It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/11/2016


I’m excited to get back in the classroom after a wonderful spring break on the beach with my family. Have a great week everyone!


My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights

By: Brooks Benjamin

This book really made me want to dance. Not slow dance, but really break it down and get groovy. I hope middle school readers like this book as much as I did. 


Maxi’s Secrets

By: Lynn Plourde

Lynn did an amazing job with this one. I laughed, I cried, and I fell madly in love with the characters. There will be a group of adults 20 years from now that remember this book as being one of their favorites from when they were a kid.



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If I didn’t convince you to check out My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights earlier in this post, maybe the book trailer will do the trick.


During spring break I spent a little time in a tattoo parlor with my wife. She got some new ink, and I heard a great song.

Spring Break Reading 2016

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As soon as school ends this Friday, the Sharp crew will pile in our mini-van and head for Gulf Shores, Alabama. It is my favorite week of the year. A week spent on the beach with my family is a little slice of heaven. Usually, I pack a whole bunch of books with the the idea of reading them all during break. It never happens. Watching four kids run around is a full-time job. The best job. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish 3 or 4 of the 10 books I plan taking with me to ‘Bama.

I’ll be sharing this post with my third graders late this week as we continue to plan for reading over break.

Books I’m Taking on Spring Break

My Seventh Grade Life In Tights

By: Brooks Benjamin


Audacity Jones

By: Kirby Larson


Lizzie and the Lost Baby

Cheryl Blackford


Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat

By: Gary Paulsen


Waylon! One Awesome Thing

By: Sara Pennypacker

Illustrated by Marla Frazee


When Friendship Followed Me Home

By: Paul Griffin


Maxi’s Secrets

By: Lynn Plourde


A Clatter of Jars

By: Lisa Graff


Some Kind of Happiness

By: Claire Legrand


Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

By: Melissa Sweet


A Few Surprises In The Classroom Library

I was out of school  the end of last week for Keicher Elementary’s tech day. It seems like I always find a few surprises when I return from a day out of the classroom. Yesterday was no different.

When I walked into my classroom I noticed that I had a whole bunch of new graphic novels in one of my graphic novel tubs. The books were written by two of my third graders. They decided that other kids would probably want to read their work, so they added it to our classroom library.

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I decided not to say anything about these new treasures. Instead, I figured I’d wait and see what happened. What happened was these books were on fire. I bet that more than half my class read at least one of their graphic novels during independent reading.

As the day progressed I noticed that they had placed other books they had written in both the fantasy tub and the Bob Shea tub (because they used Bob’s characters in the story).

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At the end of the day, I asked the boys about their work, and they gave me a couple of goofy grins and then they walked away.

I cannot wait to see where their little experiment takes our class. If I had to bet, I’d put my money on more books showing up in our classroom library tubs over the next few weeks. It makes me feel very proud that my students have the confidence to place their writing alongside their heroes.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/28/16


I haven’t done an IMWAYR post in ages. I’ve missed doing them, so I’m going to try and get back in the saddle.


The Wild Robot

By: Peter Brown

The Wild Robot is Hatchet 2.0! Kids are going to love Peter’s first middle grade novel. The Wild Robot is  a perfect read aloud. 12 year-old Colby would have read this book to shreds.



This image Little Brown created makes me giggle.

The Happiest Book Ever

By: Bob Shea

Bob Shea read us The Happiest Book Ever last week during his author visit. My 9 year old son was cracking up the entire time. Bob Shea just gets kids.


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Last week Mr. Schu premiered the book trailer for Melanie Conklin’s Counting Thyme. I love Counting Thyme. Hopefully, the trailer encourages a bunch of kids to pick up the book and give it a read.


If you haven’t listened to The Book Love Podcast you are really missing out. Penny Kittle has created what I feel is the best education podcast in the universe.


Nerd Camp 2016 Authors and Illustrators



Click here to learn more about Nerd Camp.

My friend Julie Kirchner asked me if she could go anywhere online to see what authors and illustrators were attending Nerd Camp this year. Yikes! Since my answer was no, I decided to fix that by creating a post that had that information. I’ll add to this post as we announce additional book creators that are attending camp.

Melanie Conklin


Louise Borden


Victoria J. Coe


Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Brianne Farley


Josh Funk


Liesl Shurtliff


Deborah Marcero


Abby Cooper


Aimee Carter


Deborah Hopkinson


Greg Pizzoli


Adam Shaughnessy


Minh Le


Jenn Bishop



Jess Keating


Gae Polisner


Tracey Baptiste


Jen Malone and Gail Nall


Kelly Barnhill


Nora Baskin


Raina Telgemeier


Josh Funk


Lauren Castillo

TWENTY YAWNS_Cover updated

Erica Perl


Aaron Zenz


Kate Hannigan


Jennifer L. Holm

camp babymouse

Ruth Spiro


Keicher Tech Day Was Dynamite

Yesterday, I traveled with a few Parma Elementary teachers and 6 of our news team students to Keicher Elementary for their tech day. Our students led sessions on iMovie and green-screen. It was one of the most magical days I have ever experienced in education. Three classrooms of Keicher third graders had the opportunity to attend 5 sessions, of their choosing, during the day.

I’m not sure that I have ever seen a happier group of kids. They enjoyed each and every moment of the day. I wish that I could have attended some of the session. The kids were having so much fun! This is the sort of eventful learning opportunities that we must provide for our students. Those Keicher third graders will never forget tech day. I image that they are home this weekend creating amazing things.

A big thanks to Stacy Arnold for throwing such an amazing event. It was as close to a perfect event as I have ever attended.

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You can read more about the event on Mlive.

Bob Shea’s Totally Secret Secret

On Tuesday, Bob Shea visited my school. Right before the kids came into the room he told me a secret about his presentations.

A totally secret secret.

I’m going to tell you Bob’s secret.

Are you ready?

When Bob Shea presents, he calls a student up to help him draw Ballet Cat. Most people probably think that he randomly selects a child.

Most people are wrong.

It is totally rigged.

Bob Shea asked me to find a student that needs a boost. A kid that is a little shy, or maybe a kid that is going through a rough time.

Bob calls that student up to draw with him, and for the next 10 minutes he makes that kid feel like a million dollars. In doing so, he also shows the rest of the school how awesome that kid it. For as long as you live, you will never experience anything more magical than watching Bob Shea make a kids day.

As our second and third graders entered the cafeteria for Bob’s presentation he asked me to point out  one of our students that needed a boost. I picked Heidi. Her house just burned down.

She lost everything.

Heidi seemed so happy when she was drawing with Bob.  A girl in her class came up to me and whispered, “I can’t believe my favorite author Bob Shea picked Heidi. Her house just burned down. This is the best thing ever. EVER!”

That student was right. Bob Shea is the best. Ever.

The story could have ended there. That’s a nice story, right?

Bob Shea took things to the next level by sending the following Tweets the day after his visit.

Since Bob’s tweets, I have received emails, texts, tweets, and direct messages asking for more information on how they can help. Book are being sent by friends, strangers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and teachers. Friends have committed to purchasing Heidi a new writing desk and a bookshelf.

Mind blown.

I am having a hard time processing the greatness that is being shown as a result of Bob’s tweet. People are so nice. So kind. So thoughtful.

Thank you, Bob Shea (I’m sorry for telling your secret).