Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Six Must Reads (so far) in 2016.

As many of you know, I joined the sixty book challenge back in January and pledged to read sixty books in 2016. I also said, I'd give myself some grace but was willing to fit reading back into my everyday life. Well, today, welllll before December, I've already read sixty books! Several have been picture books, but I'm excited that I've made time for reading. I can't thank my #BookJourney friends, amazing authors& teachers on social media, and Mr. Shu's Book Release Calendar for all the great books and recommendations! I'm so excited to continue my reading journey this year.
If you're following me on Instagram or Twitter, you know I've read several ARCs for some very anticipated books but I will save some of those for a later post. Today, I want to suggest six books that you can buy right now that are a must read in 2016!

Unputtdownable! I could not stop reading this book. Fans of The War that Saved my Life will enjoy this novel! I'm very interested to see how students react to this story. I thought the main character had such a strong and powerful voice. I was instantly lured into the story. Plus, the villain Betty -- she's a villain among all villains. A vile character that rivals Dolores Umbridge for appearing sickeningly sweet yet completely cruel!  The setting and historical fiction elements only add to the mystery and intensity of this story. I know my avid readers will enjoy the craft and suspense of this read. However, striving readers may find it difficult to sustain reading. There were several parts I saw glimmers of author Lauren Wolk's adult writing background & felt they were not as kid friendly. Yet, there is lots of Newbery buzz surrounding this novel. Definitely preview before giving to a middle grade reader!

Anything but just a robot story. Peter Brown crafts an imaginative story in which Roz, the robot, is stranded on a forested island. At first the animals are very judgmental of Roz. Weaving in themes of friendship, determination, and family, Peter Brown crafts a magnificent story. Roz eventually finds her place on the island and allows herself to become a bit more "wild." I loved, loved, loved this book. I would give more than five stars if possible. The short chapters and interesting characters make this book a fast read for any middle grade reader. Complex questions like - What is family? will keep even your highest readers engaged! Plus, the button! The button! I was nervous & hesitant reading that chapter!  There is even an entire chapter related to animals "doing their business" to help fertilize Roz's garden. What fifth grader doesn't want to learn more synonyms for poop?

Cherish your time with family & embrace change. This story is full of character, character, character! Thyme Owens is uprooted and moved to New York from California because her little brother has a rare cancer. Thyme will do anything for her brother but that doesn't mean being the new girl isn't hard. Thyme begins saving up "time" in order to hopefully buy her old life back. This story has such powerful voice. I instantly knew Thyme! From laugh out loud moments to tearful treatments, this book deals with tough issues in a clever and endearing way. Melanie Conklin deftly crafts a story that many middle grade readers will treasure for years to come! This story is timeless and has all the elements of an instant classic! Plus, so many wonderful & inspiring quotes for a graffiti wall!

If you wish hard enough, will it come true? This simple story has won over my heart. Set during Japanese Internment during WWII, the main character and her family are moved to a desert internment camp from their home in Washington. Sadly, the family must leave their dog Yujin behind. A dark time in American History as seen through the eyes of a young girl struggling to find her dog and her voice in this new home. This book is great for students that love nonfiction. Author, Lois Sepahban, has greatly researched this time period and shares additional links and websites at the end of the novel.

What if you could connect with loved ones that have passed away? Being a pretty avid reader, I'm not always shocked by plot twists these days. However, I was expecting a straightforward realistic fiction story about a young boy who has recently lost his mother to cancer. But this story, took a turn I was not expecting! Fans of The Nest and Coraline will love "creep" of this story. Charlie's story is sure to be a supernatural adventure that will keep readers reading! I'm glad I added this story to my Mock Newbery book club. A fresh look at grief and friendship. Can't wait to discuss this book and get student reactions to the twists and turns.

Kids will devour this graphic novel sequel! I haven't quite finished this one yet as I'll admit I'm not the fastest graphic novel reader. Something, I'm still training myself to do! However, within the first few pages, I instantly knew this would a HIT with my students. Starting of with a bang, Hilo's head is looking for the rest of his body! But wait... just as Hilo thinks life is finally becoming "normal" strange portals bring Viking Hippos and Killer Vegetables to earth! Will Hilo and his friends be able to save the whole wide world? Witty and clever this book is perfect for fans of  Big Nate and Amulet alike. This is a new series you'll want on your radar!

What is your middle grade must read of 2016?


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Historical Fiction Haters

This is truly the golden age of #Kidlit. I've been reading, reading, reading and have encountered so many wonderful books so far this year. I'd love to say there isn't a genre or book I don't love. But that isn't the case... As a kid, I loved historical fiction books. Number the Stars, North to Freedom, Catherine Called Birdy, The Midwife's Apprentice, Summer of my German Solider. I read and reread many of these titles. However, as historical fiction began to become "required" reading, I grew away from the genre. In fact, I would avoid it like the plague! 

Sadly, even as an adult, I've pretty much avoided the genre of historical fiction. Which is surprising since I LOVE history and also teach social studies. I just felt like this wasn't a genre for me. But boy was I wrong! There are several great books out right now that help engage students (and adults) with historical fiction! All of these books are approachable because of their fantastic stories, thus, the historical aspect is something you experience along with the character not a history textbook you have drag along and decode.

Through reading many of these newer novels, I've rediscovered my love for historical fiction. I just can't get enough! I've also found myself doing extra research on various topics because I'm interested in the history as well. I've also noticed, that I'm still fascinated by WWII just like I was back in third grade reading Number the Stars or in seventh grade reading Summer of my German Solider.

Here are a few books that every middle grade library needs to have for the historical fiction lover or hater... 

What historical fiction titles would you recommend?

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