If you’ve been around the block on EduTwitter, or even if you’ve been around for a while on this blog (when I used to post regularly!), you probably know about #IMWAYR–It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? I have written about with highlights from my classroom , and also many times with my own reading. This usually happens during the summer (which seems to be the only time I have time to both read and write!). So here we are again, and I have a big ‘ole list of good ones to share. 🙂
It’s summer, and here’s what I’ve been reading!
Sprinkle Sundays, Mia’s Boiling Point and Smart Cookie: I think I’ve written before on this blog about how I have a strange love of the intersection of cupcakes and books, and I started by summer reading headed down that road. These all focus on middle-school girls and the first two also include their “tribes,” as well as at least one “mean girl.” That whole structure is predictable, and as a 40-year-old mom/teacher it was a little silly (although I’m sure I acted exactly the same way when I was 12!), but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I loved the way the girls were empowered to do their own thing, to become entrepreneurs, and also how they showed how cooking/baking can provide a powerful avenue for stress-relief and creativity. Each of these stories has a strong family element, and show complicated relationships and problem-solving. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a sweet book, but these did not disappoint. 🙂
Masterminds Trilogy by Gordon Korman: Without giving too much away (in case you haven’t read these yet but want to!), this trilogy tells the story about a special group of teenagers who discover just how special they are and then work (against most of the adults in their lives) to find answers to the questions that arise. These books are all page-turners and I breezed through them! They are the first that I have read by Korman, but I am interested in the countless others he’s written now. 🙂 . Thanks, Rachael, for the recommendation!
Epidemic by Reid Wilson: So far this is the only non-fiction book I’ve read this summer. I am a big fan of the NPR show The 1A, hosted by Joshua Johnson, and recently heard Reid Wilson, the author of this book, talking about the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Unlike when I was a hypochondriac child (and would have been surely convinced I HAD ebola), I was interested in this topic and grabbed the book recently at the library. It’s definitely science-heavy and also filled with way too many acronyms (which he thankfully explains), but was both interestingly written and informative.
Who Stole New Year’s Eve? by Martha Freeman: I have read many other of the mysterious adventures of Alex Parakeet and Yasmeen Popp on Chickadee Ct, and Who’s Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? is one of my favorites. I have read it so many times on my own, and also to my students. This one followed the same structure and involves most of the same familiar characters. Loved it, too!
Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant: This one represents an old, favorite author I haven’t read in a long time, and who I really know mostly as a picture book author. I have long been a fan of Cynthia Rylant, and so when I saw this on in the NEW section at the library, I snagged it. Might add it to my class read aloud list for this year.
Moo by Sharon Creech: I had to admit my hesitation of this book to Sharon Creech when I started reading it. For some (dumb) reason, the fact that it was written in verse scared me.
I know–that makes NO SENSE, but it did. Can’t explain it. But, as I told her, I should have trusted that EVERYTHING by Sharon Creech is amazing, and that since some of my favorite books were written by her, this would be a quick favorite, too. And indeed it was. Who knew I liked cows so much?
One Hundred Spaghetti Strings by Jen Nails: See how I mentioned that I love books about food? This one was definitely a “judge-a-book-by-its-cover” moment and I picked it just because it looked like it would be a story about a girl who cooks. And it was. I loved the way the character used food to figure out problems in her real life; this reminds me of how my husband uses cooking as his outlet, and also how I sometimes bake when I am in need of some “me” time to think things through. I liked how all the recipes she made in the story were included in the back of the book. Didn’t try any of them, but they looked tasty and like they might actually work!
The last four I’m going to mention were not the ones I read last, but I am mentioning them last because of the impact they had on me. They are from authors I already love–Kate Messner and Katherine Applegate–but were titles that were new to me and that were about topics that were timely and hit on “big” ideas. It’s one of the things I love about middle-grade fiction–helping kids work through important ideas and hard topics in the midst of a good story. I am excited to try at least of these with my class this year; even first graders can handle deep conversations about big things.
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate: I know Katherine Applegate because of Ivan, and had heard the buzz about this book a few years ago but hadn’t yet read it. And in full disclosure I didn’t actually “read” this book either–it was an audio book in my car on our recent family vacation. (On a side note, this is one of our favorite things about traveling–sharing great stores together as a family. Last summer it was Roald Dahl themed, previous years we devoured all of Christopher Paul Curtis’ books (we are HUGE Mighty Miss Malone fans), some years its just a mishmash of different ones none of us have heard. Regardless of the author or the book, everyone loves this routine!). So…the first big surprise was that the book is told by the tree. Ha!! I would NEVER have thought of that as a storyteller, but of course it makes perfect sense. This one had some important things to say about being different, accepting others (specifically refugees/immigrants) and standing up for what’s right. It’s a new favorite for sure!
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner: Here’s another title that I was SUPER late to the game on. Sometimes teaching primary means I don’t always get to novels I want to read because I live in picture book world for much of the school year. Sorry to have waited so long, but this one was TOTALLY WORTH THE WAIT! I knew that this book dealt with the topic of addiction, and it did not disappoint with the reality of the story. I have not personally been affected by drugs, but I can see how easily and quickly it can happen–even in “good” families with “good” kids raised by parents who did everything right. No one is immune and I liked how through a sweet family story I got a peek into that world. At first I wasn’t sure about the magic fish part, but now I’ve convinced that somehow that fantasy element balanced out the depth of the “hard” parts of the text. I am SO glad I got to this one, and would recommend it to anyone. Ok, everyone, really! 🙂
Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate: Oh my goodness. Kek may be my new favorite character. And remember how I was afraid of Moo written in poetry? This one was too, and was also had cows. I LOVED the insights into immigrant life we got in this one, too, and how the story was told in such a real way. Being able to see Kek’s bravery and spunk in the story was heartwarming and I love the way the story really dug into the definition of what home is, and where you find it when it seems so far away from where you are.
Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner: I found this book (which I had never heard about previously) after I read The Seventh Wish and decided I needed to check out all the rest of her books. I loved the geocaching element of this story, as it’s an activity I learned about a couple of years ago in an after-school club I lead with a friend (plus there just aren’t many geocaching stories around I’d say!). The “big” topic is in this book is homelessness, and the reality of how 1) quickly it can happen to those who least expect it, 2) it can happen to anyone, and that we probably know someone who is homeless (or as in this story living in a shelter) and might not even know it, and 3) homeless people are not crazy, weird, wrong, dangerous–often it happens because of things out of their control and they deserve the same respect as EVERYONE else. People are people. As I read this one, and connected it with the “home” theme in Home of the Brave, it got me thinking about a possible theme for my classroom this year….I’m excited to explore that topic with my students: what does it mean to them, how can we create stronger connections between home-school, and how can I make our classroom an extension of home. I might try this as a read aloud this year, too, because like I mentioned in the last one, even little kids can tackle big topics.
And…right now I’m reading two more. I feel a little funny putting them together in a picture here because of how completely opposite they are (one about Hurricane Katrina and the other about middle school girls who take a cooking class–ha!), but hey–variety is the spice of life, right?
I’ll share more when I finish. 🙂 . Come back to check it out, will you?
So I’m wondering a couple of things…
- What are you reading or have you read this summer (or whenever!) that I should check out?
- What topics/themes do you like to read about?
PLEASE leave a comment and let’s chat about books!! There’s still a lot of summer left and I can’t wait to hear about what you’re reading!