Reading Along I-94: We are Not Eaten By Yaks, Part 1

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COLBY: Each month’s Jen Vincent and I pick a book to discuss for the month. We break our conversation into 4 blog posts. This month we will be reading We Are Not Eaten By Yaks: An Accidental Adventure by C. Alexander London.

I thought that it would be fun to use the first week to talk about why we picked the book. A lot of time in my class is devoted to how readers select books. I figured that it would be fun for Jen and I to talk about why we selected Mr. London’s book for this month’s chat.

Jen, why did you want to read We Are Not Eaten By Yaks, together, this month?

JEN: When I think about books for us to read together, I always think first about you and a book I love that I think you need to read. It actually is much like any time I recommend a book to anyone – whether it’s a student or a friend. First and foremost, I think of the reader. Sometimes it’s a book I think you would love because of who I know you are, sometimes it’s a book I think would help you meet the reading goals you set this year, sometimes it’s a book I think you should read as a fourth grade teacher.

We Are Not Eaten By Yaks is a book I believe every fourth grade teacher should read. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, it reminds me of books like A Series of Unfortunate Events. Celia and Oliver’s parents are explorers and their mother has disappeared while in search of the Lost Library of Alexandria. They want nothing to do with exploring but their dad gets them into an insane adventure. They can’t help but do what they have to do to survive even though they would much rather be at home watching cable television. I love books about kids who are thrown into crazy situations.

Another reason I think this is great for a fourth grade teacher is that this book is a nice long book for those kids who are ready for long books but it’s still age and reading level appropriate for 4th graders. I’ve seen people asking for recommendations for books for kiddos who are young but ready to read more difficult books. We Are Not Eaten By Yaks is just the perfect kind of book to recommend in this instance. And it’s also a series! We love series, right?!

Here’s the last and my most favorite reason why I think every fourth grade teacher needs to read this book – it’s hysterical. There is so much irony within these pages it’s so much fun. I love to tell students that it’s about two kids whose parents are explorers who love to go off on adventures…but all Celia and Oliver want to do is watch TV! I think it’s the last thing they expect to hear about characters from a book. I think some kids can relate to wanting to watch TV and to not wanting to do what their parents want them to do. It’s intriguing to hear about kids who just want to watch TV.

COLBY: I want to read this book for one reason: I think C. Alexander London is a rock star! His Nerdy Book Club post (http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/books-build/) made me want to read every single thing that he writes. I try to reread his post at least once a month.

One of my favorite passages from his post:

It’s a fact: people can survive without books. People can even have wonderful, full lives without books. But they can’t long endure without community, and community is built on stories. The stories are not usually as dramatic as this orphaned boy’s, but the community of readers that can form around all kinds of stories has the power to endure the major shakeups of life and the minor ones. Through books I have made great friends and silly friends and had arguments and discovered parts of people I never knew existed. There are a lot of ways to connect with people, but I’ve never found one as good at defying time and distance as a book.

JEN: This reminds me of Naked Reading by Teri Lesesne that I read last week. In it she talks about how books allow tweens and teens develop psychologically. I think this is what we talk about when we read books and it’s like therapy! It really is! So she says that when we read we progress through:

Unconscious Delight – “…when the real world drops away and we become lost in a book.”
Reading Autobiographically – “…we want to meet characters who share some characteristic of our own lives.”
Philosophical Speculation – “…we read to wrestle with the larger questions of life.”
Aesthetic Experience – “…we read for the sheer beauty and pleasure that reading can bring.”

Isn’t that awesome? I love this list. It makes so much sense.

COLBY: It is totally awesome. I am hoping for Unconscious Delight with We are Not Eaten By Yaks. :) Maybe an Aesthetic Experience as well.

JEN: I think you’ll find it! I actually also loved his Nerdy Book Club post, too! It definitely made me cry. Plus, he works for LitWorld and LitWorld is all about spreading literacy around the world. That makes him even more awesome.

COLBY: I know, right? (Do I sound like a fourth grader there?) I am all about reading great books. I love them. I live for them. When I can read a great book (according to my friend Jen), by a great person, I am even MORE excited. I am stupid excited to read this book!

JEN: Let’s read!!!

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