My superpower is that I am an unusually fast reader, and as with all superpowers, this is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is obvious--MORE BOOKS!!--and the curse is that since I only spend a few hours with most books, I don't have the greatest memory for them. As a kid, I re-read constantly, so I am very familiar with the books I loved then, but as an adult, I often find myself saying, "Oooh, I loved that book! Can't really remember what it was about, but I know it was good!" Joining Goodreads in 2008 helped with that problem, and I've obsessively tracked all my reading since then.
I've been a teacher since 1992, and until 3 years ago I worked with English Language Learners. My students were often verbally proficient in English, but struggled with literacy. I shared a lot of great books with students over the years, both sophisticated picture books such as Grandfather's Journey and How We Crossed the West: The Adventure of Lewis and Clark, and novels we read together, such as Holes and Nightjohn. We talked about our reading, we made connections, and we analyzed. I did a great job at making age-appropriate texts accessible and enjoyable to students who had language barriers, but I didn't learn much about how to actually take a 13 year old reading at a 2nd grade level and help them improve.
In 2012 I was moved into teaching language arts. I teach 7th and 8th graders, and many of my students do not self-identify as readers. Okay, most of them say they hate reading. Once I got over my bewilderment (You hate reading? Are you against breathing too?), I buckled down and read Atwell and Miller and Beers and Tovani and Wilhelm and even went back to Trelease. I talked with colleagues within the department who were doing great things with kids. I leapt into the 40 Book Challenge with my department last year, loved some aspects of it, fell on my face a lot, and am eager to revise and renew my approach this summer.
The most recent book I finished was Jinx, by the improbably and delightfully named Sage Blackwood. Just like Laura and Mary so long ago, Jinx, Elfwyn, and Reven caught and held my imagination, taking me to a place I've never been. I hope to find other readers to share the journeys with.