Adolescent Literature

A Week of 5th Grade Reads

Hello readers!

Again, my apologies for waiting so long to blog, but I have been super busy! The life of a teacher is one that requires more hours than the day can produce!

Over my time subbing in the district that I  grew up in, I have made an agreement with a 5th grade students that I would read some new books that came to our town library.

  1. PAX by Sara Pennypacker
  2. The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein


A story that isIMG_8666 bittersweet and contains a valuable life lesson, Pax is a story that touches the hearts of all boys and girls in 5th grade. The story begins with Peter, and the heart breaking moment where Peter realizes that his father is taking his pet fox, Pax, back to the wild in hopes to release him back to his natural habitat.. or so that was Peter was told to believe.

Now that Peter’s father has been called back to serve in the war, Peter decides to go find his pet in the wild. Peter embarks on a hard journey where he learns the importance of acceptance, the value of friendships, and the hard life lesson of letting go.

Rating: 4 out of 5!

The Island of Dr. Libris

If you have a 10-12 year old who LOVES fairy tales, this would be the book for them! Sir William , also known as Sir William to Robin Hood and his merry men, regretfully starts his summer in a cabin with his mom with no tv, no internet, and no friends. Once his iPhone breaks, he is forced to discover the secret library of Dr. Libris, which contIMG_8667ains shelves upon shelves of books that would include Hercules, Robin Hood and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When reading these books, Billy discovers a powerful connection between the book, himself, and the Island that is a boat ride away from his mother’s cabin.

This story focuses on the magic of Sir William and his newly found friends as they  venture out to the island to discover a variety of fictional fairy tales that seem to come to life when Billy reads a story. What makes Billy so special? Will he be able to use this Island to save his parents marriage? Can he save himself?

Rating: 3 out of 5!

Until next time!

-Ms. L


Literture Circle Building 101

Hello readers!

I am just wrapping up my student teaching experience and I have so much to share!

I started my student teaching experience this fall, which is the VERY LAST STEP towards my dream of graduating college with my degree. Of course, I still have a few other things to do to achieve my ultimate goal (have my own classroom), but this was a large accomplishment for me!

My student teaching experience was a total of 16 weeks. I was placed in a Kindergarten classroom for 8 weeks, and then I was moved to a 4th Grade classroom. I had the privilege to work with some great teachers during my experience and I learned SO much by participating, observing and teaching.

That being said…

One of the things that I was able to do in my 4th grade classroom was lead and plan my very own literature circle. When my cooperating teacher had asked me to do it, I was thrilled! I love reading and this was my chance to prove that I know some stuff about reading.

The book that the cooperating teacher and I had choose was Frindle by Andrew Clements.

Of course, this was my very first literature circle so I had things that worked out really well, but I  also had things that I wish I changed.

Here is a list of things that I found effective for my group of 5.

Post-It Notes:

I used post-it notes in multiple things. One of those ways was to have students write down vocabulary words that they didn’t know and find the definitions to teach the group. For every chapter we read, the students had to find one vocabulary word that they didn’t know or thought the group would not know, write it down on a post-it note, use a student dictionary to write the definition of the word, and place it on the poster for the group to view. The book we studied was based on words and using dictionaries so I wanted to include that interactive process as well. Every student also had a different color of post-it note.

Visual Aids:

As you can see, we used a variety of visuals to help with our books study. I made this poster before the literature circle started to not only teach with, but to keep the students and myself on track. The poster also was aligned with what the students were learning in class during those weeks.


Frindle Poster 4th Grade 2015


Final Project:

I wanted the students to have a final project for several reasons. The biggest reason was that it was my form of assessment to see who did benefit from the study and who needed more work. I also wanted students to have something to keep for our time together. Our final project was a interactive profile that included a character list for the main character, a summary, and a page for the students to explain to those who have not read the book why they should read it.

Book Talk:

I did not have enough time to have a lot of book talk with the students, but we did have time to discuss Nick (the main character) and what was happening to him throughout the story everyday for 5 minutes. I wanted the students to have a lot of time reading.

Google Docs:

I had the students use Google Docs for a couple of things. Every student in the school that I was student teaching in has a Google Docs account, so I was able to create my own through the district thanks to our tech guy, and I had students complete tasks online. I would give feedback to each student and they really looked forward to reading those comments the next day. The students really liked it, and they were able to do some quality work for me.

Task Cards:

I used task cards that I found on TeacherPayTeacher during my book talks to encourage students to think deeply into the text. Some books will have discussion questions in the back of the book. I used those as well.


I didn’t just read to the students during this time. I had the students practice a variety of reading methods such as popcorn reading, silent reading, whisper reading, and partner reading. I had a group of decent readers so this proved to be beneficial.

Of course, the group was not perfect and there are some things I would change:

  • Monitor the post-it note usage: Some of the students that I had got WAY to carried away with the post-its I gave them. I started to monitor when and how many they would need and only give the students that many post-its. For example, if they only needed one post-it for vocabulary, then the student only received one post-it. I should have started that earlier.
  • More time with book talk: I wish I would have given the students more time to discuss and share what they were thinking about the story. The students did not have a lot of time to do this with me. We dedicated 25 minutes to do all of these things.

This was a very quick, easy beginning to developing a literature circle and I I’m very proud of their efforts. Stay tuned to hear about the next book genre we studied during the time I was with them!

Until next time!

Exploring Minority Violence; Yaqui Delgado wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Over the course of my Adolescent Literature class, I have read a few books that talk about bullying in schools (not as much as I want too, but I have). Usually, the bullying takes place between to younger boys, and of course every story is a little bit different, but I haven’t ever really read a book quite like the one I have recently finished. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick You Ass by Meg Medina is a story that targets bullying in the young Latino community. Yauiq Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass By Meg Medina

I must say that one of the things that really surprised me about this book was that the main characters involved were female. It may see like a silly thing, but by just looking at the title I assumed that the book would be about teenage male bullying. I was glad the Medina choose to explore some of the ways that females, especially female minorities, can be bullied. The story focuses on a young teenage girl named Piddy, who lives with an overprotective mother and has grown up without a father. When Piddy and her mother move into a different neighborhood, Piddy attends a new school and everything seems to be going just fine until she learns that Yaqui Delgado wants beat her up. Piddy has never heard of this girl before, but she recognizes her face in a couple of year books, and in the lunch room where she sits with her boyfriend and her other Latino friends. As Piddy fears for her life, she also faces internal battles about her unknown father. Throughout the book, Piddy is forced to face her fears, and learns how to deal with the negative influences of her culture in a positive way.

Meg Medina did a great job in capturing Piddy’s thoughts and feels in this book. As a reader, we are able to see the conflicting battles that Piddy goes through as far as adjusting to a new neighborhood, trying to escape from her overprotective mother, trying to learn more about her father, saving her friendship with her best friend who has moved away, experiencing a small amount of lust, and finally, saving her skin from Yaqui Delgado. Medina does a good job at tackling bullying in schools, and how big of an issue it is. One reason why I liked the book so much was that it reminded me as a future teacher to be aware of these issues, and to look for the signs that one of my students might be being bullied. I liked the book because it was able to focus on one racial group, and explore the culture of that group into great depth as far as Adolescent Literature is concerned.

#yalitclass—Read this book soon so we can discuss in class!

“Romeo, how I despise thee…” A summary of Donald Gallo’s article, “How Classics Create an Aliterate Society.”

For my Adolescent Literature class, we were asked to read a short article by Donald Gallo titled “How Classics Create an Aliterate Society.” My first overall impression of this reading was; interested. As a future Elementary Teacher, I understand the importance of children being able to go to the library, and pick up a book to read. In my personal opinion, there are more factors that contribute to an aliterate society, but what Gallo talks about in his article brings up some interesting thoughts that I had never thought of before. Before you have graduated high school, it is SO important to have read at least one classical novel; it could have been Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juilet (been there, done that, wasn’t the best), or it could have been the popular selection by Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice. High school professors stress the importance of reading these classical tales because they feel the need to stress the importance of classic literature.

Based on the article, and what Gallo was saying, I feel that he makes some excellent points about how reading those novels results in young teenagers or adults not having a desire to read. Gallo points out that most young adults who are forced to read that kind of material aren’t “ready” to get the full benefit of the text. I agree completely with that statement. Teachers have this knowledge of every single student in their class; some students have the maturity level necessary to understand classic novels, others are not quite there yet. What does this mean for our schools?

I recall an assignment I did when I was a junior in high school; we had to pick a classic novel of our choosing (the titles and authors were on a list we could pick from) and we had to dissect the novel to find its true meaning. The boys in my class hated it! They were so bored and confused with the way that the text was written that they resulted to spark-notes to complete the assignment. If you look at it from Gallo’s point of view, who could blame them? Granted, yes they were my dear friends who are not really mature at that point in their life, but it proves Gallo’s point. They didn’t understand the text, thus they never received the full benefit of the novel. They were so bored and uninterested in literature until they got into college where they had to read. I firmly believe that reading is a choice; those who want to read will, and those who don’t like to read, choose not to.

So the question lies; what do we do? How do we promote children to keep on reading after one bad reading experience? People are going to read good books, and they are going to read bad books. How do we promote students in our classroom to keep on reading after those horrible experiences? The biggest thing that I think Teachers should recognize is that not every student is going to be a “Literate Freak” like myself. Some students are going to like the classics, others won’t. Those who don’t like to read need to be inspired to read new things and try different genres. That is where the teacher comes in. The teacher needs to provide the students, both who love and hate to read, with variety with choice, and above all, lead by example. At the younger grades, do the same thing. Get kids interested in different genres, find out what your students like. I do not think that the classics should be forgotten, but I think that students need to view them as part of their choice; they can choose to read classics, comparing the writing to 21st century literature, or they can choose something else. Reading a good book, and looking at the world in a completely different way is more important the trying to decipher what the Classics mean.