So Many Books and Still Too Little Time!

#sol21- July 13, 2021

I have long been known as “that book crazy lady” and I am totally okay with that, even though I would argue that I have other interests as well. When I found out last spring that I would be moving from third grade to fifth grade one of my first thoughts was, “But what about my library?” I buy a lot of books and my book buying dollars do not go nearly as far here in Cambodia because I pay at least double the price to get books shipped here.

Realistically, I knew that plenty of my third grade class library books would work in fifth, but I also knew I was going to have to really bulk up my middle grade selection (and would be able to bring in some books I had at home that I had bought and loved that seemed “too old” for third graders. I put out a plea on Twitter and asked just about anyone I could think of that would have an opinion for their recommendations. I started a to buy list and semi carefully checked out what I already owned to prevent duplications (except when I duplicated on purpose). Bit by bit I started reading, because I want to know as many books to recommend as I can.

As summer break approached I looked at my stacks and shelves. “No worries,” I told myself, “I always like to try Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday in the summer and with me not traveling this summer that gives me more time than ever!”

I counted the days of break- 51 days. I looked at my piles- hmm, way more than 51 books… solution? I kept ordering more books. This was not helping my dilemma. I just counted- I am on day 32 of break and I have finished 36 books, which sounds great, until you look at my stacks still waiting (and until you look at the books that are “on their way” and due here soon).

I started a list of the chapter books I wanted to be sure to read aloud this year – umm, it now numbers 18. Knowing that I will also read a picture book a day I feel like I will be lucky to get to 5 chapter books… and I still have many in my piles that book lovers describe as “perfect for grade 5” to read!

Then there are the 34 picture books that I brainstormed for “first days/identity” without looking at what I read last year (so that surely means that list will grow). Yesterday when I saw Cathy Mere put out the reminder that #pb10for10 is coming on August 10 (see the hashtag on Twitter) I cheered- I know my list of books to buy always grows as I explore other readers’ lists!

So now, I put the call out to you- any books you think I MUST read before school starts? Any books I must add to our fifth grade library?

11 thoughts on “So Many Books and Still Too Little Time!

  1. So many books, so little time! As I’m heading back into the classroom after four years away, I’m re-evaluating and restarting my classroom library. I — honestly — used to take the quantity over quality approach, thinking that a wider variety of books would be better. I still think that’s true, but I’m going to rebuild with an eye toward quality as well. Enjoy your summer of reading!

  2. Erika, oh my goodness! That is amazing. I’m guessing you already have any of the suggestions I would make. I’ve gotten sorely out of touch with books. However, I love The One and Only Ivan for a read aloud. Another one, which is a blast from the past, is The Trumpet of the Swan. I should read it again and see how it’s holding up in the 21st century.

  3. It seems we have the same obsession. I just finished the graphic novel When Stars Are Scattered. I would recommend that if you do not have it for your class library.

  4. Wow, I didn’t realize you were in Cambodia! I understand your pain about the cost of shipping books. And yet you continue, and are asking for even more recommendations. You are the best kind of book lady, for sure. I am confident your 5th graders will eat up the 3rd grade selections, plus what you add. I admire that you incorporate picture books and longer read-aloud s each day, and that you search for identity literature. I don’t have anything to add, but I relish seeing your thought process (and purchasing!)

  5. Moving grades is so much work! I’m cheering for you as I have also taught both 3rd and 5th grades. With Language Arts, I do feel like when you move up, you realize how much is relevant from lessons taught in the younger grades. Our school has a summer book club where people are invited to discuss upper elementary books together. Here is our list:
    *Red White and Whole
    *A Place to Hang the Moon
    *Clues to the Universe
    *While I Was Away

    I appreciated the quirkiness of Clues to the Universe. Since I lived in Japan as a child, While I Was Away, triggered nostalgia and memory of a Westerner encountering Japanese culture.

  6. You are a reading queen. Wow. Your lists and intentions are impressive. Your question has many answers if you let go of the “must”. Read the books that speak to you the most right now. Pick with your eyes closed. Put them alphabetically by titles and pick one from each letter. 🙂

  7. You’ve graduated to 5th grade! I will miss you as a third grade buddy. I am so impressed with your reading life and how you bring such book love to your students! I’ll be waiting to see what you choose to read!

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