Saturday, September 11, 2010

Too Busy To Read or Dust

Jill Stuart's The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise has been sitting on my nighttable doing what most things in my house do- collect dust. Do you mind dusting? I despise it. I would rather scrub toilets or sort laundry anyday. Back to the book, it is my book club's pick for this month although our meeting has been pushed from September 23 into October because September is so busy for everyone. Thank goodness everyone else is busy too. I am drowning in school forms, fall sports registrations, homework, internet, and behavior "contracts" my kids and I need to sign, as well as grading and lesson plans for my own students. Who has time to read? But the book, albeit a bit dusty, sits by my bed. My children have asked me when I plan to start reading it to them. The cover illustration makes it look like a children's story and they thought I had chosen it for a family read aloud. I am beginning to feel like they will be adults by the time I find time for nightly reading again!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to School Traditions- Old and New

Since the school where I teach opened on the same day as the schools in my hometown, I missed putting my children on the school bus for the first day of school. It was my first time ever missing it. That was hard for me. Really hard. I had been a stay-at-home mom for years and when I went back to work as a teacher last fall, I started after my kids. I've always sent them off with notes in their lunches, hugs, and a camera at the bus stop. They still got notes in their lunches, but the babysitter did the send off.

I wanted them to start feeling calm, prepared, and loved. They probably did. But what I fixated on was not getting that photo of them all lined up with their backpacks on. That was killing me. Irrational, I know. Luckily, I arrived home before my youngest got off his bus. So I then lined them all up for our first annual "End of the First Day" photo. Sure, everyone looks a little more wrinkled, but I got it. After the photo, as we walked to our house, I heard lots of details about the joys and frustrations of second, fifth, and sixth grades. How, by the way, did I become the mother of a middle schooler? The walk home was followed by well earned ice cream.

In my own classes, I handed out a survey about likes/dislikes, goals for English class, favorite words, and so on. Even though I am in a different high school this year, there were some similarities to last year's responses. Of course, many, many high school girls cite Twilight saga and A Walk to Remember as their favorite books. I was surprised at how many of the boys said Louis Sachar's Holes was the best book they ever read. I heard that a lot from last year's boys as well.

I hope your school year is off to a smooth start!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to Back to School Season

September has arrived and the school buses are soon to follow. We happened to drive past my daughter's elementary school yesterday, and she said, "Don't you just love the way your classroom smells on the first day of school? I love that smell!" One of her brothers asked what exactly is wrong with her brain and the other mused what it would be like to have a tail. I hope the latter's new teacher is ready for the onslaught of non sequitirs!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

If I Was 13 and Artemis Fowl Was Real, I Would Totally Arm Wrestle My Daughter To Date Him

As usual, it's all thing Artemis Fowl over here at the house of th Book Bench. My ten year old daughter happily, happily, ecstatically got her hands on the newly released latest in the series, The Atlantis Complex. She is parcelling it out, just a few chapters a day to make it last longer. To fill in the gaps of non-Atlantis Complex time, she is reading the graphic novel version of the second book in the series, Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident. We have read the original novel and listened to it on CD and it is my favorite in the series. Hayden loves it because she loves the pixie villain, Opal Koboi who is deliciously evil. However, the graphic novel is like a thorn under her saddle because Opal does not look at all the way Hayden pictured her. That is irritating her no end. I'm worried that whenever the movie is made, she (we) will be disappointed

I do not have much time for "fun" books like the Artemis Fowl series because I am busily preparing for the classes I'll be teaching this fall. By the way, "this fall" means this Thursday as that's the day teachers report back to school. Anyhow, I did find a way to sneak a little Artemis in when I teach The Great Gatsby. I plan to do a lesson on Byronic heroes and have the students decide whether or not Jay Gatsby qualifies as one. Artemis is one of the many examples of contemporary Byronic heroes I will present to the class.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Great Gatsby- Love It or Hate It?

I have just finished rereading The Great Gatsby. I will be doing it with my juniors this fall. It's one of those books that evokes strong responses from people even years after they've read it. Responses along the "Favorite book ever!" or "I hated that book lines!" Which camp do you fall in?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Black and White Brought Me Back

Because my parents are the greatest grandparents in the world, they have taken my three children to Maine with them for four days so I can lesson plan and prepare for my new teaching gig. Because I am the world's worst procrastinator, I am posting here on the blog. Don't be frightened by the dust and cobwebs- I know it's been awhile since I've written here. The summer has been an embarrassment of riches- hiking, biking, swimming, job interviewing, reading, and refereeing fights between the kids. Earlier today I did begin to focus on the curriculum for my junior English class which has a unit on modernism and postmodernism and I had an Alleluia moment. For years I have wanted to find a way to bring David Macaulay's picture book Black and White into the classroom. It is nonlinear, challenging, full of puns, and perfect for postmodernism. So now I will take my leave of this blog to go back to lesson planning, but not until I advise you to check out Macaulay's brilliant postmodern picture book. Read it with a kid you like. It will give you plenty to discuss!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Middle Aged Woman Who Sat On The Beach

My children are on our lake community's summer swim team. They are in different age brackets on that team which means they practice at different times. That means I sit on the beach for a minimum of three hours each Monday to Thursday. I know: boo hoo. I'm trying not to micromanage my children- Free Range Kids and all- so once the sunscreen is on, I try to do my own thing without hovering. I've only got so much chit chat, gossip, and complaining to other parents in me, so eventually I start reading. I tried reading for my new teaching gig, but it's hard to focus on Shakespeare with frequent interruptions for snacks and squabble settling, so it's strictly beach reading at the lake now. I'm almost done with Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire. I read his first last year for my book club (it was a big hit with the ladies, by the way), and I think I like this one even better. Honest to God, though, every single character and place name sounds like an item in the IKEA catalogue. That's not even me trying to be funny. While I was reading it the other day, another mom mentioned that she is on the third of Larsson's novels and had I read the review in the Times (NY I assume) that proposes that the main female character, Lisbeth Salander is actually the grownup Pipi Longstocking. I had not seen that article, but the notion has made me happy all week. I think I have written here about how much I loved Pipi as a girl and how thoroughly my kids and I loved reading Astrid Lindgren's book a year or so ago.

So, that's what I'm reading at the beach. Have you got a juicy summer book? Do tell.