Mr. Anderson's Reading Journal


Well, better late than never. Here, I begin writing my make-up entries for my reading journal.

The first book I finished this school year, was an oldie but a goody from my own childhood entitled Gentle Ben written by Walt Morey. It takes place in a small fishing village on the southwestern coast of Alaska. It is about a young boy who raises a bear whom he dubs "Ben." I remember reading this book as a kid, but I must not have remembered it very well, because the main character's name is Mark Andersen. That's my name! Well, you have to change that last 'e' into an 'o,' but still you think I would remember that!

One thing that I did remember accurately was a scene from the book where Mark's father is instructing him how to barter with local business men to buy their left over bakery scraps, so that he can feed Ben. I'm not sure why that stuck in my brain.

The plot is enjoyable, though I was able to predict (spoiler alert) that the family's boat was going to sink at some point because the author put so much emphasis on pointing out that it was new and if it sunk the family would be in financial trouble. The one thing I didn't detect was the author subtly making me like the character, whose name escapes me at the moment, but anyway he was Mark's father's fishing partner. After entrapping me into liking this character, the author then rips him away. (I won't tell you how because I don't want to ruin this book anymore than I already have.)

It was a very enjoyable read and a fairly quick read. It makes me wonder what those little fishing towns are like in Alaska now-a-days. (The book was published in 1965.) How has technology affected life up there? Or is it largely the same?


The next book I was able to finish was 'The Lighting Thief' by Rick Riordan. I began reading this book to my homeroom class during the 15 minutes we have after 2nd recess and before Spanish begins. I started enjoying it so I decided to race ahead and finish.

The book's plot revolves around Percy Jackson, a 12 year old who starts being attacked by monsters, then finds out that he is a demigod, a son of his mortal mother and his father the god Poseidon. Shortly after this discover his is given a quest to track down Zeus's missing lighting bolt. He forms a quest team including Grover a Satyr and Annabeth a demigod daughter of Athena. Along the way they meet monsters, other deities, enter the underworld, retrieve the bolt, and discover that other sinister forces are at working trying to get the gods to fight among each other and destroy western civilization in the process.

I think it is a pretty great way of introducing kids to greek mythology. The pacing in the book was great, action scene after action scene. It has no real deeper meaning that. I found myself a little disappointed at the character Annabeth's lack of contribution to the fighting in the book. One of the excuses being the stereotype that girls are afraid of spiders.

I had heard before that Rick Riordan began writing these stories for his son, who struggled with ADHD and dyslexia (as do Percy and Annabeth). He weaved those topics in excellently. We discover that the extra energy ADHD causes is actually caused by half god blood, while dyslexia is caused by a half gods brains being 'wired for ancient greek'.

Kids being raised in families with a single parent might relate to this book well. All of the demigods have been to various extents abandoned by their god-parent. They are left alone on earth to deal with monsters who roam about searching for demigods to destroy. This causes many characters to have at least some sort of 'mommy' or 'daddy' issues.

The ending of the book was satisfactory enough that you can leave the series at book one without being compelled to read all the sequels. I'm not sure what that says for overall quality of the book. All in all a good quick read!

I'm excited to write about this book! I discovered Long Way Down while I was browsing Amazon looking for other books. It caught my eye due to the 4 huge medallions stamped on the cover advertising all the awards it has won. (It won the Newbery Honor award, Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Printz Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Award, and was the Edgar award winner for Best young adult fiction)

The story takes place in a city. That's as specific as it gets. Our main character is named Will. The book opens with the death of Will's brother Shawn as a result of gang violence. Will takes his brother's gun intent upon avenging his brother's murder. He enters the elevator of his apartment complex and that is when strange things start to happen. I'll just say that the rest of the book (about 75% or 250 pages) occurs on the elevator ride, and involve Will's deciding whether or not to go through with his murder. I'll leave the plot description there because I don't want to ruin anything for anyone who chooses to read this book.

The whole 300 page book is written in free verse from Will's perspective. Its all poetry, and its good poetry! It contains clever word plays and is definitely emotionally engaging. If you're saying to yourself 'Yuck! Poetry!' I would implore you to give it a chance. Last and certainly not least The Long Way down has one of the top ten endings I have ever read.

I'd recommend this book to anyone, with the following caveat: There is some salty language in it, if it were a movie it would be PG-13.

All in all a great book that will be reread.


Teaching with Love and Logic was mentinoed to our staff in our most recent 'great expectations' training session. The presenter refferred to it as 'the teaching bible'. Many of the taught my education classes at college also held this book in similarly high esteem. I though I'd brush it off and give it a reread at the beginning of this new school year and teaching adventure.

The main 3 rules of Love and Logic are :

1. To use enforcable limits. (These mostly involve the teacher)

2. To provide choice within limits.

3. To apply consequences with empathy.

An example of using enforceable limits from the book is turning the phrase "Don't be bothering you neighbors" into phrases more like " You're welcome to stay as long as you and others are not bothered"

The second principle advises giving students as much control as you can within limits because " You either give the person control on your terms or he or she will take it on their own terms" The book also cautions to teachers to only offer choices that they can live with. An example is something like "Would you rather play by the rules or learn about the game by watching others play? Let me know what you think" As a teacher you could be happy with either of those choices.

Scolding and lecturing don't lead to learning because the concentration of the person being lectured is directed an angry adult. When understanding and empathy are offered when students are dealing with their consequences, it allows the student to focus on the relation between their actions and the consequences. Thus we should always try to be calm enough to apply consequences with empathy.

This is the kind of book that you wish would become part of your character just by reading the it. Jim Fay points out the the time you need to remember something is often the hardest time to remember anything at all; when you become emotional. Somewhere in the book it offers the following gem; that I will paraphrase " We can only outsmart kids when we are not in an emotional state".

In order to get the most out of this book I intend to experiment, apply, reread, and ponder the principles taught.

P.S. I love how late 80s or early 90s the cover of the book is!