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November 11, 2011

Having been an avid reader all my life, I can’t remember when I learned to read or when or couldn’t read. I can’t start a new book while I am working on a project or teaching a class. If I like a book, and there are few that I have not liked, I have to finish as quickly as possible. I can read all night and all day. Nothing else gets done. So over the years, I have had to set rules for myself. I can read a chapter only when my lessons are planned and all my papers graded, when the laundry is done, folded and put away, when dinner is ready, or when I am on vacation. My most recent read was the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson….read on my iPad. I can recommend the book. If only all our students had this love for reading. One way to encourage reading is to provide relevant and authentic books for our students.

As I was preparing for this post, I did some research on the book that is our focus for today and found a review written by a 6th grader who has read all the Newberry Medal books. Impressive! I found her blog and story inspirational and a good example of how students can use effectively use social media and grow that love of reading. Check out Laura’s Life blog for book recommendations, reviews and more.

One of the best books I have read this year was mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. I reviewed it for an assignment for our teacher candidates and was very impressed.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. 2010. New York: Philomel Books.

Caitlin has Asperger’s. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon has died, and Caitlin’s dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn’t know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure- and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be black and white after all. (Book summary from

The book is written by Caitlin through the lens of Asperger’s. It made me aware of what I say when I am teaching and the assumptions I make about my students. The book is relevant to many current issues in education: school violence, empathy, diversity, learning needs, death,  loss, and bullying. The reading level is ages 10 and older. My adult students and many of my colleagues have read it and agree it is a great book for readers young and not so young.

Read it for yourself and then think of ways you can use it in your classroom (grades 4 and higher).

Below are reviews, resources, and lesson ideas for mockingbird.




Resources for reading and teaching with mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine:

I started Teach Mentor Texts because I read too many books not to share them! I hope you find books that you can use at home and at school. Jen Vincent, Mentor Texts

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2011 10:13 am

    I loved this book!

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