The Text Connections We Need to Be Making by Liz Garden

Nerdy Book Club

I remember when I was in first grade; I spent more time in the school library than I did in my classroom.  It’s true.  My teacher, Mr. Page, would send me to read in the library because I didn’t fit into the blue, red, or green reading group.   And so I spent my days devouring books, curled up in a corner of the library, while the rest of my class slowly moved through the boring, leveled readers that were mostly only good at sucking the life out of books and reading.

Fast forward twenty years, and I remember as a second grade teacher, making sure to have a classroom library in my room that had books of every level and interest.  Students weren’t sent out of my room to read by themselves in the school library.  Instead they were given time to devour books and hopefully develop a love of…

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Top Ten Quotes that Scrape the Soul: The best from young adult novels in 2016 and 2017 by Amber McMath

Nerdy Book Club


“Kids haven’t changed.” I hear it all the time. Yesterday’s spitballs are today’s fidget spinners. My grandpa’s whoopie cushion is my nephew’s Atomic Fart app. In so many ways, kids are still kids.

But they have changed. You see it too, don’t you? My tribe of young adult readers I spend time with every day is unmistakably sadder. It’s a lonely time to be an adolescent. A loneliness epidemic, in fact, looms ahead according to a recent article by Jean M. Twinge in The Atlantic.

In my own angsty tween years I had the ear of Judy Blume and others who didn’t sugar coat my real life problems. Putting books in the hands of young adults should mean feeding them truth. But how? How do you form words from those powerfully raw feelings? This list is a tribute to the brave and talented authors whose words truly do scrape the…

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Top Ten Nerdy Book Places by Jennifer Ansbach

Nerdy Book Club

Like many Nerdy Book Clubbers, I have a reputation as a capital-R Reader, and in addition to being asked about how I could read so much, I often get asked how I find so many books to read. Sometimes people are seeking recommendations. Others are baffled how the books I want to read seem endless (I know I’m not the only one in the Nerdy Book Club room here who finds herself saying, “Oh! That’s on the TBR list!”). Here are the top ten places I find new titles to curl up with:

  1. Recommendations from Readers. When you know people who read widely and often, you learn to pay attention to their recommendations. My Nerdy friends frequently post their thoughts about what they are reading to their own blogs, to Goodreads, and here on the Nerdy blog. Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp host #TitleTalk. Many tweet titles they are…

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Keep it R.E.A.L.! Relevant, Engaging, and Affirming Literacy for Adolescent English Learners by Mary Amanda (Mandy) Stewart

Nerdy Book Club

As a twenty-two-year-old, I completed my student teaching in an 8th grade Reading class for students new to the country. My cooperating teacher told me, “It’s just like teaching Pre-K to teenagers!”

Even my much younger self knew something was not quite right about that statement. Did these adolescents with nearly adult bodies and often very adult experiences, need to sit crisscross apple sauce on the floor to go over the alphabet? Or, was there perhaps another way to engage them in reading and other literacy activities?

I began my teaching career in that same middle school and I kept pondering who my students were and what they really needed. They were indeed in the dynamic process of English acquisition, not to mention beginning a new life in a new country, making new friends, adjusting to a different climate, and discovering the highly processed food of the school cafeteria…

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Text, Tool, and Thought: Rufus the Writer by Melanie Fuemmeler

Nerdy Book Club

Text: The book Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram is an endearing tale about a young boy (Rufus) who decides rather than the traditional lemonade stand, he’d like to open a story stand.  With all the diligence and vision of a young entrepreneur, he readies his stand with a tablecloth and sign, paper and pencils, a cheery disposition, and, of course, the ever professional bowtie.  His customers soon flock, inquiring about this new business venture.

“What are you doing?”

“How much do your stories cost?”

Through these interactions with friends and family, Rufus learns about each of them, and this information sparks ideas.  Using his imagination and love for words, Rufus creates cherished stories for his friends and family, showing everyone the gift a story is to its reader.  A gift in which a price cannot be placed.

Tool: This text provided inspiration to think about instructional tools it…

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Box of Buttons, Room of Readers by Dana Kramaroff

Nerdy Book Club

Our readers come to us, like a box of buttons. I realized this while crafting with my three year old daughter. I watched her drag her fingers through, feel each one and bend her ear down low to listen to the sounds of them clinking together, ever so slightly. Through her eyes, I observed how she noticed, with wonder, all the vibrant colors, the varying shapes and sizes, some shiny and new, others worn and experienced.

In those moments, I considered how each button tells a story.

You dig in and hold one in your hand, inspecting it up close you wonder where it has been.

Like buttons, readers come to us and tell a story about their reading journey. Some readers are shiny and new, eager and ready. Some are worn and experienced. Some are even broken, their love for books, seemingly ruined forever.

The similarities between a button…

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All the Feels: Creating a Classroom Community of Readers by Rachel Weidenhammer

Nerdy Book Club

Two summers ago, I read and fell in love with Donalyn Miller’s books, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. I felt passionate and invigorated to help build a love of reading in my 5th grade students. After reading incessantly, creating Donor’s Choose projects for more high interest books, adding in reading time to my student’s school day and getting high-interest good quality diverse books into the hands of my students, I left last year with a room full of almost middle schoolers who love reading and talking about books.

As I start a new school year, I thought I’d recap some of the routines and traditions that have become engrained in my classroom community that have helped to establish the Weidenhammer Wild Readers that currently reside in my room and those who have moved on to middle school. I by no means have everything figured out and I…

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Driving Our Children to Life Long Reading by Meg Leventhal

Nerdy Book Club

As part of our district’s reading workshop program, my fifth grade students are required to read a self-chosen book for thirty minutes each night for homework.  As a teacher, I know how vital this reading is to each student’s journey to the place where reading becomes like breathing.  As a parent, however, with two children of my own who have this same homework requirement, I know how easy it is to let nightly independent reading fall through the cracks.

Allowing our children to skip independent reading homework is easy, mostly because nobody will know that we skipped it.  It’s not like we’re skipping it because we don’t value reading or because we don’t care about our kids.  We skip it because we’re busy feeding them, keeping them clean, taking them to soccer practice, watching The Voice with them, and making them empty the dishwasher.  It’s because life goes a mile…

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