Posted on December 12, 2008 by thereadingzone
Only recently did I get into graphic novels. However, they work wonders for reluctant and struggling middle grade readers! Even better, they force readers to use different aspects of their brain because the have to interpret the pictures and the text in a way that is very different from novels. Plus, graphic novels have plots that are intricate fun!
- Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale- This is not your mother’s Rapunzel! Set on the Western Frontier, this Rapunzel is spunky and smart, far from the typical damsel in distress. Shannon Hale is a Newbery-winning author and this graphic novel is fun for boys and girls!
- Laika by Nick Abadzis- This story broke my heart. It is a fictionalized account of the story of the dog Laika, the first living creature launched into outer space, aboard the USSR’s Sputnik 2 in 1957. Gorgeous and heart-breaking!
- Into The Volcano by Don A. Wood- I just picked this one up at the last Scholastic Warehouse Sale. It’s quietly gaining steam in my classroom. Two brothers are told they have to travel to a volcanic island to help an aunt they have never met. When they arrive on the island, they are sent on an adventure that take them on a wild boat ride straight into an erupting volcano! Great for your adventure-lovers!
- Bone Volume 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith- This was the first graphic novel I bought for my classroom library, when I knew absolutely nothing about graphic novels. It’s always a popular choice in my class and the entire series is great (and always available from Scholastic- a huge bonus). The story follows three cousins who have been thrown out of their town for cheating the citizens. Shortly thereafter, they are separated. Each Bone stumbles into a mysterious valley full of odd creatures that reveal strange happenings.
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Posted on December 10, 2008 by thereadingzone
The following are the most popular science-fiction and fantasy novels in my classroom this year.
- Harry Potter- I have more than a few Potter-fanatics this year! What I love about the Harry Potter series is that the books lend themselves so easily to discussion. My fanatics are always coming up with theories and sharing them with each other, answering each other’s questions, and arguing about which book is the best in the series. I love it!
- The Hunger Games by Suzane Collins- I wasn’t too sure how this would be received by my class this year once I added it to the library. Don’t get me wrong- I loved it! But the length of this novel really made me think my more reluctant readers would steer clear. Boy was I wrong! This is being passed around like hotcakes and I don’t think it has been back on the library shelf for more than a day at a time since September. Action-packed, this story is reminiscent of Survivor and American Idol, with a touch of love and friendship thrown in for good measure.
- Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix- Haddix is like some type of elixir for reluctant readers. Even kids who hate reading can’t put her books down. This year, Turnabout has been extremely popular with my 6th graders. Dealing with the idea of living forever, Haddix keeps kids turning the pages, whether they are advanced readers or the most reluctant of readers. At age 100, Melly and a few other nursing home residents are injected with an experimental drug. The drug was supposed to make them age backwards until they reached a self-determined ideal age, at which point they would get another shot to stop the process. The second shot, however, proved fatal, and the participants of the project were doomed to continue unaging until they reached infancy and eventually zero. Now teenagers, Melly and her friend Anny Beth need to find parents who can care for them in their approaching infancy. But then a snooping journalist begins prying into their lives and they are forced to go underground.
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman- My kids love reading books right before a new movie opens. Lately, Coraline has been a popular choice for my horror and fantasy fans because the movie trailers and advertisements have started making their way into the mainstream media. Coraline and her family move to a new home where she discovers that there are 14 doors- 13 of which are unlocked. Late one night, the 14th door is unlocked and she steps through. On the other side is a world virtually identical to her own. At first, this appears to be perfect. There is even another mother and another father, who want Coraline to be their little girl. Then she learns that they want to change her and keep her there forever. And there are other lost children in this world, whose souls are trapped in a mirror. This is one creepy book and my 6th graders love it!
- Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst- These hysterical romps through the lives of fairy tale characters living in the modern world will leave your tween in stitches. You see, Julie is a regular girl. Except for one thing. Her mom is sort of embarrassing. You would be embarrassed too, if your mom was Rapunzel! And if it was your job to keep “the wild” under your bed and under control. Because if it escapes, it will take over your town, your state, and maybe even the world. And anyone caught in it’s bath will become a part of the fairy tale world, doomed to live the same story over and over again….FOREVER!
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Posted on December 9, 2008 by thereadingzone
Mystery books are always hot in my classroom. The danger, intrigue, and suspense are enticing to tweens and there is an abundance of titles out there that keep tweens turning the pages.
- The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) by Rick Riordan and the second book, 39 Clues: One False Note by Gordan Korman are the most popular books in my classroom right now. Eventually a 10 book series, The 39 Clues, is the story of two orphans who are swept into a worldwide hunt for the story of their family. When their Aunt Grace dies, they discover that her will is not the typical will. Instead, she gives her descendants a choice- take 1 million dollars right now or take a clue. Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world’s most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 clues hidden around the world can reveal the family’s secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Whoever does find the 39 clues will win much more than 1 million dollars.
- The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney- I still remember reading this when I was in middle school. Man, did I love it. A decade later, I wasn’t sure if my students would connect with it. It turns out I didn’t need to worry at all- this is another series that never stays on my library shelves. For those who haven’t read the book, it’s absolutely fascinating. When Janie finds her own picture on the back of milk carton, labeled as a missing child, her entire world is turned upside down. Who are her parents? Are they really her parents? Is her whole life a lie? This is a page-turner that tweens don’t want to put down, and I haven’t had a single reader give up on the series after one book- they all read the entire series!
- The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright- This is a mystery that I see many of my students reading and rereading. Many of them read it as a class novel in 5th grade and choose to reread it again at some point during 6th grade because they enjoyed it so much. A quick summary (courtesy of Amazon)- The attic is always a great place to look for nuggets of one’s family history, but when 12-year-old Amy explores her great-grandparents’ attic, she uncovers clues to a chilling family secret. As Amy and her Aunt Claire sift through clothes, trinkets and other memorabilia, Amy comes across Aunt Claire’s long-forgotten dollhouse, a finely crafted replica of the house they are in. Aunt Claire seems unusually distressed about the dollhouse and Amy is determined to find out why. The real fun begins when Amy learns that the dolls in the dollhouse move of their own willAand that they seem to be trying to tell her something. After a little sleuthing at the local library, Amy learns that her great-grandparents were murdered years ago and that Aunt Claire’s fiance (who died in a car accident that same night) was the prime suspect in the unsolved case. Chilling!
- Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konigsburg- What happened on November 25, 2:43 P.M. to cause Branwell Zamborska to become stop speaking? All anyone knows is that he called 911 because his baby sister stopped breathing, and when he was unable to speak to the operator, Vivian, the English nanny, said that Branwell had dropped the baby and shaken her. Branwell’s best friend, Connor, begins visiting him at the juvenile hall, where he has been sent while Nikki remains in a coma at the hospital. Working out a code they both can use, Connor begins the long process of trying to communicate with his friend to find out what really happened. Connor knows that his best friend didn’t hurt the baby, but how can he prove it to everyone else if Branwell won’t speak. This is a realistic mystery that kids won’t want to put down.
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