Six Things I Love About My Class


1. They are huggers. Third graders tend to show their love through hugs, but this year’s class is quicker to dish out the hugs than any class I’ve had before. It is hard to have a bad day when 8 year-olds are dishing out a bunch of hugs.


2. They love graphic novels. I’m pretty confident that statement would be true with just about any third grade classroom where kids are encouraged to read comics. I never tire of seeing kids discover Babymouse, Lunch Lady, and Zita the Spacegirl.

3. They are honest. Kids are generally pretty honest, but this year’s class may contain the most honest group of kids that I have ever been around. I’ll be like, “Did you take that out of so and so’s locker ?” and they’ll be like, “Yes. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” It makes my heart sing!

4. They love picture books. No surprise here. I think if given the chance, every human in the world would say that they love picture books. What’s not to love?


5. They cherish read alouds. I LOVE reading aloud to this year’s group. I can’t finish a book without a bunch of hands shooting up with hope that I’ll let them add the book to their book basket.


6. They are book hoarders. Their book baskets are full. Their seat sacks are overflowing with books. Some kids have run out places to hoard books, so they are now sitting on a stack of books. I swear, this one girl in my class has been sitting on Molly Idle’s Flora series for a week. Part of me wants to help her find another place to store the books, and part of me want to wait it out and see how long she’ll sit on the flamingo, penguin and peacock.


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Kate Beasley


Earlier this week my pal Travis Jonker and I premiered the first episode  of our new Season of The Yarn. In this season we are featuring Kate Beasley and her book Gertie’s Leap to Greatness. You can check it out by clicking on the image below.


It seems like it has been way too long since Mr. Schu and I have done a trifecta. I’m glad we’re back on the wagon today sharing posts on Ms. Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness.

Check out Mr. Schu’s post on his site!

The editor of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, Grace Kendall, has written a beautiful post about the book over at Nerdy Book Club.

nerdy monster

My turn! I asked Kate my standard 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 questions. Check it out below!

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about Gertie’s Leap to Greatness?

Gertie lives in Alabama with her dad and her great-aunt Rae. When Gertie finds out that her mom, who abandoned her when she was a baby, is leaving town for good, she decides to prove that she doesn’t need a mom anyway. Now, she’s on a mission to be the best fifth grader in the universe. This mission hits a snag when a new girl, Mary Sue Spivey, moves to town. (4)


  1. What is best part about being an author?  

Sometimes I’m just typing away, and my characters surprise me by saying and doing the most fascinating things. It’s like I’m not coming up with the story—I’m just recording it. I LOVE that feeling. (3)


  1. What’s the hardest part of being an author?

A lot of times I can’t find the right words to say what I want, and I get mad at myself. Then I have to stop being mad at myself before I can move on. (2)


  1. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?  

Circus Mirandus. (1)


  1. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?

Your work is always better when you’re writing about something you’re interested in. So, whatever you’re working on, try to find something about it that makes it interesting to YOU, and then it will be interesting to other people, too. Also, don’t get mad at yourself. I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t help. And please please please know that you can do this; I believe in you. (5)


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Lane Smith

Jory John and Lane smith are quite a pair! I am pretty confident that the kids in our homes, classrooms, and libraries are going to be BIG FANS of their new book Penguin Problems.

I got a chance to ask Lane Smith a handful of questions. It must be my lucky day!

5,4,3,2,1 Interview


  1. Can you tell us a little bit about PENGUIN PROBLEMS?

 Let me see if I have this right. I’m supposed to answer in 5 sentences? I don’t know if I can explain the book in just five sentences. Okay, let me give it a shot. It’s about a penguin with problems. Oh, and it also has some great life lessons. And it’s really funny! And… oh dear. That’s too much isn’t it? I went over 5 sentences, didn’t I? Oh dear. Okay, I’ll stop now. Really. I’m so sorry for going over. I have so many problems.


  1. What is best part about being a book illustrator?

 Staying. A. Kid. Forever.

  1. What’s the hardest part of being a book illustrator?

 There is nothing hard about being a book illustrator. It is the greatest job in the world. Except maybe being a teacher.


  1. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

 The History of Chocolate. Okay, I guess I should say, The History of Chocolate (and Broccoli).

  1. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

Always listen to your teacher.

#ClassroomBookADay : August 2016

This year my students are participating in #ClassroomBookADay. At the end of each day we read a picture book together. We read other texts during the day as well, and I’m going to include them in my end of the month #ClassroomBookADay round-ups. I’ll also share the books guest readers read to my students. Feel free to call me out on any holes in the texts I’m sharing with my squad. I’ve already noticed some holes myself. Yikes!

Hopefully sharing the texts I share with my students each month will help me hold myself accountable. My students deserve to be exposed to lots of different types of books. I know that I need to read more nonfiction aloud. I know that I need to introduce my students to more diverse authors. I’ll get there. I promise.

Below you will find the books read to my students the first seven days of the school year.


Reading Without Walls Blog Tour

Blog Tour Banner

I think that Gene Yang”Reading Without Walls” platform as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is extremely important. Gene Yang’s Secret Coders series is wildly popular in my classroom and my home. Each time I get a new book in the series, my 9 year old son disappears into his room, only to reappear after he has read the new book at least twice. If you haven’t seen these books, you are really missing out.

I love pushing my readers to step outside of their comfort zone, and try books that are a little different from what they normally read. Gene Yang’s Reading Without Walls Challenge has been a great tool in helping me push my students.


Below you will find 6 great 2016 STEM books that I think can help readers discover and fall in love with science, technology, engineering, and math.


September 1Jess at Reading Nook Reviews
September 2: Samantha at Forest of Words and Pages
September 5: Jennifer at YA Book Nerd
September 6: Maria at Maria’s Mélange
September 7: Gigi at Late Bloomer’s Book Blog
September 8: Jen at Starry Eyed Revue
September 9: Cheyenne at The Hollow Cupboards
September 12: Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings
September 13: April at Good Books and Good Wine
September 14: Cindy at Charting by the Stars
September 15: Erica at The Book Cellar
September 16: Sandie at Teen Lit Rocks
September 19: Asheley at Into the Hall of Books
September 20: Daphne at Gone Pecan
September 21: Mary Ann at Great Kids Books
September 22: Kathy at The Brain Lair
September 23: Michelle & Leslie at Undeniably (Book) Nerdy
September 26: Laurie at Reader Girls
September 27: Margie at Librarian’s Quest
September 28: Victoria at Art, Books, & Coffee
September 29: Cee at The Novel Hermit
September 30: Amanda at Forever Young Adult

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Aaron Zenz


Aaron Zenz is as nice as anyone I have ever met. He cares deeply about kids and reading, AND he is a super talented author/illustrator. I’m thankful that Aaron throws himself into Nerd Camp each year. He comes the entire time, and doesn’t stop learning and sharing until camp is over.

Aaron was kind enough to answer my interview questions about his new book Monsters Go Night-Night. Before we get to the interview check out this awesome drawing my daughter drew, and Aaron’s version of her monster.


AJ’s Monster


Aaron’s version of AJ’s monster

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Monsters Go Night-Night?

The book is a fun guessing game, turned on its head. For each bedtime ritual (taking a bath, brushing teeth…), we try to pick which of the four items on the page the monster will use. Of course, the correct answer will be the wrong-est one. And while the answers might be obvious, it’s fun shouting out the nonsense words. And it’s even more fun turning the page to see the monster actually using the ridiculous things!


2. What is best part about being a book creator?

Crafting worlds! Bringing characters to life! Knowing that before I came on the scene, these personalities and places didn’t exist, but now they do.


3. What’s the hardest part of being a book creator?

All the things that don’t have to do with book creation, like paying rent and feeding hungry mouths.


4. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

I think I could be pretty happy exploring Perelandra. I’d have a blast hopping floating islands, eating exotic fruits, and checking out all the fantastic creatures.


5. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

Create all kinds of things. Make drawings and photographs and stories and sculptures and games and jokes and music and plays and characters and maps and codes and snowforts and experiments and comics and puppets and machines. Don’t be afraid to make messes. Don’t forget to clean them up when you’re done (so you have room to make the next one).