It may have taken be six months but I finally finished reading My Life as a Book (Level S). While the book started slowly for me I ended up really liking it. It took 73 pages for the book to FINALLY hook me…so don’t give up on it. It is worth the full read.
This book is about twelve year old boy’s summer vacation. The main character Derek Fallon is a “reluctant reader” but he has a team of adults working to try to change this. Derek learns important lessons about life and literacy throughout the book.
Here are the things I want to remember about this text to share with my students:
Vocabulary – Derek draws illustrations in the margins of the book of tricky vocabulary words that readers encounter when reading his story. At the back of the book there is a silly vocabulary quiz with the drawings for readers to determine the meaning of some of the words.
Visualization – There is a great chapter titled “Isn’t This Fun?” (p. 79) where Derek’s Learning Camp counselor shows him how to visualize a story while she reads it aloud. When he does this Derek is able to remember and retell the details of the story which surprises him. In another chapter titled “Movies Run in the Family” (p. 99) Derek tries visualizing on his own.
Read Aloud – In a chapter titled “Grandma” (p. 143) Derek asks his grandma to help him with his summer reading by reading his book out loud to him. This is a a funny chapter and would spark an interesting discussion with students about reading independently vs. reading with others.
Primary Sources – I love the chapter “The Truth is Never What You Think” (p. 161) because it would spawn a great discussion on what can we believe in our reading and what should we question.
Character Change – In the chapter “One More Thing” (p. 178) Derek shows he has changed as a character as he helps a new friend. This is also important chapter as he begins to show the reader what he has learned about life over the summer. Derek’s mom also makes a surprising character choice in the chapter “Mrs. James” (p.172). The chapter “A Different James Bond” (p. 103) also shows character change as well.
Compare and Contrast – In “See You Later, Learning Camp” (p. 197) Derek is able to make some comparisons to how Pedro a monkey had to work hard to learn to be trained and how he too must work hard. I love his conclusion “Maybe evolving is what we’re supposed to do – all of us, all the time” (p. 201).
Theme – In “The Same Old Grind” (p. 206) Derek is back at school and he shares about the one (not three he was supposed to) book he read that summer and all he learned. It is a GREAT chapter.
Another great thing about this book is that it is the first in the series. Has anyone read any others? Let me know what you thought of them.