The first SUMMER VACATION IS FOR READING postcard arrives

Keeping students reading over the summer is challenging. There is so much to do. So much outside time. But we know how important it is.

At the end of the year I gave each student a postcard like this:


(There is also a camping version.) I made the postcards based on a Twitter conversation with other teachers about how to keep students reading, and how to stay in touch with our students over the summer so as not to lose the reading community that was built during the year.

Our summer break only started at the end of June, so we aren’t too far in. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to see if any would appear in my mailbox.

And yesterday, the first SUMMER VACATION IS FOR READING postcard arrived.


In honor of Maddie, I am including the IndieBound description of the books she recommends.

While I won’t be able to do this for every card I receive, firsts are special.

Enjoy–and check back for future postcard reveals. (And the end-of-summer ReadingPic video. “What’s that?” you’re asking. Email me a picture of you reading in a fun location. I will make a video of the pictures I receive. Email address:

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Autumn 2009 Kids’ Indie Next List
“Heather Hepler takes a standard teen-issue theme — divorcing parents, moving somewhere new, mean girls — and turns it into a warm and wonderful novel. Penny’s adjustment to life in Hog’s Hollow — away from her father and her friends in Manhattan — is told with great understanding.”
— Karen Keyte, Books Etc., Falmouth, ME

When Penny moves to Hog’s Hollow from New York City, her life changes drastically. Penny’s mom now runs a cupcake bakery, and Penny is stuck helping out. But that isn’t the worst of it. Not only did she leave her friends back home, but her dad stayed behind too. And then there’s Charity, resident mean girl who’s out to get Penny. With all this, Penny still finds some things to like: Tally and Blake, and Marcus the cute, quiet boy who runs on the beach every night. But just when Penny begins to accept her new life, she’s forced to make a choice that will change everything.


Magical realism and a modern Cinderella story makes for a fun and relatable read.

Sixth grade is not going well for Calliope Meadow Anderson. Callie’s hair is frizzy, her best friend, Ellen, is acting weird, and to top things off, she has to get glasses. And her new specs aren’t even cute, trendy glasses—more like hideously large and geeky. But Callie soon discovers that her glasses have a special, magical perk: When she wears them, she can read people’s thoughts. Crazy glasses aside, Callie has more drama to face when she’s cast as the lead in the school play—and instead opts to be an understudy, giving the role of Cinderella to Ellen. Can Callie’s magic glasses help her see her way to leading lady, or is she destined to stay in the background forever?




For anyone who’s ever felt that boys were a different species….

Wildly creative seventh grader Kara McAllister just had her best idea yet. She’s going to take notes on all of the boys in her grade (and a few elsewhere) in order to answer a seemingly simple question: How can she get a boyfriend?

But Kara’s project turns out to be a lot more complicated than she imagined. Soon there are secrets, lies, and an embarrassing incident in the boy’s bathroom. Plus, Kara has to deal with mean girls, her slightly spacey BFF, and some surprising uses for duct tape. Still, if Kara’s research leads her to the right boy, everything may just be worth it. . . .

Full of charts and graphs, heart and humor, this hilarious debut will resonate with tweens everywhere.

INDEPENDENCE–in making summer book lists

Happy July 4th. In this post, I celebrate students’ INDEPENDENCE… in making their summer reading lists.


For years we have compiled a summer book list for students. Who better to suggest books for summer reading than their experienced, well-read, knowledgeable teachers?

Or maybe not.

A list is simply that: a list. When handed to a student or a family, it has no personality, no connections, no excitement. And while the books that we took the time to put on that list were good and worthwhile, they were just words on a page.

After this year of great reading and book discovery, I was determined to give the students some INDEPENDENCE in making their summer book lists.

At the upper right of this blog you can find a page link: Find your next best book (TBR pile). This is the resource I put together so students could make their own summer reading list that had some personal and emotional investment.

I won’t go back.

TBR Piles

Do you have a TBR pile? I hope you do. TBR stands for To Be Read.

We’ve talked many times in class about needing to know what book we’re reading next. Brent Peterson calls it a Book on Deck–pretty clever for a Red Sox fan. Readers often have MANY books on deck–hence, a pile. I have encouraged my students to keep a TBR list in the back of their agendas/planners–a place to which they can quickly and easily refer when they are ready for a new book.

Today we celebrate TBR piles.

The Nerdy Book Club (a “club” for anyone who considers him or herself a reader) asked for its members to send in pictures of our TBR piles. They put together this video compilation:

Here is my TBR “pile”, which has taken a digital form in my public library queue, and shows up in the above video at the 46-second mark:



(I’m glad to say that The Fault in our Stars has since come in and is in my BR (Being Read???) pile.

I’m pleased that this TBR piling has been passed down to my children.  Here is a picture I snuck of my daughter’s TBR pile:


In fact, my wife just told me that she counted seven+ books that we are currently reading on our living room end tables. Check this:


Some of those we are reading individually; A Wrinkle in Time and A Monster Calls are read-alouds–the former for my kids, the latter for my wife. (See the Monster Calls post here.)

So… what is in YOUR TBR pile? We’d love to know. We’d also like to see it if you can find a way to link to a picture in your comments.

Now… get reading!