What a lovely week! The weather was warm, the sun was shining and I was able to watch my daughter play the bass in a wonderful outdoor orchestra concert. Life is good. And so are the books, prompts and links I’m sharing with you today!

What I’m Reading:

Oh, my. This book. When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed was a beautiful, heart-wrenching graphic novel. The book chronicles the experiences of Omar and Hassan, two brothers growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya after they fled a war-torn Somalia without their parents. Jamieson and Mohamed so beautifully balance hardship and hope, despair and determination. The reader can’t help but be swept away in the powerful images, yet pulled close into the lives of the main characters. I cried, I cheered, I wrestled with the reality of the world and ultimately, was changed for having the honor to hear Omar’s incredible story. And yes, it was true, which meant I spent some time researching his work and celebrating Refugee Strong.

I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader’s copy of Frankie and Bug by Gayle Forman. And boy, was it something. I truly did not see this book coming. The charming name and cute cover pulled me in, but the incredible storyline left me reeling a bit. Forman so artfully shares the incredibly complex stories of Frankie and Bug, tackling issues of race, gender, sexuality, hate, family and more. This book is needed in so many ways, but most importantly so students can see themselves in the pages of a book: students grappling with gender and sexuality, students grappling with violence and hate, students grappling with family strife, students grappling with friendships and finding their place in this world. There are a few scenes that may be too difficult for some students to handle, but in the end, the message of strength, of hope and of carrying on shine through.

What I’m Writing:

I’ve continued working on my new Health and Wellness notebook, but took some time to write in my writer’s notebook in response to Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing newsletter: Identify an object you learned to appreciate in a new way during lockdown. Try documenting it. I first wrote about an obvious object I came to truly appreciate: stacks of toilet paper. But then, I went deeper and chose another: board games. We spent hours playing Yatzee, Uno and Checkers (my daughter is STILL the undefeated champion!) as we navigated our new normal. This was a fun way to look back and now, I wish I took a few pictures to document those quiet moments, too.

What I’m Learning:

I took a deep dive into the world of sugar this week: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m working hard to clean up my diet and sugar is one of the first things that is getting stripped away (even though I love eating homemade frosting by the spoonful!). Eating too much refined sugar has been linked to increasing inflammation in the body, so I needed some healthy alternatives to satisfy my sweet tooth. Think dark chocolate-covered bananas and avocado brownies. Find the recipes here!

What I’m Loving:

Modern Mrs. Darcy released her Summer Reading Guide! It’s FILLED with recommended summer reading to boost my TBR stacks. I’m sure you’ll find your next read here. I’m starting with Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner.

Amy Tangerine led a FANTASTIC workshop on creative journaling as part of Workshop Week (I mentioned this last week) and she offered a beautiful freebie to cut and paste into our own notebooks. It’s bright, colorful and waiting for your own page!

Do you have a Reader’s Notebook? Lisa Johnson does and she put together a free webinar to inspire you to make your own. I’ve picked up SO MANY ideas for my own.

There you have it! I hope this inspires you to make space for more reading and writing in your own life. What are the highlights from your literate life this week?
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