Writing in the Middle

Writing in the Middle

Multilingual Learners Teacher & Freelance Writer who loves to share ideas and connect with other teachers!

Operating as usual


April was a detective murder mystery series month!📕The Annalisa Vega series by Joanna Schaffhausen had me hooked.

📗The Inmate was intriguing but I found the main character to be somewhat naive/annoying.

📙Beach Read was definitely my second favorite behind the detective series—a perfect fun palate cleanser and distraction.

📓Being Mortal was my book club read and prompted great discussion, but only 3ish stars from me.


Even though I have slightly different ratings for these books, I would say they’re all in the generally good category. As I look at the ratings I keep debating if I should change them. 🤪
•The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
•Never Lie by Freida McFadden
Mystery/Thriller with some fantasy thrown in
•Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
•Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo
•It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover
•See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur


A 5⭐️ and 4⭐️ read this month! But I’m kind of an easy grader 🙃

📗All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat
This story was incredible, and a testament to the power of community. This tells the true story of the boys’ soccer team who got stuck in a cave in Thailand and how they escaped. It was wild.

📘What Happened to You: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Dr. Bruce Perry & Oprah Winfrey
Really informative. Some practical application at the end but not much. Wondering what training in action teachers could receive. I would say this is like a less dense version of The Body Keeps the Score. Main theme: instead of asking “what’s wrong with you?” Ask, “what happened to you?”


This month had a lot of great reads, but my two 5-star reads were The Winners by Fredrik Backman and Evil Eye by Etaf Rum. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📗The Winners characters stole my heart. It was so much in one book. At times it felt long but I truly loved each character and seeing where their life headed. I cried. I think any of Fredrick Backman’s books would make for a good book club book, but the Beartown series especially. What is justice? What is right? Who are our enemies?

📘In Evil Eye, Etaf Rum carefully articulates the inner voice, thoughts, and complex feelings of Yara, a young Palestinian American mother and wife. I was so immersed in Yara’s character that I felt like I was being gaslit right alongside her. Etaf Rum has done it so well yet again.

Other books & authors this month:
📙Nothing is Missing by Nicole Walters (memoir)
📕Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (mystery)
📗A Boy Called Bat by Eliana K Arnold (middle grade)
📓A Promised Land by Barack Obama (memoir/nonfiction)


I spent way too much time putting all the books I read in 2023 in rainbow order so I hope you appreciate how pretty it looks! lol I’ll highlight my 5-star reads from the year below along with my goodreads reviews from when I read them.

📗I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys - historical fiction
Wow wow. This book was gorgeously written and made me want to learn more about Romania. I actually started and stopped this book months ago. I think I just wasn’t in the mood. But I’m so glad I came back. An important and inspiring read, and a relatively short one.

📓Caste by Isabel Wilkerson - nonfiction sociology?
An important read that compares and contrasts the caste systems of N**i Germany, India, and the United States. Very well done and great for taking a critical look at the role of race in society.

📕Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga - YA fiction
A girl immigrates from Syria to the US. I got to the end and didn’t even realize it—I wanted the story to keep going! I thought of my students so often throughout this whole book and it made me love Jude even more.

📕It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover - fiction
Ok, I did not expect to appreciate this book as much as I do. Not before I read it and not while I was in the middle of it. I didn’t fly through it because I didn’t see where it was going. But it went way deeper than I expected and I think it definitely deserves its hype. I think I was expecting a twist or thriller plot line, but even with little to no “action” toward the end I was quickly turning every page dying to see what choices Lily would make. This is an important book and I really appreciated the author’s note at the end. Hoover’s vulnerability shone through.

📗The City of Brass series by Shannon Chakraborty - fantasy
I read all 3 books in this series and they wrecked me. 😭 Many of its themes and events are sadly similar to the state of our world today—cycles of vengeance and oppression and racism. (Cont. in comments…)


December was a well-rounded month of genres. I can’t say I loved any of these books, but I liked and enjoyed them. All would prompt a good discussion. There were some fiery responses to One Day in December in book club and great discussions throughout the month on Hunt Gather Parent and Counting the Cost. Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? Tell me! 👇🏻I know many people loved Midnight Library and I think it was just ok for me.

📚2023 year in books post coming probably tomorrow!


📚November Reads📚

I wasn’t in love with my favorite book of this month, but it was an interesting one that even piqued the interest of my husband who generally doesn’t read the same books as me. 🙃

📕Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer is packed full of Mormon history and analysis of extreme religion and what it leads people and leaders to do. The tv show was way more engaging and emotionally moving, but the book was much more fact-driven and had some extremely devastating moments as well.

My other 2 this month were meh.

📚 ?


📚This book was everything I needed to escape in this busy month (this is the only book I finished!). And yet many of its themes and events are sadly similar to the state of our world today—cycles of vengeance and oppression and racism.
📚But Chakraborty made me fall in love with Daevabad and all its characters—their reckless optimism or steadfast hold on their inner self and believing they were worthy; their regrets when they blindly followed leaders and the tough choices they made to reclaim freedom. I cried at least once. This series was long but so worth it. So so worth it. I enjoyed every minute.


📚The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh was the clear winner this month! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

A moving historical fiction middle grade novel that follows 3 narratives in 2 time periods—the beginning of C0VID in 2020 and the Ukraine famine in the 1930s. Also a great audiobook.🎧 Highly recommend!

📕Endless Night by Agatha Christie was a classic that I felt indifferent about until the end. I gave it 4⭐️.

📘Don’t read Bad Mormon. Almost DNFed.


The Happy Runner was my favorite because I’m currently obsessed with the SWAP podcast by the authors. 🏃‍♀️

The Last Flight was a fun suspenseful read and The Art of Racing in the Rain pulled at the heartstrings. 💔

Kindred made for a great discussion. Great writing and story construction. Is this required reading for some in high school?? 🤔

It’s in His Kiss…I keep reading Bridgerton but I’m not sure why. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Grad school reads that proved less than helpful. 👎🏻

It was a good reading month!


📙Out of Thin Air by Michael Crawley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Definitely one of my faves this month. British anthropologist runner runs with the Ethiopians to learn their ways.
📗The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The first book of this series is my first love but this one was equally good! Maybe a little slow at the beginning. Think Middle Eastern/Arabian fantasy novel with no clear good/bad leaving you in constant emotional turmoil ha.
📕The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I really enjoyed this book, it had so many great insights and I found myself pondering their conclusions a lot. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone but it just is what it is I guess? Also had to read it for grad school.

📘Leading in a Culture of Change by Michael Fullan ⭐️ Least favorite. So many typos. Grad school read. Michael how are you going to transform education without talking about race?


📚 It’s hard to say which of these was my favorite. They were all good for different reasons and varied widely across genre—memoir, romcom/whodunnit, regency romance, and fantasy/humor/love story. I suppose Viola Davis’s memoir was best by rating! Such a powerful woman.

Take what you need and leave any recs you think I’d like after these! Except maybe Bridgerton lol.

📗Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
🎧 Comedy S*x God by Pete Holmes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
🎧Finding Me by Viola Davis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
🎧When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn ⭐️⭐️
📕Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


May had some mediocre reads, but they were various and interesting. I would definitely recommend Forager! Very thought-provoking life story, especially if cults and nature intrigue you. I guess this month kind of had a culty theme because I also read Jinger Duggar’s book and will definitely be watching the new Duggar documentary some time this weekend. 👀


Other Words for Home was my favorite! But I’m interested to see what book club says about 56 Days. Intriguing murder mystery!


Less books this month, but some really solid ones.

📓Caste by Isabel Wilkerson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I think this is a must-read for everyone! A comparison of the caste systems present in the U.S., India, and N**i Germany.
📘The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abu Daré ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A powerful and eye-opening story of one girl’s life in 2014 Nigeria.
📓Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This was a super intriguing mystery fantasy set on the campus of Yale amidst its magical secret societies and the ninth house meant to regulate them, especially when murder is afoot.

Have you read any of these? Any pique your interest? Let me know! Caste brought great discussions in my book club.

Photos from Writing in the Middle's post 31/12/2022

I read 48 books this year, (swipe ➡️ for all) which was quite a bit more than the 30 I aimed for! Grad school got nothin on me. 🥳 📚

Some faves were:
📕The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (complex murder mystery)
📗The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (YA fantasy, heartwarming)
📘Beartown by Fredrik Backman (small hockey town divides over tragic event—believe women!)
📙Dune by Frank Herbert (sci fi, desert planet, made into a movie)

Least faves: Patriot Games, Cultish, Reading Specialists & Literacy Coaches 🤪



My favorite or maybe most important read from December was a book I started in September. 🤪 Yay for small progress toward big goals. It’s actually a quick read though!

📚Cultivating Genius by Gholdy Muhammad ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: Dr. Goodly Muhammad examines the ways that African Americans created their own educational societies and pedagogies in the past and uses that to inform the way we teach our students today. She identifies 4 pursuits—identity, intellect, criticality, and skills—that should shape our teaching and lesson planning.

Review: I love the historical context Dr. Muhammad brings to her pedagogy and the way she values the whole child—their identity, joy, abilities, intellect, and critical perspective. All teachers should read and learn from her!

Other books this month:
📕 Patriot Games by Tom Clancy ⭐️⭐️
📗Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📙A Rhythm of Prayer edited by Sarah Bessey ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📘The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📗When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Yay for cozy reads in November! Murder mystery was definitely the theme and my favorite was…

📚The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: Aiden Bishop wakes up as a different person each day, reliving the same exact day as before, at the end of which, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed. Aiden must find her killer to escape the loop.

Review: This book was so incredibly complex, I loved it. It’s great to find a murder mystery that I can’t guess at too well. My only critique is that every “main” character or perspective was male. It was just thrilling and intriguing all the way through and I was hooked from the beginning!

Other books this month:
📕 The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
📗The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📙Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
📘And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5


August was a pretty good reading month but the one that stood out was…

📚The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: High school student Xiomara is a writer, a poet, but no one knows it. But we, the readers, get a special insight into her thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams through this novel in verse, making us root for her in all facets of life, despite the obstacles in her way.

Review: I ZOOMED through this book and felt all the feels. Acevedo writes beautifully and in a way that pulls you in, keeping you turning pages.

Other books this month:
📘Red, White, and Whole by Rajani Larocca ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📕Do Better by Rachel Ricketts ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📗1984 by George Orwell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📘Cultish by Amanda Montell ⭐️⭐️⭐️
📙Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


YEAR 8 of my teaching career has begun and every year I feel more confident I’m in the right profession. ✨

I’m still teaching multilingual learners half time and writing the other half of my time. But I’m looking forward to not being the “newbie” anymore at my school and diving further into co-planning, co-teaching, and seeing our newcomers blossom! Oh and also riding my bike to school more often! 🚲

Starting at a new school and new position last year was a struggle with sharing teaching ideas and resources on here, so I hope this year I can do a better job of sharing lessons and ideas on this journey of teaching language acquisition. And I’ll be sharing what I’m reading in general still as well! (Whoops gonna post august books soon I promise!) 📚


Pretty proud of my reading this month! 3 books from grad school and 4 just for fun. But the favorite was...

📚Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ok, but actually the other 3 fiction books I read were also really good and it was really hard to pick the favorite! But I guess I chose this one because it was the most unique and different from what I've read before.

Summary: Told from various points of view, Home Fire tells the story of a Pakistani family living in Britain: Isma, the older sister who must take care of her younger twin siblings when they are orphaned at age 12; Parvaiz, the twin brother who learns too late the reality of his father's work (with the jihad); and Aneeka, the spitfire twin sister who wants only to bring her twin brother home. The story of a different, more affluent family, parallels theirs--another Pakistani family, but with very different views on how their heritage should impact their life. Things get dicey when the two families intertwine through young love.

Review: I think it was good to go into this book blind. The perspectives were new to me and I found myself trying to put myself into each of their shoes. The story deals with topics of immigration, discrimination, terrorism, and family loyalty. If someone else reads it, I would love to know your thoughts! It would be a great book to discuss.

Other books this month:
📘Verity by Colleen Hoover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📕 Reading Specialists and Literacy Coaches in the Real World by Shearer, Carr, & Vogt ⭐️⭐️⭐️
📗Critical Literacy by McLaughlin & DeVoogd ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📘The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📙A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📕The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Grad school hasn’t been a total killer to my “fun reading” and one of these was even for an assignment! But I’m still glad I lowered my reading goal this year. My favorite book this month was…

📚Dune by Frank Herbert ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: Paul Atreides, son of a duke, must learn to survive, live on, and embrace the culture of the desert planet Arrakis and fulfill his great yet unknown destiny—a destiny prophesied and plotted by leaders religious and political.

Review: Frank Herbert built an amazingly intricate world that pulled me in immediately. I had so much faith in the characters, yet he made me doubt them and where they were headed often enough to keep me guessing. The distinction between villain and hero become foggy in this mystical and adventurous journey.

Other books this month:
📘Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor ⭐️⭐️⭐️
📕Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Photos from Writing in the Middle's post 09/06/2022

Last day of school 🎉 🥳

Swipe ➡️ to see the beginning of the year pic 🙃

We made it! This team was amazing and we will miss Kim so much. 💕 Looking forward to next year ladies!

Photos from Writing in the Middle's post 05/06/2022

It’s always enlightening to get feedback from students and I think it’s beneficial to them to reflect on what they’ve actually learned this year.

I made these reflection sheets to do just that! I also think it’s good for parents to see what exactly we do in the Multilingual Learning program. A goal I have for next year is to communicate more with parents!

Do you have students reflect at the end of the year? Let me know if you want an editable copy of these? Maybe I’ll add them to my link tree!


I read a grand total of ✨ONE✨ book in May, but that’s okay because it was a quality read.

📚The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: Linus Baker is sent by the Department In Charge Of Magical Youth (DICOMY) to report on the goings-ons of one particularly “dangerous” orphanage of magical youth. A generally rule-following and well-mannered man with a life of routine, Linus is at first in shock and fear after meeting the residents of the house in the cerulean sea. But at his core he is a man of justice and we get to see his heart melted to that very core as he gets to know the children and managers of this house.

Review: Don’t you wish you were here?
Yes! I wish I was at the house on the cerulean sea. I can feel its literal and metaphorical magic through the pages. My heart was so warmed by this story. ❤️ Though the themes of the story were a little on the nose, I loved it. Someone recommended it as adult fantasy? But I would say there are SO many great discussion points and themes for young adults. I loved getting sucked into this book and falling in love with the characters.


Some heavy hitters in the emotions department filled April, and my favorite was…

📚This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: From the perspective of two parents of five children, the story of this family, and especially its youngest child, is told and paralleled by the ever-evolving bedtime story that Penn adds on to every night with his children. It takes a twist when their youngest, Claude, decides he wants to be Poppy, and disclosure is something that brings a new tension to the family.

Review: This story is thought-provoking, builds empathy, and warmed my heart. I loved the way Penn told stories and I appreciated hearing the thoughts of these parents. I enjoyed every minute of listening.

Other books this month:
📘Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📕Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


It’s been real

I’m thanking my pre-break teacher self for prepping some lessons for this week and feeling the a little less. But the end of a break is still always hard!

Are you prepped for the week or winging it tomorrow? 🙃


February favorite was a good one!

📚 Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: Inti and her now-ill twin sister move to Scotland for Inti’s work in integrating wolves back into Scottish land. As locals fight against their efforts and people and livestock are harmed, threatening Inti’s project, we learn more about Inti and her twin sister’s past and see her grow into an uncertain and potentially frightening future.

Review: Really good. Kept me guessing. Had so many various components of story….I’ll have to sit on the ending for a while to decide if I liked it! But overall, a consuming story that I found myself thinking about often.

All other books this month:
📕 A Court of Frost & Starlight by Sarah J. Maas ⭐️⭐️⭐️
📗Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn ⭐️⭐️⭐️
📘East of Eden by John Steinbeck ⭐️⭐️⭐️
📙Love Wins by Rob Bell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📕Us Against You by Fredrik Backman ⭐️⭐️⭐️



I started this in Feb so I’m going back to Jan to document for myself and make it look pretty. 🙃

Fave book from January was…

📚Bear Town by Fredrik Backman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary: Small ice hockey town experiences a true test of coach Sune’s motto—“Culture is as much about what we encourage as what we permit.” *trigger warning* After a high schooler in the community rapes another student, every character is left to wrestle with their role in what happened, their belief or lack thereof in the survivor, and of course, how it all impacts their beloved game of hockey.

Review: This book kept me on my toes until the very end. There are so many topics and themes to be discussed—sports culture, parenting, small towns, mob culture, and so many more. This story swaps perspectives often and has many characters that you root for and want to see redeemed. It was heavy but thought-provoking.

Other books this month:
📘The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery ⭐️⭐️⭐️
📗The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
📕Turtles All the Way Down by John Green ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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