How I Became a Reader

How I Became a Reader

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Hello and happy Tuesday. Let’s end the year with a happy story, okay? This is the story of how I became the reader that I am now, which I hope you enjoy and find interesting. I got this idea from Hailey in Bookland, whom I absolutely adore. Obviously, everyone’s story is different and that makes everything better in my opinion. Let’s get started, shall we?

As a toddler and then as a young child, my parents would tell me bedtime stories. I don’t think they read them from a book, but rather they made them up. I remember asking my dad to tell me the story of Pocahontas, but he did not retell the Disney version I knew: he made his own version in which Pocahontas lived in Bogota and I can only imagine the crazy urban adventures she had.

That nice period of bedtime stories did not last long because when I was six years old my parents got divorced, and my mom would get home from work when I was already asleep. Fortunately, by that time I was already at school, so I guess my teachers were the ones who made sure I was getting my literary fix. I don’t remember reading chapter books during my first years at school, but we did have one of those big textbooks with short stories in them.

Growing up, I was faced with really terrible required readings. I’m talking Bunnicula in fourth grade and other reads so mediocre I can’t recall. I do remember the books I read in middle school and high school, although “read” is a stretch. I just pretended to read and used my bullshitting skills for quizzes. Some of the titles I had to read from sixth through eighth grade were Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Stargirl, and My Fair Lady.

Now, that was my reading life at school, but at home, I was about to discover the book that I believe got me into reading for pleasure. You see, for Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year, my grandmother got me When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. That book motivated me to read, yes, but for a few years, the main theme I would read about was World War II because I wanted to know about what my great-grandparents had gone through. I must clarify, too, that I am bilingual and Spanish is actually my first language, so I read Judith Kerr’s book in Spanish. I read or was supposed to read the other titles I’m mentioning in this post in English.

My newfound love for literature coincided with my best friends’ own obsession for reading, so we sort of created a three-person book club. We would just read the same book, at times having to wait for the owner to finish it and pass it along, and then talk about it. We read Searching for David’s Heart by Cherie Bennet, which is the first book that made me cry, as well as Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws by Janette Rallison, which was relatable because my name is Cami (duh) and my best friends used to play basketball.

Because I was more in touch with books I considered worthy of being read and I was still on my search for Holocaust novels, I was able to find a great book to read when in sixth grade our teacher let us pick. I chose Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and my teacher loved it so much that the following year she made it an assigned novel for sixth grade. I am proud to be the reason why other students read it.

High school was the time of reading books by white old men whom I didn’t care about (and still don’t). I read none of the books I’ll list, but I pretended to and I think my teachers still believe I did. We were assigned The Importance of Being Ernest in eighth grade, Tortilla Flat in ninth grade, 1984 and Animal Farm in eleventh grade. In tenth grade, we had to read something by Agatha Christie, but it was so bad, I can’t remember the title. The only book I did read in eighth grade was Night by Ellie Wiesel.

I don’t remember reading a single book in English during my first year of university. I did read some awesome books in Spanish that I’ve reread since. My life as a reader as we know it now started in November 2013 when I traveled to New York with my mother and sister, walked into a Barnes and Noble and left with two treasures: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. It was because of Eleanor & Park and what it made me feel that I started my first blog.

Because Colombia is a bit behind on everything technological and advanced, I was your traditional reader. I slowly got into ebooks, which saved me a lot of money, but I was still just reading. I came into contact with audiobooks after I got surgery. Because of the anesthesia and also the bandages I had around my chest, I could not read books, at least for the first few days. I got The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on audible for free (yay!) and listened to the entire trilogy.

In 2017 I deleted my first blogs and created this one, and now I’m constantly reading something. And now here I am, telling you this story. I’d love to know yours, so if you want to, kindly share it in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

Kindergarten Teacher Essentials

Kindergarten Teacher Essentials

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Hello and happy Monday. When I was in university, I took classes on how to plan lessons, how to develop materials, and even how to apply tests to students, but there wasn’t a single class in which I was told about the equipment I would need for teaching (and the amount of money that would represent). I learned with this experience, and at some point, I hand kinda learned by heart what those essentials were. Today I’m going to share with you the things you seriously need in order to survive teaching kindergarten. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Hand sanitizer

I used to have a spray one, and I used it for myself and my students. Kids have the ability to get their hands sticky without any apparent cause just moments before being given a worksheet, so keeping this at hand is going to be very useful. Is it going to protect you from germs? Not really, but at least it’s going to give you the feeling that you’re not covered in them.

2. Stickers and a sticker album 

It’s kind of obvious why you’ll need stickers, right? I used to have a box at home, and I there I’d have tons of sticker sheets, and what I’d do was “refill” my sticker albums which what I had at home. This means that I only took a sticker album to school. It was more practical for me to take just the album, which is the size of a small notebook, but I have had colleagues who had a box, just like the one I had at home. Anyway, stickers are a must.

3. Water bottle

If you teach kindergarten, chances are you’re going to be standing up and moving around all day. And let me tell you, coffee won’t cut it. You’ll need water to keep hydrated, yes, but also to keep your throat from going dry and your voice from being hoarse. Water is just the best thing ever, in my opinion.

4. Lip balm

Lip balm is like a water bottle for your lips. You’re talking all day long, and you need to keep your lips nice and moisturized, or they’ll crack and be all chapped and dry. Chapped lips hurt, and you don’t want to be in pain at work. Keep one in a drawer that only you get access to, and make a habit of applying lip balm every time you can.

5. Colorful markers/pens

I like a mix between these two, so something like flair pens or really thin markers. Write notes to parents with these, use them to grade papers. There’s nothing sadder than to see a kindergarten teacher use a boring black pen if they could use something happier and more colorful. I’m telling you, these are a must.

6. All the crafty stuff

Personally, I have my own stash of crafty stuff at home, so when I was at school I’d use the school supplies, but I also had my things at home when needed. Have your own stash of cardboard, yarn, glue, glitter, and all things crafty. I’m telling you, they’ll come in handy.

Those are my essentials. In the comments below tell me about an essential I might have missed.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

The Empowered Woman’s Starter Kit

The Empowered Woman’s Starter Kit

 

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Hello and happy Sunday. I’m very excited to finally be able to share my new TpT product with you because it’d been my baby for over a year and now you can get it and use it.

The Empowered Woman’s Starter Kit was thought as a guide for teachers who want to introduce their students to feminism but don’t know where to start. It includes suggested readings, TED Talks, songs, and poems around different topics related to feminism, but most importantly, it has reflection questions I have designed in order to help young people learn about feminism and become agents of change in our society.

Like all my products, you can use this in the way that you consider it fitter for you and your students. I designed it to look like a handbook so you can print copies and give each one for your students, or you can have one for yourself, and adapt it in a way that best suits you. Due to copyright issues, the original sources are not included, but they are all available online and links to them are provided.

This is just the beginning in a series of works related to feminism that I am going to make available to you. In the meantime, share with me your questions about feminism in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

 

Teacher Stuff Haul

Teacher Stuff Haul

Hello and happy Saturday. Today’s post is about all the cute stuff I own as a teacher, that either I’ve purchased or have been gifted. Let’s get started, shall we?

I customized and bought this tumbler so it looked like me when my hair was long. I love it because it has my face and my name and because it holds enough water to keep me hydrated throughout the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the other side of the tumbler. Again, you can customize the name and even I think the font too up to some degree. If you’d like to get this for yourself or someone you love, go to Upick-IT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Harry Potter mug was the gift of a former student, and I love it so much that I think I’ve only used it once or twice. It basically serves the purpose of being pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This stamp comes in a set of four, which I have in my classroom. It was also a gift from a student, and if you want to get something like this and you live in Colombia, you can click here to contact the seller. I love this particular stamp because I have to sign my students’ agendas every day and now my aide just puts this instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pad is from Upick-IT too, and it was a gift from a friend. Yes, that’s my full name, in case you didn’t know. The inside has the name on top and a smaller version of the drawing (no color, only the outline) on the bottom left corner. The paper is lined, and I use it to write long notes to parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are my grade books, but I’m currently using none because the school provides me with grading spreadsheets. The one with polka dots was a present from my best friend, the red one is from Teacher Created Resources, and I bought the other one in Spain and wrote a post about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This cute little thing was a present my grandmother gave me forever ago. I used to have it on my desk when I had a fixed spot in the teachers lounge. In the school I’m currently working, there’s no assigned seating or a real desk, just tables, so the cute owl is now on my bookshelf.

Which of these items would you like to get for yourself and why? Let me know in the comments.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

thredUP Haul 2.3

thredUP Haul 2.3

Hello and happy Friday. This is the last thredUP haul in this three-part series. Today I’m going to show you clothes I bought for work. Like I’ve mentioned in past posts, navy is the “institutional” color, and we can pair it with white and ivory. This is why all the clothes you’ll see today are blue. If you don’t like this color, then maybe skip this post. I’ll include the estimated retail price, the original thredUP price and the discount price where applicable, as well as the status of each item when I got it.

Brand: Splendor!

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $30

Original price: $13.99

Discounted price: $11.90

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Stephanie Rogers

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $30

Original price: $14.99

Discounted price: $12.75

Status: Gently used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Tempo Paris

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $27

Original price: $10.99

Discounted price: $9.35

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: D&Co.

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $24

Original price: $12.99

Discounted price: $11.05

Status: Gently used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Lily

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $71

Original price: $19.99

Discounted price: $17.00

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Forever 21

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $20

Original price: $11.99

Discounted price: $10.13

Status: Gently used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Nautica

Size: 8 1/2

Estimated retail: $60

Original price: $14.99

Discounted price: $12.75

Status: Gently used

Which of these items would you wear for work and how would you style it? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Friday!

Love, Miss Camila

December 2019 Thankful Thursday

December 2019 Thankful Thursday

Copy of THROWBACK THURSDAY.pngHello and happy Thursday. I’d been postponing this for weeks, but now I can’t anymore because I don’t want to get super behind in my schedule and also because these happy thoughts might be just what I need. I’m thinking about continuing with Thankful Thursday next year because there are still many happy thoughts to share, and now I feel like I’m repeating myself, so let’s just get started, shall we?

December 4th, 2017

#1803: Chocolate pencils

What do you give to a teacher who loves candy more than anything? You give them chocolates shaped like pencils, of course. And because you want to make her extra happy, you get her a box in which each pencil is a different color. Sadly, the chocolate lasted for about ten seconds because I clearly needed to consume it immediately.

December 8th, 2017

#1824: Being close to finishing a process with Teaching Fellows

Reading this right now and having to type it is bittersweet because we all know how that process went. Yes, I got selected in the program and yes, I got to travel to the States to complete it, but while I was there my mental health was pretty much at its worst and I came back to Colombia. I am happy, though, that those times are now in the past and that I can move forward.

December 13th, 2017

#1846: Being officially on Holiday

I don’t know at what point I became British, but I think we can all agree that being on vacation makes us happy. Now, I say “officially” because I had to take a few days off work to travel with my family and let me tell you, the school’s principal wasn’t happy. He still gave me permission though, so at least there’s that.

December 17th, 2017 

#1866: Cracker Barrel

Look, anywhere that has pecan pancakes, biscuits, and a gift shop is my happy place. I’ve eaten my fair share of pancakes in my life and nothing tops Cracker Barrel. It is also a staple when I go to Florida with my family. Usually, the last thing we do before traveling back home is have breakfast at Cracker Barrel and eat so much we end up not wanting to eat junk food in a while.

December 21st, 2017

#1889: Selling my old books

There’s this store in Bogota that only a person who’s lived in a third world country can truly appreciate. They sell everything from books to makeup to appliances, and they also buy used books. Granted, they buy them for a little over $3 each, but money is money, baby, and making it makes me happy.

What has made you happy during this wonderful month? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Thursday!

Love, Miss Camila

I’m Sorry, Sarah Dessen

I’m Sorry, Sarah Dessen

Hello and happy Wednesday. I’m very excited to be writing this post today because I feel like I haven’t reviewed a good book in a while. I’ve been telling you what not to read and some alternatives to shitty books, but I haven’t recommended a straight-up good book in a while. Well, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen is beyond good and might be one of my favorite YA contemporary novels of 2019, probably ever.

I’d been reading a couple of ARCs and wasn’t really able to get into them, so I sort of felt the beginnings of a slump and I just couldn’t afford to lose the reading rhythm I’d been on. To clarify, I wasn’t forcing myself to read, I just wanted to look for something more appropriate for my mood than what I was reading. I basically needed a pick-me-up, so I consulted my TBR jar and it gave me two wise words: Saint Anything. Now, when I’m in a slump I’ve noticed that reading physical books helps me, so I thought “this is it.” In my mind, a novel by Sarah Dessen would be full of fluff, which was just what I needed, and it was what I needed alright, but there was not an ounce of fluff.

I feel like I owe Sarah Dessen an apology, although I doubt she will read this because I totally underestimated her book without even having read a page. I thought that as a YA queen, which is pretty much what she is, she would write shallow, fluffy, cutesy romances, and that I would be faced with one of those in Saint Anything. That, again, wasn’t the case in the slightest. I read this book between May 15th and May 20th, 2019 and gave it five stars.

The first thing I would tell you, besides not underestimating this book before reading it, would be not to get intimidated by its size. I think that a book over four hundred pages can be considered a big book by some, but I assure you, it is going to be a fast read and its size is the last thing you’ll be thinking about. Add to that the fact that chapters are fairly short, which helps you keep a nice pace when reading.

This story is about Syndey, a teenager whose brother is in jail for injuring a kid while drunk driving. You see what I told you about the fluff? Nonexistent. Now, I like that we get the sister’s perspective because I think oftentimes books that are about tragedy do not address the family and its suffering in any way. In Saint Anything, you feel the guilt Sydney is feeling and you are as conflicted towards her brother and what he did as she is.

Character-wise, I love how Sydney flourishes throughout the book. At first, it seems like she’s telling everything from an outsider’s point of view, like Nick from the Great Gatsby, or like things happened to her but she didn’t have an active role in the plot. This begins to change with time, but in a way that makes sense and that seems completely natural given the events that take place in the story.

I also loved the fact that there was a back story to almost every character. You knew why they acted in a certain way. They were three-dimensional and that added a lot to the plot. Now, not all characters were likable, but even in their cases, you got to see the reasons why they weren’t likable. There is romance, yes, but it is not the center of the story and it develops slowly, just how I like it.

This is an amazing novel, but I must warn you about an attempt of sexual assault. This is also not just an isolated scene, but throughout the novel, we can sense some events building up to it. If this is something that upsets you or that you feel like it might affect you, don’t read this book.

Have you read any other novels by Sarah Dessen? Tell me about them in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila