Sunday, April 18, 2010


You know, I've updated so many times in my head that sometimes I forget I'm neglecting the real blog. Oh well.

The BFG continues to ask lots of out-of-left-field questions. Things like:

in the middle of math, "You're a nice teacher. That's why you have a cat."

on the way to dismissal, "Can I have one of your earrings? Please, just one?"

on the stairs, "Miss is a model! Her name is Miss Trixie!"

during a transition, leaning his head on my shoulder, "Can I be your best man?"


Upbeat Girl asked if she could have my diamond ring, which sparked finally the discussion of if I'm married or engaged and what the difference is, and of course questions about if they can see my fiance. I said maybe I'd bring in a picture.


Last week was a really long, late week. No fun. I am ready for summer now.


However, there were some fun things. One was that I shared the book list with the kids. Once we started talking about it, me telling them what was on the list and asking who had read what, and them asking if certain books were on the list. They were unimpressed with Charlotte's Web being number one, and thought Stuart Little should be up there instead. Kids started pawing through the book bins and looking at the list on their own. It was really cool to see them so excited! And about books!

I made a little adjustment after we came back from spring break. In the afternoon, after our break, I have them read silently. I keep the lights off sometimes too. And though there are always a couple kids who have a hard time settling down, most of them don't; they crack open their books right away. And by god, it gets QUIET. Do you know how much I love quiet? I really do. Also, do you know how much I love to see a class of kids reading on their own? A whole lot. As an extra bonus, it gives me a few minutes to chill out, maybe mark papers, or get things in order for next period.

I actually hate to stop them. Once the Dreaded Tests are out of the way (so soon!) I hope to wiggle more reading time for them during the day.


I keep finding books that I want to share with my kids but have despaired at how, even with a long fucking day, there is no time for that kind of read aloud. I want my kids to read the Phantom Tollbooth, and a week ago I started reading another book aloud to them, called No Talking by Andrew Clements. I do just one chapter, at the end of the day if they've packed up quickly enough so that we still get to dismissal on time. They are loving it! The story intrigues them and they usually want me to keep reading. Hurrah!


It was Charlie Chaplin's birthday the other day, and since of course none of my kids knew who he was, I decided to show them a clip. I wasn't sure if they would like it, since of course all his work is black and white and wordless.

But. They. Loved. It. They laughed out loud the whole time. They were delighted. They begged for more! How awesome is that?


Right now I would like to beg for more weekend. Can anyone help with that? :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

100 Best Children's Novels

According to a poll done by Fuse #8, a blog on the School Library Journal.

Teachers and booklovers, you will love this!

x#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1967)
x#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, illustrated by Brock Cole (1980)
#98 Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston (1954)
#97 The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (2006)
#96 The Witches by Roald Dahl (1983)
#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1950)
#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930)
x#93 Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (1935)
x#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (1997)
#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (1978)
x#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (1985)
x#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary (1977)
#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander (1968)
#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg (1996)
x#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (1999)
#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1937)
#84 The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (1946)
#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1997)
#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009)
#80 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008)
#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (1943)
x#77 The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (2003)
#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (1997)
#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (2001)
#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1953)
x#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959)
#72 My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (1948)
#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (1999)
#70 Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (1940)
x#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (2007)
x#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (1994)
#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville (1991)
#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary (1950)
#65 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (1936)
#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck (1998)
#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (1957)
x#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene (1959)
x#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (2000)
x#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990)
#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (2003)
#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (1962)
x#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (1981)
x#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1989)
#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (1978)
x#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl (1982)
#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)
#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2007)
#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright (1941)
#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (1960)
#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements (1996)
#48 The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall (2005)
#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (1999)
#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (1961)
x#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (1995)
#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (1972)
x#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (1968)
#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)
x#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)
#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)
#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009)
x#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (2003)
#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor (1976)
x#36 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (1970)
x#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2000)
x#34 The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (1995)
#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (1961)
#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien (1971)
x#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager (1954)
#30 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne (1926)
#29 The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)
#28 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett (1905)
#27 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)/Alice Through the Looking Glass (1872) by Lewis Carroll
x#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1989)
#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868 & 1869)
x#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (2007)
#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932)
#22 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (2003)
#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005)
x#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (1975)
#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
x#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (1990)
x#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
x#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000)
x#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (1999)
x#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (1977)
#12 The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938)
x#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)
x#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (1961)
x#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)
x#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)
x#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
x#6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
x#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (1967)
#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
x#3 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997)
x#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (1962)
#1 Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (1952)

I've only read forty-two. But I just started another one tonight!

I plan to share this list with my students and their parents, and with my colleagues too!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

the beach: a perfect ending

Our Costa Rican adventure was filled with all kinds of interesting places and things. First exploring forest around the volcano, a river filled with creatures, then the cloudforest from below and ziplining above, and finally, the Pacific coast, on a quiet beach. Perfect.

On this trip, I tried not to be too obsessed with photos. I deliberately didn't take my camera with me to every single outing (thus there are no pictures of my first tapas meal, which was interesting and tasty, especially the desserts! [yes, plural]). I brought one of the cameras on the zipline adventure, and took a few pictures and videos, but mostly focused on enjoying the experience as I experienced it. This means that I don't have tons of photos that I'm really proud of, but that I had a good time.

That said, there was one detail that kept catching my eye for repeated photographs...

An engagement ring!! The BF proposed on our first night, so we got to enjoy it ourselves for a week before telling family, friends, and of course, the internet. :) We are happy and excited for the next step of our relationship. It has been four years now, so we're definitely ready. :)

Hey Book Lovers!

Seen on Fusenews from School Library Journal:

After the impressive success of last year's Book Fair for Boys that saw over 600 books sent to the LA County Detention Center, GLW has teamed up with the Readergirlz, YALSA and If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything, (A national reading club for Native American children) for another book fair event to get books to students enrolled at Ojo Encino Day School and Alchesay High School." Wishlists for these schools are up at Powell's (excellent choice). Here are the further instructions, if you'd care to buy something for the kids:

First, hit the Powells site and on the upper right click on "wish list". From there you will be prompted for the email address of the list owner. Type in "". You will then be given the choice to select either Ojo Encino or Alchesay. Once you are looking at the lists (which contain hundreds of titles) you can make your selection of a new, used, or sale copy. After your done and ready to make your purchase you will be asked to confirm that you are buying books for a certain wishlist. Checking those boxes will keep the lists up to date and prevent books from appearing as unsold even after they were purchased. Now all you have to do is enter the mailing addresses, and here they are:

Mary Nickless
Ojo Encino Day School Librarian
HCR 79 Box 7
Cuba, NM 87013
(505) 731-2333

Marilyn Hill
Alchesay High School
200 Falcon Way
Whiteriver, AZ 85941

I donated a couple books to the last effort and as soon as I saw this, I hopped right over and bought one book for each school. Hope you can help out!

Even if you can't afford to donate right now, if you love books, reading, kids, reading to kids, kids' books, and you have a few hours to spare, I suggest you pore over this list of 100 Best Children's Novels from the same site. What a treat to find loving descriptions of books I'd forgotten about, and intriguing reviews of books I've never read. I can't wait to hit up the library!