Jillicious Reading: Why YA Lit?

Why YA Lit?

Young adult literature is not just for young adults.  Due to the success of the Harry Potter and Twilight series, YA lit has received a lot of attention.  But, books about kids and teens have appealed to adult readers for years.  Classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, Jane Eyre, and Pride & Prejudice all feature young main characters.  These young adults, their perspectives and development, are what drive these beloved stories.
The teen years are such a unique time in one’s life.  So much is happening and changing as teens try to figure out who they are, who they want to be, and how to best express themselves in an adult-controlled world.  They can wake up in the morning as one person and go to bed someone completely different that night because of experiences that took place in one life-altering day.  It is a time of constant “firsts”…. first love, first broken heart, first view of the evils in the world, first taste of the beautiful possibilities ahead.  This tumultuous time provides the perfect canvas for strong character development and captivating plotlines. 

For some teens this time is exhilerating; for others it is a terrible battle of trying to fit in, trying to discover themselves while struggling with constant self-doubt and uncertainty.  Many others, sadly, are experiencing hardship and abuse from the adults in their lives.  Because of this, young adult fiction offers a wide variety of topics, some dark and troublesome, some lighter and happily-ever-after; this variety allows teens to find themselves and their troubled world within their reading or to completely escape to a different, better place.  It also builds empathy in readers as they see things through another’s perspective.   
If you are an adult and haven’t tried young adult literature, now is the time!  The YA sections of your local library or book store are overflowing with outstanding writing, compelling stories & settings, and characters that will stay with you long after the story ends.  And, they are not all about vampires!  Take a look!  You’ll be surprised at what you will find.  Young adult literature, today’s most exciting area of publishing, offers original, memorable novels in all genres by a cast of extremely talented authors.  YA fiction allows adults the opportunity to experience incredible stories of self-discovery, to revist the precarious but often delightful feelings of the teen years, and to be reminded that it’s never too late to become who you might have been.   

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Jillicious Reading: Review Policy

Review Policy

This blog is intended to give visitors new reading ideas.  I only write about the books that stand out to me in some way – strong characters, interesting plots, original ideas, smart writing … books that make me think, make me laugh out loud, stay with me long after the last page … books that are worth checking out and giving a try.

Because of the purpose of the blog, Jillicious Reading only includes positive reviews.  There is, of course, a range within the books I “like” – some just have a few redeeming qualities that make them worth a read while others are not-to-be-missed, “rock stars.”  But, all of the books spotlighted on the blog must have some literary merit and reader appeal. 

So, I do not review books by request.  I am afraid I would feel I must say something positive, and I can’t take the pressure!  🙂  It would also defeat the purpose of the blog and my original intent.  If you have a book you would like me to read, you are welcome to send it to me … but I can’t make any promises.  If I do read it and like it, I’ll write about it!  But, if I don’t, it won’t appear on the blog.  

Email me if you have a book you’d like to send, but please remember that it may not make it to my “to read” stack and/or to my “blog about” list.  Thank you for your understanding!         

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Jillicious Reading: SNACKS

SNACKS

JILLICIOUS SNACKS

(AKA Picture Books)

Looking for a good picture book?  Here are some of my favorites that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages:  
  
(Note:  These are a few favorites.  I continue to spotlight other stand-out JILLICIOUS SNACKS in regular posts.) 

** indicates picture books that I loved as a child and still love as an adult!

Alice the Fairy by David Shannon
Alice is a fairy-in-training trying to perfect her “magic.”

 Boss Baby by Marla Frazee
The baby has arrived, and it’s clear he is completely in charge! 

Bread and Jam for Frances** by Russell Hoban
All she wants to eat is bread and jam, so her mother gives Frances her wish. 

Bubba and Beau Meet the Relatives by Kathi Appelt
Bubba and Beau are in for a surprise when all the kin show up in Bubbaville for a visit.

George and Martha** by James Marshall
The stories of the friendship between hippos George and Martha are full of lessons and laughter.

Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes
Lilly is so excited about her little brother ….until he arrives.

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
Trixie’s adventure to the laundromat takes a terrible turn when she realizes she’s left her beloved Knuffle Bunny behind. 

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
His anxious parents wonder if Leo will ever bloom.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
A lion visits the library and is allowed to stay as long as he follows the rules.

Make Way for Ducklings** by Robert McCloskey
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard love Boston’s Public Garden, but is the city the best place to raise a family?

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Officer Buckle’s many safety tips become much more interesting when his dog Gloria helps present them.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
A young boy takes a magical train ride to the North Pole.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
What an experience it is when the relatives come!  

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of everything, so he prefers to stay comfortably secure in his tree.

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schaschner
Skippyjon is a Siamese cat but wishes he were a chihuahua. 

Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Spoon is feeling a bit jealous of his friends Knife, Fork and Chopsticks because he cannot do what they can do.
The Story of Ferdinand** by Munro Leaf

Ferdinand would much prefer sitting under trees smelling flowers than butting heads with the other bulls.
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
Tacky is not at all like the other penguins.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Ms. Polacco tells the autobiographical story of the teacher who helped her overcome her reading disability.

When I was a Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth by Jamie Lee Curtis
A four-year-old reflects on how different she was when she was little.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Jillicious Reading: Creating Book Buzz

Creating Book Buzz

JILLICIOUS VEGGIES
Creating Book Buzz

Hey, librarians!  Use displays and bulletin boards to create book buzz in your library and increase your circulation. 

The following are ideas from my middle school library but can easily be adapted for other levels:   

Spotlight reading lists such as the Texas Lone Star Reading List so students can easily find these recommended titles. 
Display the Teens’ Top Ten nominees before voting takes place during Teen Read Week.  After the voting, display the winning titles.
Let students see what other students are reading.  Showcase the top circulating “bestsellers” in your library.
Chick Picks!   A display of “girl” books gives ladies a great place to browse.
And don’t forget the guys!
  
Spotlight favorite genres such as horror and fantasy.

Highlight different sections such as sports, ….

…  poetry,
… and audio books!
  

A genre bulletin board allows you to spotlight a different type of book each month.  A great way to introduce students to new genres or to help them find titles & authors within their favorite.

Bulletin boards are the perfect place to highlight the current “buzz” books“Team Edward,” “Team Jacob” or “Team Who Cares” before the release of New Moon.  🙂  

A hallway bulletin board advertises library programs, upcoming events, and book clubs.
Use display cases throughout the year to advertise summer reading, newly aquired books….   
…or books centered on a theme, season or holiday.

Clear, bold signage creates convenience for library visitors.

 

Dewey signs help readers find nonfiction sections easily.

Reference “cheat sheets” hanging from shelves or computers help readers find library sections and online resources easily.

2 comments:

  1. Love this! Your library looks like a lot of fun. 🙂

    ReplyDelete

  2. Wow, great displays. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Jillicious Reading: Choices

Choices

I am a BIG believer in allowing readers of all ages to choose what they want to read. I am convinced it is a vital element in creating lifelong readers.

Learning to self-select is a vital skill worth practicing and developing. Young readers need to be able to sample what’s available in print and discover what they like and what is the right fit for them. It is important for adults to validate their choices and to give them “permission” to like what they like and not like what they don’t.

Young readers, like older readers, should not have to read on their “reading level” at all times. Adults certainly don’t all read on their reading level all of the time, and we need to allow children the same opportunity.

All this being said, I know it is helpful to many to have some knowledge of a book’s level when selecting books. So, I label the books on the blog with either ES (elementary), MS (middle), or HS (high). These simply mean that as a school librarian, this is the level for which I would purchase the book for my school library. For example, a book labeled MS/HS is a book I would buy for either a middle school or a high school library. These labels are just to provide a starting point and are not meant to be hard & fast rules.

If you are an adult guiding a young reader, thank you for encouraging literacy. Remember that in this situation you want to be an “enabler” in the positive sense of the word. Someone who does everything to encourage and faciliate a love for reading and the written word! It’s the gift of a lifetime!

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Jillicious Reading: DESSERTS

DESSERTS

JILLICIOUS DESSERTS: 

(AKA Adult Books)

As a youth-focused librarian and longtime member of the Texas Lone Star Reading List Committee, I spend most of my time reading young adult literature.  But, when I can, I love to indulge in a little adult reading.  Here are some of my favorites: 

(Note:  These are few adult books I’ve enjoyed in recent years.  I continue to spotlight adult favorites in regular posts.) 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
In 1962 Ole Miss graduate “Skeeter” Phelan returns to her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi and begins to record the stories of the African-American maids that work in and raise the children of the white households.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson
Hilarious author Bill Bryson writes of growing up in Iowa in the 1950s, fondly remembering a different time.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Beloved southern author Pat Conroy shares the books and the people that have made the biggest impact on his reading life.  

Running the Books by Avi Steinberg
Harvard grad and former freelance obituary writer Steinberg chronicles his experiences after unexpectedly taking a job as a librarian in a Boston prison.  

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Spunky, 11-year-old Flavia goes to work solving the case when her father is accused of murdering the man she found in the garden.    

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Read by Sissy Spacek
The audiobook of Miss Spacek telling the beloved story of Scout, Jim, and Atticus Finch is a treasure and the perfect way to reread this outstanding classic.  

2 comments:

  1. I own that To Kill a Mockingbird audiobook…it's a favorite on road trips!

    ReplyDelete

  2. Ms. Bellomy- you are the best librarian ever! You are so nice! Oh, and I just finished the Boss Baby book- it's so hilarious!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Jillicious Reading: About Me

About Me

I am a school librarian and hopeless bibliophile.  I particularly love young adult literature and sharing these great books with kids! 
After growing up in West Texas, I attended Texas A&M University and majored in education.  I taught for 11 years in Dallas and then, because of my passion for books and reading, decided to become a librarian.  I earned a Master’s of Library Science from the University of North Texas and have worked in school libraries for 7 years. 

Currently, I am the librarian at Highland Park Middle School in Dallas.  I returned to HPISD – the district where I got my first teaching job and did all of my classroom teaching! – last year.  I have loved being back and reconnecting with former colleagues and students. I have also started work on my PhD at Texas Woman’s University. 
    

I have been married to the most wonderful man in the world for 20 years.  He is a fellow Aggie and the funniest person I know.  We enjoy traveling, watching sports, going to movies, trying new restaurants, and spending time with friends & family.  We have been blessed with four nephews and one niece that we love dearly.




The best place in the world to watch college football… Kyle Field!  Whoooop!

     

Redstone, Colorado … one of my very favorite places!
Mabel & Ellie

Last year we lost our two beloved pets.  Ellie, our chunky. loveable pug, passed away in September and Mabel, our sweet yellow lab, passed away in March.  We miss them terribly.  We decided to get two new puppies to keep us busy … and they have done just that!   

Olive & Junebug 🙂

Dallas has been my home since college.  I enjoy all that the big city has to offer, but am really a small town girl at heart.  I hope to someday live in the Texas Hill Country in a house surrounded by bluebonnets!    

8 comments:

  1. I really like the blog, specially the colors, they are so subtle and fun. ; )

    I created a new blog directory for bloggers if you are ever interested in listing blog there. It's free. Check it out at www.FictionBloggers.com

    ReplyDelete

  2. Thank you so much for visiting and for leaving a nice comment. I will definitely visit www.fictionbloggers.com and list the blog there. What a great resource!

    ReplyDelete

  3. Hi Jill-I was looking for a way to contact you, but couldn't find an email address. Hope you don't mind me leaving this here…

    Hi there, Jill!

    We’re the Class of 2k12, a group of authors whose debut works of young-adult and middle-grade fiction will come out in 2012.

    You may have heard of our predecessors, as the 2k classes go all the way back to 2007. Many well-known and acclaimed middle-grade and young-adult authors have been a part of previous 2k classes, including Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me), Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why), and Sarah Prineas (The Magic Thief series). We hope to carry on this tradition and do them proud!

    It’s almost our turn to try. Our website, http://www.classof2k12.com, will be launching on 10-12-2011, and we’d like to keep you informed of the contests, activities and appearances we’ve planned throughout 2012. We’ll also be available for guest blogging, Skype visits, online chats, and even some in-person events as the year rolls along.

    If you’d like to receive our flyer and join our mailing list, please email us at [email protected] and provide the best email address at which to reach you. You will hear from us once a month with a friendly, non-spammy newsletter, and we will never share your email address with anyone, period.

    We look forward to hearing from you, and please feel free to be in touch with questions, comments or requests.

    Best,

    Kimberly Sabatini
    Debut Author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE (Simon Pulse, Fall 2012)
    on behalf of the Class of 2k12

    ReplyDelete

  4. Hey Jill! My 15 year old has not read any Sarah Dessen books. I thought I'd get her one for Christmas break reading. I know you love her — what would you suggest starting with? Hope you and Jason are well!

    Kim (Fisher) J

    ReplyDelete

  5. Hi, Kim! Great to hear from you. I think THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER is a good Sarah Dessen to start with. That's the first one I read and still one of my favorites. What a great mom you are!

    It is hard for me to believe you have a 15-yr-old daugther. How is that possible when you were running Fish Camp just a couple of years ago?? 😉

    Hope you're all doing well and enjoying the holiday season. Stay in touch!
    – jill

    ReplyDelete

  6. Jill – I LOVE your blog so now I'm following & I shared it with the 6th & 7th LA teachers . . . really like the template you use to write about the books. To loosely quote John Green — you NFTBA — translation, you never forget to be awesome.

    ReplyDelete

  7. Thanks for following, Leesa, and for sharing with your teachers. I appreciate it! And, you NFTBA either. 🙂 (I heart John Green!)

    ReplyDelete

  8. Jill, thanks for the blog; it is fantastic. After looking at the BT for "Wonder", I stumbled upon the book…"The One and Only Ivan". At times, I DO cry when reading, but I've never cried watching a TRAILER.
    Have you read "The One and Only Ivan"?

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

jillicious reading – lists to read & grow by

5 (of the many) reasons I love disrupting thinking

As soon as I saw a blurb about Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, I knew it was going to be compelling and would likely speak to matters that concern me deeply; I ordered it immediately.  When I started reading, it felt like it was the book I had been waiting for!  Below are a few reasons why.

Beers and Probst …

  1. articulate the problem.

In the Introduction, they report that a major impediment to “the deep learning we all want for students” … is apathy (9).  This lack of interest and engagement is exactly what I have been observing more and more in recent years.  The researchers (and those they interviewed) perfectly pinpointed what was causing my discouragement.  I found it disheartening, but also comforting to know others were seeing and lamenting the same indifference in their students … and searching for solutions!

  1. provide a simple but thorough framework.

To combat this problem, the seasoned educators charge us with building responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers.  I love these three words and ALL they encapsulate.  While discouraged by the apathy of many students, I do believe in the power of reading to change lives.  I felt I now had a new, more focused battle cry!  Beers and Probst went on to form this powerful charge into a simple, direct framework – Book, Head, Heart Reading.  Sold!

  1. tell what didn’t work.

The work of these two is so impactful, because they regularly visit classrooms, try things out, gain feedback from students, and report what does and doesn’t work.  While experimenting with the process and working toward the framework, one student in a class asked, “Will you two be here all week?” (62)  Hilarious!  The reminder that even these master educators are constantly tweaking and present occasional lessons that bomb is a comfort for those of us who tend to ponder alternate careers each time things go awry!

  1. model how to use the framework across grade levels.

What a benefit to see the framework modeled with first, fourth, and eighth graders and even with a college freshman.  As a middle school educator, I particularly enjoyed the 8th grade conversation and how one boy said, “It made my heart think.”  Great reminder that even middle school boys (!!) enjoy making personal connections to the text, “taking things to heart,” and having the chance to talk with others about their discoveries.

  1. tackle topics head on.

The book ends with a call to evaluate many of our practices and to consider which truly benefit students and which need some disruption.  When addressing some common practices, such as the use of  whole class novels, Beers and Probst addressed them candidly and backed up their responses with research and practical observation.  I love this point:

… on average teachers spend six to eight weeks reading a novel with students.  Neither of us can think of one novel we want to read for eight weeks.  If we love the book, we want to devour it.  If we hate it, we want to quit reading or at least want the torture to end quickly (142).

Disrupting Thinking is book I was waiting for because it connected so many things I was observing, feeling, and pondering.  I am passionate about the power of reading to spark curiosity, to encourage questions, to build empathy, to transform lives; Disrupting Thinking helped me bring it all together and renewed my zest for building lifelong readers!

If you, too, are interested in creating responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers (and people!), then read this book immediately.  It will disrupt your thinking and give you much to ponder as you prepare for the young people that will be entrusted in your care this school year.

We argue that the ultimate goal of reading is to become more than we are at the moment; to become better than we are now; to become what we did not even know we wanted to become (59).

4 books that will transport you to cuba or give you a taste of the rich culture

  1. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Arturo is looking forward to the summer … playing basketball and working at Abuela’s restaurant.  But, things turn out differently than he expects when cute Carmen arrives and the future of the restaurant is threatened by a greedy land developer.  As the weeks pass and he spends more time with Abuela, Arturo learns a lot about his Cuban roots and discovers the power of poetry and protest.

From Arturo’s discovery of Jose Marti’s revolutionary poetry to the contagious passion of his civic minded cousin Vanessa, this novel is all about finding your voice and standing up for what you believe in – no matter your age!  I loved Arturo’s big noisy family, his funny friends, the times spent together around good food at Abuela’s restaurant, and the powerful message that everyone can make a difference.  The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is an epic success!

  1. My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson

When Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1960, he issued a bold literacy initiative – everyone in the country would learn to read and write in one year.  The government recruited more than 250,000 volunteers (most of them between the ages of 10 – 19!) to travel throughout the country and educate all.  This novel tells the story of Lora, a fictionalized character based on the true stories of many young Cubans who volunteered.  Like Arturo, Lora gleaned inspiration from the impassioned poems of Jose Marti’ and from her Abuela who supported her desire to make a change in the world.

This was a piece of history of which I was completely unaware … one of my favorite things to read!  The story is so powerful.  Lora, like many, traveled far from her home for the very first time, to live in a remote area with no modern conveniences.  I loved how the volunteers were trained to come with humility, ready to work alongside their students to gain their trust and respect.  And, what a joy to read of the farmer who had no education and could only sign his name with an’ X’, but worked so hard to learn to read and write so he could soon proudly sign his full name!  Castro was a ruthless dictator, yet his literacy imitative greatly impacted the Cuban country which still has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.  This is an unforgettable story of the power of education, courage, and service.

lucky broken girl

  1. Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

After Fidel Castro took over, many Cubans fleed their homeland.  Young Ruthie Mizrahi went with her family to start a new life in New York City.  She struggled to learn English, was placed in remedial classes due to her lack of mastery of the language, and was very homesick for lush, warm Cuba.  Just as she started to gain confidence, she was in a horrible car accident that left her in a full body cast and in bed for months.  She and her family were forced to make major adjustments, but they also grew in unanticipated ways through Ruthie’s long bittersweet road to recovery.

This novel is based on the author’s true experience as a young girl in NYC who suffered a devastating accident.  Ruthie’s experience allows the reader to feel the struggle of moving to another nation on top of dealing with a traumatic, life-changing accident.  The novel explores her worries, her fears, her frustrations as well as her discoveries about herself and the world.  The reactions of the children and her family around her are honest and thought-provoking.  The characters throughout the novel – many who are immigrants from a variety of countries – are interesting and give the reader a view into the immigrant experience that is rich and authentic.   I cheered for Ruthie as she worked so hard to recover and was proud of the stronger girl who emerged on the other side.

  1. All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato

For a vivid visual journey, travel All the Way to Havana with this young boy and his family.  They are on the way to celebrate his new baby cousin’s zero year birthday.  The family – and a lot of neighbors needing a ride – travel to the bustling city.  After a fun celebration that goes into the night, the family returns home in their trusty car that will one day be his.

Mike Curato’s illustrations bring the Cuban streets to life.  The perfectly rendered, colorful old cars zoom off the page, complete with the clucks, putts, and honks of Margarita Engle’s perfect, poetic word choice.  As author and illustrator mention in their notes, the book is a tribute to the ingenuity of the Cuban people in their care of their cars and also celebrates “classic beauty, perseverance, and family loyalty.”

Possible Pairing: 

Marti’s Song for Freedom by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal

This recently released bilingual picture book biography looks to be a good partner for these titles to learn more about the poet activist ” who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, the abolishment of slavery, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual freedom.”  (-from description on Amazon).  I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list!

3 reasons to attend ala annual

For the last several years, I have attended ALA Annual Conference.  A few reasons why it’s worth the time and expense:

  1. Hearing about new books

The whole conference is abuzz about upcoming releases!  From the exhibit floor, booths, and Book Buzz Stage to the publisher previews and special events, it’s all about new books. Hearing about the upcoming titles allows you to start building your book order lists and to start imagining which readers will love each new book.  You may also be lucky enough to leave with a few ARCs and F&Gs to get a head start on your reading!

  1. Celebrating literature

Annual Conference is where the authors and illustrators who won the year’s literary awards are honored.  These gatherings are such uplifting celebrations of books, creators, and the impact literature makes on lives. For several years, I have had the honor of attending the Newbery Caldecott Wilder Banquet, and it is always an absolute joy.  Everyone is dressed up, the speeches are heartfelt and emotional, and each evening is unique.  It’s librarian prom!  This year was no different.  I particularly enjoyed Javaka Steptoe’s speech, his reference to Langston Hughes’s poem Genius Child, and his message about sharing the truth from children.

For the first time this year, I attended the Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast.  It was absolutely unforgettable.  It started with a phenomenal prayer and singing, and then preceded with stirring speeches from today’s literary greats.  Luckily my friend April, a seasoned pro, came prepared with tissue!  I left with no make-up, but completely energized, invigorated, and so thankful to be somehow involved in the world of literature.  If only every day could start like that!

Jason Reynolds accepts CSK Author Honor for As Brave as You.  Nicola Yoon, Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and the back of Roger Sutton’s head also pictured. ????
  1. Connecting

The first time I attended the annual conference I only knew a handful of Texas librarians who were also in attendance.  At several of the events I didn’t know a soul; but, I introduced myself, had some great conversations with new people, and joined committees.  Now, I am fortunate to  know librarians and people in the book business from all over the continent. Each summer I look forward to the conference as a time to reconnect and catch up.  And each year, I meet more lovely people and continue expanding my circle!

4 swoon-worthy summer romances

  1. Summer is the perfect time to catch up on some romance reading while relaxing in the sun.  If you enjoy love stories, here are a few titles to add to your beach bag:

1.Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

The daughter of a wedding planner, Louna has grown up around love but doesn’t believe in the happily-ever-after herself.   Her own first love ended quite sadly and has left her very skeptical about fairy tale endings.  When she meets Ambrose – a carefree, wickedly handsome heart breaker – she detests him instantly.  But, he seems to turn everywhere she is and is proving to be much more than she first thought.

This novel is classic Dessen – a charming love story that also explores complex issues including loss, family relationships, and self-discovery.  It is a funny, honest, heartwarming tale of first loves and second chances.  You’ll race through and then lament having to wait for her next release.

2. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

In this final volume in the To All the Boys I Love Before trilogy, Lara Jean is enjoying her senior year, hopelessly in love with her boyfriend Peter and making plans for college in the fall.  But an unexpected turn of events sends Lara Jean on a new path she did not expect.

Jenny Han’s books are a delight.  The characters are interesting and well developed, and the relationships are authentic.  I just want to be part of the Song family, sitting in the kitchen, talking, laughing at Kitty, and smelling the delicious cookies that Lara Jean is baking.  Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the perfect end to the trilogy.

3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

After her mother passes away, Lina travels to Italy for the summer to get to know the father she never knew.  There, she comes across her mother’s journal from when she lived in Italy.  As Lina reads and retraces her mother’s steps – with the help of the quite charming Ren , she learns a lot about her mother and herself.

Love & Gelato is a story of loss, love, adventure, and family.  It sweeps the reader away to the landscapes of Tuscany, heavenly smelling hidden bakeries, and colorful gelato stands. Che bello!

when dimple met rishi

4. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple is elated her parents are allowing her to attend Insomnia Con the summer before college.  She dreams of being a web developer, and this will give her the jump start she needs.  What she doesn’t expect is meeting Rishi, a boy her parents have selected as a possible husband!  The summer is full of many more surprises, the biggest of which may be the boy who came to meet his future wife.

What a delightful rom-com!  Both smart and quirky, Dimple and Rishi are struggling, each in their own way, to figure how to balance their parents’ expectations with their personal dreams.  Their story is original, funny, and absolutely adorable.

3 reasons for a new blog

  1. Lists.   I love lists.  I love making them, and I love content delivered through them. The Buzz Feed-ish list posts are always my favorite on any blog and instantly draw me in.  So, why not give them a try on my own blog?  I think it will be a fun format that will allow me to think about books in new ways and write about more books more often.
  2. Change is good.  As George Couros says, “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”  No promises that this blog will be amazing, but change is exciting and inspiring.  I have a new perspective and passion in my work.  I believe strongly in literature’s power to broaden horizons, build empathy, and teach kindness. Literature touches and expands hearts. It can motivate people to take action and to make positive changes personally and in the world around them.  A freshly formatted blog allows me to share my passion for literature and its transformative power in a new way.
  3. Fresh starts.  And, who doesn’t love a fresh start?  A new school year, a crisp blank journal, a fresh box of crayons, a sassy fun haircut.  It’s a chance to take a deep breath and begin anew, hopeful for the journey ahead.  Will you join me?

jwbellomy – jillicious reading

5 (of the many) reasons I love disrupting thinking

As soon as I saw a blurb about Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, I knew it was going to be compelling and would likely speak to matters that concern me deeply; I ordered it immediately.  When I started reading, it felt like it was the book I had been waiting for!  Below are a few reasons why.

Beers and Probst …

  1. articulate the problem.

In the Introduction, they report that a major impediment to “the deep learning we all want for students” … is apathy (9).  This lack of interest and engagement is exactly what I have been observing more and more in recent years.  The researchers (and those they interviewed) perfectly pinpointed what was causing my discouragement.  I found it disheartening, but also comforting to know others were seeing and lamenting the same indifference in their students … and searching for solutions!

apathy

  1. provide a simple but thorough framework.

To combat this problem, the seasoned educators charge us with building responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers.  I love these three words and ALL they encapsulate.  While discouraged by the apathy of many students, I do believe in the power of reading to change lives.  I felt I now had a new, more focused battle cry!  Beers and Probst went on to form this powerful charge into a simple, direct framework – Book, Head, Heart Reading.  Sold!

BHH

  1. tell what didn’t work.

The work of these two is so impactful, because they regularly visit classrooms, try things out, gain feedback from students, and report what does and doesn’t work.  While experimenting with the process and working toward the framework, one student in a class asked, “Will you two be here all week?” (62)  Hilarious!  The reminder that even these master educators are constantly tweaking and present occasional lessons that bomb is a comfort for those of us who tend to ponder alternate careers each time things go awry!

  1. model how to use the framework across grade levels.

What a benefit to see the framework modeled with first, fourth, and eighth graders and even with a college freshman.  As a middle school educator, I particularly enjoyed the 8th grade conversation and how one boy said, “It made my heart think.”  Great reminder that even middle school boys (!!) enjoy making personal connections to the text, “taking things to heart,” and having the chance to talk with others about their discoveries.

  1. tackle topics head on.

The book ends with a call to evaluate many of our practices and to consider which truly benefit students and which need some disruption.  When addressing some common practices, such as the use of  whole class novels, Beers and Probst addressed them candidly and backed up their responses with research and practical observation.  I love this point:

… on average teachers spend six to eight weeks reading a novel with students.  Neither of us can think of one novel we want to read for eight weeks.  If we love the book, we want to devour it.  If we hate it, we want to quit reading or at least want the torture to end quickly (142).

Disrupting Thinking is book I was waiting for because it connected so many things I was observing, feeling, and pondering.  I am passionate about the power of reading to spark curiosity, to encourage questions, to build empathy, to transform lives; Disrupting Thinking helped me bring it all together and renewed my zest for building lifelong readers!

If you, too, are interested in creating responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers (and people!), then read this book immediately.  It will disrupt your thinking and give you much to ponder as you prepare for the young people that will be entrusted in your care this school year.

We argue that the ultimate goal of reading is to become more than we are at the moment; to become better than we are now; to become what we did not even know we wanted to become (59).

4 books that will transport you to cuba or give you a taste of the rich culture

epic fail

  1. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Arturo is looking forward to the summer … playing basketball and working at Abuela’s restaurant.  But, things turn out differently than he expects when cute Carmen arrives and the future of the restaurant is threatened by a greedy land developer.  As the weeks pass and he spends more time with Abuela, Arturo learns a lot about his Cuban roots and discovers the power of poetry and protest.

From Arturo’s discovery of Jose Marti’s revolutionary poetry to the contagious passion of his civic minded cousin Vanessa, this novel is all about finding your voice and standing up for what you believe in – no matter your age!  I loved Arturo’s big noisy family, his funny friends, the times spent together around good food at Abuela’s restaurant, and the powerful message that everyone can make a difference.  The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is an epic success!

brigadista year

  1. My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson

When Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1960, he issued a bold literacy initiative – everyone in the country would learn to read and write in one year.  The government recruited more than 250,000 volunteers (most of them between the ages of 10 – 19!) to travel throughout the country and educate all.  This novel tells the story of Lora, a fictionalized character based on the true stories of many young Cubans who volunteered.  Like Arturo, Lora gleaned inspiration from the impassioned poems of Jose Marti’ and from her Abuela who supported her desire to make a change in the world.

This was a piece of history of which I was completely unaware … one of my favorite things to read!  The story is so powerful.  Lora, like many, traveled far from her home for the very first time, to live in a remote area with no modern conveniences.  I loved how the volunteers were trained to come with humility, ready to work alongside their students to gain their trust and respect.  And, what a joy to read of the farmer who had no education and could only sign his name with an’ X’, but worked so hard to learn to read and write so he could soon proudly sign his full name!  Castro was a ruthless dictator, yet his literacy imitative greatly impacted the Cuban country which still has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.  This is an unforgettable story of the power of education, courage, and service.

lucky broken girl

  1. Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

After Fidel Castro took over, many Cubans fleed their homeland.  Young Ruthie Mizrahi went with her family to start a new life in New York City.  She struggled to learn English, was placed in remedial classes due to her lack of mastery of the language, and was very homesick for lush, warm Cuba.  Just as she started to gain confidence, she was in a horrible car accident that left her in a full body cast and in bed for months.  She and her family were forced to make major adjustments, but they also grew in unanticipated ways through Ruthie’s long bittersweet road to recovery.

This novel is based on the author’s true experience as a young girl in NYC who suffered a devastating accident.  Ruthie’s experience allows the reader to feel the struggle of moving to another nation on top of dealing with a traumatic, life-changing accident.  The novel explores her worries, her fears, her frustrations as well as her discoveries about herself and the world.  The reactions of the children and her family around her are honest and thought-provoking.  The characters throughout the novel – many who are immigrants from a variety of countries – are interesting and give the reader a view into the immigrant experience that is rich and authentic.   I cheered for Ruthie as she worked so hard to recover and was proud of the stronger girl who emerged on the other side.

Havana

  1. All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato

For a vivid visual journey, travel All the Way to Havana with this young boy and his family.  They are on the way to celebrate his new baby cousin’s zero year birthday.  The family – and a lot of neighbors needing a ride – travel to the bustling city.  After a fun celebration that goes into the night, the family returns home in their trusty car that will one day be his.

Mike Curato’s illustrations bring the Cuban streets to life.  The perfectly rendered, colorful old cars zoom off the page, complete with the clucks, putts, and honks of Margarita Engle’s perfect, poetic word choice.  As author and illustrator mention in their notes, the book is a tribute to the ingenuity of the Cuban people in their care of their cars and also celebrates “classic beauty, perseverance, and family loyalty.”

martis_song_for_freedom_cover

Possible Pairing: 

Marti’s Song for Freedom by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal

This recently released bilingual picture book biography looks to be a good partner for these titles to learn more about the poet activist ” who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, the abolishment of slavery, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual freedom.”  (-from description on Amazon).  I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list!

3 reasons to attend ala annual

For the last several years, I have attended ALA Annual Conference.  A few reasons why it’s worth the time and expense:

  1. Hearing about new books

The whole conference is abuzz about upcoming releases!  From the exhibit floor, booths, and Book Buzz Stage to the publisher previews and special events, it’s all about new books. Hearing about the upcoming titles allows you to start building your book order lists and to start imagining which readers will love each new book.  You may also be lucky enough to leave with a few ARCs and F&Gs to get a head start on your reading!

  1. Celebrating literature

Annual Conference is where the authors and illustrators who won the year’s literary awards are honored.  These gatherings are such uplifting celebrations of books, creators, and the impact literature makes on lives. For several years, I have had the honor of attending the Newbery Caldecott Wilder Banquet, and it is always an absolute joy.  Everyone is dressed up, the speeches are heartfelt and emotional, and each evening is unique.  It’s librarian prom!  This year was no different.  I particularly enjoyed Javaka Steptoe’s speech, his reference to Langston Hughes’s poem Genius Child, and his message about sharing the truth from children.

For the first time this year, I attended the Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast.  It was absolutely unforgettable.  It started with a phenomenal prayer and singing, and then preceded with stirring speeches from today’s literary greats.  Luckily my friend April, a seasoned pro, came prepared with tissue!  I left with no make-up, but completely energized, invigorated, and so thankful to be somehow involved in the world of literature.  If only every day could start like that!

IMG_6069
Jason Reynolds accepts CSK Author Honor for As Brave as You.  Nicola Yoon, Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and the back of Roger Sutton’s head also pictured. ????
  1. Connecting

The first time I attended the annual conference I only knew a handful of Texas librarians who were also in attendance.  At several of the events I didn’t know a soul; but, I introduced myself, had some great conversations with new people, and joined committees.  Now, I am fortunate to  know librarians and people in the book business from all over the continent. Each summer I look forward to the conference as a time to reconnect and catch up.  And each year, I meet more lovely people and continue expanding my circle!

FullSizeRender (22)

4 swoon-worthy summer romances

  1. Summer is the perfect time to catch up on some romance reading while relaxing in the sun.  If you enjoy love stories, here are a few titles to add to your beach bag:

Once and for all

1.Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

The daughter of a wedding planner, Louna has grown up around love but doesn’t believe in the happily-ever-after herself.   Her own first love ended quite sadly and has left her very skeptical about fairy tale endings.  When she meets Ambrose – a carefree, wickedly handsome heart breaker – she detests him instantly.  But, he seems to turn everywhere she is and is proving to be much more than she first thought.

This novel is classic Dessen – a charming love story that also explores complex issues including loss, family relationships, and self-discovery.  It is a funny, honest, heartwarming tale of first loves and second chances.  You’ll race through and then lament having to wait for her next release.

always and forever

2. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

In this final volume in the To All the Boys I Love Before trilogy, Lara Jean is enjoying her senior year, hopelessly in love with her boyfriend Peter and making plans for college in the fall.  But an unexpected turn of events sends Lara Jean on a new path she did not expect.

Jenny Han’s books are a delight.  The characters are interesting and well developed, and the relationships are authentic.  I just want to be part of the Song family, sitting in the kitchen, talking, laughing at Kitty, and smelling the delicious cookies that Lara Jean is baking.  Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the perfect end to the trilogy.

LS - love & gelato

3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

After her mother passes away, Lina travels to Italy for the summer to get to know the father she never knew.  There, she comes across her mother’s journal from when she lived in Italy.  As Lina reads and retraces her mother’s steps – with the help of the quite charming Ren , she learns a lot about her mother and herself.

Love & Gelato is a story of loss, love, adventure, and family.  It sweeps the reader away to the landscapes of Tuscany, heavenly smelling hidden bakeries, and colorful gelato stands. Che bello!

when dimple met rishi

4. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple is elated her parents are allowing her to attend Insomnia Con the summer before college.  She dreams of being a web developer, and this will give her the jump start she needs.  What she doesn’t expect is meeting Rishi, a boy her parents have selected as a possible husband!  The summer is full of many more surprises, the biggest of which may be the boy who came to meet his future wife.

What a delightful rom-com!  Both smart and quirky, Dimple and Rishi are struggling, each in their own way, to figure how to balance their parents’ expectations with their personal dreams.  Their story is original, funny, and absolutely adorable.

3 reasons for a new blog

  1. Lists.   I love lists.  I love making them, and I love content delivered through them. The Buzz Feed-ish list posts are always my favorite on any blog and instantly draw me in.  So, why not give them a try on my own blog?  I think it will be a fun format that will allow me to think about books in new ways and write about more books more often.
  2. Change is good.  As George Couros says, “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.”  No promises that this blog will be amazing, but change is exciting and inspiring.  I have a new perspective and passion in my work.  I believe strongly in literature’s power to broaden horizons, build empathy, and teach kindness. Literature touches and expands hearts. It can motivate people to take action and to make positive changes personally and in the world around them.  A freshly formatted blog allows me to share my passion for literature and its transformative power in a new way.
  3. Fresh starts.  And, who doesn’t love a fresh start?  A new school year, a crisp blank journal, a fresh box of crayons, a sassy fun haircut.  It’s a chance to take a deep breath and begin anew, hopeful for the journey ahead.  Will you join me?

5 (of the many) reasons I love disrupting thinking – jillicious reading

5 (of the many) reasons I love disrupting thinking

As soon as I saw a blurb about Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst, I knew it was going to be compelling and would likely speak to matters that concern me deeply; I ordered it immediately.  When I started reading, it felt like it was the book I had been waiting for!  Below are a few reasons why.

Beers and Probst …

  1. articulate the problem.

In the Introduction, they report that a major impediment to “the deep learning we all want for students” … is apathy (9).  This lack of interest and engagement is exactly what I have been observing more and more in recent years.  The researchers (and those they interviewed) perfectly pinpointed what was causing my discouragement.  I found it disheartening, but also comforting to know others were seeing and lamenting the same indifference in their students … and searching for solutions!

apathy

  1. provide a simple but thorough framework.

To combat this problem, the seasoned educators charge us with building responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers.  I love these three words and ALL they encapsulate.  While discouraged by the apathy of many students, I do believe in the power of reading to change lives.  I felt I now had a new, more focused battle cry!  Beers and Probst went on to form this powerful charge into a simple, direct framework – Book, Head, Heart Reading.  Sold!

BHH

  1. tell what didn’t work.

The work of these two is so impactful, because they regularly visit classrooms, try things out, gain feedback from students, and report what does and doesn’t work.  While experimenting with the process and working toward the framework, one student in a class asked, “Will you two be here all week?” (62)  Hilarious!  The reminder that even these master educators are constantly tweaking and present occasional lessons that bomb is a comfort for those of us who tend to ponder alternate careers each time things go awry!

  1. model how to use the framework across grade levels.

What a benefit to see the framework modeled with first, fourth, and eighth graders and even with a college freshman.  As a middle school educator, I particularly enjoyed the 8th grade conversation and how one boy said, “It made my heart think.”  Great reminder that even middle school boys (!!) enjoy making personal connections to the text, “taking things to heart,” and having the chance to talk with others about their discoveries.

  1. tackle topics head on.

The book ends with a call to evaluate many of our practices and to consider which truly benefit students and which need some disruption.  When addressing some common practices, such as the use of  whole class novels, Beers and Probst addressed them candidly and backed up their responses with research and practical observation.  I love this point:

… on average teachers spend six to eight weeks reading a novel with students.  Neither of us can think of one novel we want to read for eight weeks.  If we love the book, we want to devour it.  If we hate it, we want to quit reading or at least want the torture to end quickly (142).

Disrupting Thinking is book I was waiting for because it connected so many things I was observing, feeling, and pondering.  I am passionate about the power of reading to spark curiosity, to encourage questions, to build empathy, to transform lives; Disrupting Thinking helped me bring it all together and renewed my zest for building lifelong readers!

If you, too, are interested in creating responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers (and people!), then read this book immediately.  It will disrupt your thinking and give you much to ponder as you prepare for the young people that will be entrusted in your care this school year.

We argue that the ultimate goal of reading is to become more than we are at the moment; to become better than we are now; to become what we did not even know we wanted to become (59).