Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Book Alert: Real Friends

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham debuts this Tuesday! (I received a digital ARC through Net Galley. All thoughts are my own.)

The ARC cover included the sub-title: a true story about cool kids and crybabies, which perfectly sums up this graphic novel memoir. In a similar vein to Raina's Sisters and Smile, Shannon Hale brings the realities of her own childhood troubles with friends and self-acceptance to this popular format.

The reader sees young Shannon through her own eyes as she faces the realities of second through fifth grades: how to make friends, how to keep friends, and how to deal with the complications that arrive with friends. I love the intimacy that comes from knowing a book is a memoir and not "just a story," and I think that kids will appreciate this inside peak into a beloved author's life.

This is a book that will appeal to a wide-range of readers. Even though many think of the struggles of friendship and girl-drama as a primarily middle school issue, the inclusion of memories from early elementary school as well helps draw in younger readers too.

I can see this book as one that my third graders would have loved but that my seventh graders could even better appreciate. (Ending the book with fifth grade keeps it in solidly middle grade territory, though I am curious to see if there will be a sequel that might get into more YA-types of topics.)

Definitely one to add to your classroom or library!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Latin America books - 7th grader reviews, part 2: Central and South America

This second post shares poster book reviews written by my seventh graders featuring books set in Central and South America and the Caribbean (excluding Cuba). Part one focused on books set in Cuba, Mexico, and the United States. Please click on any of the images to view them at full resolution.

Dominican Republic

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph


Journey of Dreams by Marge Pellgrino


Enrique's Journey: the true story of a boy determined to reunite with his mother (Young Adult edition) by Sonia Nazario

Unspecified Central American country

Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez


The Queen of Water by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango


The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan with illustrations by Peter Sis

Do you have any other favorite books from Latin America that would work well for middle schoolers? Please share in the comments below! (Click here if you missed part 1books set in Cuba, Mexico, and the United States.)

Monday, April 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 04/24/17

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 2 Week's Posts

Young Adult

All the Bright Places (2015) by Jennifer Niven. After winning the Young Adult category of March Book Madness, there has been much talk around this book in my room. (The only one of my students who has read it declared it the best book ever.)

At the top of the school's bell tower, Finch and Violet unexpectedly meet each other in the middle of their separate suicide attempts. What follows is a story in their two voices about how they both ended up in the tower as well as how they are drawn together following this experience. My main concern is that in certain ways the book romanticizes suicide (despite the author's best efforts to show its negative impacts on those left behind, as well as providing resources in the Author's Note for those seeking help). I'm conflicted about this one.

Saints (2013) by Gene Luen Yang. Saints is technically the second book in this two-book graphic novel set that tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China from two different sides of the conflict. This was a fascinating look at how individual folks become embroiled in wider conflicts and how small decisions and moments can change a life.

After our recent book discussion on American Born Chinese, I was overwhelmed by student requests for this book as well, so it may be some time before I get my hands on Boxers!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#KidLitBlogHop for April

Hello, welcome back to another month of terrific children's literature. We welcome you to the April 2017 Kid Lit Blog Hop. This hop takes place every 3rd Wednesday of the month. It is designed to engage a group of people who love everything that has to do with children's literature. Everyone is welcome to join us: bloggers, authors, publicist, and publishers!

Have you seen the Kid Lit Blog Hopper Facebook fan page? This page has all the news and information related to the hop plus ongoing posts, giveaways, news articles, etc. related to Kid's Lit. Check it out, and of course, please like the page.

So for our hop, please make sure that your posts are related to Children’s literature only and add it to the linky. (Please make sure to add your direct post only) If you are an author, feel free just to link to your blog. Once you are done, then hop around to visit others. Please follow the co-host and visit at least the one or two people above your link. Please leave a comment when you do visit, we all like those.

Also, it would be appreciated if you grab the Kid Lit Blog Hop Badge and display it on your blog and/or your post. Note: Make sure you have the newest badge as the old one goes to the wrong page.
We would also be grateful if you tweet and/or posted on Facebook about the blog hop. Let’s grow this wonderful community.

Thanks for sharing your great children's books with all of us! The hostess will be around to see you.

Reading AuthorsHost

The Bookshelf Gargoyle


Pragmatic Mom

The Logonauts

Cheryl Carpinello

Happy Hopping!

Link Up:

Please click here to visit the link-up.

Latin America books - 7th grader reviews, part 1: Cuba, Mexico, and US

My seventh graders recently wrapped up their Latin America unit of study in Social Studies. As part of the unit, our librarian and I put together a book list and had every student choose a book to read and review.

(We did a "book speed dating" session where everyone had a few minutes to look over a stack of 4-5 books before passing them on to their classmates. It was fun to see how much excitement - and possessiveness - was generated when they were choosing.)

For their presentations to the class, I asked them each to create poster (based on an advertisement from the latest Horn Book). Each poster contains a brief spoil-free teaser for the book as well as a description of the ideal reader. This first half focuses on books set in Cuba, Mexico, and the United States. Part two will feature books set in Central and South America.

(Click on any image to see the full-resolution version.)


Enchanted Air: two cultures, two wings by Margarita Engle (memoir)

Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa

Cold War (From the US)

Countdown series by Deborah Wiles

United States

The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales


The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau

Red Glass by Laura Resau

What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau

What are your favorite Latin America books for middle school? (Stay tuned for part 2 featuring books set in Central and South America.)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

#DiverseKidLit 1 Year Anniversary!

Our theme for #DiverseKidLit in April is Favorites. Please consider sharing diverse books and resources that support love and families. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

Thank you SO much to everyone who participated in Monday's #diversekidlit  Twitter chat! We had a wonderful conversation with a great community. If you weren't able to join us, you can catch up on all the posts you missed here.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children's Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children's books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, May 6th and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current month is Favorites. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you're interested, you can start planning now ...
  • Next month's hops will take place on May 6th and 20th. Leave your ideas for a theme in the comments.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Yash's review of A Walk on the Tundra, a charming new picture book about the Inuit. The book is also a celebration of Inuit life and of the special relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. There's even a study guide for educators!

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Katie @ The Logonauts
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Carolina @ La Clase de Sra. DuFault
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Gayle Swift, Author of ABC, Adoption & Me
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Google+

Jane @ Rain City Librarian
Blog / Twitter / Instagram

Marjorie @ Mirrors Windows Doors
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Myra @ Gathering Books
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Shoumi Sen, Author of Toddler Diaries
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Guest Hosts for April

Becky @ Franticmommmy
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children's books, toys and games
Blog / Twitter / Facebook / PinterestInstagram

Want to be notified when the next #diversekidlit linkup goes live?

Receive an email reminder for each new #diversekidlit linkup

Interested in joining as a host or an occasional co-host? Contact katie at

(Never participated in a linkup before? Please click here for a more detailed step-by-step.)

Get #DiverseKidLit Recommendations on Pinterest!

Our Pinterest board highlights a wide range of amazing posts and resources for Diverse Children's Books. Please consider following the board for even more great books!

Share Your Link Below

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#DiverseKidLit Chat Transcript


Thank you SO much to everyone who joined in for Monday's first-ever #diversekidlit Twitter chat! We had more than 500 tweets from over 30 participants! If you missed the fun - or want to look back at all the amazing ideas and suggestions, check out the Storify version of the chat below.

[I tried to slim it down a bit by eliminating retweets, thank yous, and so forth to get to the meat of the conversation and book recommendations. Tweets have also been re-arranged to try and keep answers to each question together - though I'm sure some were overlooked, sorry!]

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#SOL Textbook AKR

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal: not exactly a memoir (2016) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

In one section of AKR's amazing book, Textbook, she shares a story about a purple flower and asks readers to send in their own story about the moment right then, reading her story. This is mine:

I am reading your book on the couch. Thinking about history and how young you were when you died. Thinking about how much you already know when you wrote these sections, even though the rest of us wouldn't know until much later. As I finish the purple flower section, I pause. Reach for another bookmark to check out this section later. Just then, my cat looks up from her perch, makes eye contact, and jumps over. She's still figuring out how laps work and rarely gets into one of her own accord. She settles herself between my legs and starts purring. Loudly.

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR 04/10/17

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 Week's Posts

    The first-ever #diversekidlit Twitter chat is tonight; hope you can join us!
     Click here for more chat details - including the questions.

    Poetry / Picture Book

    Friday I reviewed the fabulous Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (2017) by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth and illustrated by Ekua Holmes. If you are a teacher of poetry, you need this book! Read my full review here.


    Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal: not exactly a memoir (2016) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This is my new favorite book. After reading the library copy this week, I immediately bought one for myself. I was already having a hard time letting go of Amy, and this only made it worse. This is a fabulous, hard to explain book of lovely moments, serendipity, and interactive components! (I already met my matches and shared a "purple flower" story.)

    Also, 4/29 is Amy's birthday. Author Kirby Larson started a Facebook group called More for AKR that is collecting ideas and events planned to celebrate Amy's life and legacy. You can cclick here to join the group.

    Happy Reading!

    Friday, April 7, 2017

    Out of Wonder #PoetryFriday

    Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (2017) by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth and illustrated by Ekua Holmes. (An advanced review copy of the book was provided by Candlewick. All thoughts are my own.)

    I am SO excited to add this incredible new poetry book to my classroom library! The day it arrived I incorporated into my Poetry Friday lesson for that day. (We were just finishing reading House on Mango Street, so I shared "The Poet Inside Me: celebrating Sandra Cisneros.")


    The book is organized into three sections: Got Style, which includes poems written in the style of a famous poet; In Your Shoes, which includes poems celebrating the lives of famous poets; and Thank You, which includes poems dedicated to the works and impacts of famous poets. (This is the section with the Sandra Cisneros poem.)

    There is an amazing diversity of poets and poetry included too, from contemporary poets like Naomi Shihab Nye and Nikki Giovanni to older and even ancient poets like Robert Frost, Basho, and Rumi. These poems would make wonderful mentor texts to inspire your own (or your students' poetry) after an author study of a particular poet or poetry style. The three sections also give you three different options for response: stylistically, biographically, or thankfully.

    This is an amazing resource that should be in every school and public library!

    Irene Latham has the rest of the Poetry Friday roundup at Live Your Poem.

    Thursday, April 6, 2017

    Sophie's Top 10 Young Adult Books to Read!

    [One of my students shared this list of her favorite books from the past year as one of her Slice of Life posts. Since young adult romance is not a genre I am well versed in, I thought you might enjoy seeing her choices. I have read the first two (well, three).]

    Top 10 11 Young Adult Books to Read!

    What are some good books to read? Well, ask an expert (that's me! maybe?). Also these are probably going to be all romance books (sorry!).

    1. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.

    2. Any book by Nicola Yoon (Her writing is amazing.)

    3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

    4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

    5. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (WARNING: will tear your heart apart and remake it again)

    6. The Selection by Kiera Cass (Sorry, but I loved it)

    7. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (I love this author)

    8. Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves [Our class received an ARC of this book from the publisher.]

    9. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (WARNING: main character is an assassin, so, lots of death (sorry! for those who can't read to much violence))

    10. The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine

    [After other students started reading and commenting on her post, she went in and edited to add the following ... ]

    11. Heartless by Marissa Meyer (WARNING: prepare for heart explosions that won't be healed!)

    What are your favorite young adult romance / adventure books?