Posted on December 9, 2009 by thereadingzone
This year I have a lot of students who love to read short stories. This is new for me, as I haven’t had a lot of students who connected with this type of writing before. But they are clamoring for more short story collections and here are some of their favorites:
I love Gary Soto and I am thrilled that he is popular with my students this year. His most popular book right now is Facts of Life: Stories, a collection of short stories about a group of middle school students.
If you are looking for funny, then look no further than Jon Scieszka’s Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka. This collection of memoir small moments will leave you in stitches. Scieszka grew up as the second of six sons and each short story tells the tale of some crazy escapade the boys got into growing up!
My animal lovers have been passing around Every Living Thing by Cynthia Rylant. Each of the twelve stories focuses on the interaction between a person and an animal. They are gorgeous and I love to use them as mentor texts, too!
Maybe you have a real man’s man in your house. Well, hand them a copy of Guys Write for Guys Read: Boys’ Favorite Authors Write About Being Boys. More than 80 authors and illustrated contributed anecdotes about their boyhood and my boys can’t get enough of this book!
Finally, all of my students love 13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen. Middle grade and YA authors contributed to this collection of stories about 13 year old characters. These realistic fiction stories always ring true for my students.
I am always on the lookout for more great short story collections, so please leave any other suggestions in the comments!
Filed under: Tween Gift Ideas | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 8, 2009 by thereadingzone
Eleven-year old Daniel, or D-man, doesn’t have the best dad. In fact, his dad is pretty mean. But that’s ok, because Daniel has his Uncle Clay. Clay is only twelve years older than Daniel and they do everything together. They fish, play cards, and hang out together all the time. When his dad is angry and being mean, he can go to Clay’s house just down the road.
Clay can’t wait to take Daniel hunting for the first time in their Georgia woods. But when Daniel tragically shoots his uncle after missing his first rabbit, his life is forever changed. The fatal accident rocks his family and their small town, but Daniel is forever changed. How can he possibly go on living when Clay will never laugh again, never hunt again, never make Daniel feel good again?
This is a heartbreaking book that I could not put down. Daniel’s pain is palpable but realistic. Obviously having never been in his situation, I still felt like I was right there with him. How does an 11-year old deal with the overbearing guilt of fatally shooting his uncle? I found myself unable to stop reading because I needed to know that he would be ok, that he would be able to go on with his life. There were times when I wasn’t sure he would do it. The pain he experiences is too much for an adult, let alone a child.
I booktalked this one in my classes today and immediately had five or six students begging for it. I also think this would make a great read aloud. The themes of love and loss, sadness and hope, plus the ideas about gun ownership and children vs. adults would make for some great classroom discussions.
*Review copy courtesy of the publisher. This is a Cybils nominee and all opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the panel as a whole.
Filed under: cybils, reviews | Tagged: cybils award nominees, donny seagraves, gone from these woods | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 6, 2009 by thereadingzone
The Edublog Awards are one of my favorite blogging awards. Through the nominations I always discover new and interesting blogs. This year, I decided to take the plunge and nominate a few blogs.
My nominations for the 2009 Edublog Awards are as follows:
Best individual blog- Jen Robinson’s Book Page: Jen’s blog is amazing. She posts thoughtful, insightful reviews of many middle grade and YA books. And it that wasn’t enough, she also does the Kidlitosphere Round-up, Children’s Literacy and Reading News, and is the literacy evangelist for the Cybils. Her hard work exposes books to parents, teachers, librarians, and many others!
Best resource sharing blog- Two Writing Teachers: Stacey and Ruth are my own personal writing gurus. The minilessons they share are always inspiring and never fail to make me sit down and plan out my own version. They work hard to share new mentor texts and professional books with teachers while also writing their own book. Finally, they encourage their readers to write alongside their students and they provide memes as opportunities to do this. I love participating in their Slice of Life Tuesdays and Memoir Mondays!
Best teacher blog- The Book Whisperer: Donalyn Miller is the book whisperer; a teacher who can find the right book for any student in her classroom. Her blog is a veritable treasure trove of book recommendations, classroom experiences, and her own reading life. It should be required reading for any language arts or English teacher.
Best librarian / library blog- Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog: Every year I run a mock Newbery with my 6th grade students. That means I read, read, read. I love to talk about my reading with other adults who enjoy children’s literature and that is why Heavy Medal is one of my favorite blogs. Jonathan Hunt and Nina Lindsay do a phenomenal job posting thought-provoking questions about eligible titles and the conversations in the comments are almost scholarly. I always leave the blog feeling like I have learned so much about children’s literature.
Filed under: community, kidlitosphere | Tagged: edublog awards | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 5, 2009 by thereadingzone
The Kind of Friends We Used to Be is one of those quiet, unassuming books that is constantly circulating in my classroom library. It is the sequel to The Secret Language of Girls, but it’s one of those sequels you can pick up and fall right into the story even without readind the first book.
Kate and Marylin were best friends, until they grew apart and had a falling out in 6th grade. Now in 7th grade, Marylin’s a middle school cheerleader on the bring of popularity and Kate is the artist, writing songs, playing guitar, and wearing combat boots around school. The two former best friends aren’t quite sure what they are now; they aren’t all-the-time best friends but they also don’t want to completely abandon each other.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a quiet book, the best kind of realistic fiction in the eyes of many of my girls. There is no huge fight, no major drama, no over-the-topness in this book. Instead, Marylin and Kate are slowly figuring out their place in middle school while also determining who they want to be as they grow up. I identified with both characters because they just seemed so real. Marylin isn’t some caricature of middle school popularity- she is a girl who wants to be popular but also realizes the pitfalls of that popularity. Kate isn’t some crazy rebel- she is a quiet girl unsure of her writing talent and aware that popularity isn’t for her.
Both girls also have family issues and they are beginning to grapple with boys. They find themselves at times drawn to the familiarity of their friendship with each other while at other times sure they are not longer meant to be friends. I really enjoyed this book and as I read at (during reading workshop), many of my girls commented about their love for it, too. It definitely resonates with my 6th graders!
*My own purchased copy. This is a Cybils nominee but all opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the panel.
Filed under: cybils, reviews | Tagged: cybils award nominees, middle school girl friendship stories, the kind of friends we used to be | 1 Comment »