Parents have been asking me for reading recommendations over the summer. As of today, my summer has officially begun. So, I’m sharing my top ten below, in alphabetical order, along with the reason I’ll be reading the novel.
1. Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Okay, I’m going to nerd out about this book from an author’s point of view. I listened to an awesome Publisher's Weekly podcast about this book and what Mass and Stead did is amazing. One author would write one chapter and then send it to the other author who would then write the next chapter. Since one author is a planner and one is not, it was a growth experience for both of them. I love Wendy Mass novels. One of her most famous is The Candymakers. In addition, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is my favorite novel of all time. It’s absolutely brilliant. How could I not read a novel created by both of these amazing authors?
2. Breakout by Kate Messner
Truth be told I love Kate Messner. She’s a former teacher, a TED talk presenter, and an incredibly generous person in the kidlit community. This novel is told from three different viewpoints through various text forms such as newspaper clippings, school morning announcements, poems and text messages. I think it will be in the running for the Newbery. If your child likes reading novels in various text forms, Avi’s Nothing But the Truth is told this way as well.
3. The Doughnut Fix by Jessie Janowitz
This novel has been described as “Superfudge meets The Lemonade War.” Need I say more?
4. Drawn Together by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat
This is a picture book, not a novel, but I can’t wait to read it. In the story a boy and his grandfather use art to overcome their inability to speak the same oral language. The art samples I’ve seen are stunning. Also, having lived in Chile and in Japan, I know firsthand how difficult a language barrier can be, and how wonderful it feels to find common ground. Finally as my students know, I love Dan Santat. His book After the Fall was one of my 2018 Caldecott picks.
5. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
While this is far from a light read, it’s an important read. When we studied our civil rights unit this year, many students didn’t think the issues we discussed applied to today’s world. Rhodes shows the reader that this viewpoint is far from many people’s truth. I also think this novel will be in the running for the Newbery.
For more about Ghost Boys click on this link to hear what Colby Sharp has to say or listen to Matthew Winner interview Jewell Parker Rhodes on The Children's Book Podcast.
6. The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff
You know what I’m going to say by now… I love novels by Lisa Graff! A Tangle of Knots is one of my favorite novels and another that I wish I would have written! Besides, who can resist a novel set in a treehouse?
7. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
This book is the 2018 Newbery Medalist. It’s a must read.
8. Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
I’m embarrassed to say I still haven’t read this novel yet. It’s about how three boys plot a send-off for their sixth grade teacher before she starts her cancer treatment. The end of the school year leaves me feeling melancholy, and I’ve been hearing many of my students say similar statements such as, "I'm really going to miss you," and "I don't want the school year to end." This novel might be just the right feel for the end-of-the-school year blues.
9. Out of the Wild Night by Blue Balliet
Again I have to come clean here. I love Blue Balliet novels, and I plan on using this text as a comparison novel as I embark on the fourth draft of the current novel I’m writing. This novel has been described as a love letter to Nantucket. So, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up if your family vacations there over the summer.
10. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but I love Varian Johnson novels. They’re humorous and full of diverse characters. This novel has been compared to a novel many parents probably read when they were a child, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.
If I haven’t hit on novels you think your child might be interested in or if you’re looking for nonfiction recommendations, please check out the links below.
Happy summer reading!
I'm so excited to share my trailer with you. If you're looking to teach your students about the combinations of ten or if you're looking for some fun insect facts or if you're looking to find out what flowers to plant to attract polllinators to your garden or if you enjoy seek-and-find books, 100 Bugs! is the perfect book for you. Be sure to put it on your list for books to read on the 100th day of school as well. I'm including the script for the trailer below. If you and your class make a trailer of the book, send it my way, and I'll be sure to post it on my blog. Those of you who have been following 100 Book Trailers from the beginning, may note similarities between my trailer and the first trailer I featured-Can an Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart (link below). That's because Melissa's trailer inspired this one. Thanks, Melissa! For more activities centered around 100 Bugs!, click here. If you want to preorder 100 Bugs! and enter to win a free, personalized, autographed book from April Jones Prince or Melissa Stewart or Sarah Brannen or Joannie Duris or Heather Lang, then click here.
Activity Name: 100 Bugs Book Trailer
Activity Description: Looking to reinforce the combinations of ten with your students? Create your own 100 Bugs! book trailer. My class made their own artwork in the above trailer, but you can speed the process up by downloading Suzanne Kaufman's stunning artwork which is included in the file below. Enjoy!
It's true. We all think our dogs are the best... and we're all correct! But I think what's best about this book is the fact that it's perfect for emerging readers. The three-word sentences are repetitive and simple. So, readers will feel successful when they pick up this book. I also love this activity because not everyone has a dog, yet this activity gives everyone a dog they can take home and "walk" whenever they want to. Thanks Curious City!
Activity Name: Walk the Dog
1) Color both dogs on page seven of the activity guide.
2) Fold on the solid line.
3) Cut on the dashed line.
4) Carefully poke 18+ inch wire through hole of dog's collar to craft a leash.
5) Tape 1 inch of the wire inside the dog to prevent slipping.
6) Curl the other end of the wire to make a leash handle and prevent wire poking.
7) Share your dog on Instagram @LaurieAnnThompson #mydogisthebest.
Author Website: lauriethompson.com/
Illustrator Website: www.paulschmidstudio.com/87zu25iim2zgw9tgqsxkg2wda89m8f
You can't beat a birthday party and dinsoaurs in one book! To top it off Matt Forrest Esenwine and his team have developed some fun activities that will not only entertain your students, they'll delight your party guests as well. They thoughtfully included activities in black and white as well as color, so that each indicidual could choose the file(s) that matched his or her resources.
Activity Name: Dinosaur Match Up
Activity Description: This is one of the best matching worksheets I've ever seen because not only does it include facts about the dinos, the facts are written in the same humorous tone of the book. Have fun!
Author Website: https://mattforrest.wordpress.com/
Author Website: www.deborahbruss.com
Illustrator Website: www.louiechin.com/
If you like the humorous tone of this book, besides checking out the creators' websites, you should also look at this trailer. Ame Dyckman's You Don't Want a Unicorn! pairs well with Don't Ask a Dinosaur.
When I listened to Colby Sharp interview Grace Ling on The Yarn, I knew I had to feature When the Sea Turned to Silver. The podcast talks about the power of friendship, love, and writing one's own endings. One of the reasons why I enjoy working with kids so much, is that they have the ability to write their own everything. Well, okay, maybe not the very beginning of their life story, but everything after that is still a blank page. There is a particular magic and wonder in working with people who have their whole lives ahead of them. As teachers, we have the ability to help them write a positive chapter in their lives. Reader's Theater can be a fun part of that chapter. It's a delight to see Grace Lin participating in Reader's Theater with this group of students. Many thanks to The Curious City for this activity. Enjoy!
Activity Name: "The Story of the Red Stone" Reader's Theater
Activity Description: Bring When the Sea Turned to Silver to life with Reader's Theater. The script has many parts, and it's color coordinated which makes it easier for kids to follow along.
Okay, this trailer makes me super happy. It reminds me that soon the grass will be green, and that I'll be driving past baby cows on my way to work. The thirty degree weather will not continue forever. It also reminds me of something even more important-there is always enough love to go around. I love looking at The Curious City activity guides. They're always full of creative ideas. Enjoy!
Activity Name: Making Lists with Raisin
Activity Description: "As you can see on the cover and throughout the pages, Raisin is a list maker. In the book she has a list of “my favorite things,” “yuck!” and “places to run away to.” Whether your readers are
writing on their own or not, they can create their own lists. How?"
___ Print the Yuck! / Favorites lists on page 9. Print enough so that each reader can have one of
each. Cut the printed sheet in half vertically.
___ Set aside pencils or crayons for list writing.
After finishing a round of standardized testing, I'm in the mood for some fun! This graphic novel will entertain and the accompanying activity will immerse kids in their own creative world.
Activity Name: Q & Ray Panel Fun Sheet
Activity Description: This is an easy way to begin your own graphic novel. Download the sheet and get started!
Any book by Melissa Sweet is breathtakingly gorgeous. It's always a gift to open her work. This past fall, I used this biography to teach my students about hooks. The book does a fantastic job detailing the various revisions E.B. White wrote in order to craft his stunning first line of Charlotte's Web, "Where's Papa going with that axe?" We talk about how starting with dialogue, thought, action or sound grabs people's attention, and discuss that this line is much more interesting than the other first lines White experimented with in previous drafts. The activity below presented by The Curious City would be a fun follow up to the hook discussion. I'd have students add their own favorite quotes from White's work as well.
Activity Name: Some Writer: Quotes to Collage
Activity Description: Make a collage using E.B. White's quotes. The file below includes quotes, but students can find their own quotes as well in White's classic books, or find more quotes in Some Writer.
If you want to tie the quotes into the hook discussion, you could have students sort the quotes into four categories: dialogue, thought, sound and action.
Engaging early chapter books are hard to find. If you have emerging independent readers, you'll definitely want to check out this series. Love the idea of Kindness Cards. I do something similar each year in my classroom at the end of the year, but I like the simplicity of the template below. One thing I've learned when doing this type of activity is to make sure that everyone is assigned a specific person to give the card to and include due dates. Otherwise, people's feelings are hurt.
Activity Name: Kindness Cards
Activity Description: This could be a fun Friday activity. Give each student five kindness card templates and assign them five different names of students in your class. Then, let students spend time decorating the front of each card. I'd tell students that they have one week to include one specific, kind comment about each person on the left hand side of the template and to finish decoerating the front of each card. After one week, I'd collect all the cards to make sure the comments were kind. Then, the following week each student would pass out a card each day of the week. By the end of the week, each student would have five cards with five specific kind comments about himself or herself.
Lots of great scientific information in this informational book, and the teaching guide has a ton of activities and information that tie into Common Core. It was hard to pick from materials that cover parts of speech, the five senses, and various scientific topics. But in the end, I went with the dichotomous key because that's something we do every year in fourth grade and I'm always looking for ways to spice up those lessons.
Activity Name: Dichotomous (Yes/No) Key
Activity Description: "A dichotomous key helps to sort (classify) animals. These keys work by asking yes or
no questions. Each answer leads to another yes or no question, until the animal class is
identified. There are five classes of animals with backbones (vertebrates): fish, reptiles,
amphibians, birds, and mammals. Use the information found in the book to match the animal
to its classification."
Objective: Classify organisms according to one selected feature, such as body covering, and identify
other similarities shared by organisms within each group formed.
Describe several external features and behaviors of animals that can be used to classify them (e.g.,
size, color, shape of body parts).
Identify observable similarities and differences (e.g., number of legs, body coverings, size) between/
among different groups of animals.
Whether it be for one specific student, a small group of kids, or a whole class, finding a "just right" book makes the teacher's and the students' day.