All posts in Reading Lists: Middle School

#MistressOfAllEvil

#MistressOfAllEvil Prize Pack GIVEAWAY!

I’ve partnered with Disney Hyperion for this Mistress of All Evil Giveaway. They are supplying the prize package.

Why does Maleficent curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries.

It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil.

Are you excited for the fourth book in this series? I’m giving away a prize pack that includes all four books and a color changing branded mug! Read more…

Click'd by Tamara Ireland Stone

#ClickdBook Prize Package GIVEAWAY!

I’m thrilled to giveaway Tamara Ireland Stone’s latest book, Click’d. I loved her last book, Every Last Word, about a high school girl who suffered from OCD. I have a book list about OCD coming out soon inspired by this book.

I’m actually giving away a prize package, courtesy of Disney Hyperion. Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter.

 

Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt—all before she steps on stage to present Click’d to the judges? [chapter book, ages 9 and up]

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Cover Reveal for The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

Cover Reveal for THE LENGTH OF A STRING & 3 Book Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to revealing the cover for Elissa Brent Weissman’s lastest book, The Length of a String! We are also giving away three of her previous books. My son is a big fan of her Nerd Camp books! Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter.

What do you think of her book cover? Thanks for sharing your impressions!

 

The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

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Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up (part 2 of 2)

Summer Chapter Book Reading List GIVEAWAY (part 2 of 2)

I’ve been “book tasting” or sampling two dozen or so middle grade chapter books to find books for my 12 year old son. I’m also reading for myself, trying to discover that possible Newbery gem in these piles.

From this list, I’m narrowing down my reading pile to:

  • Lemons by Melissa Savage (getting buzz)
  • A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold (for possible autism list I’m working on)
  • Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis (I do like magical realism)
  • Kid Beowulf: The Song of Roland by Alexis E. Fajardo (my son likes graphic novels and I’m also going to add to my Medieval/Middle Ages book list; a period of history that is growing on me)
  • Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch (I have a spy/superhero chapter book list that I can add this one to)
  • A Dog Like Daisy by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (I might make a service dog book list)

How about you? What middle grade books are you loving right now?

p.s. I’m giving away 6 of these books. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

p.p.s. Part 1 of this list here.

 

Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up & GIVEAWAY (part 2 of 2)

Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eager

I loved Hour of the Bees so I’m excited to read Lindsay Eager’s newest book that has a breezier feel than the slight melancholic heaviness of Hour of the Bees. 11 year old Fidelia Quail becomes an orphan where her parents are killed in a submarine of her own invention and now it’s up to her to escape a pirate who has kidnapped her, and figure of the mystery of a treasure he’s desperate to find on the bottom of the ocean. This book feels a little like Half Magic meets The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Lemons by Melissa Savage

There seems to be a growing buzz for Lemons, Melissa Savage’s debut chapter book. It’s 53 chapters of about 6 pages each. I personally find short chapters appealing because the pacing tends to be fast and thus hold my son’s interest. Nearly 11 years old Lemonade Liberty (Lem for short) is moving to a tiny town to live with her grandfather after her mother dies. It’s here that she makes a new friend who is determined to capture Bigfoot on film. This book reminds me of The True Meaning of Smekday thus far. I’m excited to read further. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

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Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up & GIVEAWAY

Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up & GIVEAWAY

I have a stack of middle grade chapter books to review so I thought I would do a book tasting to screen them. It’s basically a perusal — check out the cover, the back cover, the flap summary for first impressions — then read the first few chapters, skip around the middle reading here and there, and see if you can guess the ending. If the book grabs me, then I’m pulling it aside to read in depth.

I’m also including my sixth grade 12-year-old son’s book recommendations of the books we’ve read together. He like Rick Riordan and fantasy adventure like Percy Jackson, but also mysteries, nonfiction, and graphic novels. Here are his recommendations:

Summer Reading List for ages 8 and up

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

I loved Schooled by Gordon Korman so when I saw Ungifted at a used bookstore, I snapped it up for my son. Korman knows how to write for middle school kids. This is a funny, realistic story about a boy who evades punishment by being accidentally enrolled in a school for gifted students and the transformation he creates by being the average student that he is. We are almost done with it and will seek out more of his books. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

The Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibottson

Readers who like the Half Magic series or Roald Dahl will like this British realistic fantasy caper about aunts living on a remote island with magical creatures. My son read this for a class assignment and we both really liked it. It’s perfect for readers who think Harry Potter might be scary because it has that same fantasy magical element but is a more gentle story. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

FunJungle novels series by Stuart Gibbs

My son picked the first two books from a used bookstore and he’s enjoyed it so much we’ve read all the books written so far, and are waiting impatiently for more. Teddy is a sixth grade boy who lives at zoo with his world renowned primatologist mother, and wildlife photographer father. FunJungle is a new state-of-the-art zoo built by a billionaire for his seventh grade daughter, Summer. Someone is trying to sabotage the zoo, and Teddy’s detective skills are called into play. Working with Summer, Teddy has to find culprit or risk juvenile hall since often he’s the main suspect. This series also has an endangered animal environmental message. [chapter book series, ages 8 and up]

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Homelessness in Children's Books

Homelessness in Children’s Books

In creating this list, I noticed that most of these homelessness stories have parents who work part-time jobs, often more than one. Despite shelter uncertainty, they are going about their lives, sending their children to school, and even going to college themselves. It’s usually a series of setbacks or a tragedy like the death of a breadwinner than sends them spiraling downward. This is not surprising given that most Americans are one paycheck away from the streets.

On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness — meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. National Alliance to End Homelessness

Part of this 564,708 homeless number includes women and children. It’s a heart breaking statistic. Imagine families with children trying to go about their everyday life without a place to sleep. It’s becoming a more common sight in cities like Boston where I live.

With the spike in homelessness, has come the homeless spikes. Yes, it’s as horrible as it sounds. MacDonald‘s is one such company that puts anti-homeless spikes designed to keep the homeless away.

Some artists decided to fight back against the anti-homeless spikes, starting a movement they call “Space, Not Spikes.”

not spikes

“Space, Not Spikes” reclaimed the spiked area by covering it with bedding, pillows, and a bookshelf stocked with reading material. Upworthy

Hostile design doesn’t solve the issue of homelessness. It just tries to remove the homeless from the line of sight of those who have a place to live. And yet, there are humane solutions to homelessness like these tiny homes the size of garden sheds.

tiny homes for the homeless

My oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, is headed for art college. She thinks about social issues from a design perspective. I hope that one day she will work on the issue of homelessness.

Maybe this book list will inspire kids to tackle this problem with solutions that start and end with compassion, not spikes? Here’s hoping!

How about you? What books would you add to this list? Thanks for your help!

 

Homelessness in Children’s Books

Homelessness in Picture Books

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

Nationally, about one out of every eight people is poor. Many of them are children. The patrons of the soup kitchen include the unemployed, the needy, and the homeless. No one is excluded.

A young boy is nervous to see the Can Man in his neighborhood, but his Uncle Willie who works at the soup kitchen knows him well. The boy notices a woman sleeping on a park bench and decides he wants to learn more about his uncle’s soup kitchen. On his day off from school, he accompanies his uncle to work. It’s little things that he learns: children who sit in high chairs eat here; not everyone is homeless; somehow there is always enough food for everyone. [picture book, ages 6 and up]

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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]

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