You know what is so 1987 that is still happening in classrooms all. the. time? Reading logs that are LAME. There are so many choices, from google forms, docs, keep and slides to flipgrid to…paper with CHOICE. Our reading programs in the library sometimes must include a log to prove required minutes (the company sets the terms to earn free tickets). But why should we limit choice on logs when we can encourage reading reflection that engages and does the job of documenting growth? I decided to do my own reading log for what I am reading this summer (ok, I left off at least one title that students probably just don’t need info on). It was interesting and I learned that a student would have to reflect on the themes and major points in the book to write/draw a thorough sketchnote or visual journal. I decided to try to “connect” some of the books by putting words or phrases in common between the two books. If course, I could expand that to make more of a venn diagram with images approach, but this is my first rodeo with this type of documentation. Imagine the amazing pieces you would have from students by the end of the year! What an amazing reading portfolio instead of snooozee……reading logs. I don’t even draw well and I still gave it a stab- only your perfectionists would decline- so maybe they could COLLAGE. So exciting. I may try that next!
As a Harry Potter addict who can’t get enough magic, I am here to recommend a series of books for the magic lover. Simon Thorn by Aimée Carter is a great upper elementary to middle school read with a familiar magical element- people turning into animals. No wands involved, but you have to be of a magical bloodline. Like other magical worlds, members of this one find out as teenagers what their abilities are and how to harness them. Like J.K. Rowling, Carter takes on themes of prejudice and discrimination by showing characters affected by others’ negative beliefs.
The best part? Seeing all of the different communities of animals, reptiles, and more that can switch back and forth between their human or critter forms (I don’t want to offend the insect kingdom, not everyone turns mammal).
The best part of reading this series might just be trying to sort book club members into kingdoms. We’ve already sorted ourselves into Hogwarts houses… let’s try animal kingdoms next! I can’t decide if I would want to turn into a dolphin (sharks are scary) or a black widow spider (she’s pretty tough) or a golden eagle so I could soar (pigeons are looked down upon btw). I recommend all three books in the Simon Thorn series for nonmuggles looking for their next read. If you haven’t started you get to binge read three before the next release!
Cause and effect lessons can be a bit predictable and dull for students who have heard it all before. But not with this book. We LOVED My Pictures After the Storm. I never mentioned cause and effect while reading this book and students had a ball discussing that concept anyway. Of course the mosquito was the cause of the sudden giant red bumps on his face… of course Santa terrified the boy into running away…on and on with each set of pictures. And only when we were done did I ask, ¨What kind of book would your teacher say this is?” Answers included before and after, what makes a change, and lo and behold…cause and effect. The power of picture books is amazing!
We also wrote and drew our own set of MY PICTURES, and they were quite entertaining while being true to the spirit and concept of the book.