Welcome to the World, Orphan Island

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Being a reader means, naturally, that I read many books.  Being a teacher of 7th graders means that I mostly read children and young adult books.  Being me means that I love every minute I get to spend reading, discovering stories, creating new relationships, and yes, also dreading that very last page.  Yet, one of the downfalls of reading a lot of books is that sometimes books end up flowing together, of feeling old before I have even finished reading them.  It seems that the more I read, the harder it is sometimes to find a new book to fall in love with.  These past few months I have gone out in and out of reading slumps, blame it on the book I am writing (now in production, hallelujah), the tougher year of professional growth,  being tired and sick more, my kids staying up later, or even just discovering Tiny House Hunters (400 square feet – that sounds amazing).  Whatever the cause; my reading has suffered.  I have started many books but finished fewer than normal.  I had gotten lost as a reader a bit, but then some hurried packing led me back to my essence.

On a plane headed toward Canada, I cracked open the first page of Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder and immediately fell into its pages.  I adore Laurel’s other books and so when Orphan Island had been on my dresser it was an easy book to pack.  On that airplane, I was transported to a little island, in the middle of nowhere, waiting there on the shore…

What was this world that Laurel Snyder had created where children just showed up on an island, seemingly from nowhere, and only had each other to rely on for survival?  Who sends the boat?  Who was there first?  And what would I do if I found myself one day on an island surrounded by eight other children?  It reminded me of one of my favorite children’s books, and the very first Global Read Aloud book; The Little Prince, which come to find out is partly what inspired this book.  Strange…

Yet, what keeps me thinking about Orphan Island is not just the story, although that has stuck with me or a long time, but more the language.  The feel of the book.  The yearning, even when one doesn’t quite know what to yearn for.  I shared that same feeling as a child and so reading about Jinny and how she starts to question her very existence led me back to my own childhood and right up unto today where I still question what our role is here.

I picked up Orphan Island hoping for a great read, perhaps a five-star book, but I continued to read Orphan Island because my heart yearned for its story.   It has stuck with me for the last month and although the book finally comes out May 30th, I am already thinking of when I can re-read it.  Surely there is more to connect with the second time around.  So if you love middle-grade novels.  If you need a read that connects with your heart.  If you need to be transported, I recommend Orphan Island, the very first contender for Global Read Aloud 2018.

To win a copy of the book, please leave a comment on this blog post.  Make sure you enter your email on the comment form so I can contact you in case you win.

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May 19: The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

May 20: Book Monsters

May 21: Maria’s Melange

May 22: Read, Write Reflect & Walden Media Tumblr

May 23: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

May 24: Nerdy Book Club

May 25: A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust

May 26: Kirby Larson

Books That Teach Us About the Experience of Refugees and Immigrants

This year in English we have really been focused on learning about others.  Others whose life experience may be so very different from our own.  Others who have so much to teach us. Others who some may tell us to fear.  So our collection of chapter books and books have grown with a focus on breaking down biases and broadening understanding.  I, therefore, thought that it would be helpful for others to see which books have helped us do just that.  Many of these books have been on other lists that I have posted, but there are a few new ones.

Picture books

What’s in a name?  As educators, we know the inherent power of pronouncing a child’s name correctly to make them feel accepted and included.  This picture book from 2009 shares the story of Sangoel, a refugee from Sudan, and what happens when he comes to America.  A must add as we try to break down walls and build understanding for others in our classrooms.
One of the most powerful picture books to be published in 2016, The Journey is about a family as they flee from war and the decisions they have to make as they search for safety.  Beautifully illustrated this picture book packs a punch.
Also a picture book about a family that has to leave their country in search of safety, the artwork is all done by stone.  With both English and Arabic text, I am so grateful for the vision of this picture book.
Why would a child set out on foot toward America, knowing that there were thousands of miles filled with danger ahead of them?  This picture book illustrates the journey that more than 100,000 children have taken as they try to reach safety in the United States.  Told in poetry, this picture book helps us understand something that can seem inconceivable.

A Piece of Home written by Jeri Watts and illustrated by Hyewon Yum

Fitting in. Feeling lost.  Appreciate differences.  What happens when a family chooses to move to the US and all of a sudden does not fit in anymore?

The Name Jar by Yanksook Choi (Having a name that no one pronounces correctly in the USA really makes me love this book even more).

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat (Author), Leslie Staub (Illustrator) brings us the story of a little girl’s longing for her mother as they are separated.  The mother has been sent to a detention center and does not know what will happen to her.

Sharing the story of Oskar, a young boy who has escaped the horror of the Jewish persecution in Germany and arrives in America with only a photograph and an address of an aunt he has never met.  He must make his way through the streets of NYC, but rather than being afraid, he sees the blessings he meets along the way. Another must add as we discuss refugees, and not being afraid of others in our classrooms.
Taken from his own life; this story of having to hide in a planetarium as the government looks for his activist father is one sure to get students talking.  What happens when you speak up but the government does not want you to.  Reminding us that even when it is scary, we should still stand up for what is right, and sharing the story of why some people have to flee, this is another must-add to your collection.

In The Seeds of Friendship by Michael Foreman a boy is not sure how to make a connection with others.  That is until he is given seeds and he has an idea of how to make this new gray city more like home.

What happens when a father and his young daughter set out toward the border?  In 

My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood speaks to how hard moving is, but also about finding a new friend.  This is all about finding the beauty in someone else’s culture.

 Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh.  This allegory tells the tale of Pancho who is waiting for his father’s return from the north.  When Papa doesn’t show up as expected, Pancho is determined to find him.  The author, Duncan Tonatiuh, is a Global Read Aloud contender for picture book study.
 In Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say I am reminded of how split we can feel when we belong to two countries.  Beautiful and still relevant more than twenty years after its release, this is a wonderful way to discuss what it means to feel home.
 Sometimes the books that tell us the most do not even have words.  The Arrival by Shaun Tan wordless graphic novel/picture book is one that will mesmerize readers.

Chapter books

On Global Collaboration and Projects You Can Join

I started the Global Read Aloud in 2010 not knowing what it would become, not knowing how it would truly make the world smaller, connect many children and change my own life.  I started it with a simple need in mind; more global collaboration and connections for the students I was teaching.  I knew that the power of a great read aloud could not be disputed, I knew what a read aloud could do to to foster community.  I knew what the right read aloud would do for us as readers, as thinkers, as human beings.  And so I started a small project that since 2010 has taken on a life of its own.

This Monday we kicked off the 7th annual Global Read Aloud.  It was the day that I gave up on my Twitter account pretty much.  There simply was no way for me to keep up.  With more than 937,000 students participating this year, give or take a few, I do believe we may be one of the largest, if not the largest, globally collaborative multi-day student project in the world.  I cannot help but stand in awe of the number.  Stand in awe of this little idea that grew into something more than I could imagine.  But not just for the sheer number of children involved, but more for the lives that it is changing.  For the experiences it is creating.  I stand in awe of the invisible lines stretching around the globe as students connect, discuss, and share who they are with others who happen to be reading the same book as them.  Imagine a world that is truly becoming more connected and you have the vision of what the Global Read Aloud is doing for the world.  And my project is not alone.  Other dreamers and thinkers are seeing the need for projects to unify children around the world, for better learning opportunities that include bringing the world in and the students out.  We can certainly create our own, I do all of the time for the sake of my students, or we can join in on these pre-existing projects to make the world smaller.  To make the world kinder.  To make the world more empathetic.

Global collaboration and the way it shapes student learning experiences should not be something we just do once in a while, it should be often, it should be meaningful.  It should be something our students come to expect not as something new and flashy but as something necessary for them to discover who they are as learners.  Our students have a voice, they have a need to learn about others, they have the right to not just experience our differences but to know what makes us all so similar.  Global collaboration provides us with our starting point, these projects become our starting point as we try to bring the world in.

To see the global projects I know of and that others have graciously shared, please access this padlet.  If you know of others that should be on here, please add them.  At least this is a start for what is out there.

 

The Worth of You

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Lynda Mullaly Hunt made me cry yesterday.  Right in the middle of a panel session on the community of the Global Read Aloud.  I had held my tears back all throughout as the authors had shared what it means to have their book read and loved by so many children on a global scale.  I had held my tears back as they had talked about the ways that their books had changed the lives of others, how children had found hope, courage, and determination through their pages.  Yet when Lynda told me that the slide showing a globe was for me because I had changed the world. I cried.  And then Lynda cried, and I sat there in awe because I  never set out to make a difference, I simply wanted to read a book aloud to my students and have them share their thoughts.

So I write this post not to gloat in the Global Read Aloud glory.  Nor to say that I am anything special, but more so to tell people that your ideas have worth.  That your ideas may make a difference to someone else.  That those ideas you carry inside need to be spoken because you will never know what type of difference they may make.

And yes, it is scary to speak a dream aloud.  And yes, it is scary to let others in .  And yes, it is scary to be proud of what you have created.  But it is worth it.  Even if your idea changes the course for one other person, or even if just changes yours, it will never change anything if you do not speak out loud.  If you do not share.

I never set out to make a difference, I wish I could say I had.  But it happened, if even just for my own students as they fell in love with a book year after year and wanted to make the world a better place.  Because I dared to speak aloud.  I dared to think that perhaps someone somewhere would see the beauty in this so simple idea.  And so the Global Read Aloud will continue to make a difference for so many kids, for so many teachers, as we gather in this time of terrorism, uncertainty and a world determined to be dark at times.  We need books to connect us because the world seems to be trying to tear us apart at times.  We need books to remind us that we are more alike than different.  We need books and experiences and emotions so that we can remember that we are humans first and that whatever difference we may have can be overcome.

I never set out to change the world, and I am not even sure that I have.  But I had an idea that I dared speak aloud and now cannot imagine a world without it.  Share yours; change the world.

 

Global Read Aloud: One Book to Connect the World – A Video #GRA15

The International Literacy Association (formerly IRA) has been a huge supporter of the Global Read Aloud for a few years.  They put this video together for us as I prepare for the 6th project to start October 5th. I thought it might be nice to share it here.

Also, join me on Wednesday, September 10th at 8 PM EST for #ILAchat as we discuss all things reading aloud and the Global Read Aloud.

PS:  If you are wondering how to get your own reading warrior shirt, go here.

Some Favorite Reads From The Year

Cross-posted from my reading review blog, Mrs. Ripp Reads.

I read 80 books this school year.  A goal I was not sure I would meet, and yet with two days to go, I have started my 81st book and am feeling pretty good.  But that doesn’t mean I am done reading, no way!  My massive to-be-read pile is practically screaming at me to start.  But before I fall in love with some new books, how about a sampling of a few books I loved this year?

All of the summaries have been taken from Goodreads, by the way.

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

My opinion:

Red Queen is amazing, couldn’t put it down even if drew a lot of resemblance to many other amazing books.  I cannot wait for the 2nd book to come out.  And I cannot wait to hand this to as many students as I possibly can!

Age Range:  5th grade and up.

Summary:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Paper Towns

My Opinion:  A student recommended Paper Towns to me and I read it over two nights.  I, of course, wanted to see what happened, but also enjoyed the memory of what it meant to be 18 and graduating with life awaiting.

Age Range:  7th grade and up with some mature language and high school scenes.

Summary:

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

Sunny Side Up

My Opinion:  Oh Sunny Side Up, I adore you.  An incredible example of why graphic novels can be so powerful.  I know many, many kids who will love this book.

Age Range:  4th and up.

Summary:

Following the lives of kids whose older brother’s delinquent behavior has thrown their family into chaos, Sunny Side Up is at once a compelling “problem” story and a love letter to the comic books that help the protagonist make sense of her world.

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi

My Opinion:  Growing up in Denmark, we are surrounded by the Holocaust and WWII, yet this true story, The Nazi Hunters,  I had never heard.  Once I gave up on keeping all of the names straight, I was able to just enjoy this thrilling story and be awed at the true events that happened so many years ago.

Age Range:  4th and up, it does discuss some details of the Holocaust though.

Summary:

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Adolf Eichmann, the head of operations for the Nazis’ Final Solution, walked into the mountains of Germany and vanished from view. Sixteen years later, an elite team of spies captured him at a bus stop in Argentina and smuggled him to Israel, resulting in one of the century’s most important trials — one that cemented the Holocaust in the public imagination.

Forget Me

My Opinion:  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Forget Me, it was another page turner that many of my students enjoyed.  This one won’t stay with you for a long time but ti will envelop you while you read it.

Age Range:  5th and up.

Summary:

On the three-month anniversary of her boyfriend Flynn’s death, Morgan uploads her only photo of him to FriendShare to get some closure—but she’s shocked when the facial recognition software suggests she tag him as “Evan Murphy.” She’s never heard of Evan, but a quick search tells her that he lives in a nearby town and looks exactly like Flynn. Only this boy is very much alive.

Digging through layers of secrets and lies, Morgan is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her boyfriend, her town, and even her parents’ involvement in this massive web of lies.

Conjured

My Opinion:  Oh this book, Conjured, freaked me out but in a good way.  Terrifying, confusing, and yet it sucks you right in.  This book made me remember why I used to love reading Stephen King books and that is not a bad thing.

Age Range:  7th and up.

Summary: 

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

Every Last Word

My Opinion:  The only thing I hated about Every Last Word is that it doesn’t come out until June 16th, which means my current 7th graders do not have access to it.  And I wish they did.  I still told a few of them about this book and told them to come see me at the beginning of the year so they can read it.  I know it will speak to them as it spoke to me.

Age Range:  6th and up.  Slightly mature relationship but tactfully handled.

Summary:

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

George

My Opinion:  George is finally available August 25th and is a must add to any classroom, 4th grade and up.  When we say we need diverse books, it is a book like this that we need to have in our classrooms.

Age Range:  4th and up.

Summary:

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Goodbye Stranger

My Opinion:  I have loved Rebecca Stead’s books since When You Reach Me and this one Goodbye Stranger  is right up there.  While this won’t be out until August 4th I already have it pre-ordered so I can book talk it the first week of school.

Age Range:  5th and up.

Summary:

Bridge is an accident survivor who’s wondering why she’s still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody’s games–or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?
This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl–as a friend?
On Valentine’s Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

Circus Mirandus

My Opinion:  Along with Fish In A Tree, Circus Mirandus  is a must-read book of the year.  Amazing, fantastic, spellbinding, and any other gushy word I can think of.  This is a modern day classic.

Age Range:  3rd and up if high reader.

Summary:

Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

Bone Gap

My Opinion:  Bone Gap both kept me guessing and frustrated me.  This tale it spun was confusing, yet magical ad I read it in one night.  Sadly I chose to leave it at home because I felt it was a touch mature for most of my 7th graders.

Age Range:  8th and up or high school due to relationship things.

Summary:

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Read Between the Lines

My Opinion:   Jo Knowles is one of the few writers where I have all of their books.  I loved the story-telling of Read Between the Lines , and I loved searching for clues as to how it would end up.

Age Range:  6th and up depending on the maturity of the reader.

Summary:

Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won’t be the last time a middle finger is raised on this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy café, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a “big girl,” she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines.

The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen, #1)

My Opinion:  This is the epitome of page turner to me, quick, fast, and easy to digest, April Henry knows how to crank them out, leaving us at the edge of our seats.  All of her books look very worn this year but The Body in the Woods was probably one of the most read.  Best part is that this is the first book of a series.

Age Range:  5th grade and up but it does have a killer in it.

Summary:

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

The Boy in the Black Suit

My Opinion:    I loved how much The Boy in the Black Suit with its moving story spoke to so many different students and myself.  Jason Reynolds is a master storyteller and draws the reader in with this simple, yet compelling story.

Age Range:  5th and up.

Summary:

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

Red Butterfly

My Opinion:  I was surprised t how much I liked Red Butterfly, I loved the twists and turns and found myself personally invested in it.  With its poetic narration of an unbelievable story, you have to just read one more page to see what happens.

Age Range:  4th and up.

Summary:

Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an elderly American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has … but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Locomotion

My Opinion:  The stark beauty of the words of Locomotion left me silent for a long time.  I used several excerpts with students as well, which lead to them reading the book.

Age Range:  5th and up.

Summary:

When Lonnie Collins Motion “Locomotion” was seven years old, his life changed forever. Now he’s eleven, and his life is about to change again. His teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. And suddenly, Lonnie has a whole new way to tell the world about his life, his friends, his little sister Lili, and even his foster mom, Miss Edna, who started out crabby but isn’t so bad after all. Jacqueline Woodson’s novel-in-poems is humorous, heartbreaking . . . a triumph.

We Were Liars

My Opinion:  Incredible book that leaves you turning every page so you can see how it ends.  This was passed around my classroom quite a bit, never quite settling in on our shelves.  We Were Liars was a must read for many students and teachers this year.

Age Range: 7th and up due to mature language and subjects.

Summary:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

My Opinion:  A fantastic sci-fi series which I cannot wait to continue reading.  I used Unwind for a book club group as well and they loved it.

Age Range:  6th and up.

Summary:

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Reality Boy

My Opinion:  I loved Reality Boy for its brutal betrayal of what being angry can mean for your life.  This book resonated with me and a few males students because they could relate to Gerald’s life.

Age Range:  7th and up – it has mature language and mature subject matter.

Summary:

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.