Hot Books in My Classroom

I haven’t done a Hot Books post in a while. But I’m back with a great list.  I was out for the past two days with an awful cold, and when I came back today I had kids begging to talk to me about their books.  Here are some of the books they chatted about today!

The Luxe series is being passed from one girl to another in my morning class. Every morning one of them runs into school just bursting to talk about what she read the night before. And we have to whisper, because there are five girls behind her who haven’t read as far into the series as she has!  It’s awesome.

And of course, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw hasn’t been seen since I first handed it to a student last month. Other than bursts of hysterical laughter during independent reading.

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book have been gaining a lot of fans lately. In fact, when I came back to school today one of my reluctant readers told me he had finished The Graveyard Book and it was an awesome book, “maybe even better than the dead and the gone!"

Two of my more reluctant girl readers have been struggling to find books they enjoy. But just this past month I think we may have found it! One of them is reading Wendy Mass’ Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall and loving it. The intriguing plot, combined with the ease of the verse novel set-up, has really hooked her. And her friend can not put down Frances O’Roark Dowell’s The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, the sequel to The Secret Language of Girls.  I am thrilled that they are both finding their niche!

These are just a few of the most popular books in my classroom right now!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

When I came home from school and found a package on the porch containing Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t a little excited. I love Greg Heffley and his wimpy ways!  Plus, I know that I am going to be the best teacher ever when I bring it into school tomorrow morning, the day it is released!  Of course, that means I have to read it tonight, and read it I did.

Greg is back and he’s just like we left him.  Jeff Kinney captures the voice of middle-schoolers perfectly.  Really, he is spot-on!  Greg has just the right amount of self-confidence and doubt about himself.  Anyone who has ever spent time with middle schoolers can’t help but laugh at the opening lines:

You know how you’re supposed to come up with a list of “resolutions” at the beginning of the year to try to make yourself a better person?

Well, the problem is, it’s not easy for me to think of ways to improve myself, because I’m already pretty much one of the best people I know.

I actually laughed out loud at that.  I swear, more than one of my students said the exact same thing to me when we were working on our One Little Word for 2009!  

For fans of the Wimpy Kid series, this latest installment will not disappoint.  I know my students will be fighting over this one when I booktalk it tomorrow!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney is a godsend for reluctant readers.  His Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is my go-to for students who hate reading.  Everytime, within only a few pages of Greg Heffley’s “diary” they are laughing and telling their friends what a great book it is.  I can’t tell you how many of my students over the past two years list Kinney’s books as their favorites.  Jeff Kinney has truly written “gateway books”.  My kids start with the middle school adventures of Greg Heffley and then move into other novels, exploring new genres and authors, thanks to Diary of a Wimpy Kid!  

Now, Jeff Kinney is looking to do the same for reluctant writers. His latest venture is Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book. Designed just like the other Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, this hardcover (orange!) book includes original art, writing prompts, and do-it-yourself comics.  Greg leads the writer/reader through a variety of silly and funny writing ideas.  Some of my favorites include rules for your family, the baddest thing you ever did as a little kid, and a few questions from Rowley (Greg’s best friend).  The entire book is written in Greg’s authentic middle schooler voice, and the book reads like a conversation.  I found myself laughing out loud more than once!  

This language arts teacher was even more excited to discover that the second half of the book contains entirely blank pages- to be filled in by the author!  And Greg reminds you to keep the completed book in a safe place, because it will be worth a ton of money when you get famous someday!  :)

I really enjoyed this book.  It is available in the October Scholastic catalog and a few of my students already mentioned they can’t wait to order it.  If Jeff can hook kids into reading as well as he hooks them into writing, I will love him even more!  

 

 

Miscellaneous Thoughts-  I love the orange color of the cover! I also love that Amulet printed this as a hardback instead of a paperback.  Kids are going to love the idea that their book truly is a Wimpy Kid book and not just a lame knockoff, because it is a real hardcover, too.  Small details like that are so important when you are trying to get kids to enjoy writing.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney is perhaps the most anticipated book of the year for my students. I added Kinney’s first book in the series to my library last year and it quietly made a few ripples. This year, my students became obsessed. My two copies flew from student to student, never returning to my shelf! When the book fair sold paperback copies at least half of my students purchased one. They begged our librarian to add a copy to the library. They recommended it to their siblings. They read parts aloud to their parents. It took over! Since November they have asked at least once a week if I was able to track down an ARC. Well, this weekend our librarian came home from ALA Midwinter with a copy of it. She immediately cataloged it and gave it to us.

You would have thought I was offering each student a million dollars when I asked who wanted to read it. We ended up pulling a name out of a hat and they developed strict rules- each student gets the book for one day and one night. Then it must be passed on. I have also ordered two more copies from Scholastic’s book clubs (which will be here on Monday and will go into circulation immediately!). Today, I watched as the student who currently has the book read it in the library, with three more students reading over his shoulders! It was a sight to see, and made me so very proud. Jeff Kinney has made these students love reading.

Before sharing the book, I did manage to read it myself. I have to say, this one is even funnier than the first! I caught myself laughing out loud at a few points. You see, Greg is getting ready to go back to school. But his wasn’t the typical summer vacation. Do not ask Greg how he spent his summer, because he is not about to tell anyone. Let’s just say, it’s even worse than the fact that his mom won’t buy him a real bathing suit and makes him wear his older brother’s hand-me-down speedo. Yes, even more humiliating than that! Unfortunately for Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, knows all about the incident Greg wants to keep under wraps. But as we all know, secrets never stay secret for long.

Kinney’s books really work wonders for reluctant readers. They build confidence, make the students laugh out loud, and are realistic. The sibling relationships between Greg and his brothers reminded me of my own house growing up. Brothers can be cruel, and it’s every man for himself!  The scenes in school are everyschool- they make my almost-middle schoolers laugh out loud.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of both of Kinney’s books. And next September we can look forward to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw”! By the way, my bet is on a green cover for the next one.

ARC of Diary of a Wimpy Kid:Rodrick Rules

A general call out there to the kidlitosphere…..does anyone know how I can get my hands on an ARC of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules?  My kids are dying to read it and to be honest, so am I!!  

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