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!
Chalk and Ink
Chalk and Ink is a biweekly podcast that publishes on Fridays throughout the school year. Learn how teachers who write and writers who teach combine craft moves to create outstanding products for their students and readers. Download Chalk and Ink wherever you get your favorite podcasts.