Margin Notes

When You Teach A Reader Instead Of The Book


This morning I was reading a chapter of Nancie Atwell and Anne Atwell Merkel’s The Reading Zone which includes Daniel Pennac’s, “The Reader’s Bill of Rights”.

The Reader’s Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to reread
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes
Daniel Pennac (1992)

I took a few minutes to think about how great it would be if this was the reality for all our students, especially #10, the (more…)

Book Love at Sunbury West School


Before the break, I had a wonderful morning out at Sunbury West School in Fredericton Junction watching a grade 8 class get very excited about new books for their classroom library.  English Language Arts teacher and vice-principal, Melanie Charlton, along with principal Heather Lyons, came up with the fabulous idea of purchasing books for each student, wrapping them up, then letting them choose one (or steal-there was a Yankee swap element involved, too!) that spoke to them.

To help the students decide which book they connected with the most, each package had hand written (more…)

Teaching Talk


Recently I had the opportunity to read Kara Pranikoff’s Teaching Talk: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Conversation and Thinking which questions the traditional practices of classroom talk and asks teachers to re-think their role in that talk.

As teachers we know that conversation is a way students construct meaning and Pranikoff urges teachers to let students to become increasingly independent in their talk. She explains how the ultimate goal in larger-group conversations is for students to simply speak when they have something to say…like in the social talk at recess or at the end of the day when students are at their lockers. In these settings, students do not require an adult to mediate or monitor their discussion. This needs to be (more…)

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman


Inside a now/then/now/then chronological order, we follow Ingrid as she was then: a child travelling all over Europe with her opera star mother where life was, “beautiful and bright, and everyday soared with music” to now, where she is 17 and on a summertime wilderness survival trek for at risk teens: addicts, runaways, and her.

In a series of letters she writes to her mother while trying to survive in the wilderness, Ingrid reveals the secrets of her life and comes to terms with the trauma she has experienced. With the help of an eclectic group of wilderness campers, Ingrid slowly finds both her voice, and a purpose in the experience. Near the end of her 21-day camp experience, she writes to her mother: “I get it now. Peak Wilderness is geared to breaking down your barriers – physical, psychological, mental. Bringing you face-to-face with the best and worst of yourself, teaching you things you didn’t know about yourself, facing your demons. My demon is you.” (more…)

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


If you haven’t read anything by Jason Reynolds yet, you need to simply because he is an amazing writer. A great place to start is with Long Way Down, his newest book.

In Long Way Down, we meet Will, a 15 year old whose brother, Shawn, was just murdered on the street.  Will has been raised to believe in 3 rules: no crying, no snitching and getting revenge.  He tucks a gun into his pants and steps into an elevator to go and find Shawn’s killer.  During the ride down, where the majority of the book takes place, Will “meets” people from his past and must decide whether to avenge his brother’s death or break the rules he has been taught to respect.

The entire book is written in verse and Reynold’s sentences are powerful and direct.  Because of this, this book is accessible to so many readers, including reluctant ones.  (more…)

The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah


We all remember a moment from our childhoods where we started to doubt something we had never questioned before…we also remember how disruptive it was as our minds started unraveling  and challenging what we had previously thought. In The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah, she illustrates this beautifully through a story involving two teenagers around divisive topics such as refugees, religion, and race.

Abdel-Fattah writes using alternating narrators-Michael, the son of educated, wealthy parents who strongly believe in preserving Australia’s dominant white, Judeo-Christian culture, and Mina, who escaped from Afghanistan and was held in a detention centre off of the shores of her new homeland before starting over again.  Their lives collide when they end up at the same high school and as sparks ensue between the two, Michael starts to question if what his parents’ believe is necessarily what he does. (more…)

Email Signature


One of our goals is to make our literacy lives visible.  An easy way is to add this to your email signature:

I am currently reading They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib.

I am currently learning from Embarrassment by Thomas Newkirk.

I am currently listening to Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali.


We have chosen to include our current, professional and audio titles but you may choose to customize it to reflect your own reading life.  This is a simple way to spread book love and spark a conversation between readers.

Welcome To Margin Notes


We’re happy you stopped by.

Those of you who know us, know we are passionate about all things literacy and are always looking for ways to connect and collaborate.  We hope this blog will be a space for sharing and learning.

Over time, the blog will evolve and grow but our current vision is for Margin Notes to be a place where we make our own learning visible, invite conversation, recommend books and resources, and celebrate literacy.

When we started working together as a team this year, we sat down and compiled our shared beliefs about literacy.  Then, following Warren Berger’s advice, we turned them into (more…)