Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book Cover Challenge

Book Cover Challenge

Recently I was invited by my friend Cris via Twitter to post seven covers of books that I love - no review, but just the cover. The challenge requested that each time I posted the cover I was supposed to invite someone new to accept the challenge. I was excited, yet a bit apprehensive. I knew not everyone I tagged would participate (they didn't) and that many of my pals on Twitter had already participated in the same/similar challenge. However, I have loved seeing book covers posted during this challenge, adding many to my to-be-read pile (like these titles: Several short sentences about writing, The Worlds of Harriet Henderson, Heart Talk)

For me, the hardest part of this challenge was not writing anything about books I love. If you couldn't guess, I adore books - reading them, talking about them, writing about them, and simply being surrounded by them.

Below is a bit about each cover I posted in the challenge and what I love about each title:  

Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite writers. This is a book that I turn to when I want to find writing inspiration or even for a bit of personal comfort. Her writing is stunning, often bringing out tender emotions when I read her work. Once I heard the author share on a podcast that she often shares with students that we live in poems. Since then, I often think about how we live in poems. 

A Book of Uncommon Prayer by Brian Doyle 
I learned about writer Brian Doyle at one of teacher/author Katherine Bomer's brilliant presentations. I own many of Brian Doyle's books, but one of my favorites is A Book of Uncommon Prayer. What I love most about this book is it reads like a collection of list poems in celebration of the most ordinary things. Ultimately, it is about taking time to notice what's around you and writing about it. This is a book that has served as a mentor text to me before. It's also helped me show up with more gratitude, especially with I am going through something heavy. The late Brian Doyle was an exquisite writer. 

The Journey is Everything by Katherine Bomer
Katherine Bomer's work deeply changed me as a teacher, especially as a teacher of writers. Although I hate to admit this, I used to approach teaching writing through more of a deficit lens. I focused on what students could not do in their writing. I used to teach the dreaded five paragraph essay. I wasn't celebrating what my students could do as writers. The Journey is Everything challenged many of my traditional secondary teacher views; It helped me approach teaching writers in more authentic and purposeful ways, and I learned how to use mentor texts more effectively. The Journey is Everything was one of the books that sparked my journey as serving my students better as writers. 

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
by Louise Erdrich
A few years ago a wise woman I know introduced me to an impressive array of new-to-me titles and authors. Her suggestions expanded my reading diet, changing me as a reader and person. One of the titles on this list was Louise Erdrich's The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. By far, this is one of my favorite pieces of fiction. I lingered in Erdrich's beautiful prose and story telling and cared deeply about the characters in this book. Over two years later I still think about this book- how Erdrich's characters dealt with grief and spirituality and about the power of community and humor and forgiveness and redemption. The book also made me think about all of different ways to show and receive love. Just thinking about this book makes me want to reread it. 

That Workshop Book
by Sam Bennett
I was initially drawn to That Workshop Book because of the cover. Yet, the inside is just as great (if not better) than the cover. Although I had read books about the workshop model before, this is the first book that really made sense to me as a teacher and literacy coach. Sam Bennett's writing voice is lovely, inviting, and compelling. She introduces you to remarkable classrooms you want to be a part of. Sam Bennett's work helped me be a smarter instructional coach and teacher. She inspires me to want to keep learning in order to serve my students better and to show up as a better human. When I'm struggling as a teacher, especially in planning and creating meaningful work for my students, I reread this book. It always leaves my soul a little fuller.

A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader
edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick
I've been an avid follower of Maria Popova's Brain Pickings for a while now. When A Velocity of Being was published I immediately purchased it. This book is filled with gorgeous illustrations, paired with lovely letters to young readers. This is a title that I have been slowly reading just so I can savor it a little longer. My ten-year-old daughter and I have been marveling at this volume, frequently looking up artists. Later this year I hope to use this book as a mentor text with students, integrating art and writing.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 3
by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I first heard about The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories on a teacher blog post (I think from Three Teachers Talk). It is a small volume of tiny stories, accompanied by artwork. I am always searching for possible mentor texts to use with my high school students. This title reminds me that story doesn't have to be long or complicated to be meaningful or poetic. Some stories are quirky and unexpected, while some I found thoughtful and touching. The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is a quick and fun read; It's often checked out from my classroom library. 

There were many covers that I could have (and wanted to) include in this challenge. Most importantly, this was a great way for me to think about some beloved books and share them. 

Thank you, Cris. 

As Rainer Maria Rielke once remarked, "Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading." 

Touché, Rainer Maria Rielke. 


  1. I saw most of your seven books posts and thought about what might be your reasons for choosing each. Having “known” you now for nearly a year and knowing your love of poetry and pedagogy, I did pretty well guessing your reasoning.

    I have not been tagged to participate in the seven books challenge, but I’m thinking about tagging myself and posting some of my favorites anyway.

  2. Love that your first slice for March led me to this post! What a treat to read a bit about the book covers you've selected. I must admit that I've been one of those who was tagged, but didn't participate.


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