Amazing Kids

Amazing Kids

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Two Days - Two Books

Land turtles are slow. They plod. Stop. Plod. Stop. Sea turtles are calm, graceful, powerful, and fast.

When it comes to reading, I have several "sea turtle" friends. Typically, I'm more like a land turtle. In the last two days, though, a couple of books have captured me and not let go. This, despite my incredibly busy (and admittedly out-of-balance) life.


EL DEAFO is a book several of my PLN buddies have raved about. I hadn't seen it, but caved to the peer pressure, ordered it (from an independent book seller), and it finally arrived.

Once I opened the front cover, though, I couldn't put it down, even though graphic novels are not typically a format that pulls me in. The way in which the subject matter is presented, and the way it's written, is magic. It takes on authentic challenges, real feelings, and true-to-life responses. I appreciate how it addresses the hearing impaired main character dealing with not being able to hear, with her having to get hearing aids, and how she felt about it and dealt with it! My classroom kids will be able to relate that to another of their favorite characters, August, from WONDER, by RJ Palacio, which is another of their favorite books. 

I imagine every kiddo in my classroom who reads it will pass it on to another and another, and another, and... Which means kids will have a shift in paradigm and a more healthy understanding of what it is like to live with a hearing impairment. YAY!!!

Way to go Cece Bell!! You're a genius - and a superhero!!

Here's Cece talking about her experiences as a kid! (I'm showing this to my kids tomorrow!!)

There are books I think I "should" read because they're Newbery Award books. Since I'm a late-comer to the the whole "reading for pleasure" thing, there are MANY books I've missed out on. One of my unofficial goals is to begin to fill in the gaps by reading several Newbery books each year. I recently purchased A SINGLE SHARD by Linda Sue Park. I've already read A LONG WALK TO WATER, which I LOVED (and so have many of my students), so I figured it was a pretty safe bet.

Probably if you've read the rest of this blog so far, you're thinking that I'm some freak who shouldn't be teaching reading to fourth graders because I probably write like a middle schooler with a mighty big crush on books and their authors. However, I'm so excited about A SINGLE SHARD - and on so many levels - that I'm going to put aside those thoughts and spout for a few minutes.

First, I love the notes that Linda (I'm going to pretend we're on a first-name basis) added at the end, giving historical credibility to her story. Her precise and intentional decisions as she wrote put her writing at a whole new level. Kids will want to look up this "celedon green" on their ipads and see if they can find the same vase online. They will also most likely look for Korea on the world map, and hopefully try to find the route that Tree-Ear followed as he made his trek to the palace. I will proudly announce this as a new addition to our historical fiction section in our classroom library and will encourage our school librarian to order several copies as well so my kids won't fight over who gets to read it next.

I love the loyalty Tree-Ear shows to Min, despite Min's harshness. I equally love Tree-Ear's loyalty to Crane-Man, who has loved him as a father for most of Tree-Ear's life. I love the ability Linda Sue Park has to allow me to even smell the village, under the bridge, and how she allows us to peek into Min's wife's kindness and growing love for Tree-Ear. The understated leadership Min's wife demonstrates is truly remarkable, as is the unwavering care Tree-Ear shows to his elders.

To me, this is an unconventional read-aloud, but such an important one. Probably every reading/language teacher worth his or her salt has read it and/or recommended it to kids. Now I can say that, too!

The more I read the more thankful I am for the amazing people who dare to share their writing with us.


  1. Oh, I love A Single Shard and it is one I forget about too! I haven't seen this new cover but I like it. I read it to one group of 5th graders and it was amazing. Thanks for reminding me about this one. And of course, love El Deafo!!

  2. Suzanne, I just finished El Deafo and enjoyed it. Very happy it was recognized by the Newbery committee!

    And, OH, how I LOVE A Single Shard! What a beautifully written book. So simple, yet so poignant and moving :D