The Brainstorm Mission: To help readers find books they will love. To get books off the shelves and into reading hands. To make teachers and parents aware of resources. To give teachers an “excuse” to use books by helping them brainstorm ways books will augment current studies. (But teachers, please use activity tie-in ideas wisely, and don’t use every idea for each book; let’s avoid book death by overkill and keep the love for books alive!)
Many of you have met Mo Willem's Pigeon in his picture books: Pigeon Wants a Puppy!,The Duckling Gets a Cookie!, etc. If you haven't, you really need to. I don't care how old you are, go find a Pigeon book and read it. Trust me. Kids love them, but probably those who have kids or work with kids appreciate them even more. (Mo Willem's Knufflebunny books are pretty great too.)
And in honor of Valentine's Day, let me share some books that the students at our school love. (In other words, if you find one on the shelves, it must have just been returned.)
#1) The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, The Heroes of Olympus series, and The Kane Chronicles series by Riordan. I'm lumping all of these together because they are all linked. (Ok, no, The Kane Chronicles isn't...yet. It's coming. The Kanes and Percy will meet. There are huge clues in the most recent Kane books that it is just a matter of time.) All of these books are based on ancient mythology, Greek, Roman and Egyptian. Modern demi-gods are involved in the politics and emotional tantrums of these ancient powers. The books are all high adventure, help kids get to know ancient mythology, are well-written and sprinkled with humor. Kids love them. (Hey, I do too.) I have reviews of many of the books on GoodReads. Here's my review of The Throne of Fire.
#2) The Beyonders series by Brandon Mull. This is another recent fantasy/adventure series. We just got the first two books in the series over Christmas break, and the books haven't stayed in the library for more than a few hours since then. Here's my review of the first book in the series.
#3) Agatha Christie books. Some things don't change over time, and the appeal of Agatha Christie's mystery writing is one of those. Her books remain constantly in demand. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books run a close second in this.
First off, I know many of you are feeling like you are just keeping your head above water maneuvering all the social media sites out there. Some of you have all out surrendered and got out of the pond. I for one, was very reluctant to add another one to my plate, but I kept hearing that if you want to keep up on the latest and greatest in the education ideas/tools/professional development you need to get on Twitter. So I caved in a moment of intense pressure at a conference (telling myself I could always delete it later or never sign on again), but then I discovered they were right. I didn't have to wait for the next teacher's conference to find out about a great new idea or how to use some tech tool. I could comb through resources whenever I wanted. (And to get it I didn't have to sit through any hour long sessions I thought would be revolutionary but turned out to be about something I've already known about for ages. The downside of conferences.) Pretty much everything I share here on the Brainstorm I've found as a result of Twitter or blogs I have discovered by following Twitter rabbit trails. Now, the biggest hurdle is knowing where to start. Here's a great graphic from Faculty eCommons with key educational hashtags that will lead you to key people to follow (if you like things they've posted, follow them and then Twitter will help suggest others like them). Scroll down to find your educaitonal speciality. Looking up those hashtags on Twitter should give you a starting place on Twitter. Give it a shot and see if you don't find a treasure trove of resources and tools too. (Note: To prevent this from becoming just another social media site I personally keep my Twitter strictly professional. No family or casual friends on my Twitter account, just other teachers, librarians, and educational technology people who are sharing good ideas. The ones who are just tweeting about their random run-ins with squirrels or what they had for dinner get deleted.)
For book reviews, librarian stuff, ed tech, and just general education you can see who I follow for some ideas. @BBaumgartnerBKK