All posts in Reading Lists: Middle School

Poets and Their Poetry Books for Kids

Poets and Their Poetry Books for Kids

Are You An Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi who wrote the narrative and did the translation, illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri

All Japanese children read her deeply compassionate poems about creatures in the natural world. Think of her as a Japanese Pablo Neruda and/or Emily Dickerson. Her sad, short life is depicted in this biography/poetry hybrid picture book. This combo really works for me since she is unfamiliar to most of us. Her poems are deceptively simple and kids can really relate to them. I hope this wins a Caldecott but I hesitate to add it to my watch list because the rendering of the faces in the illustrations were too cartoon-y and didn’t go with the rest of the illustration style. [biography and poetry picture book hybrid, ages 4 and up]

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

This is Kwame’s personal favorite collection of poets with original poems created by himself, Chris, and Marjory in the style of each poet. “Poems come out of wonder, not by knowing.” Lucille Clifton. Kwame invites you and your kids to discover the joy of poetry, and to perhaps come up with a poem of your own. [picture book, ages 8 and up]

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Dave belongs to Mr Miles /
wher the oven bakes & the pot biles ///

—July 31, 1840

Dave the Potter is a puzzle to unwind. A slave living in South Caroline during the 1800s, he wrote enigmatic poems into the pottery that he crafted. Born into slavery, Dave worked as a potter in a factory while he was still in his teens making stoneware vessels. It is on these vessels that Dave would inscribe short rhyming poems. This is remarkable given that slaves were forced into illiteracy and South Carolina passed a harsh anti-literacy law shortly after Dave’s first poem was published on a pot in 1834. Poetry thrives even in inhospitable climates, and because his artistry with clay, Dave the Potter’s life story and creative talents endure for posterity. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

p.s. Learn more about Dave the Potter from Leonard Todd, whose family owned Dave.

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#SummerBrainQuest Workbooks GIVEAWAY!

Summer #BrainQuest Workbooks GIVEAWAY!

If you are looking to prevent “summer slide” with workbooks targeting kids between kindergarten and 6th grade, check out the new Summer Brain Quest series! It’s an exciting extension of the beloved and bestselling Brain Quest brand!

Summer Brain Quest Giveaway

Each workbook is structured like a game and is created in consultation with award-winning teachers. It has a summer progress map, with destinations on the map marking progress in the book in the form of quests and achievements. Mark off each quest with a sticker as it is completed. The quests cover all the different academic subjects for that grade! Read more…

11 Chapter Books About Grief and Loss

11 Chapter Books About Grief and Loss & GIVEAWAY

Loss of a parent or a friend is difficult at any age, but perhaps middle school is the toughest age to go through this. In celebration of Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schroeder’s book about grief and loss, we have put together a list of ten books in which the protagonist suffers from loss and grief but ultimately emerges from this experience with a sense of hope and resilience.

We are also giving away a copy of Be Light Like a Bird. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

How about you? What books about grief and loss do you recommend? Thanks for sharing!

 

Chapter Books About Grief and Loss

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

I posted on this book on my Instagram and there’s a lot of feedback on the book there as well: This is just so good! If you liked Wonder by R. J. Palacio, you will love Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson. It has the same emotional wallop but with a different theme. This is about a teacher who quietly changes lives via three of her students (of many more) that she affects. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Read more…

Top 10 Fantasy Adventures for Kids & 3 Signed Book GIVEAWAY

Top 10 Fantasy Adventures for Kids & 3 Signed Book GIVEAWAY

Please welcome author G. A. Morgan with her list of Top 10 Favorite Fantasy Adventures. The final book of her own fantasy adventure series, The Five Stones Trilogy, releases today called The Kinfolk!

I’m thrilled to be giving away 3 SIGNED copies of The Kinfolk to 3 winners. Please see Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m doing more book giveaways there as well.——————

Greetings readers of Pragmatic Mom! Thank you for encouraging your kids to read fantasy. The great news about fantasy-adventure books is that kids tend to devour them. The best ones, in my opinion, tell a riveting story with relatable characters, but offer—at the core—some irrevocable, universal truths.

With technology ever-present and Hollywood bringing to screen many of our favorite stories, it’s more important then ever to have reading choices that are broad and deep; that offer exciting narratives but are also thought-provoking and linger in the imagination long after childhood is over. They also should appeal to both girls and boys.

That’s what I tried to accomplish in The Five Stones Trilogy, and these are the qualities I looked for when creating this list. By and large, the books in this list are appropriate for ages 8-14 (and beyond!), depending on reading ability, and my list gets “older” as we move down it. Read more…

164 Chapter Books for Difficult Situations: #MGGetsReal

166 Chapter Books for Difficult Situations: #MGGetsReal

Please welcome my guest blogger today, Kerry Cerra. She’s the author of Just a Drop of Water (9/11 and Religious Intolerance), but she’s here today with author friends –Shannon Wiersbitzky of What Flowers Remember (Alzheimer’s),Kathleen Burkinshaw of The Last Cherry Blossom (Hiroshima), Joyce Moyer Hostetter of Comfort (War Trauma), and Shannon Hitchcock of Ruby Lee & Me (School Integration) — to create a comprehensive list of realistic fiction for middle grade (ages 9 and up).

This list of 165 chapter books covers a plethora of topics. Let me know if you need a category that isn’t listed. I hope you find this list as useful and I do!

  • Chapter Books with Abandonment
  • Chapter Books with Verbal or Physical Abuse
  • Chapter Books with ADD/ADHD
  • Chapter Books with Adoption/Foster Care
  • Chapter Books with Substance Abuse
  • Chapter Books with Alzheimer’s/Dementia
  • Chapter Books Covering Anxiety
  • Chapter Books with Autism/Asperger’s
  • Chapter Books with Blended Families
  • Chapter Books with Body Image Issues
  • Chapter Books with Bullying
  • Chapter Books with Civil Rights/Integration
  • Books for Tweens with Deaf/Hearing Loss
  • Chapter Books with Death of a Parent/Grandparent
  • Chapter Books with Death of a Sibling
  • Chapter Books with Depression and Mental Illness
  • Chapter Books with Discrimination & Prejudices (religious, ethnic, etc.)
  • Chapter Books with Divorce
  • Chapter Books with Dyslexia
  • Diverse Chapter Books
  • Chapter Books with Eyesight/Blindness
  • Feeling like You’re a Bad Friend Chapter Books
  • Chapter Books About Following Your Dreams Despite Odds
  • Chapter Books with Gifted Characters
  • Chapter Books on Homelessness
  • Chapter Books Dealing with Illness
  • Chapter Books on Immigration
  • Books with LGBTQ
  • Chapter Books with Physical Disability/Disfiguration
  • Chapter Books with Self-Doubt
  • Chapter Books with Stepfamilies
  • Chapter Books with Suicide
  • Chapter Books with Survivor’s Guilt
  • Chapter Books About Wanting to Fit In
  • Chapter Books with War Trauma

——————–

Hands down my favorite thing about visiting schools as an author is the ability to recommend books to readers. Of course I speak about my own novel, but I always bring others with me. Lots of them. Why? Because I wholeheartedly believe it’s important for kids to be able see themselves in a story, and I know my book may not be that book for everyone. So I’m thrilled to be part of an exciting campaign, #MGGetsReal, with four other awesome authors. Our goal is simple: to highlight books which kids can relate to on a personal level—so they don’t feel so alone, afraid, or different.

All most of us have to do is remember back to our pre-teen years to know that kids long to feel one with the masses. To be accepted. To fit in. The recent video of a young girl, Emma, from Texas who wears a prosthetic leg is proof of this. With videotape rolling, Emma’s excitement is palpable as she realizes she’s getting an amazing gift, an American Girl doll. And lucky for myself and the millions (yes, millions) of viewers who have now seen the footage, we witness Emma’s genuine happy-shock reaction when she opens the box to discover that the doll is actually sporting a prosthetic leg just like her own. Seriously? Can you imagine anything better for this girl? Go ahead and view it here, but be careful, for Emma’s tears are infectious!

My own middle-grade novel, Just a Drop of Water, is the story of two thirteen-year-old boys—one Christian, one Muslim—and how their friendship is tested in the wake of September 11, 2001. It has strong themes of friendship, loyalty, bullying, and peace. Every so often at a school visit, I’ll encounter a Muslim student who pulls me aside to say how much the book, particularly the character of Sam, resonates with them and to thank me for writing it.

A handful of times, I’ve had kids tell me they are like the main character Jake. They too only see the world in black and white. With no gray. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. They are Jake! And like Jake, they sometimes get in trouble for it. I feel like the luckiest author in the world when I get to have these important discussions with them about how it’s okay to stand up for what you believe in, but to do so peacefully. And to know that sometimes my book is one that a kid connects to in such a personal way, well, it’s singlehandedly the reason why I write!

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Top 10: Baseball Chapter Books for Kids

Top 10: Baseball Books for Kids & GIVEAWAY

In the spirit of teamwork, Frank Nappi and I came up with our favorite Top 10 Baseball Books for Kids. We are also giving away his book, The Legend of Mickey Tussler.

It’s baseball season in Boston and that can only mean the Red Sox and checking the schedule to see when the home games are because traffic is brutal in the Fenway on game days.

My kids chuckle to see adults pouring off the subway decked out in Red Sox gear, happy and giddy as kids on their way to a game. But that’s the beauty of baseball games. It makes everyone young again.

Win, lose or draw, you can aways count on the food at Fenway Park, Sweet Caroline at the seventh inning stretch, and the history of the stadium to seep in to give you an experience that says a perfect Boston day!

How about you? Who are you rooting for?

p.s. Red Sox fans might like photographs by my friend Sharon Schindler. Her Fenway Park photos are extremely popular around these parts.

Sharon Schindler Photography Red Sox Fenway Park art Read more…

Who Dream of Flying

10 Books for Children Who Dream of Flying

Please welcome my guest blogger today, author Carole Boston Weatherford! Her novel in verse just came out, a stunning perspective of the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen during Jim Crow WWII America. This is a family endeavor, the dramatic scratch board illustrations are by her son, Jeffrey Boston Weatherford.

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford

… before 1940, African Americans could not become pilots in the U.S. military.

Carole Boston Weatherford’s novel in verse tells the story of the Tuskegee Airman, the pioneering African-American pilots of World War II and of life for blacks during this time. Jim Crow laws permeated the military during this time; the SS Mariposa actually had a rope to separate black soldiers from white. But it also curtailed training and leadership opportunities for African Americans, both male and female. Top brass claimed that blacks for not fit to fly.

Of the more than 400,000 pilots trained by the Civilian Pilot Training Program, only 2,000 were black; less than half of a percent. With tremendous pressure to prove their worthiness,The Tuskegee Airmen earned 900 plus medals including Distinguished Crossed, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. Their accomplishments paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. [novel in verse, ages 9 and up]

She created a list of books for children who dream of taking to the skies … not unlike the pioneering aviators of the Tuskegee Institute. Need more books about flying? I have a list of female aviators: Fabulous Flying Females. What books about flying did we leave out? Thanks for sharing! Read more…

Top 10 Best Historical Fiction Books for Kids

Top 10 Best Historical Fiction Books for Kids & GIVEAWAY!

Please welcome author Deborah Hopkinton who is guest posting with her favorite historical fiction books for kids. She also has a new book out, A Bandit’s Tale, and we’re doing a giveaway too below!

Top 10 Best Historical Fiction Books for Kids, Deborah Hopkinton

My new book, A Bandit’s Tale, is historical fiction, a genre I’ve loved since childhood. I like being transported into a different time and place and seeing how other writers play with history.

Read more…

Top 10 Super Hero Girls

Top 10 Undercover Super Hero Girls

I’m really excited to have author Lisa Yee guest posting today! She has a new middle-grade novel series showcasing the DC Super Hero Girls. This new series brings all-new stories to life beyond what was in cartoons and will let the Super Hero Girls have new adventures!

In Yee’s middle grade series, these iconic DC Comics characters are your {typical} high schoolers. Ok, maybe not. At Super Hero High, the galaxy’s most powerful teens nurture their powers and master the fundamentals of what it means to be a hero.

In the first book BY LISA YEE!!, the student body is about to meet their strongest classmate yet – Wonder Woman!

DC SUPER HERO GIRLS #1: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High released a few days ago, on March 1, 2016. Get it while it’s hot off the presses!

Wonder Woman Super Hero High by Lisa Yee Read more…