The kidlit version of It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts. Be sure to check out what others are reading–and, if you have an extra minute, comment!
This week, I had to drive to Denver for a conference, so I was able to listen to three audiobooks, which greatly helped my weekly reading total.
I listened to This Is How You Lose Her, a collection of linked short stories by Junot Diaz, on audio–read brilliantly by the author himself. I loved these stories–profane and tragic and often really, really funny. Diaz’s voice added so much to the experience: I highly recommend this one on audio. Leah Hager Cohen’s review for the NYTimes is also really brilliant. I sort of want to quote the whole thing here because as I was reading it, I just kept thinking Yes! That’s exactly what it’s like to read this book! Yes! That describes my experience perfectly. But I’ll limit myself to this one little bit:
In the new book, as previously, Díaz is almost too good for his own good. His prose style is so irresistible, so sheerly entertaining, it risks blinding readers to its larger offerings. Yet he weds form so ideally to content that instead of blinding us, it becomes the very lens through which we can see the joy and suffering of the signature Díaz subject: what it means to belong to a diaspora, to live out the possibilities and ambiguities of perpetual insider/outsider status.
In spring 2014, I get to teach Contemporary Literature for the first time and I’m thinking about focusing the course on just that theme–“what it means to belong to a diaspora”–and including this book. (But then I also have about 500 different and competing ideas for how to focus the Contemporary Lit course, so who knows what will, in the end, stick?)
I also listened to Mem Fox’s Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, also read delightfully by the author. Talk about the perfect book at the perfect time! Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about my older son’s struggles to learn to read. He’s been suffering through a reading intervention program at school for two years and making very little progress, unless you consider learning to despise reading progress. Just last week he asked me if I could help him with his reading this summer. I had no idea what to do! I don’t know how to teach kids how to read. Enter Mem Fox, who assures me that anything that looks like teaching is exactly the WRONG thing to do. Based on my son’s experiences over the past two years in school, I have to agree with her. So he and I are going to be following Mem Fox’s un-reading program this summer, which I’ll also be writing more about later this week, and which basically consists of lots of reading aloud TO children (as opposed to reading aloud BY children) and cozy fun time with books. Our goal? 1000 books! I like a bold goal.
I squealed aloud and then had to shush my own self at the library this week when I saw Clementine and the Spring Trip on the New Books shelf. I love love love Clementine, and this was another stellar entry in the series.
The Liberation of Gabriel King is the first novel I’ve read by K.L. Going. If I hadn’t been trapped in the car without other options, I’m not sure I would have made it all the way through this audio. It was so-so. Its premise is promising enough: Gabriel King is scared of everything and decides he’s not going to advance to 5th grade because he doesn’t want to have to be in the same school as some bully 6th-graders. His best friend, Frita, decides to cure him of his fears over the summer. The whole story has an added layer of theme because it’s set in 1976 in a small town in rural Georgia, and Gabriel is white and Frita is African-American. But it didn’t really work for me. I am not quite sure why, and I didn’t care enough about the story to think hard about why it wasn’t working for me. So. Take this brief mini-review for what it’s worth, which isn’t very much.
I also read 20+ picture books this week, and these were my two favorites:
What are you reading this week?