I just checked my calendar and we are on about the 26th week of the year. So, with 28 books under my belt before school let out, I was still technically on track to read A-Book-A-Week, or Several-Books-In-One-Week-And-None-On-Others, as the case may be.
But alas! Summer, sweet summer offered many opportunities for reading. I also took a class through Penn State’s World Campus- a catchy way to say “on-line”. I’ve taken a lot of classes on-line, some better than others. But never before have I been sent an actual plastic student ID. I feel like a college kid again! But I digress…
The on-line class was in children’s literature, so I got credit for reading lots of kid lit! (And paying lots of money). So, it went well towards my goal of 52 books this year.
Without further adieu, here then, is the Summer 2010 Reading List…
#29 The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz: A quick read about a fairy who usually flies at night, but is attacked by a bat and has to learn to live by day. I got the suggestion off a blog, but was underwhelmed by this fantasy book. However, it could be a good fit for some later expanding or early bridging readers.
#30 & 31 My Side of the Mountain and The Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George: So glad I finally got these two under my belt. My Side is a classic- there are numerous copies in every classroom library it seems. So, I finally dove in to this tale of self selected exile and wilderness living. It was like Into the Wild for a 12 year old- the My Side protagonist had all the good sense the guy in ITW didn’t. My Side of the Mountain was published in 1959, and the idea of striking out and living in the wilderness still resonates 70 plus years later.
#32 Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor: Set in 1933 in rural Mississippi, this book tells the tale of the Logans, a black family who owns their own land but still lives under the hard rule of the Jim Crow laws. It’s an incredible book that paints a vivid picture of the disparity between rich and poor, black and white from a child’s perspective. This book would go well in a unit on social justice for upper elementary readers, though you would have to do quite a job building schema for this book. It’s a good read for adults too.
#33 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: This classic was another that I need to have in the repertoire. I don’t really see a place for it in the elementary classroom, unless you were to read it aloud to Grade 4 or 5 students. I found it to be an easy read, and the main characters go through such a catharsis, it’s satisfying in its conclusion. I also found myself talking in a (bad) Cockney accent to members of my family while reading it.
#34 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks: A great premise- a young boys gets a cupboard for his birthday and discovers that whatever he locks inside becomes real. The main character has to become very much like a parent in this book, sometimes making tough choices because it’s the right thing to do rather than because it’s what he wants to do. There could be good discussion generated around some of the themes in this book, especially the portrayal of Native Americans (very stereotypical) and cowboys.
#35 The Giver by Lois Lowery
#36 Number the Stars by Lois Lowery
She’s an amazing author. I had read both of these years ago, and found I liked them both better this time around, especially The Giver. This book has caused no end of controversy over the years, and upon reading it this time, I still can’t figure out why. It’s fiction, after all! Any thoughts out there from others who have read it?
Number the Stars makes a great introduction to The Holocaust. It’s a gentle version of one family helping another Jewish family escape to freedom. Told from the perspective of a young girl, it makes some complex issues and emotions accessible. I read this to a grade 3 class several years ago and it was one of the most memorable read alouds of the year. It would go well in a unit on character study or social justice.
#37 Sun and Spoon by Kevin Henkes: Famous for his picture books, I wanted to know if his genius transferred into books for older readers. This book is a gentle story of the main character’s experience working thorough his feelings about his grandmother’s death. It was a moving story without being overly sentimental. It made me remember what it is like to be 10 years old again- worries and inner thoughts are acurately represented here. It would make a great read aloud or a good book club book for later bridging/early fluent readers. Here, it’s not the complexity of the language that is challenging, but rather the emotional content.
#38 Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: READ IT! My favorite book of the summer, hands down. It’s not for elementary students, but it was compulsively readable. From The Horn Book:
“The plot is front and center here—the twists and turns are addictive, particularly when the romantic subplot ups the ante—yet the Capitol’s oppression and exploitation of the districts always simmers just below the surface, waiting to be more fully explored in future volumes. Collins has written a compulsively readable blend of science fiction, survival story, unlikely romance, and social commentary.”
I also managed to get in a few adult books:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana deRosnay
The Brief and Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (still in progress and may abandon ship)