Monday, July 21, 2014

Goodbye to one of the Giants of Children's Literature

My heart was saddened when I learned of the death of Walter Dean Meyers on July 1.  I enjoyed this tribute to him written by the reviewer, Alexis Burling and posted at KidsReads.  Burling shares this quote from Miriam Altshuler, Meyers' literary agent:  “Walter Dean Myers was a compassionate, wonderful, and brilliant man. He wrote about children who needed a voice and their stories told,” she said. “His work will live on for generations to come.”  If you've never read one of his books, this would be a good time to request one from the library.

Alexis Burling mentions her early years working as a publicist at Scholastic.  She met many wonderful authors and illustrators, but comments that "... perhaps the writer who most stuck out in my mind was Walter Dean Myers. He was humble in a way that only the truly gifted can be and when he talked to kids, he treated them like equals."
Her words echo the feeling I had when I heard Walter Dean Meyers speak at the Washington DC  National Book Festival in September 2012.  My recap of his presentation ends with these words:  "A young aspiring author in search of a mentor was astounded when Walter Dean Meyers, encouraged him with the words, 'Email me!'"

Goodbye gentle giant!  The world of children's literature will miss you, but your words will enrich the lives of young people for many years to come.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Check out Middle Shelf, an online magazine!

I discovered an online magazine, Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids, while wandering on Twitter this week.   Take a look at the July/August issue for great book recommendations and interviews with Kirby Larson, one of my favorite NW authors, and Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mock Newbery 2015 Lists of Possibilities

Are you interested in reading some of the possibilities for the 2015 Newbery Award?  I'll post some links to Mock Newbery clubs, in case you'd like to read some of these titles.


I haven't read ANY of these titles yet.  I've heard of the first seven.  Lots of people are talking about A Snicker of Magic.   I've read other books by Cynthia Lord and Laurel Synder so I'm looking forward to Half a Chance and Seven Stories Up.  I loved Three Times Lucky, so I can't wait to read The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing.  I have ARCs (advance reader copies) of The Mark of the Dragonfly and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy.  I just checked out Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere (another Hurricane Katrina book) which should be a good companion book to Zane and the Hurricane from this list.

The next six titles are new to me, although I do recognize some of the author's names (Neal Shusterman and Margita Engle).

If you've read any of these books, post your reviews in the comments.  It's time for me to make more time for summer reading!

The Eva Perry Mock Newbery Book Club Blog

This Mock Newbery Book Club Blog from North Carolina  includes tons of titles with brief summaries (perhaps they include almost every new book that's been published in 2014).  Last year, they chose Counting by 7's which was my first choice for the Mock Newbery competition and a favorite of quite a few readers in our club.  The year before they chose Wonder, our choice for that year also!  If you're interested in reading from a specific genre, you can click on that genre in the menu on the left. 

Feel free to leave comments about any of these books or other Mock Newbery sites you discover.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Links for Book Trailers

This is a list of web sites with book trailers that Ms. Radow (IMS librarian) and I compiled for our enrichment session at MI library in the spring of 2013.  You can access the book trailers by clicking on the link.  Think of a book trailer as another way to discover books you might like to read.


How do you use book trailers in the classroom?  Can you help me locate other sites that you've found useful?  My students are sixth graders, so I tend to avoid young adult titles and focus on the middle grade/early middle school reader.



Click on this link to go to a great booklist from KCLS.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Looking for your next great book?

This is the a list of great sites to help you find good books to read.  I compiled this list during the summer of 2013.  If you find other good sites, email me (, and I'll add them to this post.

These links take you to a variety of places where you can explore book titles.  Enjoy shopping for your next great read by exploring these websites and links.  Please comment on the sites that you like and let me know if any of the links are not working.  Happy reading! 

(link added 7-21-14)
Be sure to check out the many book reviews on this site.  July is Harry Potter month with tons of activities and links to all things Harry Potter.

50 States of Middle Grade Lit
(link added 8-12-13)
Wow!  I love this  post by blogger, Monique German.   This is a fun book list.  She selected a book from each state and then incorporated the book covers into a USA map.  Some people are so creative!  Be sure to scroll down to see the map and the actual list of books by state.

HAISLN (Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network) Recommended Reading Lists 2013 -  (Updated for 2014, link added 8-2-13)
This link provides reading lists for grades K-12.  I left the Houston area 16 years ago, but I've continued to follow this excellent book list for all grades.  The document library in the green box takes you to the book list which includes a short summary. If you'd like to see the book covers and a summary, scroll down and click on the lists in the yellow box.

Bookwink - Click on the blue subject or genre to be taken to specific booklists, use the tabs on the top of the page to search by grade level, author, or title.

Find a Book! archive at Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac lets you search her archives for recommendations by age group, book type, subject, date, and more.

Read Kiddo Read - This site, created by James Patterson (author of The Maximum Ride series and Middle school series), is aimed at helping kids find great books to read.  Click on the yellow tab for Great Pageturners, and click on the purple tab for  Great Advanced Reads. 

Guys Read  - This is the place to come if you’re looking for great guy books. This site includes recommendations from teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and guys themselves.

Summer Reading Lists for Middle School Kids - Pragmatic Mom, a blogger I follow, provides an extensive list of books for summer reading (posted summer 2013).

A Book and A Hug - At this website, you can explore books by category or age, participate in Read Around the World, or even write your own review.  Barb Langridge, an independent children's bookseller and a children's specialist at a public library explains why she created this website:  "Books can open doors to the world. Reading really is magic and I want to help parents and young people find the books that connect to them and open the world up for them."

Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present - This is a comprehensive list of the yearly Newbery Medal winner and honor books.

Looking for a great audiobook?  The Odyssey Award list includes winners and honor books for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults available in English in the United States.

Remember our Mock Newbery Literature Circles last year?  Teacher Holly Mueller's Mock Newbery 2014 Book Club post shares "buzz" book titles for the 2014 Newbery and even includes a few book trailers. At her class website, Reading with Mrs. Mueller, she reports on her first summer Mock Newbery 2014 Club Meeting with her students.

Young Readers's Choice Award - The Pacific Northwest Library Association's Young Reader's Choice Award is the oldest children's choice award in the U.S. and Canada. The award was established in 1940 by a Seattle bookseller, the late Harry Hartman, who believed every student should have an opportunity to select a book that gives him or her pleasure.  Use this link to access the books nominated for 2014, the 2013 Nominees and Winners, and the Past Winners of the YRCA (Young Reader's Choice Award).

Robert F. Sibert Medal and Honor Books - Like to read nonfiction?  The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, established by the Association for Library Service to Children in 2001 with support from Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year.

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children - More award-winning nonfiction! This link provides the 2013 award winner, honor books, and recommended titles.  For links to winners in previous years,  click Orbis Pictus Links on the left-hand side of the site.  NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) has established an annual award for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The name Orbis Pictus, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Books Read in July

I can't believe that it's already July 12.  I hope you're finding some time to read!  Perhaps I'll see some of you at Island Celebration this weekend.

Try to read at least three books during the summer.  Post the book title, author, and your rating.  You might also want to include the genre.

Feel free to share your thoughts about the book, but remember you don't have to post a lengthy review.   You might choose to use a star rating system of 1 - 5 stars, with 5 stars being the best book you've ever read, and 1 star indicating that you didn't like the book.

If you have trouble commenting on this post, email your comments to me (, and I'll post them on the blog.

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Celebrating the Arrival of Summer and Time to Read!

 I wrote this post on June 30, but failed to hit the publish button, so now it's old news.

This is officially my first day of summer (June 30)!  I spent last week cleaning out the classroom (almost finished), grading papers, posting grades, and watching the moving of the portables.  I'll be sharing some challenges here to keep you reading and exploring books throughout the summer.  Feel free to participate (or not).  We'll celebrate with cookie bars and time to share our summer reading at the library in August (more details later about this event).  Even if you don't read much this summer, drop by for cookie bars and to get some ideas for fall reading!

I'm currently reading The Boys in the Boat for my July book club meeting.  It will be challenging for me to finish it by next Tuesday, but I love reading on my deck in the summertime.  We have company arriving for the July 4th holiday on Wednesday so I'll be spending lots of time reading between now and then.

Here's a summer time quote by Aster Austin Dobson:

"The easeful days, the dreamless nights; 
The homely round of plain delights;
The calm, unambitioned mind, 
The simple stuff of summer time."

I hope that you're finding time for plain delights and simple stuff during your summer vacation!  Leave a comment about your favorite plain delights and simple stuff (it doesn't have to be reading).
- Mrs. B.

If you can't figure out how to comment, remember that you can email me ( and I'll add your comment to the blog.