Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Currently Reading

May is here, which means the finish line to graduation is only days away (more reflections on all that next week). In all honesty, I haven't browsed the web for anything other than lesson plan ideas in weeks, so my currently coveting list for this month is looking rather...nonexistent. Surprisingly, though, my currently-reading stack is higher than ever, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on my newly rediscovered habit of reading more than one book at a time.

When I was younger I frequently had three or four books stacked on my nightstand, and I'd switch off between them depending on my mood. As I got older (and my reading choices became a bit more sophisticated), I became the type of reader who could only read one book at a time. After I recently fell in love with this podcast, I noticed that most of Anne's guests read more than one book at a time, and I thought to myself, maybe I should try that again. The result was a bit disastrous, because I tried juggling more than one book and after coming dangerously close to putting myself in a reading slump, I realized the problem: that I was reading too many grown-up books at once. So I changed my strategy, and started testing myself with children's literature instead. It's definitely worked for me and I love having multiple stories going at once. Here's what my reading stack looks like at the moment:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling // I've been re-reading the series with a group of my fourth graders, and I have to say that our little book club meetings are exactly why I love being a teacher. We meet for lunch once or twice a week and our conversations are animated and so full of argument and excitement about the book that they make me giddy. If you know me in real life then you know that I pride myself on my extensive Harry Potter knowledge, and two of my students managed to defeat me in making a claim and finding evidence to back it. I love seeing them develop into avid fans. Plus, one of our students is reading the series for the very first time, an experience that I completely envy. 

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke // This is one that I bought last summer and have wanted to read for years. I finally picked it up last week and I am loving it so far, but I'm still at the part where there are a lot of questions left unanswered, so I'm eager to find out what's really going on. I think I'll be picking up the second in the series before long.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine // I just wrapped up a mini-unit teaching Cinderella from around the world, and as part of the unit I offered my students the chance to take part in an informal book club. They just finished writing their own fractured versions of Cinderella, so Ella Enchanted seemed like a perfect fit. This is the first time that I've read the book (though I've seen the movie multiple times) and I just love how Ella breaks down the barriers of the damsel stereotype that is so often found in fairytales. In our most recent discussion, we talked a lot about the fairy tale princesses that we admired for their daring, cleverness, and other strong traits. (A few favorites that were mentioned: Pocahontas, Belle, Jasmine, and Merida.) I'm so glad that this group of readers is recognizing some of those subtle but important messages of the book. 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman // I've also been trying to get more into audiobooks recently, and after I finally figured out how to download audiobooks onto my phone from my local library (via the Overdrive app), I've been much more likely to seek out books I want to read in audio form. I'll be talking more about the ones I've been loving lately next week, so keep an eye out for that! I just started Coraline so I'll be giving updates on my listening experience in that next post too.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen // Here's the thing: I love my job and genuinely enjoy reading children's literature in my free time and of my own volition (student book clubs aside), but the trick to making this many-books-at-once thing work for me is having one adult book going at the same time. That way, I can escape to the land of grown-up things for little bits at a time. I'm about 90% of the way through this, my second Jane Austen read, and I'm hoping for a dramatic ending.


What are you currently reading?