Monday, September 24, 2012

MMGM: 1st Quarter Book Highlights in Mrs. Ko's Class

So, I thought I'd do more posts on my life as a teacher. I feel like my blog is a little schizophrenic at times and I don't fully portray who I am in all facets of my life, so here we go.

I teach 5th grade at a school in South San Diego. I've taught 5th grade for over 8 years now. I love the age and everything about the kids in 5th grade.

My favorite thing about teaching, and subconsciously probably the main reason I became a teacher in the first place, is sharing my love of reading with my students. I haven't perfected it, but I'd like to think of myself as a little bit of "book whisperer" at my school. I have parents that constantly come back to tell me how much I've changed their child's life by helping them to love books. THAT is the biggest compliment I can get as a teacher.

Unfortunately because of the deep budget cuts in education, our school library is only open two days a week, which means our kids have very limited access to the MANY books just sitting on the shelves waiting to be checked out. :( The worst part of it is my kids have limited access to the nonfiction titles in the school library. I only have one shelf of nonfiction in my classroom library.

However, the upside to this is the my students are mostly relying on my classroom library to feed their reading appetites this year. Lucky for them, they're in MY class this year and their teacher owns more than 1200+ books. The great thing is that my kids are digging deeper into my library than I've had for many years now and I am so excited that they're exploring different genres and authors. I can't wait for the next Scholastic book order to add more titles that I think they'll love! :)

Each year, I love seeing which books/series catch on and spreads like fire in my class. Without fail, Goosebumps always catches on each year and so does The Lightning Thief, but there are several unexpected "fires" going strong right now and I wanted to share that with you.

Without further ado, here's a list of the BOOK HIGHLIGHTS in my classroom as of 1st quarter:

39 Clues
I have waited and waited for years for this series to catch on in my classroom. I planted a little seed in one kid this year who was seeking a mystery book and started him off on Book One. Now, I have four or five other kids who can't wait to get their hands on the first book. YES! I haven't personally read this series myself, but have heard the best things about it, so YAY!!! Looks like now I can finally justify buying more of them for our classroom library!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Each year, I'm always surprised by how many kids have NOT read Diary of a Wimpy Kid by the time they reach 5th grade, but when they do they just devour them one after another. I don't have to push these books at all, which is awesome. I just wish it had a better message. I've only read the first one, but based off of my student's reading journal letters, it sounds like there's a LOT of bullying going on. I'd really hate to promote something that's promoting bullying, but I guess I'll have to read more to see what it's really about. Does anyone have any insight into this series they can share with me?

Magic School Bus
I inherited a huge tub of Magic School Bus books from my mother-in-law who was also an elementary school for many years. Year and year, I wished someone would pick one up and I don't know WHO started reading them this year, but they are probably the most read books in my classroom at the moment. I LOVED Magic School Bus as a kid, so it's exciting to see a new generation enjoy them. And they aren't reading just one, they are reading all of them.

Beverly Cleary books
I must have read every single Beverly Cleary book when I was a kid. Our school library was pretty small, but it was always stocked with Beverly Clearly books. Beverly Cleary is one of the few authors where I actually have 2 tubs full of their books. I love that I have a few students who are just plowing through all of her books and I'm happy to say that they aren't ALL GIRLS either! :)

Who Was? biographies
I have tons of biographies. I think I own almost every single "Who Was?" biography there is out there. Same thing like the other books mentioned above, year after year, I have kids dabble in and out of this tub, but right now there's a little "fire" building for biographies. My Who Was Anne Frank? is MIA at the moment and I have another kid asking me for it. Looks like we need to add more too our library!

I have Donalyn Miller's 40 Book Challenge (from her book The Book Whisperer) to thank for the diversity of books my students are reading this year. This is the first year that I'm fully implementing the challenge and I know that my kids are finally venturing out into different genres because of it.

Now if only I can get them digging into my historical fiction tubs!

Plans for next quarter:
I am planning on building my graphic novels tub in my library because I want to give my kids more options other than Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I think @mrschureads and especially @colbysharp have me SOLD on Babymouse, so that's next on my to-buy list. :)

Here's to many, many more FIRES this year!


  1. That's exciting -- that so much reading interest is taking off despite the limited library hours and money for classroom books. Hopefully kids are able to make it to the public libraries when they need to.

    Just a thought...has anyone ever gone after volunteers for the school library so it can be open more and available to teachers when they need it? I know it might be a logistical problem with books getting checked out properly and keeping the library organized, but I hate to see books just sitting there...

    1. Hi Barbara,

      We've had some parent volunteers in the library helping out, but for some reason (BEYOND ME), they've implemented a new library checkout system and the ONLY people they've trained are the library techs. So we can't check out books without the librarian around. Hopefully this will change as the year goes on. It really is such a WASTE of books. Drives me crazy!

  2. Thanks for sharing this info about what books are hot in your classroom these days. 39 Clues and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are no surprise to me, but I was interested to learn the 5th graders like the Magic Schoolbus series--I would have thought those would only appeal to younger kids.

    1. I think they started reading Magic School Bus because I keep encouraging them to read nonfiction? I'm not sure what started this fire, to be honest with you. The books have been collecting dust for years and then all of a sudden they're flying off the shelves. :)

  3. What a fascinating post, Jasmine! I loved hearing about which books are popular with your fifth graders. And I recognized all of them. :)

    I second what Barbara says about volunteers. My sons went to a very small elementary school where the library was run almost completely by volunteers (including myself). The librarian was also a teacher so she had limited time to be in the library. We volunteers learned how to help the kids find and check out books and even how to repair books! And we were able to keep the library open five days a week. The power of volunteering is wonderful (if you can find enough parents or grandparents willing and able to volunteer).

    1. Thanks for dropping by Joanne! :)

      The good thing is we do have many willing and able volunteers that would love to help out, but with the new checkout system, we're kind of limited (at least for now). I can't believe our beautiful library FULL of books is just going to waste though. Looks like I should bug my principal about it again. :)


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