Friday, January 19, 2024

I Missed It Reading Challenge

A few years ago, I participated in a #MustRead book challenge. We created a list of books that we missed reading the previous year and wanted to read in the new year. I loved this challenge because it was fun to read and see everyone's list plus it inspired me to pull those books from my endless TBR pile.

I recently stumbled upon a similar reading challenge from The Book Girls" Guide. It is called the In Case You Missed It:  Backlist Reading Challenge. Each month the reader chooses a book that they missed reading the year it was published starting with 2013. I thought about this challenge because I hardly read adult books, but then I realized I have many middle grade books that I have also missed reading.

I decided to create my own middle grade #IMissedIt reading list challenge. My only requirement was that I have to currently own the book (not difficult to do!). I began making list by looking at my "Want to Read" list on Goodreads and the past Nerdy Book Club's Middle Grade Fiction Nerdies Award. (All of the books starting in 2018 came from that list.)

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (2013)

Dash by Kirby Larson (2014)

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier (2015)

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor (2016)

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (2017)


You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly (2018)

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2019)

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (2020)

Pony by R.J. Palacio (2021)

Two Degrees by Alan Gratz (2022)

The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass (2023)

To be determined!

I have no idea how successful I will be, but it is always fun to create reading lists! I invite you to create your own backlist reading challenge and share with me here in the comments or on social media. If you are like me, I am sure you have books you have missed too!

Monday, January 15, 2024

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/15/24


Thank you to Unleashing Readers for continuing to promote reading and great book titles and especially for letting us wayward readers find our way back here.

What I Read Last Week

Coyote Lost and Found by Dan Gemeinhart is the sequel to The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. I don't often say this, but as much I loved the first book, I liked the second one much better.

I know my love for this book is based on my current life experiences. In the first book Coyote and her father take a cross-country road trip to run away from accepting the death of Coyote's mother and sisters. In this second book, Coyote is finally ready to say goodbye after finding her mother's ashes in a hidden box. Another road trip to scatter her ashes leads Coyote, and me, to discover some hidden truths about the way we let go of those we love and an appreciation for the life we have.

This book is due out in Early March, and I highly recommend it...along with a box of tissues!

I am slow reading All It Takes Is a Goal for a Teach Write book club. We have read and discussed the first section, which is about making a Best Moments List. Acuff states that instead of looking forward to plotting our future such as vision boards, we need to look back at the best moments of our life. A best moment is when our vision and our reality overlap; it's "when you hoped life could be actually matches how life is" (p. 54).

This list becomes a snapshot of who we really are, and four categories emerge from studying the list:  experiences, accomplishments, relationships, and objects. He states that when we understand these categories, "your list transforms from a task about the past into a tool for the future. It's like finally seeing the individual ingredients for your favorite meal and realizing you can cook it again and again" (p. 48). 

I am not sure where he is going with the list as we move into the next part, but I did learn a lot about myself from doing this activity. It brought gratitude to the forefront and made me look at what is really important to me. I find myself keeping a running list of my best moments in my notebook. Even if you don't read this book, creating your own list just might surprise you about what you find in your own categories.

Currently Reading

I am vicariously participating in the "In Case You Missed It Book Challenge." In this challenge, I choose a book that I missed reading the year it was published, starting with 2012 and ending with 2023. I chose A Man Called Ove, which I know was a favorite among many of reading friends, BUT I missed reading it.

After being named Indiana Rural Teacher of the Year for 2023, I am trying to be more cognizant of rurality in my reading life and in my classroom, so I hope to finish this collection of voices from rural America.

Reading more in '24!

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Will we get snow?

 Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating a space to share our stories.

We began hearing whispers of potential snow a few days ago. My husband has been glued to the weather app and sends us updates regularly...many more than we need. I think sending them helps him to believe that we really might get some. He is just like a kid anticipating that first big snow of the year.

"Looks like some snow next weekend."

"1-3" Monday and dropping to around 10 degrees that night."

"Maybe 1-3 on Sunday too."

"Now they are calling for up to 8 inches."

"Now it's all rain."

"Negative 4 on Tuesday morning now."

"1-3 back in play Friday night winds up to 40mph." 

"Who knows...apparently they don't."

I think I will just wait and wake up and let my own eyes be my weather forecaster while my husband dreams of a snow like the one we had a few years ago!

Sunday, January 7, 2024

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/8/24


Thank you to Unleashing Readers for continuing to promote reading and great book titles and especially for letting us wayward readers find our way back here.

One of my goals this year is to "read more in "24." I know technically, this is not a goal because it is not measurable, but I like the way it sounds!

This week I completed one book and started several others.

Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Running Out of Time was first published 30 years ago but now has a new cover! I grabbed it because of its cover appeal and because it takes place in Indiana, my home state. It is a dystopian story about a group of people who have chosen to live in a history museum. The children think it is 1840, but it is really 1996. When diphtheria makes its way into the compound, Jessie is sent out to the future to bring back a modern vaccine, but she is running out of time. It is what we would expect from Margaret Peterson Haddix. If your students read and enjoyed Among the Hidden by her or Masterminds by Gordon Korman, then they would love this one!

Currently Reading

I am reading All It Takes Is a Goal for a Teach Write book club.

I can't wait to continue Coyote's adventure.

Reading more in '24!

Thursday, January 4, 2024

One Little Word 2024: Spiritual Journey Thursday

I consider myself lucky to live in an area of our country where I get to experience the four seasons. Although I have my favorite seasons of the year, I am typically happy to move on to the next one and to the beauty that each one brings.

Seasons are a constant reminder of change. But sometimes I don't like change. I find comfort in the familiar. I know that we find rest in the winter, rebirth in the spring, growth in the summer, and transformation in the fall. There is comfort in that continuous cycle of seasons. 

In a few weeks, I will celebrate my 60th birthday and be gifted with a brand-new season. If I said I wasn't a little anxious about this one, I would be lying.

I am now one of the oldest teachers in my building, and I struggle with being labeled by students.

The word retirement has been coming up in conversations with friends, family, and colleagues, and the question is being asked more and more. 

Just last week, we placed my mother in a memory care facility. This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.

I feel like I am being bombarded with new seasons. 

I know that each new season brings many moments of joy: winter landscapes of frosted windows and snow-laden tree branches; flowers in pinks and purples popping up, and tree filled with new life buds; the orange glow of summer sunsets; and the warm palette of fall leaves. I find joy in each new day.

For this new year, I need to find the joy in my own seasons of life. The purpose of my life is changing just like the seasons do, yet I struggle to find comfort in them right now. 

I know I must embrace them with my whole heart because God tells us...

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

I am delighted to once again be joining other bloggers for Spiritual Journey Thursday. Today's journey is hosted by Margaret Simon.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The Plan

We had the perfect plan. All our Ts were crossed and Is were dotted. My sister took Mom and her caregiver out for lunch while my brother, husband, daughter, and I quickly packed. We had very little time to move Mom's things to the memory care unit before she unknowingly arrived.

The men loaded the love seat and tables, while Megan and I packed pictures and a few personal items. Her clothes were already moved the day before. In under 30 minutes we were packed and ready. The plan was on schedule.

As I looked back before shutting the door, I saw the opened can of diet coke and the honey bun wrapper from the morning's breakfast still sitting on the counter.

And then it hit me. The realization that she was never coming back home.

I wasn't quite ready for that part of the plan.


 Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating a space to share our stories.

Monday, January 1, 2024

2023: The Year of the Reading Slump #IMWAYR

Thank you to Unleashing Readers for continuing to promote reading and great book titles and especially for letting us wayward readers find our way back here.

The year 2023 has been my year of the reading slump. I did not meet my Goodreads goal:  49/60. For whatever reason, I could not find a rhythm to my reading life. This not only affected my personal life but also my teaching life. 

I feel my students have also not been reading as much as they have in the past. Upon reflection, I feel my reading life, of a lack thereof, has bled into theirs. I know when I bless a book, the likelihood of my students picking it up and reading it increases. When I am excited about a book, they become excited about a book.

I know how this works!

But that just hasn't happened this year. Which is why I am posting here today. I am hoping that being a regular part of this community will help to motivate me and reignite my passion for middle grade books.

I have included my top 10 reads for 2023 and what I have learned from reading them.

When Stars Are Scattered was my last book read in 2023 and made me realize how lucky I am to have the freedoms that I do.

Wand had just enough fantasy to keep me going and left me appreciating the fact that "The more people you love, the bigger your heart gets."

Slacker taught me that even gamers have big hearts, and that when we open them, we never know what we might get in return.

The One and Only Ruby showed me that family, no matter what it looks like, is important.

A Work in Progress...well, we all really are a work in progress.

The Do More Club opened my eyes to what it is like to be Jewish in our country and we should all strive do "more good" in our world.

Dust shows the importance of when you see something, say something.

Finding Perfect shows that people may not always be what they seem on the outside and taught me even more about people with anxiety. 

Rivals reinforces my belief that there is more to being athlete than winning and losing.

City Spies is an espionage/thriller series that lets me get wrapped up in great adventures and helps me appreciate that it is ok to lean on others to help us work through our problems.




Looking forward to reading more in 2024!