Challenge Check-In: How am I challenging myself (Realistically)

Well, I am happy to report that I have been doing really well with my reading challenge and blogging habits.

  • I have dedicated four hours of reading each week for books just for children’s lit- not including reading for my other classes
  • Every week I read in a specific American Library Association book award. Sometimes it’s several books and sometimes it’s a longer chapter book, but I try not to stray from the specific award category.
  • I respond to all comments on my blog in a timely fashion
  • I have set aside specific times where all I do is read five blogs and comment on all five  blogs. I’ve been doing this at least three days a week and I have noticed that it saves me a lot of time because I am not reading blogs and weeding through posts to find one that I have a critical response to -I just respond to them all.

Thank you for all of the tips, advice, and motivation!

I hope everyone else is meeting their goals!!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #imwayr 10-26-15

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Last week I chose to read a Schneider Family Book Award Winner – Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin.

The Schneider Family Book Award is a new addition to the American Library Association’s Media Youth Awards. The award is donated by Dr. Katherine Schneider, and honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Three annual awards are presented for the best Teen, Middle School and Children’s Book. The American Library Association administers the Awards, and each recipient receives $5000 and a framed plaque. Winners are announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

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  • Jason Blake is 12-years-old.
  • Jason Blake is a writer.
  • Jason Blake doesn’t talk much.
  • Jason Blake doesn’t have many friends.
  • Jason Blake is autistic.

This story is written from Jason’s point of view -trying to fit in in a neurotypical world. What I loved about this book is that it is a perfect story for any middle schooler, or any person for that matter who has struggled with fitting in, regardless of a special need or disability. We all have fears about what people think of us or how we are expected to act or react in a given situation. Jason is just like all of us.

It’s Wednesday! Reading Update #iwwayr

Continuing with my reading challenge to read more award books I read Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor, which won the Robert F. Sibert honor in 2012

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. The award is named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. of Jacksonville, Illinois. ALSC administers the award.

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I knew that this award category would be a challenge for me because nonfiction is not usually what I gravitate towards when I want to read- I usually want something to shut my mind off or to escape reality NOT study reality; however, this book really got me thinking and reminded me how important this history is.

In the 1950s and early 60s, Birmingham, Alabama, became known as Bombingham. At the center of this violent time in the fight for civil rights, and standing at opposite ends, were Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene Bull Connor. From his pulpit, Shuttlesworth agitated for racial equality, while Commissioner Connor fought for the status quo. Relying on court documents, police and FBI reports, newspapers, interviews, and photographs, the author first covers each man’s life and then brings them together to show how their confrontation brought about significant change to the southern city.

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How Brimner put this book together really caught my attention. It’s set up like a news paper layout or a coffee table book. Lots of pictures and captions break up the text which is sized larger, so the reading doesn’t feel too dense.

Although I am against segregation and can’t even imagine living in a world where these events actually happened, this book got me to think about the other side of things. And by the other side I mean the  white side. I actually felt sorry for the shop owners in Birmingham for example. They were threatened by the Reverend and by Bull… They were just trying to follow the law and own a successful business and unfortunately segregation was part of that law.

I definitely recommend reading this book to brush up on your history and to get you thinking about what happened, what could have been, and how this country got to where it is today.

What (or Who) I want to celebrate this week! #celebratelu

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This week I would like to celebrate my brother’s accomplishments. Jeren or Glenn as everyone else calls him is a role model for all people of all ages.

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  • He is 18 years old.
  • He owns his own airplane and has his pilots license.
  • He can ride a unicycle (even the six-foot tall kind on a tightrope)
  • He taught himself to play guitar
  • He is an amazing photographer
  • He can write very beautiful prose- if he is inspired
  • He has never succumbed to any form of peer pressure -from alcohol to playing basketball- if he doesn’t want to do it, he doesn’t.
  • He is very goal oriented and follows through.

He has achieved so much at such a young age and he inspires me to do the same. I can’t say that I didn’t struggle with peer pressure; I struggled with it when I was his age and I still struggle with it today. I am about to finish my undergrad and I still don’t know what my calling in life is… Jeren knows who he is and what he is passionate about and he’s going after his dreams. I don’t know if I have ever really witnessed this in anyone else. It is so easy to do what we believe is expected of us, to let others choose our paths, but Jeren isn’t like this.

I truly think that he will do wonderful things throughout his life and I feel so blessed that I get to witness it all firsthand.

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Who inspires you? 

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #imwyr 10-12-15

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For week two of my award winning and honor books challenge,  I decided to focus on The Pura Belpré award.

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

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I really appreciated how this book compared life for a young Latin American boy in a U.S. city and in Mexico -neither is better than the other or worse than the other, just different. Family is always an important subject in Latino culture and that was definitely featured in this book as well. I also found it interesting the way that Duncan Tonatiuh used real images and patterns pasted into his illustrations for a collage-feel.

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This book employs a little imagination to tell about a symbol of Latina culture. A rebozo is a traditional Mexican woven shawl with many uses – both practical and fantastical.

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First Day in Grapes describes a common life for a young boy in Latin American culture in which the family moves around depending on the harvesting season. Being the new kid is hard, especially if you don’t speak the same language or share the same culture, but Chico has a special talent that he uses to gain confidence as the new kid and to make third grade his best year yet.

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This was one of the cutest folktales I have ever read. This story is well known in Cuban culture (much like Little Red Riding Hood is to us) and teaches the lesson that your beauty is not what truly matters, but how one handles your flaws -such as spilling hot coffee on your shoes.

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This was my favorite book in this category because it gives a great account of Pura Belpré and some what she did for Latin American youth and literature. This story emphasizes a sense of belonging and community. I also liked how the story was translated in both spanish and english on each page so everyone can read the book together and understand the effect that Pura Belpré and others like her had on all of our lives.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 10-05-15 #imwayr

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Just to recap my previous blog post Challenging Myself (Realistically)I decided that my reading challenge would be to read more award winners and honor books so I have dedicated my reading time to doing just that. I further organized my challenge by dedicating each week to one specific award category and this week is The Caldecott Award.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

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Maurice Sendak is most know for Where the Wild Things Are, which is a significantly better book in my opinion. Ida must save her baby sister who has been kidnapped by goblins to be a baby bride. If the theme of kidnapping isn’t scary enough, Ida’s father is also away at sea and the girls mother seems to be sedated in a  deep depression, forcing Ida to be the one in charge. Strange. Sendak’s illustrations are washed in muted colors and are grotesquely realistic in my opinion -the facial expressions are not cutesy or soft.

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I loved all of the color and detail that Stephen Gammell put into these silly and relatable characters. We all have those eccentric family members who we only get to see every once in a while, but when we do it’s like we’ve never been apart.

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This story was great because of its ability to take the readers emotions on such a grand journey in so few pages. Kadir Nelson’s use of shadows and light in his illustrations are nothing short of true art and really drive Ellen Levine’s words home.

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If the entire book looked like this cover it may have been more appealing to me. The story wasn’t bad, but it kind of felt all over the place -true Mei Li was all over the place exploring the fair and New Year’s Eve celebrations, but it didn’t feel like it was working towards and end goal for me. The illustrations were good, but could have been taken to the next level with color.

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I’m sure you can guess what my favorite part of this book was… If you guessed the dog then you guessed correctly! I just love illustrations of animals! But other than that Dav Pilkey did a great job of demonstrating a boy’s companionship with his dog and both of the characters dedication and love for delivering papers to the sleepy neighborhood. A simple, yet beautiful story.

Challenging Myself (Realistically)

I don’t think I need to go on another rant about how difficult this semester has been for me so far in the regards of having time. I don’t have much time that can be used for “wiggle room” – I have to have a very strict schedule in order to get everything accomplished so, this blog is a perfect time for me to reflect on what I have done so far this semester, what I would like to improve on, and how I would like to take it to the next level.

  1. I need to stick to my original plan of going to the library for four hours every thursday. This is my one day off (usually) and I need to use it wisely. I always do homework at this time, but I need to go to the library where I won’t be distracted by cats, or dishes, or anything else. I’ve decided I will go get a nice latte beforehand and make it MY time.
  2. I would like to read more award winners and honor books. It may seem like a cop-out but I can’t chose just one award category that I like best, so until I do I would just like to read a little of everything.
  3. I AM THE WORST ABOUT COMMENTING ON OTHERS’ BLOGS! This really needs to change. I am really good about replying to comments and if you commented on my blog I have definitely checked your blog out and probably even commented on a post or two, but I am awful at going to my Feedly and seeking out posts. I plan to work on that.
  4. Goodreads. What happened? I used to be obsessed with my Goodreads account – always adding books to my shelves and rotating and rating them, but I have been slacking on there too.

I wish all of these flaws could be chalked up to my insane schedule, but unfortunately my little bout with senioritis has a bit of an influence too.

BUT I’m challenging myself to do better. And ideally I would like to continue on with these goals through the semester and beyond.

What are your goals or challenges?

As always, any advice or comments are welcome and highly appreciated!