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Summer Reading for Grownups

by Nicki Clausen-Grace and Michelle Kelley
June 30, 2011
Well, the dust has finally settled (in Nicki’s classroom, this is more than a euphemism) and we are drifting forward into the long, hot summer.

For us, this means time to enjoy the guilty pleasure of voraciously gobbling up great reads with no regard to time, professional responsibilities, or haughty literary ambitions. Like most teachers, we feel justified in time spent reading because it gives us background for matching readers to great texts and a better understanding of current research and methodologies.

If you know us, you know we are different types of readers. Almost every available surface in Nicki’s house is covered in young adult and middle reader fiction. Of course, these books slide off piles of professional journals like The Reading Teacher and Teaching Children Mathematics, which she gets to in time.

Michelle, on the other hand, fills her shelves with professional books and journals which she reads every chance she gets. Her beach reading may be a little more serious than Nicki’s, but she enjoys it every bit as much.

Most summers we organize a reading club for teachers and other interested people to enjoy the nominees for our state book award (Sunshine State Young Readers Awards, or SSYRA for short). We meet in fun locations related to the book we are reading and enjoy bonding over good food and good books. Some of our past field trips included a visit to a dim sum restaurant (to discuss Grace Lin’s Year of the Dog), and a convoy to a local wine bar (not sure what we discussed there—The Grapes of Wrath?).

The process starts with a meeting at the local coffee shop/bookstore to create a list of books from the SSYRA list that we want to read. We invite all the teachers at Nicki’s school, as well as Michelle’s mother and some of her coworkers. People with children who read are welcome to bring them, although the young members usually only read a couple titles of interest.

Next, we pull out our calendars and do our best to schedule around vacations, workshops and summer jobs. We meet twice a month and whoever can make it RSVPs so we know how big of a table to get.

Our group is diverse and it is really interesting to hear completely different takes on a book you thought everyone would view the same way. Best of all, we have a bevy of new titles to suggest to specific students.

Writing two of our own books this summer has limited our time for field-trip style book clubs, but we are still finding time to read and discuss great texts. Zenaida Rollins, the media specialist at Nicki’s school, has set up a blog for anyone interested in discussing the new Sunshine State books.

Between this, our shared conversations about books and articles pertinent to our writing, and the obligatory, “Honey, did you read that article about the ‘gator attack in the local and state section today?” we are satisfying our needs to read and talk about great texts.

Below we share our summer reading lists with you. We’d love to continue the conversation.

What are you reading this summer?

Nicki’s Summer Reading List:

Middle Grade Fiction
  • The Magic Half by Annie Barrows
  • Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (can’t believe I haven’t read this yet!)
  • Dark Life by Kat Falls
  • Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
  • Finally by Wendy Mass
Young Adult/Adult
  • Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent
  • Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Professional Reads
  • Books as Bridges: Using Text to Connect Home and School Literacy and Learning by Jane Baskwill
  • The Reading Teacher article (May 2011), “Science Visual Literacy: Learners’ Perceptions and Knowledge of Diagrams” by Erin M. McTigue and Amanda C. Flowers
  • Real Revision: Authors’ Strategies to Share with Student Writers by Kate Messner
Michelle’s Summer Reading List (some of these are rereads as I am in a revisiting mood):

  • The Reading Teacher article (April 2011), “Meeting the Reading Challenge of Science Textbooks in the Primary Grades” by Nadine Bryce
  • The Reading Teacher article (September 2010), “Teaching Flexibly with Leveled Texts: More Power for Your Reading Block” by Kathryn Glasswell and Michael P. Ford
  • The Reading Teacher article (September 2010), “Effective Academic Vocabulary Instruction in the Urban Middle School” by Joan G. Kelley, Nonie K. Lesaux, Michael J. Kieffer & S. Elisabeth Faller
  • The Reading Teacher article (September 2010), “Digital Readers: The Next Chapter in E-Book Reading and Response” by Lotta C. Larson
  • The Reading Teacher article (May 2009), “Reader Response Meets New Literacies: Empowering Readers in Online Learning Communities” by Lotta C. Larson
  • The Reading Teacher article (May 2011), “Science Visual Literacy: Learners’ Perceptions and Knowledge of Diagrams” by Erin M. McTigue and Amanda C. Flowers
  • The Reading Teacher Toolbox (October 2010), “Print Features and Print Layout-Perfect Partners”
  • Teaching Reading: Beyond the Primary Grades by Marjorie Y. Lipson
  • The Reading Teacher article (February 2011), “Why the Dog Eats Nikki’s Homework: Making Informed Assignment Decisions” by Susan Voorhees
  • Waiting for "SUPERMAN": How We Can Save America''s Failing Public Schools (Participant Guide Media) edited by Karl Weber
  • The Reading Teacher article (May 2009), “HOT Blogging: A Framework for Blogging to Promote Higher Order Thinking” by Lisa Zawilinski

Nicki Clausen-Grace is a teacher, author, consultant and staff developer from Oviedo, Florida, USA. She currently teaches fourth-grade at Carillon Elementary school and also serves as an adjunct instructor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, USA. This summer she is coauthoring two books for teachers with Michelle, reading lots of great books and spending time with her husband and children (ages 10 and 19).

Michelle Kelley is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida. She is also an author, consultant, staff developer and mother. She lives in Oviedo, Florida with her husband, son (16), daughter (12), and dog (1). This summer she is busy with an on campus reading clinic involving graduate students as clinicians, revising courses, and co-authoring two books with Nicki for teachers.


© 2011 Nicki Clausen-Grace & Michelle Kelley. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.


Practice What You Preach: Spend the Summer Reading
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