March Madness Reading Already?

Wow! The ALA Awards were incredible yesterday! Congratulations to all the authors and illustrators who won. My students and I were on the edge of our chairs cheering and applauding as the book winners were announced. Wow, what a morning! A great day for celebrating reading, writing, and art!

Now we’re moving forward– and can you believe it, I’m thinking about our March Madness-style book club bracket already. This year I’ve created a bracket in the fifth grade hallway that features realistic fiction and fantasy fiction novels. My hope is that the bracket can be used to guide my students’ book clubs. I realize that many teachers use the bracket in March, but my school’s vacation is in March so I’m hoping to start now and end in early March. Hopefully, the clubs can read, read, read and have two novels face off in the end. In order to read all of these books our book clubs need to get started ASAP. Here’s the bracket:

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.08.45 PM

To set up this bracket, we selected 8 realistic fiction novels and 8 fantasy fiction novels. We’re also reading 4 graphic novels (Bake Sale, Smile, El Deafo, and Amulet Book 1.)

Our realistic fiction books are: Wonder, Close to Famous, Rain Reign, Heartbeat, Absolutely Almost, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Fish in a Tree, Out of My Mind.

Our fantasy fiction books are: Joshua Dread, Percy Jackson, Wings of Fire, The Unwanteds, The Fourteenth Goldfish, Matilda, Powerless, and The School of Good and Evil.

Each club will read two books, vote for their winner and then read another club’s winner. My hope is that the bracket will be completed by early March. Fingers crossed! That means that each student will read 12 books each (4 graphic novels, 4 realistic fiction books and 4 fantasy fiction books.) Woah, that’s a lot of reading!

We’ve also got our clubhouses set to go! We made them in October and pulled them out of the closet for our January book clubs. Thank goodness they’re fully collapsible! For more information about how to build clubhouses, see my post “Book Clubs Need Clubhouses.”

Well, we are off and running and ready for some more good reading this school year! Onward!




Originally from Pennsylvania, Dana Johansen is hoping that Punxsutawney Phil will not see his shadow on Feb. 2nd and there will be an early spring. In the meantime, she spends her time teaching fifth grade in wintery Connecticut, sitting with her yellow lab on the couch reading YA Lit, and watching the tv show, The Big Bang Theory. She has taught elementary and middle school for fourteen years. Dana is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University where she studies blended learning in reading and writing workshop. She is the co-author of the books Teaching Interpretation and Flip Your Writing Workshop. 


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