Why a good book is a secret door

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Featured Bloggers Make 6: Jamie B, Elizabeth, Mallory, Sarah, Abby, Kelsey & Sierra

Featured Bloggers Make 6: Jamie B, Elizabeth, Mallory, Sarah, Abby, Kelsey & Sierra

This make cycle was a little different from the rest this semester. Because we are no longer working with our reading buddies, we focused more on finishing our YA novels and Miller, as well as picture book presentations. The Young Adult novel I chose was Stargirl. I decided to read this book because I vaguely remember how popular it was when I was younger; I wanted to see what the hype was about! Now that I have finished the book, I’m glad I did. The book depicted the struggles of love and the life of a high schooler. I really admired Stargirl as a character more than any other character I have ever read about. Everyone wants to be accepted and liked, especially in high school. That is, except for Stargirl. She walks around school not minding what anyone thinks of her, which is awesome. She wears what she wants and carries around a ukulele and sings Happy Birthday to people. I love that she is so unique and care-free, with her free-spirited personality. If only more people could be like her. She always sees the best in people and situations, regardless. It broke my heart at the end when Leo convinced her to change and try to be “normal” so that more people would like her, and stop ignoring him.

We had a few Picture Book Presentations. My favorite was The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock. I loved the illustrations and the story that was told. This little boy fell in love with painting after his aunt gave him a paint box, a noisy paint box in the opinion of the main character. I admired the way the story ended with him painting the way he wanted. Instead of doing the traditional paintings of houses and flowers just like everyone instructed, he preferred and fell in love with abstract painting. I sense a pattern here, with Stargirl and Vasily. Both characters want to do what makes them happy regardless of the expectations of others and I love it.

For this week’s Makes, as a blogger, I observed what groups were doing since these makes were done in class. I really liked what the Stargirl group did. They gathered pieces from Dr. Jaxon’s previous classes and put together an outfit for 

Stargirl. After her outfit was complete, she went out into the real world (Chico State Campus) and sang Happy Birthday, very bravely, to a complete stranger. I loved this Make because it related to Stargirl and what she would have done if she was on campus. She wore a headband with a sunflower in her hair. She carried around pompoms and had a quote on her back which read:

“I’m not my name. My name is something I wear, like a shirt. It gets worn. I outgrow it. I change it.”

One of my favorite quotes in the book because it describes her spot on.

As I observed other groups, I liked how the readers of Going Bovine made the best of their Makes, considering that none of them really liked the book. They each made posters, and included quotes or passages that they did not quite understand from the book. With this, they did research so that they can have a better understanding of the meaning of the book.

Author Bio: My name is Jamie and I am a senior at CSU, Chico. I’m excited to start my career as a second-grade teacher. In my spare time, I love to take outrageously long strides on the beach as the rays of the sunset reflect swiftly off my boyfriend’s beautiful olive eyeballs as we listen to the waves crash ever so beautifully. When I’m not doing that, I like to do arts and crafty things and eat filet mignon.

During the past two weeks in our English class we have been focusing on young adult novels. Our class split into five different groups and each group read a different young adult novel. These books include Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, and lastly, Going Bovine by Libba Bray. I read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: I absolutely fell in love with this book and would highly suggest it to any adult reader.

My book is about two teens who fall in love. Eleanor throughout the book is faced with family issues. She also has troubles fitting in at school because she is the new girl in town. Park and Eleanor soon become friends and fall for each other. They’re romance soon ends abruptly.

Throughout these past two weeks, our groups have had many deep discussions about our books. My group tried to relate ourselves to Eleanor or Park while growing up. Many remembered that feeling of meeting someone at school that likes you and you like them back. We also discussed if we would let our students read these books. My group decided that since there are a few cuss words and adult subject matter that we would prefer that high schoolers read the book Eleanor and Park. If any younger age student wanted to read this book I would definitely make sure the parent knew that this book included adult content.

This past Tuesday, our class made our make assignments in our groups. My group decided we would make an updated song playlist that Park would give Eleanor. Our goal was to find 10 songs that we thought worked perfectly. The reason why we decided this is because throughout the book Park would make Eleanor mixed tapes.  My group also tried to stick to newer songs. We all listened to songs and then when we found one we liked we wrote it down on a piece of paper; we collaborated to make the perfect playlist. Once we had the list on paper, a member in our group made a Spotify playlist. Here we had combined over 35 songs!

My favorite make of our entire class was from the group who read Stargirl. This book is about a teenage girl who is eccentric. She goes about life in her own way; she doesn’t mind what others think of her. Throughout the book if it was someone’s birthday at school, she would sing them happy birthday with her ukulele in front of the entire cafeteria. The group who read Stargirl had one of their group mates dress up as Stargirl and then walk around campus singing happy birthday to random people.


Author Bio: Mallory is from Carmel, California. She is majoring in Liberal studies, to pursue her goal to be an elementary school teacher. She loves working with young kids so she hopes to be a kindergarten teacher or first-grade teacher. She is 21 years old and loves to travel.

The time has come to wrap up the semester. Let’s buckle up for our final reflection/manifesto!

Before we do that, let’s briefly recap our last few weeks. In week eleven, we finished up our class text of Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller, which was a really great text to help get us to think like future teachers and to think about how to create a lovely environment in the classroom for children to become wild readers. You also all saw the picture book presentation of Javaka Steptoe by Jaime B. and myself, and, as a class, we also submitted our graphic novel Makes–it was super fun to try out designing a comic!

In week twelve, we all saw the picture book presentation of Barb Rosenstock by Morgan, Katie, and Leslie and then we started to finish our young adult novels. As a class, we have discussed the different books by analyzing the various characters and then we completed our Make 6 in class. Oh! We can’t forget our most recent picture book presentation! Savannah, Taylor, and Tanpreet showed us the author/illustrator Carol Boston Weatherford and read to us the book called Before John was a Jazz Giant. They ended their presentation with an awesome game of Name that Song and it was a blast! It is extremely important to test your music guessing skills, by the way.

Make Cycle 6 was our last one! This Make was for our young adult novels and we ended up doing this Make as a class on Tuesday the 14th. This was a nice way for our young adult novel groups to collaborate together. The young adult novel I read was called Bone Gap, and it was interesting, but very confusing. Bone Gap was written in a form of magical realism. I haven’t read any magical realism books before this one, so this was stepping out of the box for me. There are quite a few things that go on and nothing ever seems very clear. The story is very disjointed. What I know is that there is a girl Roza who gets kidnapped, there are two brothers, a town with gaps(?) and weird random things happen. I just couldn’t get into this book. I never knew what was going on. It was too confusing and frustrating, so I wasn’t able to finish it. I am the kind of reader who likes to know what is going on, so this book was not for me.

Since we did our last Make Cycle 6 in class, I just wandered and observed a few makes and then ended up back at my original Bone Gap group. Katie Larson and Chantal Hernandez created a specific maze that represented the path Finn had to take to find his way to save Roza from her kidnapper. There were also green dot “gaps” shown that lead to other parallel worlds. This is a good visual representation that depicts the magical realism that is within Bone Gap.

I also enjoyed watching one of the Stargirl groups dress up! A perfect way to become one of the characters from the novel!

Author Bio: Sarah is a senior at California State University, Chico, planning on graduating in the fall of 2018 with her Bachelors in Liberal Studies and she hopes to head into the multi-subject teaching credential program in spring of 2019. Sarah enjoys drinking tea, relaxing and watching Netflix at home, but also loves to go hiking and camping when she can. Her goals for the future are to become an elementary school teacher, buy some land, build a house, and travel.    

This week Savannah, Taylor and Tanpreet did their picture book presentation on Carole Boston Weatherford and her book Before John Was a Jazz Giant. They had a really fun activity for our class after reading this book aloud. They split our class into two teams and they pulled up Youtube to play a game where we had to guess the popular song titles and artist from the 2000s. This was such a fun and engaging game that everyone in class got really into, and it was fun to hear some of the songs that I grew up listening to, that I hadn’t heard in a long time.

We also finished up our young adult novels this week and I read Eleanor and Park. Prior to this class, I always wanted to read this book, and I got so emotionally invested in this novel, I couldn’t put it down. This novel follows the perspectives of two teens, Eleanor and Park, living in Omaha, Nebraska, and their two very different lives that shouldn’t fit together, but somehow fit together perfectly. Eleanor is the new girl at school and comes face to face with the school bullies on her first day when she climbs aboard the school bus. She continuously gets shot down the open seats next to people and as she makes her way to the back of the bus, “right into the belly of the beast.” Park not-so-nicely tells her to sit down next to him, and from there on out, Eleanor’s spot was right next to Park. Once they finally started speaking to each other, they clicked. Although Eleanor had days where she would take out her frustrations from her hectic family life out on Park, he never left her. Eleanor lives with her mother, new husband Richie, who kicked Eleanor out the previous year, and her younger siblings Ben, Maisie, Mouse and Richie Jr. Park lives with his mother Mindy, father Jamie and younger brother Josh, in their perfect in every way house. It takes Eleanor some time to start feeling comfortable being around Parks family, and his mother isn’t too fond of her in the beginning because of the wild clothes, that usually consisted of being mens shirts and tattered jeans. Eventually, Mindy gets past Eleanor’s looks and Eleanor becomes more comfortable being around Parks family. Eleanor and Park’s relationship isn’t always perfect, but they always manage to get over their differences, no matter what they are. Their love story is so much fun to read and I found myself getting butterflies when they kissed for the first time, crying when Tina, the bully, steals Eleanor’s clothes during PE and throws them in the toilet, and completely melting when Park beat the crap out of the guy that wouldn’t quit calling Eleanor names. My favorite quote from this novel was when it was from Eleanor’s point of view:

“Did she miss him? She wanted to lose herself in him. To tie his arms around her like a tourniquet. If she showed him how much she needed him, he’d run away.”

Overall this was a wonderful novel about love, but it wasn’t your typical teen love story. I am so happy that I finally got the chance to read this lovely book and I will definitely be reading it again in the future.

For this weeks makes, they were a little different than the previous ones. Our class created their makes in class and I was sitting and observing Brittanee and Jorden. Like many other peers who read Eleanor and Park, they decided to make their own playlists, the way Park and Eleanor did for each other throughout the novel. They both made their playlists on Spotify, and Brittanee called hers, “Life,” and Jorden called hers, “Life of Jorden.” They both chose songs that were relevant to their lives and songs that they listened to growing up. A few of Brittanee’s choices were: “Hick Town,” “Small Town Boy,” “Single for the Summer,” and “Big Green Tractor.” A lot of their song preferences were country songs, so their playlists were like the country versions of Eleanor and Park’s mixtapes. They seemed to have a lot of fun making their playlists. Jorden did mention that she thought making a playlist would be a lot easier, but they both ended up with awesome playlists that I’m sure brought back so many memories for them.

About the Author: Abby is a Liberal Studies major who hopes to teach anywhere from kindergarten to third grade. She has been working for an After School Program in Oroville for over six years and she hopes to someday teach at the same school. She loves spending time with her family, friends and boyfriend and going to Giants games and Disneyland.

This week as we prepared to begin our vacation to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, we also finished our young adult novels, which happens to be our last book that we will read in English 341. I must say that before taking this course I wasn’t much of a “reader” at all. I think I maybe finished one book in high school by choice and other than that I could never finish a book before getting bored of it. This class has really helped me to get into reading and not do it just because I had to finish a book for class, but because I actually enjoyed the books that I was reading. From seeing makes and reading Goodreads reviews of all the book cycles we went through, all of the book choices seemed like great novels. I even hope to read some of the books that I didn’t get the chance to read for class after the semester is over. I really never thought I would be able to get myself into reading this late in my educational career, but I can officially say that I now enjoy reading and I look forward to doing more of it in the future.

This week’s picture book presentation just so happened to be my favorite one yet. Tanpreet, Taylor, and Savannah did an awesome presentation on Carol Boston Weatherford. From the facts and information they gave on her she seems like such an inspiring and awesome author. Her book was very well written and beautifully illustrated but my favorite part of the presentation was the activity. I found the music quiz idea to be so unique and such a fun activity that all ages can enjoy. It can be tweaked for any age group and allows students to understand the point of the book while having fun with a little friendly competition.

The young adult novel that I chose to read was Bone Gap. If I’m being completely honest this is the one book that I didn’t research before choosing to read. I just picked it randomly without knowing anything it was about and just hoped I would enjoy it. This book was way different than I had expected it to be, but after finishing it, I was pleasantly surprised with the book overall. I found the quest for Roza to be quite thrilling and I truly admired Finn for his determination to find his dear friend despite what the town had said to him.

Finn is truly one of a kind and doesn’t let the opinions of others affect his life choices throughout the book. Even with Petey, everyone had put her down for her looks and treated her badly because they said she wasn’t pretty. However, this didn’t stop Finn from falling in love with her. He didn’t care what she looked like, he couldn’t even really see what she looked like, but he judged her based on who she was as a person and loved her for her which to me was a big theme in the book. There’s more to a person than just their physical appearance which is why we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The scarecrow wanted Roza solely for her looks but when she cut herself and that was taken away from her he then wanted nothing to do with her. Sean wanted Roza because he loved her for her despite her physical flaw and that’s what matters. I appreciate a theme like this in a young adult novel because I think this is an important message to get across to teenagers crossing into adulthood. It teaches them a good message that they can connect with. I think this is a great book to read in a classroom setting around the high school age and I think a lot of other students would enjoy it as much as I did.

As for the makes I thought this week’s cycle turned out very well. I think it helped to do them in class and make them a group effort instead of an individual assignment. When I was observing the different book groups, everybody seemed to be working collaboratively for ideas, which I think resulted in very well thought out and cool makes. My group decided to make a maze of the town Bone gap which had Finn starting in one corner with a goal to reach Roza in the middle. The maze had different gaps in it like there was in the story which signified dead ends on our maze. I loved this idea because I think students would have a lot of fun making their own mazes that they could swap with other classmates to see if they could get Finn to Roza or not. It shows how the magical realism was used in the story and is a fun idea that could be used as an activity in a future classroom. Overall everybody did a great job of creating things that fit the book they were reading for this make cycle and I was very impressed with the unique ideas and collaborative efforts among our class.

Author Bio: Kelcy is a third year Liberal Studies major at Chico state and is from Merced, CA. Her goal is to one day be a 2nd grade teacher. She loves being with her family and her English bulldog as well as spending as much time as she can relaxing at the beach.

This last two weeks went by very fast. During the last few weeks have had two different picture book presentations. The first group, Morgan, Katie and Leslie, told us about Barb Rosenstock. Barb is a narrative nonfiction and historical fiction picture book author. The presenting group read to us one her books entitled The Noisy Paint Box; the book was all about using music and sounds to create abstract art. As a class, we were all given the chance to create our own works of abstract art. I really enjoyed this activity because it is something you can do with all grade levels and it is also something that allows students to let go of the rules for a second and just feel the pen move in their hands. The second picture book presentation was by Savannah, Taylor, and Tanpreeet on Carol Boston Weatherford. Carol Weatherford writes her books in a poetic, musical way. As a class, we were read Before John Was a Jazz Giant and then we played a music quiz.

This last two weeks we have been reading several different Young Adult books. I was excited to be able to read young adult books since they have always been by favorite genre of books. The book that I chose was Stargirl. Stargirl is a story all about figuring out what it means to stand out. It is set in a small town that’s all about conformity, so when a new girl shows up and completely stands out from everyone, she is bound to make an impact. Stargirl quickly becomes the most popular girl at her school due to how positive and how caring she is for others. One of my favorite quotes comes from Leo who is the narrator of the story:

“Of all the unusual features of Stargirl, this stuck me as the most remarkable. Bad things did not stick to her. Correction: her bad things did not stick to her. If we were hurt, if we were unhappy or otherwise victimized by life, she seemed to know about it, and to care, as soon as we did. But bad things falling on her-unlike words, nasty stares, foot blisters she seemed unaware of. I never saw her look in a mirror, never heard her complain. All her feelings, all her attentions flowed outward. She had no ego”

Out of all the books that we have read this semester, this one was by far my favorite. I have had Stargirl on my bookshelf at home since I was young, but never got around to reading it. I’m glad I was given the chance to be able to do so now. I feel that Stargirl is a timeless book: everyone who reads it can find a personal connection to the story. When I was younger, I feel like I would have really connected to Leo about wanting to just fit in and be normal, but as I have grown up, I have realized that we are all unique and those things that makes us different is what makes us special. I feel that Stargirl gives people the motivation to stand out and be more of who they really are. I also feel that Stargirl promotes kindness. She is always kind to everyone even when it turns against her. We can all learn something from Stargirl.

For our makes this cycle instead of everyone doing them individuality and at home, we worked in groups in class to create our take on our stores. Everyone created unique and cool makes. The first one that really stuck me as cool was the Stargirl group.

They decided to dress one of the group members up as Stargirl and have her run around campus just strutting her stuff. One of the things that Stargirl does in the book is go up to people on their birthday and sing them happy birthday with her ukela. So, that’s what this group decided to do. They found a random girl and sang to her and they soon found out that her birthday was the next day. I thought they did a great job capturing what it means to be Stargirl. Check out this awesome video of Stargirl singing.

Another group that read Eleanor and Park decided to make a Spotify playlist that captures who they were. Even though they thought it would be easy, they found it more difficult but they were able to find a few songs that showed who they are. I thought this was cool because it is so relevant to how daily life. I personally can say that I listen to my Spotify every day and to be able to use that in a classroom is a cool idea. It’s also great for the classroom because I feel that music is not relevant enough when it really should be. Overall, all of the makes this week were really cool because we were able to work together and create something unique.

Author Bio: Elizabeth is a senior at Chico State as a Liberal Studies major and Child Development minor. After graduating in the fall ,she plans on getting her credential at Cal State Fullerton and then moving to Massachusetts to be closer to family and to begin her teaching career, hopefully as a first grade teacher. She is originally from Whittier, CA and she very much misses being only fifteen minutes away from Disneyland.


Eleanor and ParkWow, first of all I loved this book!  It was very hard to put down.  The love story was pretty realistic, except that there were a few cliche events that took place.  I loved the messages or themes shown in this book.  One theme is courage.  Eleanor shows courage when she ignores constant teasing at school and she also has courage to go back to the same house that presents a danger to herself and others.  Park has the courage to stand up for Eleanor when she is being teased, and he shows a huge amount of courage toward the end of the story when he helps Eleanor (I am intentionally trying not to give anything away).  Along with these acts of courage the reader also sees characters, like Eleanor’s mother, not use courage when it is needed.  Another theme is love, including it’s power and it’s limitations.  The love shared between Eleanor and Park is very powerful and helps both of them in their current situations.  Park gets closer to his father because having a love interest shows that he is in fact a man.  Eleanor is comforted and supported by Park through all of the turmoil of her home life.  However, the reader also sees the limitations of love in the fact that Park is not able to solve all of Eleanor’s problems as much as he would like to.  

“The first time he’d held her hand, it felt so good that it crowded out all the bad things.  It felt better than anything had ever hurt.”

Eleanor also states that he had, at least temporarily, saved her life.  I love that this story goes back and forth between being from Park’s perspective to being from Eleanor’s perspective.  I have a brewing plan for my boyfriend and I to write a short book together highlighting our most memorable times together, switching back and forth like this book does. :D  First, we are going to read Eleanor and Park together though. :)

The ending is somewhat vague, I’m sure on purpose.  There is not complete closure, so I am hoping that there will be a sequel so that the love story will continue!  Left alone, the very last line is hopeful and forces the reader to either choose to think positively or negatively about what probably happened after the last page.  I choose to think positively! :) How could I not?  I believe their love for each other will always remain… I loved this sweet story so much. :)

Carole Boston Weatherford was a wonderful author to learn about this past week.  I appreciate that her books incorporate people of color to show diversity and celebrate a group of people who are, still to this day, often discriminated against.  I especially loved the activity the group decided to lead.  The “name the song” activity was unlike the other activities inspired by different, famous, children’s book authors.  This one incorporated competition and student collaboration.  There were a lot of laughs, so people were clearly enjoying the activity.  I think it was a creative idea instead of having us do another art project. Well done! :)

For the Make 6 Cycle that we accomplished in class I observed a group of students that had also read Eleanor and Park. Instead of doing individual projects they decided to collaborate by creating a Spotify playlist that symbolized Eleanor and Park’s love story.  Therefore, there were many love songs as well as songs addressing hardship because that represents another significant aspect to the story, especially concerning Eleanor.  Also, my group chose songs from this day and age to modernize this love story and make it more relatable to themselves.  Overall, I feel that it was fun to make this playlist, given that so many of my classmates have music as a common interest.  I have never met someone who doesn’t like at least some type of music.  Everyone was focusing on the message behind the songs, so their genre preference was able to be included as long as the words fit the storyline.  I was impressed with the final project. 

In Miller’s last chapter I really appreciated her idea of encouraging the children to have conversations about their reading preferences; reason: engaging storyline, relatable characters, creative writing style, etc.  This will make them realize what they like about the books they read and loved, and how they can have better luck choosing books they will enjoy in the future.  This is creating their reading identity, although their preferences could change over time, which should be discussed.  I like the idea of having the children partner up and tell another student about their reading genre preference, with support from one or multiple books they read recently.  This chapter has inspired me to do this both at the beginning and end of the school year to compare the children’s responses and observe their growth in reading.  “Preferences are not fixed” (p.169).  

I also enjoyed reading the section of this chapter giving the advantages of graphic novels.  ‘The evidence suggests that light reading provides the competence and motivation to continue reading and to read more demanding texts’ (p.6 from Miller’s p.171).  

Another significant topic in this chapter: “Students reread books for three main reasons: they want to absorb a treasured story into their skin, they want to cement their knowledge of topics and ideas, or they don’t know what else to read” (p.175)  As teachers we need to evaluate which reason it is to help us determine whether or not it should keep happening with a certain child.

We had a great couple of weeks.

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