I have to apologize for the radio silence that seems to have taken over this blog! Not only am I scrambling around to get ready to attend ALA's Annual Conference in Washington DC, but the ending of this school year has been particularly busy! Sometimes wearing the hat of the commuting, working mother of two doesn't mesh schedule wise with the wearing of the volunteer blogger hat!
But I have been reading, rest assured.
In the near future you will be seeing posts about the following, fabulous books!
* The Kneebone Boy, by Ellen Potter
* Museum of Thieves, by Lian Tanner
* What Happened on Fox Street, by Tricia Springstubb
* The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, by Danette Haworth
* Princess of Glass, by Jessica Day George
All of these titles were a pleasure to read, and some were even outstanding!
What have you been reading lately?
I’m the kind of reader who loves to be taken away into a different world where extraordinary things happen. It’s probably one of the reasons I primarily read dystopian, paranormal, fantasy, and mysteries. But Monday’s post about reading in different genres got me thinking.
We can all agree that the tide of YA paranormal, fantasy, and most recently dystopian fiction has taken the spotlight in publishing trends. Just like everything returns in cycles, I see two things happening: a surge of middle-grade fiction returning and also a surge of contemporary fiction in general.
I’ll be the first to admit that if I had to choose between a ghost story and a contemporary novel, that I wouldn’t pick the latter, but one of my reading goals this summer is to find some great contemporary novels (both adult and YA) to put on my reading lists.
I keep a record of books that I’ve read and contemporary novels are not well represented. But here are some contemporary novels (mostly YA) that I’ve read in the last 18 months:
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock
Many Stones by Carolyn Coman
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Jumping off Swings by Jo Knowles
This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Three Willows by Ann Brashares
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
So help me out guys. What are some good contemporary books (both YA and adult) that I can read?
Everyone have a great Memorial Day weekend! Be safe and remember the sacrifices our troops have made for us. Also get some writing done!
Revision update: I think the first three chapters are in pretty good shape. Moving on…
It’s coming up to the holidays again, and no matter what holiday you celebrate — Christmas for me — presents are often involved.
Last year, I made a point of trying to find a book for everyone on my list before anything else. This year, I was pleased to see that I can do the same for lots of people.
For us writers, of course, books are a given as presents. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve always got a stack by your bedside or on your shelf waiting to be read, and another list floating around in your head of books you want to read. Most of the books are in the genre I write in, but a few are there because I’ve heard they’re really great books.
Today, I thought we could compare lists.
Here’s what’s currently on my to read shelf:
- Savvy, by Ingrid Law (I read about this online and it sounds great)
- The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects, number two in the series by Michael Buckley (I picked up the first book in this series a while ago because of the awesome name: Fairy Tale Detectives)
- The Summoning, by Kelley Armstrong (I picked up this one as research for a future book idea)
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green (I bought this at a conference last month, but I had been planning to read it since hearing a lot about it at the SCBWI summer conference in 2007)
- and Diggers and Truckers, numbers one and two in the Bromeliad Trilogy by Terry Pratchett (I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s, having read most of his adult books before I started reading only middle-grade and young adult; this series is YA)
What’s on my reading wish list?
- Catching Fire, number two in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (I just finished the first book and, as usual, she ended the story with many questions unanswered, so I’m looking forward to this next one)
- The Emerald Tablet and
I don't know about where you live, but here it has been an especially gray, rainy, chilly fall. I guess our ghoulish weather is fitting preparation for Halloween next week. Plus, it's certainly perfect weather for snuggling up with a good book.
Have you been reading any spook-tacular books lately? If not, here's a few suggestions from my website under FRIGHTFUL READS
So no matter the weather between today and Halloween, you'll have plenty of fun stuff to do. Enjoy!
Since 2002, I’ve read a lot — a little over 400+ books — most of them middle-grade or young adult titles. I keep track of them in a spreadsheet and during a procrastination tactic I sorted them and I noticed that I’ve read a book title that almost covers the whole alphabet (I’m missing Y and X titles — I may need to work on that, LOL).
So just for fun, I thought I would share a list containing some of the single-title books that I’ve read in alphabetical order:
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Contents Under Pressure by Laura M. Zeises
Desert Crossing by Elise Broach
East by Edith Pattou
Fresh Girl by Jaira Placide
Girl, 15 Charming But Insane by Sue Limb
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
I Hadn’t Mean to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson
Jade Green by Phyllis Naylor
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
Many Stones by Carolyn Coman
Notes from a Liar and Her Dog by Gennifer Choldenko
Off-Color by Janet McDonald
Pucker by Melanie Gideon
(The) Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti
Ruined by Paula Norris
Shug by Jenny Han
Teach Me by R.A. Nelson
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
(The) Valley of Secrets by Charmian Hussey
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien
Guest blogger and First Book supporter Mindy Klasky is the author of six fantasy novels, including the award-winning, best-selling The Glasswrights’ Apprentice and numerous short stories. Her latest trilogy, The Jane Madison Series, chronicles a love-struck D.C. librarian who discovers she’s a witch. Visit www.mindyklasky.com to learn more about Mindy’s work and her support of First Book.
Last month, I was paging through my friends’ Facebook status updates, and I saw a post that amused me. L., a rising high school sophomore, posted that she thought summer reading lists were cruel and inhuman punishment. L. is the precocious daughter of friends. She reads avidly, enjoying a number of genres. She is an articulate young woman who is able to hold her own with adults in conversations that range from culture to politics to athletics. She has tons of friends her own age, and she enjoyed a trip to camp for the summer.
And yet, this well-rounded, intelligent, academically gifted young woman despises summer reading.
I posted a response, gently teasing her for her opinion and noting that some of my summer reading lists introduced me to some of my favorite novels (Lord of the Flies, The Ox-Bow Incident, Animal Farm, and Huckleberry Finn, just to name a few that are visible from my writing desk.) Never one to back down from a good-intentioned argument, L. immediately wrote back, clarifying that her problem wasn’t with reading, itself. Rather, her problem was with writing — completing a mandatory “personal response” essay to every three chapters that she read.
And, at that point, I had to agree with L. I understand requiring students to write some sort of essay so that they can prove they completed their summer reading. (I’d like to live in a world where students could sign an Honor Code, stating that they’d completed their reading, and that such a signature would be accepted as binding, but I know that I live a fantasy life at times. )
But responding, every three chapters, in writing? Confirming “I’m still reading!” Verifying “I’m still here!” every few thousand words? That sort of micro-management demonstrates a grave distrust of students. Even more, though, it demands that readers pull themselves out of the story, put their books on hold while they craft written responses. Readers must set aside story for essay, forget about the sense-of-wonder, the other-ness of great writing, solely to check off mundane details in a monitoring essay.
In the end, L. and I agreed to disagree about summer reading lists. L. still felt that her summer was being impinged upon by required reading; I didn’t think the reading requirement itself was too demanding. But we both agreed that “personal response” essays had no place in a summer program.
What about you? Did you ever find any favorite books through summer reading? Was that reading required, or by choice?
Somebody asked on the previous post (and I STILL need your questions) what I thought about Nicholas Kristof's recommendations for summer reading. Not much--any list of the Thirteen Best Books is pretty random and thus useless and I have to wonder whether, in including the Hardy Boys, he means the ones he read as a lad (nostalgia time) or the ones currently published (out-and-out lame). I also wonder about his assertion that IQs dip during a summer not spent reading. Does IQ work that way?
As a child and teen, I always looked forward to summer as a time to read for pleasure (as opposed to assigned reading). Once a week, I rode the CTA bus to my local branch of the Chicago Public library to check out as many books as I could. Yet now, when students at school visits ask me my favorite books as a child, I draw a blank. Rather than specific books, I remember the genres.For example, I
When I speak at schools, students often ask me what books I read when I was their age. I can usually remember one or two, and I often say that I really ought to make a list someday. With help from my sisters, I finally started that list. I posted it on my web site. Here are some of my favorites.The Color Kittens, the story of “two color kittens with green eyes, Brush and Hush,” who had “buckets
I'm so excited to tell you about this great opportunity--just a click away. How many times during the summer when your mom or dad suggests you do some reading, you say, "But I don't have any good books."???
When you follow this link to Lexile's Find a Book,
you'll be able to enter your grade and what type of books interest you. Presto! Find a Book
will zap out a list of titles for you to check out faster than you can slurp down an ice cream cone on a 90-degree summer day.
Pick out a few titles which sound too good to miss. Go online to your local library. See if they have the books. Put holds on them and plan a trip to the library. In no time at all, you can be relaxing with the best of summer reads.
Not so much into reading...no worries. You can indicate what your reading level is when you enter your info into the Find a Book database. A long list of just-right books--for your interests and correct reading level--will magically appear.
Yeah, but why bother reading during the summer. It's vacation from school time.
So true, but a professor of education at Harvard University, James Kim
, did a study. He found that students who don't read over the summer can fall behind in their reading levels by as much as two months. That means you'll have lost ground during the summer. You'll start next school year just trying to catch up to where you left off the year before. That doesn't sound like fun.
But, according to the professor, if you read at least 8 interesting books at your reading level during the summer, you won't fall behind. In fact, you'll probably increase your reading level.
Awesome! Wouldn't that be a cool surprise for your new teacher as well as your parents.
Public libraries usually have great summer reading programs. You may be able to earn prizes reading this summer and beat the summer slide--loosing ground on your reading skills.
So this summer, do your sliding into home plate--not down hill on your reading.
Libraries are truly COOL places to hang out in this summer. Check one out.
Let me know how you do with your reading and what's the best book you read this summer.
Here's the promised book display to highlight our new GLBTQ list. "Different Families / Same Love"—that goopy enough for you?
The lit holder has copies of our Gay and Lesbian, Adoption, and Celebrate Diversity lists. And the books are a selection of picture books from those lists!
Sorry for the crummy (as usual) photos. I'd blame the camera, but—no, actually, I'll just blame the camera.
and Claire has been busily sighing and swooning on your behalf. See her latest booklist of love stories.
Speaking of Claire, she's been pushing me for years to read Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which I'm finally doing. And loving, not least for the following exchange, among the most indelible in American literature:
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
"Say 'Nevermore,'" said Shadow.
"Fuck you," said the raven. It said nothing else as they went through the woodland together.
Claire has a big list and it's all about fun. Let's hope not too much compulsory reading gets in its way.
I read so much that I keep a reading log of what I've read, when, and where or how I learned about the book. I thought I would share what I've read in the two weeks since I last posted (OK, not counting yesterday's post) With one exception, I don't personally know any of these authors, so these are not books I am plugging for a friend (and the exception is a book I would have read anyway as
By: Carmela Martino and 5 other authors
Blog: Teaching Authors
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
MFA in Writing for Children/Young Adults
, Review Sources
, Carmela Martino
, Memorial Day
, Reading Lists
, Mary Ann Rodman
, Vermont College
, Children's Book Week
, Yankee Girl
, Read Your Brains Out
, Add a tag
In her recent post, "Read Your Brains Out" (part of our Children's Book Week series), Mary Ann Rodman shared some references for recommended reading. As a follow-up, we've added links from this blog to online recommended reading lists--see the sidebar section labeled "Children's/YA Reading Lists." Now you have no excuse for not "reading your brains out." (And if you have suggestions for other
Holly and I took a field trip to the dog park today. There we met Joey and his mom and their beautiful and friendly Irish Setter, Flash. After Holly showed Joey all the cool tricks she can do, we humans eventually got around to the really fun stuff--talking about books.
Joey was on the lookout for some good summer reading. I offered him a couple of favorites:
The Gollywhopper Games received the 2008 Midwest Choice Book Awards Honor for Children's Literature. And the book is also up for possible readers' choice awards in both Alaska and Texas.
The Graveyard Book
won this year's Newbery Award as well as honor book in the recently announced Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards
. Follow the link for the other selections.
Of course, a library is a great place to visit this summer for expert advice on good books. Plus, they usually have special programs designed for kids of all ages.
Some other fun things to do this summer can be found online. Visit the AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION's list of great websites
for kids. I've mentioned a few of the websites before, like
and Giggle Poetry
. But there are lots more suggestions for summer adventures from math to art to science to film making.
Joey also shared with me that he enjoys cooking. Yum! Yum! Don't forget that I have some tasty recipes on my website. Dirty Worm
s seems like an appropriate dish for summer fare. For more recipes, click on this link
. There you'll also find games, crafts, puzzles, and more reading adventures.
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The June issue of Notes from the Horn Book should be in your inbox. I talk to Printz winner Gene Luen Yang, and we recommend some great new YA, middle-grade animal stories, picture books about summer, truck books for preschoolers and audiobooks for those long family drives. Enjoy!
And Claire has a new list of "Folklore Around the World."