Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reading Update

Books 40-44 of 2007...

Book 40 was The Town on Beaver Creek: The Story of a Lost Kentucky Community, by Michelle Slatalla. I read this for my book group and enjoyed it. It's about a town in Kentucky that regularly flooded, to the point where finally the town was abandoned and rebuilt. The author, who works for the New York Times, decided to preserve some of the memories of her family, many of whom lived in this town. The book is beautifully written. I had a little trouble keeping track of all the characters, how they were related, and what generation each belonged to. Come on, that's hard enough with my own family. I would have liked to have a family tree to flip to.

Book 41 was written by my guest speaker back in February. I'm not going to post a link to it - it isn't available on Amazon anyway - but to any of my readers who live here in Tecwil and read French, I recommend it. Email me and I'll give you more information about it. It was really interesting to read his take on events that I was here for, and also many that were before my time. Fascinating stuff. I'm sorry I waited so long to read it. It's just that when I'm reaching for a book to read for relaxation, I generally go for the stuff in English...

Book 42 was Retrovirus, by T.L. Higley. This was loaned to me by a colleague, who knows the author. It was well-done, fast-paced...not really so much my kind of book, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. It did irritate me that a lot of the suspense was ruined by the blurb on the back of the book. Just don't read that. It gives you information you aren't supposed to get until three quarters of the way through the book.

Book 43 was The Teacher's Guide to Big Blocks Grades 4-8. I started reading this a while ago after a professional development seminar, but I finally finished it. A lot of the things in it I'm already doing, but there are some very helpful suggestions I'm planning to implement next year. I know it's weird, but I do a lot of professional reading during the summer usually. It's a good time to start thinking about how I'm going to handle things next time around.

I was going to leave out book 44, but honesty compels me to admit I read it: Gossip Girl, by Cecily Von Ziegesar. I got this for my classroom library at a book sale the seniors were having. Some of the older kids were getting rid of their own books that they were through with. I brought the pile into my classroom without studying them very much except just to see that they looked like stuff my kids would enjoy. I gave this to one girl, and after reading the first few pages she came and put it on my desk and said she didn't want to read it. I asked her why and she muttered something about the language. I felt mortified that I'd given her a book to read that had disgusted her that much, because this girl is a very strong reader and has read many books written for adults. Well, the other night I decided to read it just to see what it was like. I'm afraid I agree with my student. The casual alcohol and drug use and promiscuity make the book inappropriate for my middle schoolers. The characters are shallow, horrible people, and I hope they aren't really reflective of the milieu they are representing - rich kids in New York City. I know these books - there's a whole series - are popular, but bleck, in my opinion.

And now I'm back with War and Peace - I'm hoping to at least make a big dent in it this summer. I'm also reading Day One and Beyond: Practical Matters for New Middle-Level Teachers, by Rick Wormeli. This is a great - and as the title suggests, very practical - book. It's full of ways to deal with the stuff that drives you crazy when you're teaching. I like his attitude towards middle schoolers - affectionate, but with high standards.


Bridget said...

I really liked Day One and Beyond.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ruth -- Thanks for reading Day One and Beyond. If you have questions about any of it, or if you want to add your own wisdom to the mix, let me know. Don't forget that many education publishers are looking for good material for their journals, magazines, and books. You might want to consider submitting things, if you haven't already. (I haven't perused all of your site yet.) And Hey, this is a very thoughtful Website!

-- Rick Wormeli, Herndon, VA

Ruth said...

Thank you! This is my first comment from an author. It makes me a bit nervous - are other authors reading my reviews of their books? Fortunately this review was positive! :-)