I thought that with this [very extended] holiday break, I would get more reading done. Alas, the library doesn't typically get book deliveries on Saturday and it was closed Monday and Tuesday due to the weather. This means that tomorrow when I return to work, a giant stack of books will be waiting for me at the library.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
I had a funny moment on Saturday where I realized that I was supposed to make a unit plan for this book and I completely spaced. I'm teaching The Devil's Arithmetic to my students, and I have one who already read it on the other team so I told him I'd differentiate and create an alternate assignment for him. After frantically reading this and creating assignments, we then had three more days of break. Go figure. Anyway, this is one case where I've seen the movie before the book, so I knew the ending (oops), but I still enjoyed it. I felt like the book did a better job of painting just how naive Bruno was toward his dad and the going-ons in Germany, especially as his relationship with Shmuel unfolded. If you haven't read this one, I'd definitely recommend it.
Story of a Girl
A twitter friend said she was reading this and I managed to snag it from the library just before the snow hit. As a middle school teacher, this was a must-read, but I think it's a good read for anyone about snap judgments and the way we treat people, especially if you're a parent of kids who may be teens someday. Kids make mistakes and no matter what we do or try to do, they might be mistakes involving substances or older boyfriends and how you go forth in dealing with those mistakes can make a huge difference.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
We know that in so many other countries, wars are fought by other children. But how? Why? What happens? This memoir is told from the vantage of a child soldier, 25 at the time of this book and now safe in New York. Reading this book was equal parts horrific and fascinating for me because I just kept thinking, These boys are the age of my students… and closing my eyes and picturing my boy students doing what the boys in this book were doing, if they'd been born in another world, across the ocean. This is a human problem and a book everyone should read. I don't know what to do to stop it, but more people need to be aware of what happens to these boys.
This is another book that I read after the movie. Oops. To be fair, I thought I'd read the book, but apparently I've just read a lot of OTHER books about meth. Heh. Shane made me watch the movie and it disturbed me so much that I couldn't sleep because I just kept thinking about Ree and the hardships she faced. Ree is a 17-year-old girl growing up in the Ozarks. Her mom is completely checked out and she's left trying to raise her younger siblings while trying to make ends meet (they don't meet very well). In the midst of this, her dad (a meth cook) is released from prison and disappears. This wouldn't be a huge issue, except that he leveraged their house and timber forest against his bond. So if he doesn't go to court, Ree and family are thrown out in the field like dogs. Ree sets out to track down her family, meeting with anger, abuse (physical and verbal) and a refusal to talk at every turn. This is not an uplifting story, but it is in Ree's perseverance and dogged dedication to her younger siblings.
What are you reading?