A Blog of Children's Literature

Suggested Summer Reading Ideas for Franklin Fine Arts Center May 28, 2012

Filed under: summer reading — akibird @ 7:48 pm
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Included below are book suggestions and ways to encourage your children to read more.  Please note this list is only a suggested list and a starting point for finding books that children love.  Many of these books can be found at the Chicago Public Library and have been voted as favorites in the Bluestem, Monarch, Caudill, and Abraham Lincoln Awards.  Find other awards and winning books on the Association for Library Service to Children website by clicking on the different awards.  Also, consider participating in the Chicago Public Library’s Summer Reading Program: You Are What You Read and find these healthy book choices at your local CPL branch.

Ways to engage kids in reading more:

  • Let kids choose subjects they love.  They’re more likely to finish books they pick out themselves.
  • Set the example. Model good reading behaviors.  Find time for your child to read at least 20 minutes every day.  This encourages a lifelong love of reading and learning.
  • Lead them to reading.  Talk about books.  Continue to read aloud to children, regardless of their age.

K-1st grade

ABC, I Like Me by Nancy Carlson
Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo
Cha Cha Chimps by Julia Durango
Dogku by Andrew Clements
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming
Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian
Never Smile at a Monkey: and 17 Other Important Things to Remember by Steve Jenkins
Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Otis by Loren Long
Panda Kindergarten by Joanne Ryder
Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton

2nd-3rd grade

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Baby Mouse by Jennifer Holm (series)
Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce (series)
The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows (series)
Just Grace by Charise Mercile Harper (series)
Knights of the Lunch Table by Frank Cammuso (series)
Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka (series)
Marty McGuire by Kate Messner
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
Nic Bishop Frogs by Nic Bishop
Testing the Ice: A True Story about Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson
The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney

4th-5th grade

Alvin Ho by Lenore Look (series)
Around the World: Three Remarkable Journeys by Matt Phelan
Bad News for Outlaws by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugen Yelchin
Countdown by Deborah Wiles
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Dodger and Me by Jordan Sonnenblick
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynee Jonell
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
Houdini Box by Brian Selznick
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio
Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka
No Talking by Andrew Clements
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki
Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis

6th-8th  grade

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
Elephant Talk: The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication by Ann Downer
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Peak by Roland Smith
Powerless by Matthew Cody
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Sir Charlie Chaplin: Funniest Man in the World by Sid Fleischman
The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle


A Blogger’s Blogs September 20, 2011

As I continue to work toward my career as a school librarian, I value the thoughts, opinions, and reviews of those who have come before me. Narrowing my picks to only a few professional librarian or journal blogs has been difficult, but I thought I would share some of my favorites with you. While my blog has a limited scope of one person’s responses to a limited list of children’s and YA books, these blogs often share so much more from the children’s library and publishing worlds. Click away, peruse their professional suggestions, and enjoy the new goodies!

A Fuse #8 Production
A Fuse #8 Production
is an SLJ children’s literature blog written by Elizabeth Bird, who works for the NYPL system, served on the Newberry Award Committee, and has written for Horn Book. Her blog shares her reviews of new books, predictions of future award winners, literary events, and fun video finds. Her in-the-know writing style shares a lot of great information in quick posts and helps me stay on top of the children’s literature buzz.

Out of the Box
Horn Book has some amazing writers. It was hard to choose from Roger Sutton’s Read Roger, HB’s newest blog Calling Caldecott, or Out of the Box. However, I am drawn to almost every post in Out of the Box by the staff sharing “an exclusive look at what comes into the Horn Book offices.” The blog covers new reads, interesting finds (such as the cool app Shake & Make), and comical musings. After reading Sutton’s A Family of Readers, I grew to understand Horn Book’s impressive collective knowledge and experience, and I cherish this peek behind the HB office doors.

The Hub: Your Connection to Teen Reads
Finally, I have really enjoyed reading YALSA’s The Hub: Your Connection to Teen Reads. I have a special place in my heart for YA lit and am always reminded of the small readers services I performed as an English teacher. As ALA’s official Young Adult Library Services Association, the blog provides pertinent information and books shared by its staff. I found many exciting and interesting books reading the blog’s themed book list posts and know I will use their suggestions in future co-teaching instances.


Hikaru No Go, Vol. 03 April 18, 2011

Hikaru No Go, Vol. 03Hikaru No Go, Vol. 03 by Yumi Hotta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hikaru No Go, Volume 3 by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata (1998)

Graphic Book (Manga), 204 pages

In this third volume of the popular Hikaru No Go series, Hikaru Shindo is now in seventh grade and can officially join the Haze Middle School Go team and play the game, a complex Japanese board game using strategy to move glass chips to defeat opponents. Hikaru played in a tournament the year before for Haze Middle School and beat the champion Kaio Middle School team but got disqualified when it was learned that he was only in sixth grade. With the spirit of the Go master Fujiwara-no-Sai, still present within his consciousness from his encounter with his grandfather’s old Go board that the ghost haunted, Hikaru tries to find one more student to join Haze’s Go team so they can compete in the upcoming tournament. What he finds is cheating Yuki Mitani, a clever classmate who plays the game in Go salons and gambles to earn extra money. Yuki is Haze’s only chance to play in the tournament, so Hikaru and Sai do their best to convince Yuki to join the team and play ethically. Meanwhile, Akira Toya, son of the Go professional Toya Meijin, has joined the Kaio Middle School team to take on Hikaru, after he refused to play Akira previously. Akira’s teammates cannot understand why he has joined the team when he was meant to train with the Insei to go pro. Akira struggles with his teammates and his place on the team, but ultimately makes it to the tournament to challenge Hikaru. Hotta’s narrative is fairly easy to follow and with the competitive nature of Go and the teams, readers ages 9 and up with enjoy getting pulled into the fast pace of the storyline, personified by Obata’s captivating and slick illustrations. Manga lovers will appreciate this series’ dedication to traditional manga format reading (right to left) and will look forward to the next volume.


The Arrival

The ArrivalThe Arrival by Shaun Tan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2007)

Graphic Book, 128 pages

In a book that looks like an old-fashioned photo album, the story of one man’s journey to emigrate to another country is documented wordlessly through illustrations that seem like photographs. In the beginning the man leaves behind his family in order to find his place in a new world and ultimately make enough money to send for them. On his arrival, he is met by bizarre creatures, customs, and text which he cannot decipher, echoing the experiences of new emigrants around the world. Without any text, the experience could represent numerous immigrant experiences; however, with the diverse faces on every page and elements of fantasy, Tan seems to be making a universal statement on the hardship and obstacles immigrants around the world face as they settle into a new home. The man’s story is captured in Tan’s exemplary pencil sketches that look like grainy photos. Slight variations in gray or sepia allow the reader to understand time and place for the protagonist, as he makes friends, hears their histories, and tries to make a living. Tan’s own imagination comes to life in the unique companion creatures that each resident attains, the grand architecture of the new country, and the impending doom from the oversized shadows and people who take over former homes. With multiple layers, younger readers will appreciate the basic story of one man’s strength to overcome hardship, while older readers will find elements of immigration, politics, war, and acculturation. As a great piece for visual learners, I would recommend The Arrival to ages 10 and up with more of an emphasis on the middle school years. Teachers may also find this book useful in portraying general settler experiences during an immigration unit of study.


The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat CrookThe Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis (2009)

Graphic Book, 154 pages

Julian Calendar is an 11-year-old junior high student who has trouble fitting in. He looks 8 years old, wears a hand-me-down pink flowered backpack from his mother, and most importantly, is a genius inventor. When his parents tell him that they are going to move to a new town, Julian jumps at a second chance to spark his social life and fit in. At his new school, Julian attempts to be “ordinary” by hating homework and loving sports. However, when he receives a coded note, Julian cannot resist figuring it out. It leads him to two clever classmates who have been watching him and have figured out he is also a secret scientist like them. Together they combine forces to become the Secret Science Alliance and work in their hideout building amazing contraptions. However, everything starts to go wrong when their invention notebook with all their secret ideas is stolen. Together they must overcome adult obstacles, get back their notebook, and solve an even bigger dilemma. Davis’ graphic novel builds on the typical comic book format yet uses her eye for detail and excitement for science to create her own unique style. With characters, color, and quick-paced dialogue that readers 9 and up can enjoy, readers will finish The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook wanting to study and become the next secret scientist.


Sweetgrass Basket

Sweetgrass BasketSweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell (2005)

Novel in Verse, 243 pages

In heart-wrenching dual free-verse narratives, Carvell crafts the voices of two Mohawk sisters, Mattie and Sarah, who are sent to an off-reservation school after their mother dies. Doing what he thinks is best, their father sends his children away to go to school, where they have lessons, march, and do domestic work. In their alternating voices similar to diary entries, the girls share their stories of leaving home on a long train ride and receiving a slap in the face by the head mistress, Mrs. Dwyer, because they are too afraid to let go of one another on their first day at the school. While the girls soon find a few friends and kindness in some of the school’s employees, both just want to return to the land and culture they call home. While Sarah cries all the time from homesickness, Mattie begins to be more headstrong and refuses to cower like the other girls under Mrs. Dwyer’s strict hand. When Mattie is wrongfully accused of stealing Mrs. Dwyer’s silver brooch, she refuses to admit she is guilty and attempts to escape the school. Carvell’s poetry embodies the broken souls of both sisters and does not skip a beat when the narration switches voices. Painting a painful but often true story of misunderstood culture and emotional child abuse, Sweetgrass Basket portrays the experiences of many Native American children who went to the boarding schools so far away from their homes, their families, and themselves. I would highly recommend this book to ages 11 and up.


All the Broken Pieces

All the Broken PiecesAll the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg (2009)

Novel in Verse, 218 pages

In brilliant verse, Ann Burg shares the experiences of Matt Pin, a Vietnamese refugee who was adopted by an American family. Airlifted out of war-stricken Vietnam when he was 10, he still remembers it all, and the memories haunt him: the mother who made him leave her to come to America, his younger brother’s limbs lost to war, the American father who never returned for him or his mother. Now in seventh grade, Matt has a loving new little brother and has become the star pitcher for his baseball team; however, some teammates refuse to accept him, taking out their pain from the war on Matt (“My brother died / because of you”). Matt’s adoptive parents decide to take him to a Vietnam vet support group to hear their stories and find a way to help him let go of some of the broken pieces that cut into his soul like shards of glass. Matt’s poetic narration shows the reflection of a child who is learning to grow up with post-traumatic stress and who does not yet understand the causes of war or its destruction. Heartbreakingly, Matt must learn to stop blaming himself for his brother’s injuries, the Vietnam vets’ pain, and the numerous shattered lives in order to shed his fear and embrace his life, both past and present. While Burg touches on many heavy issues within the book (the nightmares of PTSD, the destruction of war, the guilty feeling of loving a new family, the sting of racism, and the need to belong as a child), her simple prose poetry allows YA readers to relate and understand a life that might be very different from their own. Burg’s beautiful metaphor of the game of baseball and life winds itself through the story as Matt and his teammates accept each other and help one another grieve. While an amazing stand alone read, All the Broken Pieces would be an excellent supplement to a unit on war and its effects on soldiers and civilians.