Thanks to Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts for hosting the meme “It’s Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA”. Check out Jen and Kellee’s site to see what others are reading through their posted links. You can also find posts from folks using the hashtag #IMWAYR on Twitter.
After a couple of busy weeks away from the meme, I’m back with lots of books to share, so I’m using an expeditious format this time in the hope of communicating all that quickly to you! My goal last week was to do some reading to catch up on some of the Nerdy Book Club 2012 Award nominees that I missed. These 2012 books were all nominated by fellow book lovers, be they teachers/educators, librarians, or parents, who are passionate about finding books that click with kids, so I knew there would be a lot of great books in my stack. I think voting begins in another week or so, so I’ve made good headway on the lists. Below the images of my Goodreads shelf, I’ve highlighted my favorites in a few categories.
Highlights from my Nerdy Book Club Award nominees
Picture books – fiction
Chopsticks — Super fun to read aloud. My third grader thought the puns were hysterical. Nice messages too about what good friends can accomplish together and when they venture out on their own.
Each Kindness — I know the reviews are mixed on this one, but I think it is a great one to share with kids who aren’t quite ready for RJ Palaccio’s Wonder, or to share in conjunction with it. I got emotional reading this one as we see an economically disadvantaged girl ostracized by her classmates at her new school. It can lead to good conversations about the right way to treat others but also what to do when we regret our actions. I think it would be excellent to share in elementary classrooms.
Penny and Her Doll — I liked this Penny story for some reason much more than Henkes’ Penny and Her Song. Super sweet, very early chapter book about Penny, who is struggling to pick out a special name for her new doll.
Middle grade novels
Summer of the Gypsy Moths — I liked this but wasn’t wowed by it. This was probably a 3.5 for me. I enjoyed the story and relationship between the two girls but was really thrown off by the circumstances that led to their situation. I think it was a bit too hard for me to suspend disbelief. Pennypacker’s writing style was nice and I did enjoy the gypsy moths as metaphor, but I’ll give a slight nod to One For The Murphys for a book with a related foster care theme.
Picture books – biography
Annie and Helen — I love how the author incorporated Annie Sullivan’s letters about her progress with Helen Keller in the story. While their story is widely known, there were a few new things that I learned. Be sure to read the author’s note at the front. I would recommend for grades 1-4.
Electric Ben — I thought this was a great, densely packed, but not overwhelming picture book biography about Benjamin Franklin. I don’t see this as a read aloud option because of its length, but it could be broken into smaller themed sections that could be shared piecemeal. As a result, I’d recommend this for independent readers in upper grade school and middle school. The book design was terrific and I liked how each section focused more deeply on an aspect of his life, like his scientific life, or his role in the development of the constitution. The layout had an almost newspaper-feel to it with longer sections of text and then smaller illustrations with details about that image. Lots of great illustrations help bring the time to life for the reader and there are also lots of examples of Franklin’s wit and humor for readers to enjoy . “Frankly”, I learned a lot about the man, too!
Picture books – general non-fiction
Unspoken — Kids will need some context about the battle over slavery, but they will be awed by this story. I can imagine whole classrooms of kids just breathless as it is read. I adore Henry Cole’s illustrations which are filled with intricate details, but also emotion and tension in this wordless book. It will surely generate great discussions about doing what is right and gratitude.
The Beetle Book — This book is packed with super cool information on dozens of beetles with terrific illustrations. I loved how Jenkins included silhouettes of the beetles to show their real-life size in addition to the full-color illustrations. I guarantee kids will spend lots of time pouring over each page on this one. Would be great for grades 2 and up.
And in my other reading . . .
The White Stag — Newbery Medal 1938. Let’s put it this way. You don’t need to suspend you reading of Nerdy Book Club Award nominees to read this. Blech.
The upcoming reading adventures
I will finish this Nerdy Book Club Award nominee for non-fiction.
Super interesting so far and I think kids will find it very readable.
The 1939 Newbery Medal Winner.