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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: reading lists, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 49
1. Good Books to Treasure All Year Long

I’m continuing our Teaching Authors series on good books we’ve been reading. Esther began with her list and highlighted one that carried her heart in its heart. (How I love that description!) April continued with her poetry favorite of the yearone of mine, too! Mary Ann listed three memorable YA novels. Ive added them all to my long To Be Read list.

Like Mary Ann, I read a lot. Unfortunately, I dont remember much, so when I find a book I really enjoy, I read it again. And maybe again after that. Here are a few of my recent reads that deserve a second or third look. Im including brief excerpts to give you a taste of their tone and style.

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz. I love the inventive yet understandable language. This book made me think about gender identity and how complicated our society makes it.

I have ten ticks to clean up and get to the Mealio. I drop the komodo in my pocket with the acorn, strap on my frods, and take off at a run. Pounding the earth, sucking in air, fire in my heart and blood rivers rushing through my body. Theres nothing in the world that feels as good as Lizard Radio in the great non-imaginary outdoors.

Coincidentally, several of my recent reads have strong fairy tale themes. 

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell. After her father dies, a girl becomes a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters in her own home. She finds her mothers hidden workshop and learns how to build magical mechanical creatures.

“Most wonderful of all, I found other survivors from Mothers insect-making days, the buzzers Id so loved as a child, hidden in little boxes between her books or forgotten at the backs of drawers. By my fourth day in the workshop I had discovered two fat, gold-plated beetles; a week later, a many-jointed caterpillar that made loud ratcheting noises as it crawled across my desk joined their ranks. Within a month, I had found three spiders with needles for legs and steel spinnerets loaded with real thread; a large copper butterfly, so light and delicate that even with a metal wingspan the size of my two hands, it could glide and flutter about the room; and a little fleet of five dragonflies, their wings set with colored glass. 

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas. Pin is a Seamstress, playing a role in a Story controlled by the powerful Godmother. Pin and Shoe, a Shoemaker, decide to break out of its confines.

“Coming around a bend, we see the waterfall slamming into the river with the city high on the cliff beyond. The sun is setting, and the waterfall looks like a veil of lace, and the white stone of the castle in the distance is tinged pink and gilded at its edges.
Then the sun drops out of the sky and the hollow boom of the castle clock rolls out—it is the sound of a gravedigger knocking on a tomb door.

Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli. I havent even finished this one yet, but Im awed by the eerie perspective with which it begins. It turns into a huge surprise that I wont reveal here. 

My knee split open in the fall. But Im all right. I pick pebbles from the gash. Im all right, Im all right.
The boys creep up on bowed legs white as sticks without the bark, especially Tonsos skinny leg, the one that never grew right. They peer in all directions.
I stand up. Im older than these boys, but not by much. Still, theyre half my size.

Eager to look ahead, I started gathering all the best books lists I could find. Because I think the world needs more awareness, I added a few lists that celebrate diversity. Then I found Publisher’s Weekly’s comprehensive “A Roundup of 2015’s Best Book Lists for Kids and Teens,” a good place to start. Here are links to more lists.
  • Chicago Public Library’s Kids’ Lists (Best Informational Books for Older Readers, Best Fiction for Older Readers, Best Informational Books for Younger Readers, Best Fiction for Younger Readers, and Best Picture Books of 2015
  • Toronto Public Library’s First & Best 2015 (best Canadian books to help kids get ready for reading)

I cant wait to dig in! Happy reading!

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at A Teaching Life. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken

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2. Early Start to Summer Fun

Summer is nearly here. School ends and fantastic summer reading begins.

Summer is the perfect time for kids to kick back with some books. Children who read during vacation will enhance their reading and educational skills—rather than backtracking and losing scholastic ground. With the incredible choices in quality children’s literature, every child can find an interesting book.

For younger readers, these diverse books are being made available through First Book, an organization which helps provide books to needy children.

Titles include:

TANGO MAKES THREE by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
TIGER IN MY SOUP by Kashmira Sheth
EMMANUEL’S DREAM by Laurie Thompson
KNOCK KNOCK by Daniel Beaty
BOATS FOR PAPA by Jessixa Bagley

For older readers, visit the Suggested Summer Reading List. Most of these titles should be available through your local library or bookstore.

Don’t wait for the official start of summer. Begin your reading adventures today!

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3. 2015 Spring TBR List

I’m so glad that Spring is here and the sun is shining. I’m revising and figuring out possible solutions to the mess I created in the middle of my current novel project. Can I just share with you how much I LOATHE middles? Such a pain.

I’m so happy about all the lovely Spring books that are coming out. I can’t wait to get my hands on to read them. Here are just of few that I have added to my To-Be-Read (TBR) list:


None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
All The Rage by Courtney Summers
Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin
Endangered by Lamar Giles
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headle
The Messengers by Edward Hogan
The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

How about you? What have you read lately? What do you plan to read in the warmth of the sun?

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4. 3 FAB AudioBooks & a poem for Poetry Friday!

Howdy, Campers!

Thanks to Margaret for hosting Poetry Friday today!
(My poem's at the end of this post.)
Our topic is What are We Reading?  I love this topic...I've learned so much about my blogmates, our readers and books.

Carmela, JoAnn, Jill, Laura and Esther have each checked in about the books they've checked out this summer.

My turn!

Here's what I've read recently:
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green on my Kindle (loved it)
WE ARE CALLED TO RISE by Laura McBride ~ adult book (wonderfully written...but why are adult books so sad?)
TEA WITH GRANDPA written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg ~ (SPOILER ALERT: I've bought copies to give to grandparents who Skype their grandkids)

What I'm currently reading:
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth on my Kindle (not crazy about the writing so far).

But I am CRAZY CAKES for audiobooks.  I live in Southern California, so maybe that explains it.  Or maybe I should say I live in my car in Southern California. :-)

So here is my list of  3 WONDERFUL audiobooks in the order I read them.  And yes, you can say "read them" if you listened to them. Because I said so.


Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork, read by Lincoln Hoppe (read a review here)

Lincoln Hoppe is an AMAZING voice actor.  I think I want to marry him.

Hang in there with this audiobook. At first it felt soooo slow...I wasn't sure I was going to keep listening. But, boy, am I glad I did. I mean, wow.

From the Random House website:
"Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary audiobook is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside."


Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt, read by Sam Freed

From Wikipedia:
"Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, published by Clarion Books, is a 2004 historical fiction book by Gary D. Schmidt. The book received the Newbery Honor in 2005 and was selected as a Michael L. Printz Honor that same year. The book was based on a real event. In 1912, the government of Maine put the residents of Malaga Island in a mental hospital and razed their homes."

“Schmidt’s writing is infused with feeling and rich in imagery. With fully developed, memorable characters. . . This novel will leave a powerful impression on readers.” ~ School Library Journal, Starred


Okay For Now by Gary D. SchmidtNational Book Award Finalist.  Read by Lincoln Hoppe.  (!)

Here's what the National Book Award website says:
“In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.”

His main character, Doug Swieteck, first appeared in Schmidt’s Newbery Honor book, THE WEDNESDAY WARS.

Listen to an 8 minute NPR on-air interview of Schmidt about OKAY FOR NOW here.

There.  Those are my Fab 3.

What I look forward to listening to next:

~ THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt, read by Joel Johnstone. I think I may have this read years ago; I can't wait to listen to it. (I'm inspired by Esther and am reading a string of books by the same author...something I almost never do.  Gary D. Schmidt is a brilliant and deeply affecting writer.)

by April Halprin Wayland

Are we twisting,
risking all,

listening to what the writer
wires us,

what the teller
sells us?

Twisting, uncertain,
wheeling...to the final curtain?

Did you know that many folks read books aloud for your listening pleasure on YouTube?  Go to YouTube and search for a book title.  For example, click here for a sampling of folks reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

And...if you know any flat-out beginning picture book writers in the Los Angeles area, my six-week class, Writing Picture Books for Children in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program starts August 6th.  (The student who benefits most from this class has never heard of SCBWI.)

poem and drawing (c)2014 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

posted by April Halprin Wayland...who's amazed that you've read all the way to here.  Thank you. 

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5. January Reads

Well, where did that go? And by that I mean January. Seems only seconds ago we were ushering in the new year and now here it is February already! After last year's challenge to try to read a book a day (at which I failed miserably) this year I've decided not to put a number on t, but I am keeping track of my reading and am going to try to post my list each month. So, without any further

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6. 2011 Favorite Picks

Blog Hiatus: This will be my last post until Wednesday, January 4th, 2012. But you can always chat with me on Twitter. For those of you who celebrate during this time of year, have a splendid holiday season. I hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year!

I have *so* much to read — on my Kindle plus the many books my nightstand! For me, these are good problems to have. :)

I didn’t get in as much reading as I wanted but I did find some great books this year. These are just a few of my favorites that I wanted to share with you.

Favorite Fiction Picks

White Cat by Holly Black

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Blood Red Road by Moria Young

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Favorite Craft Picks

90 Days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet

The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

Second Sight by Cheryl Klein

Mastering Creative Anxiety by Eric Maisel

Plot Versus Character by Jeff Gerke

What about ya’ll? What were some of your favorite reads in 2011?

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7. 2011 Fall Reading List

This year I haven’t read as many books as usual due to time constraints, but I still try to get as much reading in as I can. The following is what I have on my To-Be-Read (TBR) list for the Fall.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I’ve been a fan of this writer since I read Lip Touch: Three Times, so I’m really looking forward to reading this book. I love how this author world-builds and I can’t wait to see how this novel’s world unfolds.

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan. My Book Twin, Anna Staniszewski reminded me that this book has been released and I’m compelled by the premise and since it’s gotten her approval, I’m sure that I’ll like it too.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. This is my only contemporary novel on my list, but I loved the author’s first novel, Anna and The French Kiss, so I definitely want to read this one as well.

Tankborn by Karen Sandler. This novel also has an interesting premise of Genetically Engineered Non-humans (GENs) and true-borns born naturally of a mother. A futuristic tale I’m eager to read.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. This is one of the “hyped” books I’ve heard about. The premise of a girl who can kill with just her touch. I’m interested in reading this novel just to see how the debut author spins the tale.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. Some of you may not know this, but I have this compulsive fascination with zombies. This is one of the reasons this book is on my list. I’m actually reading this book now and it’s very riveting. I know it’s part of a trilogy and a rumor of a cliff-hanger ending, but so far, it’s been a great read.

What about you writer friends? What’s on your reading lists this Fall? Do you have any suggestions? Any books you read that you’ve loved recently?

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8. Genrefied Classics: A Guide to Reading Interests in Classic Literature

Genrefied Classics: A Guide to Reading Interests in Classic Literature. Tina Frolund. 2007. Libraries Unlimited. 392 pages.

Genrefied Classics is essentially a reference book. A book of bookish lists. There are ten genres explored in the book. Each chapter of genres is broken into sub-genres or categories. Each sub-genre has a list of recommended reads. Each entry lists the author, the title, the year and country of initial publication, details about more recent publications, and information about if the title has been done as a movie or an audio book. Each entry also features 'similar reads' and subject headings for that title.

Classics can be interpreted differently by people--depending on each person's definition of what a classic is and is not. This book only includes "classics" published before 1985. (Ender's Game would be an example of a more recent classic included in this one, the oldest examples would be The Iliad, Aesop's Fables, The Aeneid, etc.)

While the intended audience of this one may be adults who work with kids and teens (fifth grade on up through twelfth grade)--in other words librarians, teachers, etc., I think other readers can benefit from browsing this one. I don't think you have to be looking for a classic to put in the hands of a teenager to benefit from it.

There are categories or subcategories within this one which I wish were a bit longer because I would love even more suggestions. I would have LOVED it if the chapter on romance had been longer. I would have thought there would be more categories too. This section just felt a little uninspired, if that makes sense. Because while it's nice to include Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, it's not like those aren't oh-so-obvious choices. And to list only one Georgette Heyer?! I also think it would have been nice for Eugenia Price to get a mention or two either in this section or the historical fiction section. And Grace Livingston Hill, for that matter, either here or in inspirational fiction. And it just felt wrong, wrong, wrong for Elizabeth Gaskell not to be included in the romance section or the historical fiction section. Surely North and South and Wives and Daughters and Cranford are more than worthy to be included!!! I mean North and South is absolute must-must-must read in my opinion.

I was pleased to see some of my favorite authors included: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, John Steinbeck, L.M. Montgomery, etc. Some of the authors recommended were unfamiliar, which is a GOOD thing in my opinion. I picked this one up wanting to discover new-to-me-authors in my genres of choice. Unfortunately, some of them might be a bit tricky to find at the library. 

Because of my familiarity with some of the subjects (sub-categories), their recommended reading lists seemed too short, too incomplete, as you might expect. If you come to the book wanting new-to-you authors, new-to-you-books, the more you've read of the basics, the more that will be the case. But these lists aren't supposed to be comprehensive, they're supposed to be more basic than that.

One thing that also GREATLY annoyed me (I have low tolerance for this, don't laugh) is when they used the WRONG, WRONG, OH-SO-WRONG listing for the Chronicles of Narnia. Publication order. Publication order. Publication order. That's all I have to say about that.

As you might expect, the longest chapter is devoted to historical fiction. Over sixty pages worth of recommended reading. The shortest chapter is definitely the one devoted to inspirational fiction.
The ten genres are:


  • Espionage
  • Journey
  • Lost World
  • Nature and Animals
  • Sea Stories<

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9. Thurber House Staff Summer Reading Picks

It’s a welcomed side-effect of working at Thurber House that all of us here spend a lot of time reading – and thinking about – good books, especially in the summer, when we all need to unwind and relax after a day in the office.

Yesterday, we posted hundreds of choices for summer reading in lists from across the web. Today, we’re switching gears and making our own list. Each member of the Thurber House  team was asked to submit one suggestion – the absolute top of their summer reading list. Without further adieu, here’s the Thurber House Staff Summer Reading List.

The book: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
The staffer: Meg Brown, Children’s Programming
Meg says: “Just one?! Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins! Our campers and Young Docents have been raving about it for years and I haven’t read it yet. It’s the top of my to-read list at the moment. “

The book: The Passage, Justin Cronin
The staffer: Pat Shannon, Director of Education
Pat says: “I am most looking forward to finishing The Passage by Justin Cronin.  I just

have short snips of time to read and it has been slow going for me but I am determined.”

The book: The Land of Painted Caves, Jean Auel
The staffer: Anne Touvell, Deputy Executive Director
Anne says: “I’m looking forward to reading Jean Auel’s, The Land of Painted Caves. It’s the 6th in the Earth’s Children series, I’ve read them all – each is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages and she puts new books out so infrequently…. I need closure. I must finish Ayla’s journey!”

The book: The Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris, Graham Robb
The staffer: Susanne Jaffe, Executive Director
Susanne says: “The first is: The Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb, a non-fiction look at this remarkable city from the perspectives of a variety of different people.”

What’s at the top of your summer list?

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10. Don’t Lose It—Use It! Practice Math Thinking in the Summer

The beginning of summer is the season of reading lists. You can find them everywhere, suggestions of media with which students and other active thinkers can exercise their minds free from the confines of a syllabus. Novels will help you develop reading and English skills. Anything from podcasts to comic books can support your learning of a foreign language. But how can students of mathematics develop, refine, and utilize math skills independently? It probably seems more difficult to practice math during the summer months.

Here are five fun, engaging activities to nourish your mind’s mathematical needs.

1. Sudoku and KenKen
Celebrated and distributed by many newspapers, including The New York Times, Sudoku and KenKen are mathematical grid-based games that develop skills of analytical assessment, logical thinking, and the very useful process of elimination. KenKen has the added bonus of using calculations. These puzzles are plentiful (and usually free) online and in collections in book stores, and they can be found in every degree of difficulty from very simple to extremely difficult.

2. Books by Louis Sachar
For elementary and middle school students with a wacky sense of humor, try Louis Sachar’s Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School, a delightfully mathematical companion to his zany and entertaining story collection Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Sideways Arithmetic and its sequel are dense with clever, challenging puzzles that demand creativity and logic and elegantly set a basis for algebraic rigor.

3. Sets game
The Sets game is rich with mathematical thought, yet completely free of calculations. It involves matching sets of three cards which are either all the same or all different in each of four categories: shading, shape, cardinality, and color. It can be played alone or with any number of friends. The New York Times also offers free daily Sets puzzles.

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11. Read Your Brains Out, Part Deux by Mary Ann Rodman

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

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12. Reading Lists and Remembrances--posted by Carmela Martino

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

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13. Summer Reading, Websites, and Recipes for Kids

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
ReadKiddoRead 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 Worms 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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14. Find the Perfect Book Match for Your Summer Reading

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. 

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15. New Notes

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."

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16. Still Memorable After All These Years Posted by JoAnn Early Macken

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

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17. Summertime = Reading for Pleasure--posted by Carmela Martino

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

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18. Speaking as one old fart to another

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?

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19. Summer Reading Lists – Friend or Foe?

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?

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20. My ABC’s: A Reading List

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

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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.

There is also a HALLOWEEN CROSSWORD puzzle to try.

Or for those looking for an activity, see if you can MAKE A SPIDER or a SPIDER SNACK.

So no matter the weather between today and Halloween, you'll have plenty of fun stuff to do. Enjoy!

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22. Book lists

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?

23. My bookshelf, myself

Over at the Simon Pulse Ro Com blog today, I blab a little bit about what I've been reading lately. 
(FYI for those of you DYING of curiosity, I like to force myself to read "grown up books" when I'm on vacay.)

How about YOU?

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24. Contemporary Fiction

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!

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25. Radio Silence

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?

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