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Frequently Asked Questions

I get asked a few questions when students first join Pizzo's Paperbacks.  Below are just few questions that I get on a consistent basis.  Hopefully this page will answer some of those questions.  If you have additional questions though, please do NOT hesitate to ask me! Email works best, but whatever medium you choose will be fine with me!


What can we do at home to improve reading levels?

One helpful tip is read with your child on a daily basis.   Reading is just like any other practice that a student participates in.  Your child cannot play in a game if he/she has not practiced...the same is true for reading.   I love the "ah-ha" moment I had with this and it involves my favorite sport:  volleyball.  I was a First Team All-Star setter in high school – I practiced EVERY day, even on weekends.  Last year, I joined a Rec-League volleyball team and I was a mess! I still knew how to play, but my skills were not sharp.  The connection is your child isn’t going to forget how to read, but their reading skills will not be sharp if not practiced every day.  My strongest students read frequently and they are not just reading books; they also visit a library on a regular basis, and they have conversations about their reading.  I do my best to prepare students at school, but practicing these skills outside of the 54 minutes in my room is what’s going to really help.


How can I tell if a book is appropriate for my child?

That depends on whether you are looking for a grade-level appropriateness or if you are looking for content-appropriateness. 


Grade-level: you can check the book's Lexile level by clicking on this website and typing in the title.  It will give you a number between 300-1700.  You compare that to your child's Lexile score (if you don't know email me) and if it is either 100 points above or below your child's number then it is appropriate. Keep in mind, if the book is "easy to read" it doesn't mean it shouldn't be read...if that were the case I would never read any adolescent literature books and my life would be much more dull.  This Lexile link will also answer questions about this form of assessment.


Content: This is completely determined by you.  I know that there are topics out there that you would rather not have your child read, but I do not know this unless you tell me.  I only suggest books that have been enjoyed by other students or by myself.  I see ALL books as appropriate, but our opinions may differ.  One website that can help is called "" - it gives quality reviews for all types of media from books to movies etc.  All you have to do is type in the title and most likely there will be a review for it. 


What do you do in Pizzo's Paperbacks?

School:  We have one hour - ONE hour to get plethora of skills met.  I break up those skills into 15 minute rotating chunks using a balanced-literacy approach.  The stations are Word Study, Writing, Guided Reading, Independent Reading and Study Skills.  Depending on the letter day/student's needs, we will be completing three of those stations. 


Summer:  We meet two times a week at the Greece Public Library.  We find books we would like to enjoy.  We set reading goals.  We talk about short works.  We have FUN! The summer club is invite only! Hard-workers and open-minds are the only types of students I allow to join this unique group.


What's my favorite book or books?

These are not in any particular order, but they have played an important role in who I am as a reader today.  These books have made me laugh, the majority have made me cry and overall, without these books, I would not have chosen to become a reading teacher. I just love them.

1. The Outsiders - SE Hinton - this is a book that changed the way I wanted to teach.  Hinton carefully crafted a book that resonates with us even after 50000 years...Ponyboy is one of the most reflective and observant characters I know.

2. The Client - John Grisham - this is the FIRST book that I ever read (that was a legit, real person book).  It was read at my gram's house the summer between 7th and 8th grades. It got me on a Grisham kick...and I liked it.

3. Seedfolks - Paul Fleischman - I read this book in 3 hours on the 3rd floor of the SUNY Fredonia library...I can never do this book the justice it deserves when I talk about it.  It brought to light how connected we all are even though we are so different.  A lesson of humanity we can all learn from.


4. Imitation of Life - Allison Joseph - This book showed me that poetry should not be scary.  EVERY time I picked up a poem I felt like the dumbest person on this planet.  I am not sure what this book did for me, but when I read it everything that I was missing with poetry fell into place.  I cannot thank her enough for this. 


5. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - I first read this book in French (yes, the foreign language) when I was a senior in high school (Thank you, Ms. Kennedy).  I loved the imagination and passion that the main character possessed and felt such a close connection. I read it in English when I was in my 20s and it continues to be a book that moves me.


6. Silly Songs and Sad - Ellen Raskin - When I was in elementary school, my mom rescued this book from the discard pile at the school's library.  She read it to my sister and me one Friday night when there was a wicked thunderstorm outside (our yard was actually flooding and trees went down).  She read the poems to us by flashlight and they were so ridiculous, but yet so language-filled.  This book is out of print, but if you can find a copy BUY IT! It will change your life.


7. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand - One of the most intense books I have ever read and it's NON-FICTION! Louie Zamperini was an Olympic athlete who joined the Army Air Force during World War II.  What this man went through, ordeals he survived remind me that when I think I am having a bad day I should think again.  This book is beautifully researched and well crafted.  Please read.   

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