It's Monday! What are you reading? was started by Sheila at Book Journey and was adapted for children's books from picture books through YA by Jen of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers. You can visit either site for a round up of blogs sharing their weekly readings and thoughts or search Twitter for #IMWAYR.
Last Weeks' Posts
- Featured Illustrator: Demi, part 1: biographies. Our featured illustrator for May is Demi! Her artwork is simply stunning, and she has written an incredible series of books about the lives of famous historical and religious figures, which are highlighted in this first post.
- #3rdfor3rd: Dragon Masters series. One of my students wrote a series of book reviews about several of the first books in the Dragon Masters series. His cliffhanger questions will leave you wanting to read them all!
- Join the Diverse Children's Book Linkup! There's an all-new #diversekidlit up, featuring books for children that showcase the diversity of our world.
Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation (2015) written by Edwidge Danticat and illustrated by Leslie Staub [A Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Book]. I posted about this book last month, but this week I read it aloud and discussed it with students. It was clear that they were deeply impacted by the story of this girl whose Haitian mother was in immigration prison for not having "the right papers." We also read the author's note and discussed the fact that many children and many families do not experience a happy ending like the one in the book.
The word is out now at my school that I will be moving on from third grade to sixth and seventh next year. It will be fun to catch up with some of my students from years past, but I also feel like I have a lot of catching up to do, book-wise! This age of kids seems to fall in a pretty steep book gap between older Middle Grade and younger Young Adult fiction. I would appreciate any and all suggestions for good books and resources to help bridge this gap!
Booked (2016) by Kwame Alexander. I had been eagerly anticipating Booked after finished The Crossover, a recent Newbery winner, and it did not disappoint. Booked is another novel-in-verse, this time told from the perspective of twelve-year old Nick Hall, an up-and-coming soccer star, plagued by his wordsmith father's book, Weird and Wonderful Words. The story touches many important issues and difficulties in tween/teenage life but without getting too heavy into more grownup content. I am excited to add both of these to my middle school classroom library!
All American Boys: a novel (2015) by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely [the winner of the first-ever Walter Award (formally, the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature) and a Coretta Scott King Honor book]. This is a hugely important book about the real pressures and fears of today's high school students, particularly students of color. The alternating perspectives in the two narrators allow both authors to explore complex issues from these two points of view. There are some more "adult" themes raised (underage drinking, unsupervised house parties) that some parents might object to, but at the same time others of these issues (racism, profiling, police brutality) are forced upon kids - even middle schoolers.
Enchanted Air: two cultures, two wings: a memoir (2015) by Margarita Engle [winner of the Pura Belpré Award and a finalist for the YALSA-ALA award for excellence in Young Adult nonfiction]. I got to hear Margarita Engle speak at last month's Charlotte Zolotow Awards when she received her medal for Drum Dream Girl.
The Social Studies curriculum for seventh grade focuses on Latin American history for the first semester, so I was eager to dive into this memoir-in-verse of growing up in Cuba during the 1950s and 60s. I enjoyed the book but even though it is told through her eyes as a child, I felt like much of the story was overly simplistic and lacked the depth of information and reference of Brown Girl Dreaming. I may use it as part of a memoir-focused book club where students have a range of books to choose from and discuss.