to teach parents from day one how to take care of their children. He created a baby school for the youngest of children to learn in an enriched environment. He began preschools and kindergartens and elementary schools and middle schools. He maintained the superhero programs for the oldest and most jaded and most difficult to reach children of poverty.

Did Canada accomplish his goals? His is still a work in progress. But the early results are startling. What could we do if we all worked together to have poor children experience the kind of lives those of us in the middle class take for granted?

Here are a few brutal facts from his book:

“…significant skill gaps exist---by race, class, and maternal education---and they open up very early. At age one there is not a great difference between the cognitive abilities of the child of a college graduate and the child of a high school dropout, but by age two there is a sizable gap, and at three it’s even wider.”

“…GED recipients earn no more than high school dropouts, on the average, even when their intelligence scores are higher. And why? Heckman says it is because they lack all of the noncognitive skills that a person must possess in order to make it through high school: patience, persistence, self-confidence, the ability to follow instructions, the ability to delay gratification for a future reward….”

“…both cognitive and noncognitive skills are teachable---but it matters a great deal when you try to teach them.”

“There was plenty of research around that showed that poor children not only benefited from being in prekindergarten, but they benefited more than other children.”

“And in reading, as it turns out, the metaphorical rich overlap with the literal rich. Even as early as the beginning of kindergarten, children’s level of ability with the printed word tends to correspond closely to the income level of their parents. As Susan B. Neuman, the education scholar, has reported, more than four out of five children at the highest socioeconomic level recognize the letters of the alphabet on the first day of kindergarten, compared to less than two of five children at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale. Half of all well-off kids can identify the beginning sounds of words when they start kindergarten, while just 10 percent of poor children can do the same.”

“…with very few exceptions, good early readers become great readers, and limited early readers almost always end up as poor readers. Late bloomers are, in fact, quite rare.” (The Matthew effect)

'And then after kindergarten, because of the Matthew effect, the disparities get even worse….Kids who are able to master “decoding,” to grasp the strange fact that black marks on a page connect to sounds…and that those sounds and marks go together to convey information…---those kids think reading is fun. They do more of it. And the more they do, the easier it gets, and the easier it gets, the more they do. For children who have a harder time cracking the code early on, the opposite occurs, a grim process that one researcher calls “the devastating downward spiral.” '

“By middle school, the gap between avid readers and reluctant readers has grown into a chasm. If you rank fifth-grade students by how much time they spend reading on their own, outside of school, you find a huge range. A child at the ninetieth percentile---not the most book-crazy kid in class, but close to the top---will spend an average of twenty-one minutes a day reading…which means that she goes through more than 1.8 million words a year. A child at the tenth percentile---not the most reading-averse kid in class, but close---will spend an average of six seconds a day on independent reading, which works out to just eight thousand words a year.”

‘Joseph Torgesen, a researcher at the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University…looked at a dozen or so experimental studies of intensive reading interventions done in different parts of the country and targeted at different ages. When he analyzed the interventions aimed at nine-to twelve-year-old struggling readers, he found results that were mixed at best. With enough time and work, it seemed, it was possible to push these middle school-aged kids forward on the reading basics, like decoding, accuracy, and word comprehension. But the news was much more discouraging when it came to “fluency”---the ability to read with ease. Torgesen’s conclusion: by the end of elementary school, “if children’s impairments in word-reading ability have reached moderate or severe levels,” catching kids up may be simply impossible. But when Torgesen looked at early interventions with delayed readers---in first and second grade---his mood brightened….The interventions were remarkably effective; each one brought at least half of the targeted students up to an average level of reading ability by the end of the grade, and in one study, 92 percent of them hit that level.’
Other reads this week:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

TSS: What I Like About Challenges

Yes, I know. People get carried away. You can end up reading something awful like Xena Warrior Princess just to add an X title to your challenge list.

But there are good things about challenges, too.

I only signed up for two challenges last year: Newbery Challenge and Around the World in 80 Books. The idea behind ATWIB is to read books set in 80 different countries. I thought I was reading books that were set all around the world. Well, I discovered I was reading books set in countries outside my US, but over and over and over I found I was reading in China and India and Iraq. And that was all. I needed to push myself a little more.

I completed the Newbery Challenge. I read all the Newbery books last year. Believe me, there were some I wanted to give up on. And that was the good thing about the NC; I stuck with it. I found a lot of wonderful books, many unknown to me.

This year I signed up for a dozen challenges. That sounds like a lot of challenges. But many of them are easy for me. If I can't complete the Young Readers Challenge (12 children's books) by the end of January and me a primary school librarian, then something's wrong! And because I read so many children's books, it is a piece of cake for me to read 52 books, even 100 books.

Some of the challenges will be more, well, challenging for me. The World Citizen Challenge, which encourages readers to try to read from the categories of economics, politics, worldwide issues, sociology, history, and memoirs, will probably be my biggest challenge.

I am going into this with the mindset that this is all just for fun. I'm really not interested in the prizes some challenges offer (though they are a nice added incentive). If I can't finish the challenge, oh well. But I've already read lots of great books I'd never have encountered if I hadn't ventured out into unknown waters. Even if I never reach land, the swim is delightful.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Brutal Facts

At my last school, our principal's favorite buzzword, taken from Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, was "brutal facts."

I read a humdinger of a brutal fact yesterday. I’m still thinking hard about the last chapter of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which concludes with a study done on students’ reading and math acquisition over the summer months and during the school year. The study splits up children according to their SES: low, medium, and high. Here’s the startling conclusion: low and middle SES kids learn MORE during the school year than high SES kids. Odd. And, further, in the summer, low SES kids learn little or even lose ground while high SES kids make tremendous gains.
Still thinking about this....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Salon: Houston Puppetry Festival

The Houston Puppetry Festival was yesterday and everywhere there were puppets, puppets, puppets. Shark puppets. Clown puppets. Sandwich puppets. Sock puppets. Spoon puppets. Wolf puppets. An enormous full body puppet you wear as a costume. King puppets. Vampire puppets. Puppets, puppets, puppets.

I carried LaToya along with me and got lots of help from master puppeteers. LaToya behaved herself pretty well.

Great day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reading about Reading

I'd requested Proust and the Squid from the public library and it finally arrived yesterday. I'd planned to browse it, reading the parts that seemed relevant or intriguing. Instead, I read the whole book today.

Here were some of the thoughts from the book I'm still thinking about:

“While reading, we can leave our own consciousness, and pass over into the consciousness of another person, another age, another culture.”

“The implications of cognitive automaticity for human intellectual development are potentially staggering.”

“…by five years of age, some children from impoverished-language environments have heard 32 million fewer words spoken to them than the average middle-class child. In another study, which looked at how many words children produce at age three, children from impoverished environments used less than half the number of words already spoken by their more advantaged peers….In the most underprivileged community, no children’s books were found in the homes; in the low-income to middle-income community, there were, on average, three books; and in the affluent community there were around 200 books….One of the major contributors to later reading was simply the amount of time for ‘talk around dinner.’ The importance of simply being talked to, read to, and listened to is what much of early language development is about….”

“Some up-front costs, such as transfer errors and substitutions from one language to the next, are less important than the advantages, if…the child learns each language well.” (implications of learning two languages as a child)

“When one realizes that children have to learn about 88,700 written words during their school years, and that at least 9,000 of these words need to be learned by the end of grade 3, the huge importance of a child’s development of vocabulary becomes crystal-clear.”

“An enormously important influence on the development of comprehension in childhood is what happens after we remember, predict, and infer: we feel, we identify, and in the process we understand more fully and can’t wait to turn the page.”

‘Recent reports from the National Reading Panel and the “nation’s report cards” indicate that 30 to 40 percent of children in the fourth grade do not become fluent readers with adequate comprehension….the entire school system (has) different expectations for students from grade 4 on. This approach is encapsulated in the mantra that in the first three grades a child “learns to read,” and in the next grades a child “reads to learn.”’

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sunday Salon: Raved-About Books...Goodbye TBR

In June, with my TBR completely engulfing all available space in my house, in desperation, I started a Raved-About Book List. By focusing on these books, I've been able to complete:

The Age of Gold by H. W. Brands
A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul
My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead edited by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer
Sundays in America by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

I'm deleting a few and adding a few, leaving:
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
A Death in the Family by James Agee
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Native Son by Richard Wright
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene
Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany

Friday, August 1, 2008

Best Reads Ever (to be updated regularly)

An online bookgroup invited its members to submit their 100 favorite reads list. Here's mine (100 plus a few extra):

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
Book of Luminous Things edited by Czeslaw Milosz
Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Candide by Voltaire
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
Civility by Stephen L. Carter
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Crispin: Cross of Lead by Avi
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
A Death in the Family by James Agee
The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynn Truss
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Everyday Sacred by Sue Bender
Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Firegirl by Tony Abbott
Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
The Gold Bug Variations by Richard Powers
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Grass Harp by Truman Capote
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Half Magic by Edgar Eager
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Happenstance by Carol Shields
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice by J. K. Rowling
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Heaven is a Playground by Rick Telander
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Holes by Louis Sachar
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Into that Good Night by Ron Rozelle
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Independent People by Halldor Laxness
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
John Adams by David McCullough
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
A Kiss for Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
The Last Shot by Darcy Frey
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Lives of the Writers by Kathleen Krull
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Pec
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Love is a Wild Assault by Elithe Hamilton Kirkland
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Magister Ludi by Hermann Hesse
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
Make a World by Ed Emberly
Material World by Peter Menzel
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog by Cynthia Rylant
Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead edited by Jeffrey Eugenides
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Odyssey by Homer
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
One Man’s Meat by E. B. White
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster
Plan B by Anne Lamott
A Poem a Day edited by Karen McKosker
Possession by A. S. Byatt
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Rotten Island by William Steig
Sailing Alone Around the World by Billy Collins
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodge
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
The Secret History by Donna Tarte
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Silk by Allesandro Baricco
Small Island by Andrea Levy
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Sounder by William Armstrong
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Step Ball Change by Jeanne Ray
Strong Measures edited by Philip Dacey and David Jauss
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Tadpole's Promise by Jeanne Willis
Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Waiting by Ha Jin
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Watership Down by Richard Adams
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevtich
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis
Working by Studs Terkel
The World is Not Enough by Zoe Oldenbourg
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
Zen and Zen Classics by R. H. Blyth