being me, books, Literacy, Reading

My Favorite Reads of This Summer – 2015 – Part 1

While summer still has a few weeks left in it, I have been surrounded by so many amazing reads that I felt I needed to share some of the incredible books I have been reading.  We are so lucky to have such incredible books to share with our students (and ourselves!)

I just finished MiNRS by Kevin Sylvester last night and couldn’t believe how good it was.  I love a great science fiction book and this one does not disappoint.  Best part is that I can see handing this book to so many students to read, with it’s accessible language and action scenes, this is sure to be a crowd favorite for 4th graders and up.

It is completely appropriate that The Blackthorn Key is released the very same day that I go back to school.  Why?  Because this is the book to give to students to read.  This is a book for anyone who loves a good mystery, fantasy, action, and hopefully something that will turn into a series.  This book, which again was an ARC given to me by Scholastic, will be a great book to hand to those students that loved Harry Potter or The False Prince.  And it will be one that I cannot wait to read aloud.

Bottom-line: 5th grade (or mature 4th graders due to the murders in it) and up.

I have loved Jennifer’s books for many years.  The False Prince and it’s sequels have been must-reads in my classroom for a long time.  To me she is such a fantasy writer, one that weaves tales that sucks us in and leaves us wanting more.  Imagine my surprise when I saw her new book A Night Divided.  Long gone are the tales of battles, kings and queens, instead replaced with a stark narrative of what happened when the Berlin Wall was erected over night.  It seemed so unlike her, but it is not.  Her masterful story telling shines as we enter the would of Gerta and Fritz and their quest to have their dream survive.  I was sucked into the story, needing to read just one more page until I sadly found myself at the end.  Well done Jennifer.

So this book is a must add to 4th grade and up.  There is shooting and death in it, after all it is historical fiction, but it is not graphic.

This is the post where I admit I have never read Wonderstruck. I have never read the The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  I had watched the movie and marveled at the beautiful story.  I have handed the books to students and told them to fall in love with them.  But I had never read them myself.  And I am not sure why.

So when I was handed The Marvels after standing in line at ILA for more than an hour, sharing the delightful company of Alison Hogan, I knew I had to read it.  And it was worth every minute of standing in line.  The book is beautiful, the story captures your imagination and leaves you pondering.  I cannot wait to order this for my classroom and this time when I hand it to students really mean it when I say, “This is a must read.”

For 4th grade or perhaps even 3rd grade and up.


A favorite student of mine handed me a Barnes & Noble giftcard at the end of the year.  I was surprised because I was pretty sure middle school teachers do not get gifts and yet she handed me one of the best things in the world; a chance to get more books.  I therefore knew the books had to be special and I was not disappointed; Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is a masterpiece.  All 500+ pages of it.  Once again she weaves a tale so masterful that you have to just read one more page, even if it is past midnight and you know tomorrow will be a long day.    What I also loved about this book is it ageless and timeless quality, I immediately could think of 4th grader and 7th graders that needed to read this book.  I am so thankful this book was recommended to me and now I am recommending it to you.

This is the book that took my breath away.  This is the book that I read in less than 2 hours and then passed it on the very next day.  This is the very first book that is a Global Read Aloud contender for 2016 for middle grades and up.  Gut-wrenching, beautiful, and still resonating weeks later for me.  Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt is a book that will resonate across our continents.

I had the honor of meeting Erin Soderberg at Nerdcamp and get a copy of her book.  I loved The Quirks, funny, lighthearted, yet with an universal theme that many kids will connect with, Erin has written a great book for 3rd grade and up but also appropriate for middle schoolers.

4 thoughts on “My Favorite Reads of This Summer – 2015 – Part 1”

  1. Echo was an amazing book. I loved it! I think it will be a Newberry contender for sure. Make sure you pick up Circus Mirandus. It is another fantastic book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. First of all, thank you for this post. I do not receive ARCs so this helps guide what books I want to pick up at the bookstore when my next bookstore visit occurs. (I’ve only read Echo.)

    You are so funny in this post. Although I have read hundreds upon hundreds of MG novels, I, too, have not read Wonderstruck or Invention of Hugo Cabret. I, also, don’t have a reason for not reading either one (other than I haven’t gotten to it yet and other books seem to be getting in my way), yet both books are in my classroom library and read by my students. Thank you for being so candor in your posts. I think sometimes as teachers we think we have to have done everything.

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