It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/25/15

Another Monday, another round of books! Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

true diary

Although I absolutely despise rereading books, I took one for the team and reread Sherman’s wonderful book for jr. high book club. When I first read the book two years ago, I absolutely loved the voice, characters, plotline, insight, and illustrations. When I reread the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the other books I’ve never read sitting on the shelves, just waiting for me. Consequently, the second reading just fell flat.

The good news is that my seventh graders LOVED the book. One girl got a copy on Friday and on Monday morning she couldn’t wait to tell me that she stayed up practically all of Saturday night to finish the book. Both boy and girl readers felt that they could relate to Junior, the main character. I loved that my white, rural kiddos got a glimpse into a different culture while enjoying a book.

Yummy by G. Neri


Another reread, but this time for high school book club. Yet again, I enjoyed the first reading much more than the second for the same reason. Interestingly enough, I had a harder time getting the high schoolers to actually read this oldie but goodie which was disappointing. I’m not sure how I could sell it better.

Regardless, I had several students read the book until one student had the book for weeks. No amount of prodding could get that kid to read the book or give it up. Needless to say, because the book could no longer circulate among students, we did not have a meeting to discuss the riveting book. When my time student teaching was coming to a close, I pursued the book harder. Finally, the student told me that he did not have it and he did not know where it was. My first unreturned book. Sigh.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


I kept seeing this book on so many top books lists for both 2014 & 2015. And now I understand why.

A verse novel about two basketball-playing twins whose dad is a famous basketball star, this book is worth more than the hype it’s receiving. Unlike other verse novels I’ve read, this book has depth because the poems are extremely visual. The poems that detail basketball play-by-play put the reader onto the court, and the visual elements reflect the moves of the players.

I love that this book makes poetry approachable. Nonreaders see all of the whitespace and do not get intimidated. Sophisticated readers appreciate the depth of characters. All readers will love this book.

Poignant. Enthralling. Relatable. Deep.

You’ve got to read this book.

The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

Lightning Thief

My students kept talking about how totally awesome The Lightning Thief was. Knowing mythology is not a genre that interests me, I was absolutely not going to read the book…until I saw the graphic novel adaptation.

When I carried the book around school, it was like I was a superstar celebrity. Students noticed. They said things like, “Ooooh. The Lightning Thief. I loved that book.” Although I loved the book conversations I had with students because of the book, I did not enjoy the book.

If you’re like me and have no idea what this book is about, I’ll fill you in. Essentially, it’s a modern adaptation of Greek mythology. This kid Percy (Percy = Perseus) discovers his dad was Poseidon and delves into a mythological modern world. Honestly? It was just downright weird. The combination of mythology and modern elements were a strange combination for me to take in.

The Lightning Thief was the reason why my sophomores knew some of the mythology when I had to teach them Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I digress for a moment to mention that not all of Lightning Thief’s mythology paralleled our text’s mythology. For instance, Percy’s father in the book is Poseidon. However, in our class text Percy’s father is Zeus. I had students fighting mad to tell me that The Lightning Thief was actually the correct version and our text was crap.

With all that being said, I love that students love this book. They get a glimpse into mythology while enjoying a book. What more could you ask for?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


So many of my students loved the Hobbit and told me so. I’ll be honest; I do not enjoy fantasy. Magical worlds that only your mind can truly create? Not for me. So yes, I graduated as an English major without having read any of Tolkien’s coveted works.

Despite the recommendations from about everyone on the planet, I was not going to read this book. But hey, I’m all about getting the experience if it involves a shortcut. So when I saw the audiobook adapted for radio, which was only four hours long (which is extremely short for audiobooks), I jumped on the opportunity.

The adaptation was wonderful. Different people played the various characters, and music accompanied the narration. It was a wonderfully created version, very entertaining. Now to discuss what I have been avoiding – the actual content. The quest was intriguing, but even for a four hour audiobook, I felt as if it just kept going and going. I understand that’s simply what happens on quests; nobody writes a book about a quest to the grocery store and back. The good news is that I can now recommend The Hobbit to the perfect reader and when a student says that I should read the book, I can say I already have.


If you can’t get enough of book reviews, check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to satisfy your needs!