Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt August 18, 2016

book cover2Ally knows she is different from the other kids. Reading is hard for her, almost impossible. She’s gotten good at hiding it from teachers, her mother, everyone. She’s become the master at creating a diversion, saying something funny, even getting sent to principal’s office if she has to, just to keep her secret. But her secret is draining to keep. It feels like she’s carrying a heavy weight that makes it hard to keep afloat. When she starts sixth grade, her teacher Mr. Daniels sees what’s really going on. It is a relief for Ally, like the weight has been taken from her shoulders. But can Mr. Daniels really help her? As far as she knows, there’s no cure for dumb.

This is a heartwarming story about a girl with dyslexia. It is both believable and unbelievable that her parents and previous teachers did not catch on to her struggles. I want to believe that someone would have noticed, but I’ve heard many stories about kids slipping through the cracks. I would recommend this story to upper elementary or younger middle schoolers who will be able to relate to Ally’s desperation to have her problems disappear and wanting to blend in with her classmates.

3 out of 5 stars

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I Wish My Teacher Knew by Kyle Schwartz

Filed under: adult non-fiction,Uncategorized — Bethany @ 8:31 pm

book cover1Ms. Schwartz, a third grade teacher from Colorado, asked her students to fill in the blank. I wish my teacher knew ____. The answers, and therefore her understanding of her students, transformed her life as a teacher. After sharing her experiences on social media, teachers all over the world tried the exercise with astounding results. Some students’ answers are shared throughout the book as well as insights from teachers. Most of the book, however, is focused on how to create a community within the classroom and school and how to best help students who are struggling with personal challenges such as poverty, hunger, grief, and more.

As someone who wanted to be a teacher since she was 5, I read about this book in an article and couldn’t wait to read it. It was very interesting and really emphasized the important role teachers play in students’ lives. I felt that old pang of regret for changing my career path and never being a teacher. Teachers have a HARD job. I think many people fail to appreciate what an emotional bond teachers form with their students and how teachers care about students as people beyond (just?!) teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.

I wish the book would have had more of the students’ responses to the question. There was one per chapter, but I got the impression that the book would be filled with them, Post Secret-style. I also felt that sometimes the author was really touting all the great things she has done for her students. (Don’t get me wrong- She seems like a wonderful teacher.) Sometimes it gave me that panicked feeling that the world is a horrible place and there is little I can do to help. However, it also gave concrete suggestions for helping children feel included and safe. This book is definitely worth reading, especially if you are a teacher or work with children.

3 out of 5 stars

 

 
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