Hold Fast by Blue Balliett


Last night I finished Blue Balliett’s Hold Fast. The book has spent the day in the front of my mind. It has a strong hold on my heart and feel like I must write about it before my head explodes.

I don’t have much time, so I am only going to give myself  7 minutes to write. After 10 minutes I will do a couple of quick revisions and then click publish. Ready. Set. Go.


Early’s amazing family remind me a lot of the family in The Mighty Miss Malone, and a lot of Early’s struggle made my heart hurt like it did when I read about RJ Palacio’s Wonder.

I hope that every library in the country can find room on the shelves for this book. It feels like it belongs in the heart of so many readers: rich, poor, white, black, tall, short, from the Midwest, the Southwest. I believe that at least one student sitting in each classroom across this country NEEDS to hear this story. They need to know the struggles that kids face. They need to see the light-the-hope that Early was able to see.

Hold Fast is going to change lives. It is going to make the world a better place.

Turns out I’m not going to say much about what actually happens in this book (my 7 minutes is running out), but what I will say is “hold fast” because this book is special.


A Snapshot of My Reading Life

I love reading all the wonderful posts by people participating in the World Read Aloud Day Blog Tour.

This weeks prompt:

Post a photo that gives readers a glimpse into your reading life. This could be your favorite place to read, your bookshelf, your library, a classroom, a book from childhood that you still re-read today, your favorite person to read with. Anything that brings joy to your reading life will work! Below the photo share a short narrative explaining why this picture is meaningful to you.


The picture above is of the night stand in the room my four and two year old daughter share. They are the best of friends, and they bring me a tremendous amount of joy each and every day. The only thing my girls like about bedtime is getting to pick which stories we are going to read, and laying in bed while I read them some books.


This is the chair I sit in while I read to them:)

My Book Gap Challenge

A couple of months ago Donalyn Miller wrote a post for Nerdy Book Club about Book Gaps. I have really enjoyed reading about the various book gaps my Nerdy Book Club friends are trying to close in their reading. I have struggled to commit to a personal book gap challenge, but I think that I’ve figured out the area of my reading that I would like to do some more reading: professional books.

I read some professional books, but I feel that if I am to take my teaching to the level that I would like to, I need to make sure that reading books about teaching is something that make part of my daily reading life.

Each morning I spend 15-20 minutes reading after I get ready for school and before I get my kids up and ready. I have decided that this would be a good time to do some professional reading. It will get my mind ready for school, and I feel good about having done it all day long.

The following is a list of five books that I would like to read in the coming months.

Energize Research Reading and Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence, and Meet Key Common Core Standards, Grades 4-8

Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Fresh Takes on Teaching Literary Elements: How to Teach What Really Matters About Character, Setting, Point of View, and Theme

Now & Then

I am super excited to be participating in the World Read Aloud Day Blog Tour. For week two I am going to be answering some questions provided by Lit World. I’m going to answer the questions as my 10 year old self and as my present self.

My 10-year-old responese will be in blue and my responses for my current self will appear in red.

1. I think everyone in the world should read…
…this O.J. Simpson biography. I check it out at least twice a month when Mrs. Collins takes us to the library.


2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

…my dad.

…Paul W. Hankins.
3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

…Brian from Hatchet. I don’t really like to impersonate him when I read aloud, but I like to pretend I’m him when I’m out in the woods.

…Jodie O’Rodeo from Fake Mustache.

4. The genre that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

…what’s an e-reader? I’d have to say realistic fiction.

…historical fiction.

5. The last book I wish I’d written or inspired me to write my own story is…

…this is easy. Hatchet.

…The Book Whisperer.

International Book Giving Day: Blog Hop

A week ago today my students and I had the best time celebrating International Book Giving Day. The smiles on the faces of my students when the exchanged books with each other was priceless.

If you got a chance to celebrate International Book Giving Day please link your blog post below, or leave a comment. I can’t wait to hear how you celebrated the big day.

For more information on International Book Giving Day click on the image below.

Check out how my class celebrated the big day by clicking on the image below.


Happy #SharpSchu Book Club Day!

I am hoping that lots of friends are able to join Mr. Schu and me for tonight’s Twitter book club chat (#sharpschu) with Laurel Snyder.

Details below.

8:00-8:15 EST: Laurel Snyder will answer questions about her picture books.

8:15-8:40 EST: We will discuss Bigger than a Bread Box.

8:40-8:55 EST: Laurel will answer questions about Bigger than a Bread Box.

9:55-9:00 CST: Mr. Johnny Schu and I will share resources.

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