Baby Shower



We travelled back to Texas for a couple days and the best friends in the world threw a baby shower. It was the cutest thing ever. The food all coordinated with a book. If You Give a Dog a Donut, was next to a plate of donuts. There was an adorable cupcake caterpillar next to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Dragon Loves Tacos was next to tacos. Meatballs were of course next to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The display was just absolutely precious. IMG_4795

The other table had little “Thank You” tins with M&M’s in them, cookies with Ander’s name on them, and bookmarks that said “Children become readers on the laps of their parents.”IMG_4818

Seeing Ander’s name everywhere was surreal. We’ve known his name for awhile, but it was so crazy to have it up and around. I know he’s a real person inside of me, but seeing his name in print made it very real.


This bulliten board had Ander’s name and baby pictures of both JMO and me. We were cute kids, so of course Ander will be too.




This bassinet was brought by JMO’s cousin, her uncle made it and her three kids used it. Their names and birthdays are written under the mattress. Now we’ll put our child’s birthdays on it, and pass it back to the other side of the family when they start having grandchildren. IMG_4838


After being away from all the people in my life, the shower was even more emotional than it might have been had we still lived around Houston this year. We have an incredible support system. Everyone was so generous and we can’t believe how much stuff this tiny human now has. We won’t be alone in our journey of parenthood. I’m so grateful to these wonderful women, Ander will have lots of love in his life!



Books Everyone Should Read

This post was done for my classroom website, I stand by my children’s book selections, so I wanted to share them with anyone interested in a good read!


Summer is approaching, and in my mind, it will be READING SEASON! I’ve compiled a list of some of my absolute favorite books for kids. This list is in no particular order, and I’ve copied and pasted from some of what I’ve written on a few of these books before. After scouring my classroom shelves, my account (a cool website that allows you to track all the books you have read and want to read), and my brain, I’ve come up with the list below. The titles are all links to Amazon, and a lot of them are $5-$10. The library will have all of these as well!

1. Running Out of Time, By: Margaret Peterson Haddix. I have read this book aloud every year. I still get excited when Jessie finds out the truth about her life. This book starts a lot of dialogue about what we believe about society.

2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, By: Rick Riordan. The series takes the reader on an adventure in a world where the Greek Gods are real and their family lines still continue. If you find that you are someone who loves to get pulled into a completely new world, then you need to read all the Percy Jackson books!

3. Harry Potter Series, By: JK Rowling. This is one of my all time favorite story lines. Harry Potter is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I wanted to talk about stories this great with kids. I have a hard time believing that there is anyone left who hasn’t read these books. But if you haven’t, you are missing out. 

4. Hatchet, By: Gary Paulsen. The adventure of Brian, a young boy who finds himself alone in the wilderness is absolutely unforgettable. The story hooks in the reader, and I know I find myself wondering if I could be as smart and brave as Brian. The book is great for teaching and thinking about descriptive writing.

5. Island of the Blue Dolphins, By: Soctt O’Dell was one of my favorite books in elementary school. One of our literature circle groups is currently reading it, and I had to take it home and finish it IMMEDIATELY. This is one of those books that just gives you a feeling of a world you would never know, or expect to know. I find it difficult to describe without giving away to much, but the book it phenomenal. I have several copies of this book, so if you have interest in borrowing, let me know.

6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, By: Brian Selznick. When I first read this book, I was in absolute awe. The story is told through pictures AND words. When you think back on the story, you can’t even remember whether what you are remembering is part of the written story or illustrated story.

7. Wonderstruck, By: Brian Selznick. My mom gave my sister and me a copy of Wonderstruck for Christmas. Emily and I both read it in one day. We couldn’t put it down. Unlike Hugo, this isn’t one story told through pictures and writing. This is two separate stories, told fifty years apart. One story is through the artwork, and the other story is through the writing. The stories do come together, but it seems like they are far too different to ever get together.

8. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, By James Swanson. This story turns history into an exciting mystery. It is the true story of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth after he assassinates the president.

9. Turtle in Paradise, By Jennifer Holm. Last summer I read Turtle in Paradise, and it turned out to be the perfect summer story. I loved that it had a bit of history to it; it is about a little girl during the Great Depression. Her mother needs work and gets a job as a housekeeper. There is a catch, the lady she works for does not like children. So, Turtle is shipped off to live in Key West with her aunt and cousins. It was a sweet story about making the best of a situation and finding out that things will be okay! The book was a Newberry Honor book last year.

10. The Clockwork Three, By: Matthew J. Kirby. This was a complicated story of three children. The three kids have some problems, big problems. One supports her family financially, and the other two are orphans, eventually their stories intertwine and they solve a mystery… The book is a tough read, but I definitely recommend it for someone looking for an interesting challenge.

11. The Cabinet of Wonders and the rest of the Kronos Chronicles Series, By: Marie Rutkoski. I LOVE this series. It seems a shame that it has not reached the fame of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. The storyline is a bit more complicated, and it is a bit of a tougher read. The story is magnificent, I have recommended this series to many adults who have loved it as well. In 2011, when the second book came out, our class wound up with an autographed copy. We were curious, so we began corresponding with the author. It was one of the coolest things EVER. If you are curious about it, you can see our correspondence here.

12. James and the Giant Peach, By: Roald Dahl. This is just an absolutely fantastic story. The story has stuck with me since I was in elementary school.

13. Matilda, By: Roald Dahl. The girl who loved books has a tough life. I had some great conversations with my literature circle group this year about how parents help us to be good people. My kids asked some good questions, like, “Do some kids have terrible parents? What do they do?!” Matilda overcame, and that lesson never goes out of style.

14. When You Reach Me, By: Rebecca Stead. This book won the Newbery Award in 2010. It is a science fiction, time travel, set in the 70’s novel. The story line goes from the end of the story, to the beginning. When the threads come together, it is pretty surprising. It is definitely for patient readers, but it is worth it.

15. A Wrinkle in Time, By: Madeleine L’Engle. This book is more of a middle school read, but the blend of science in mystery is magnificent. There is an entire series, that are all a little different, but very, very good.

16. Holes, By: Louis Sachar. Holes is the story of a boy sentenced to a boys work camp for a crime he didn’t commit. As the reader discovers who did do the crime, they will also discover a curse that has run in Stanley’s family for generations.

17. The Giver, By Lois Lowry. This book is for higher readers who love to contemplate societal structures. The book is intense and unforgettable.

18. Where the Sidewalk Ends, By: Shel Silverstein. It may not be a novel, but it is a “must own” book. The poems make you giggle and the cleverness of them makes the reader feel clever themselves.

19. The Hunger Games, By: Suzanne Collins. This is on my list because I think it is an absolutely fascinating series, but make sure you have a parent’s permission before reading it. The series is rather violent, and I’ve noticed some 5th graders starting to read it. The adventure and dystopian society suck you in.

20. The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere, By: Jacqueline West. This is a newer series, I’ve only read the first two so far. The Shadows is actually a pretty scary story, it gave me the heebie jeebies! I’d like to explain more… but I just don’t want to give anything away. If you liked to be scared just a litte bit, it would be a good fit. The story is an easy read.

If you have any favorites that you think people should read, add them in the comments! I’ll update the list as I find more wonderful books.

Happy summer reading!

Book Recommendation: Tunnel People

My mother recommended Tunnel People a couple months ago, and I didn’t give the suggestion much attention. I added it to my library reserve list when I was trying to look for a few new reads. Nonfiction can be tricky for me, I truly enjoy learning about true experiences, but only when there is still a story element.  In this book, Teun Voeten, a Dutch reporter decides to stay with people who live in the abandoned subway tunnels of New York City. He lives with one specific group for 2 months in the winter, and then returns for 3 months in the summer.

Voeten really gets to know these people, and I felt like I got to know them too. Becoming emotionally invested in the problems of others is something I do with people I know, so because I felt like I knew Bernard and the other tunnel dwellers, I became very emotionally invested in their stories. These people did not consider themselves homeless, they had a home, a home in a tunnel. There was no rent, they made their houses out of boards and whatever else they had or could find, they cooked on grills, and borrowed electricity from the park above ground.

The author was very clearly reporting, not sharing a message. He interviews many community leaders, pastors, police officers, and employees of the trains about the homelessness. He doesn’t claim to know the answer for Americans, but the reality is, we have lots of homeless people in our country, the numbers are sketchy because people don’t live in one place or fill out the census. But we are all people, everyone has a story, a battle they are fighting. Putting stories with a cause raises awareness, and raised awareness can lead to change.

This book introduced me to some fascinating people who live their lives in a way very different from my own. It also got me thinking, which is a mark of a good book. If your looking for something different, go get it from the library, or you could buy it, or download it, or listen to it. There are lots of ways to read. Enjoy.

The Mystery of the Autographed Copy

As I’ve mentioned lately, I have a renewed zest for kid lit. I adored Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski and wrote about it on my classroom blog, Anway, I purchased the second book from Amazon and it came signed! So, I decided to do a little investigating!  The rest can be told from the email train below….


Meg Pickert

to Marie

show details Jan 16 (7 days ago)


I’m a 4th grade teacher in Houston, TX and I was introduced to The Cabinet of Wonders by a student. Now, half my class has read it. My kiddos and I were very excited to get The Celestial Globe. I ordered it from Amazon, and it came signed. I tried to find a copy of your signature on the internet (to see if it was real), but it just seemed strange that it came signed! Could you, would you, be able to help my students and I solve this mystery?

Thank You!

Meg Pickert


Marie Rutkoski


to me

show details Jan 19 (5 days ago)

Dear Meg,

I’m so glad to know your students enjoy my books! As for the signature, that’s a little strange that Amazon has a signed copy, but not impossible. I’ve signed a lot of books, and my publisher might have sent some signed copies to Amazon. I guess I could try to send you images of my signature to compare, but the way I sign my name can vary a great deal; I have my sloppy “I’ve got to sign a ton of these fast!” signature, and I have my careful “Even though my penmanship sucks, I’m trying hard for this to look nice,” one. If you send me an image of the signature you have, I can tell you whether it’s mine or not.

Does that help?



Meg Pickert

to Marie

show details Jan 20 (3 days ago)


I told my kids all about the new development in our mystery today. Now that they know an author may write back, they want to look up every book they’ve ever loved and email the author. It is highly entertaining. Thank you for writing back. We really do appreciate it!

Attached is a photo of the signature. Let me know!

Take care,



Marie Rutkoski

to me

show details Jan 22 (1 day ago)

Dear Meg,

How wonderful that your kids are now eager to email authors! I loved writing to authors when I was a kid, and was so excited when Beverly Cleary sent me a postcard in response. I still remember every word she wrote (not hard, since it was just “Dear Marie, I’m glad to know you enjoy my books!”).

That signature is mine!




Watching children get excited about reading is one of my favorite things about being a teacher. Corresponding with an author over a mystery involving a book brought a lot of excitement to my classroom (and to me). Thank you so much Marie Rutkoski for writing such an awesome series and for helping us solve the mystery of the autographed copy.

Kid Lit

I love books. Always have. This year I have reignited my love for children’s literature. I would be embarrassed to share how much money I have spent on books since started a fourth grade classroom. The urge to buy two of every book is very hard to overcome. See, I need one book for my personal shelf in the classroom and one for the library. Books that make it to the class library are well loved. I’m ecstatic that they are being read, and more ecstatic to hear them discussed, but I feel a twinge of pain when I see how beat up they get. Therefore, I need two of everything! Two of everything is not so practical, books are not so cheap.

My Goodreads list is now full of novels for children. I am finding that when I attempt a “grown up” book lately, the story line cannot pull me in the same way. Whether the book is about an imaginary world (which many are) or not, all of the kid lit books I’ve read have a sense of magical wonder. I want to learn more about their worlds, and like Peter Pan, I don’t really want to grow up anymore. Children’s literature lets me experience the best parts of being a child, while still being a grown up, where I know everything does turn out okay.

Here are a few of my recent loves. I have also been doing book reviews on my classroom blog, A few of my students are working on reviews that we hope to have published after the holiday as well!

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan is just a fun ride. Like many novels for kiddos, it is about a boy who just doesn’t fit in. Percy finds out there are reasons he doesn’t fit it. The books are just a really fun quick read. Rick Riordan has also branched out to start two more series. I recently read The Red Pyramid and am almost done with The Lost Hero. And the guy is a teacher from San Antonio, who doesn’t want to support that?

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Soctt O’Dell was one of my favorite books in elementary school. One of our literature circle groups is currently reading it, and I had to take it home and finish it IMMEDIATELY. This is one of those books that just gives you a feeling of a world you would never know, or expect to know. I find it difficult to describe without giving away to much, but the book it phenomenal. I have several copies of this book, so if you have interest in borrowing, let me know.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is MAGICAL. The book has 284 pictures in 533 pages. The story is told through pictures, and words. There are stretches of 20 pages or so, where there are only pictures, and then a couple pages of words. The words pick up right where you were with pictures. Hugo is a boy who is all alone and lives in a train station. The book gives me the chills. It is the only novel to ever win the Caldecott Medal, which it won in 2008. The book is already in production for a movie to be released next year. I can only hope it will be just as magical.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Disclaimer: this book is not for elementary age children. A colleague who is currently on her way to becoming a librarian introduced me to this book. It is more a middle – high school aged book. In this story, children from each district from ages 12-18 are put in a drawing every year. A boy and a girl are selected from each of the 13 districts. Those selected are sent to the Capital to participate in the Hunger Games. Basically, they are trained, dumped in a arena, and meant to compete for their lives. Only one person may leave the arena. It is televised to each district. This book is insanity. There are two more in the series, that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I’m dying to read.

Clearly, I could go on for awhile. I have found great satisfaction in discussing these books with my students (and colleagues). I truly love bonding with them over books, and in some cases they are books that the students wouldn’t have attempted on their own. I love that I can speak highly of a book, and several kiddos run to the library to get it. I also love having colleagues with the same interests. Regan (the future librarian) and Lauren (the mentor) have a great passion for books as well. Having adults to have impromptu book talks with has been one of my favorite things about my new career path.

I have five days off now. I think I shall read some. Happy Thanksgiving!