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Books Between Podcast

Updated 5 days ago

Arts
Education
Books
Courses
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Books Between is a podcast to help teachers, parents, and librarians connect kids between 8 and 12 to books they'll love.

Read more

Books Between is a podcast to help teachers, parents, and librarians connect kids between 8 and 12 to books they'll love.

iTunes Ratings

70 Ratings
Average Ratings
65
4
0
1
0

AMAZING

By KKC Reads - Jul 27 2019
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This podcast is a great treasure for all people interested in connecting kids to wonderful middle grade stories.

Wonderful Resource

By Poor robin - Mar 18 2019
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This is such a brilliant podcast for any lover of middle grade literature!

iTunes Ratings

70 Ratings
Average Ratings
65
4
0
1
0

AMAZING

By KKC Reads - Jul 27 2019
Read more
This podcast is a great treasure for all people interested in connecting kids to wonderful middle grade stories.

Wonderful Resource

By Poor robin - Mar 18 2019
Read more
This is such a brilliant podcast for any lover of middle grade literature!

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Cover image of Books Between Podcast

Books Between Podcast

Updated 5 days ago

Read more

Books Between is a podcast to help teachers, parents, and librarians connect kids between 8 and 12 to books they'll love.

Rank #1: #68 - MG Trends & the Most Anticipated Books of 2019

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Intro

Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a teacher, a mom, and battling a cold this afternoon! So if I sound a little...off - that is why!

This is episode #68 and Today I’m answering some questions about trends in middle grade and sharing with you some fabulous 2019 titles to look forward to this year!

Q&A - Trends in Middle Grade Fiction

Last month, my husband asked me some questions about trends in middle grade fiction. He teaches a class at Seton Hall all about trends in genre fiction and wanted some input on middle grade. So I thought I would share my responses with you. And I would be very curious about what YOU would answer.

  1. What genres or subgenres do you believe are the hottest right now?

Well, it’s a format and not a genre but graphic novel memoirs like Hey Kiddo, Real Friends, and Be Prepared are still really popular. And also graphic novel adaptations of classics (like Anne of Green Gables) and popular novels (like Wings of Fire or Percy Jackson).  And again, not genre, but I see more books that are based on the core experiences of the writer. Those novels that draw on the real-life backgrounds of the authors like Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, Tami Charles’ Like Vanessa, and Supriya Kellar’s Ahimsa.  They’re not memoirs but they are books rooted in a very personal experience. To authors, I’d say - take those things that make you unique, that make you a bit quirky, that set you apart from most other people - and write THAT story. Like Kelly Yang taking the experiences of her family coming from China and running motels to write Front Desk. Jarrett Krosoczka writing the critically acclaimed graphic novel memoir Hey Kiddo about his life living with his grandparents after his mom lost custody of him due to drug addiction. Crack that door open and invite us inside.

  1. What genres or subgenres do you believe are passé or overexposed?

I don’t know…. I do wonder how long the unicorn and narwhal craze will last but that seems to live more in picture books than middle grade. Magical realism - or rather realistic fiction with a magical twist - doesn’t seem to be slowing down. You know - anything can be new and fresh with the right spin.  And also, authors from marginalized backgrounds are still underrepresented in just about every genre so those are stories that will likely have new points of view. I thought I was totally over zombie stories but Dread Nation popped up and whoa!!  I’ve never read a zombie story like THAT before!

  1. If you had to predict, what genre or subgenre do you think is primed to be the next Big Thing in the next year or so?

I would say stories about immigrants, refugees, and the unique experiences of marginalized groups (especially by #ownvoices authors) will continue to be popular. Over the last couple of years we’ve seen an explosion of critically acclaimed middle grade stories like Alan Gratz’s Refugee, Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me, and Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai among many more. We also have more and more books coming out that tell stories of police violence in developmentally appropriate ways like Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Blended by Sharon Draper.  I’m also really excited about a new crop of middle grade #MeToo stories on the horizon like So Done by Paula Chase and the upcoming Barbara Dee novel Maybe He Just Likes You.

  1. Any comments about where you see genre fiction heading?

In middle grade, like everywhere else,  #ownvoices books are still underrepresented  - everyone has a unique story to tell or a unique POV to offer.  EVERYONE. So my advice to authors, take the spark of your unique life experiences and let that burn throughout your story.  My advice to educators - scour those shelves to find a wider variety of books. Also - if you write for a YA/MG audience, librarians and educators are more and more eager to the ditch the old canon and form partnerships with authors. Look for opportunities like #KidsNeedMentors or reach out to your local schools and libraries.

Book Talk - Most Anticipated Middle Grade Books of 2019

The last couple of episodes were all about looking back on some of the best that middle grade had to offer in 2018. (If you missed those, go check out episodes #66 and #67.)  But today is all about looking forward into the new year.

Last year, when I did our Most Anticipated MG of 2018, I went chronologically by month. But this year I’m going about it a little differently and discussing the new releases by category.  

First, we’ll chat about the new graphic novels coming up in 2019. And then we’ll talk about new releases from authors who debuted in 2018 and 2017 and see what they’re up to now. After that, I’ll give you a peek at some of the 2019 debut middle grade authors.  Then we’ll see what new books are coming out in favorite series and what sequels we have to look forward to. And finally, we’ll finish up with the 2019 releases from more established authors.

So, buckle up and get ready to add to your wish list. And remember - no need to go hunting for a pen and paper. You can find every book mentioned AND a picture of the available covers AND a link to pre-order them right on the Books Between post for this episode, #69, at MGBookVillage.com.  I’ve got your back, I know you’re busy, so it’s all right there for you. And as I’ve said before, I’ve come to really love pre-ordering - it helps out favorite authors and it’s like a little surprise to your future self.

Before we jump in, just remember that this is just a sampling of all the incredible books coming out this year. I’ll add some links to some other great resources in the show notes and on the website where you can find more complete listings of titles to browse through and the MGBookVillage website has a great release calendar so that’s one to bookmark for sure.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/111975.Middle_Grade_Novels_of_2019

http://novelnineteens.com/books/middle-grade-books

https://mgbookvillage.org/2018releasedates/

http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2018/12/19-2019-middle-grade-books-to-have-on-your-radar/

https://www.readbrightly.com/middle-grade-books-2019/

https://www.bookish.com/articles/must-read-childrens-books-winter-2019/

http://www.popgoesthereader.com/target-audience-middle-grade/70-middle-grade-novels-i-cant-wait-to-read-in-2019/

Also - publication dates do occasionally change, so just be aware of that.

Alright, get your Goodreads tab open, or your library website pulled up, or your Amazon/Indiebound shopping cart ready, or ….. print out the show notes and bring it to your favorite local bookstore!

Alright - let’s get to it!

The 2019 Graphic Novels

  • This January, Lincoln Peirce, the author of Big Nate, has a new graphic/illustrated novel series set in the middle ages called Max and the Midknights that looks really, really cute.
  • Also out on January 8th is Click by Kayla Miller - the story of 5th grader Olive who is having some trouble finding where she “clicks” in middle school. The sequel, called Camp, is being released this April so fans won’t have to wait long for the next one.
  • A fantasy graphic novel that Mel Schuit recommended that I check out is The Chancellor and the Citadel by Maria Capelle Frantz so that’s on my radar now - and yours! Thank you, Mel!
  • On January 29th another Hilo is coming our way! Hilo 5: Then Everything Went Wrong. And on that same day the 5th Bird & Squirrel is coming out called All Tangled Up.
  • One graphic novel adaptation that has really piqued my interest is Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Tercerio and illustrator Bre Indigo. The classic is reimagined as a blended family living in modern-day New York City. I don’t think I’ve ever hit “pre-order” faster and will be eagerly stalking my delivery person on February 5th for that one!
  • My mailbox is going to be brimming on February 5th because I also HAD to preorder New Kid by Jerry Craft!  It’s about seventh grader Jordan Banks who loves drawing cartoons and dreams of going to art school. But his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school instead, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. Looks amazing!!  90-Second Newbery was singing its praises on Twitter last night and said this about it: “The amazing graphic novel New Kid by @JerryCraft should definitely be on everyone's tbr list and it has a full-cast (and all-star cast) audiobook released at the same time….perfect for rich, nuanced convos abt race, class, identity, school systems, how we share books, code switching, starting new school, just so much!”   So, yeah… I’ll just wait here for a bit while you hit pause and go order that!
  • We also get  the second Wings of Fire graphic novel, The Lost Heir, on February 26th AND the second Mr. Wolf’s Class book called Mystery Club. And a heads up that the graphic novel of The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire Book 3) is out in October 2019.
  • For those Minecraft fans in your life, this March we get another Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior graphic novel - Forging Destiny.
  • And for older middle grade kids - maybe 11 or 12 and up -  look for the new graphic novel adaptations of The Iliad and The Odyssey this March as well.
  • And fans of Terri Libenson’s Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzie will want to get their hands on Just Jaime - coming out May7th. There were lots of smiles among my students today when I told them that news!
  • Bad Guys #9 - The Bad Guys in the Big Bad Wolf is out June 25th.  Perfect launch for a fun summer read.
  • This August brings us Best Friends, the sequel to Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends -  out on August 27th. And have you seen the cover? It’s Shannon at the top of a rollercoaster with this vibrant purple background. Love it, love it, love it!
  • And Dog Man fans (like my daughter) will be psyched this August because we are getting Dog Man #7: For Whom the Ball Rolls!
  • The seventh graphic novel adaptation of the Baby-sitters Club, Boy Crazy Stacey, illustrated by Gale Carrigan, will be out September 3rd. That’s one of those no-brainer preorders for my classroom library.
  • Also - I was interested to hear that R.J. Palacio is publishing her first graphic novel Wonder story this fall called White Bird. This one is Julian’s grandmother’s story about her life as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. So be on the lookout for that one September 3rd as well.
  • You want another don’t-even-have-to-think-about-it-just-preorder-it graphic novel? Guts - the long-awaited new Raina Telgemeier graphic memoir is out September 17th!!
  • September also brings the latest from Tillie Walden - Are You Listening.  The peeks I’ve seen of that online look incredible, so that one is definitely on my radar this fall.
  • And then….….. Drumroll please…… Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl!! Ahhhh!!  I knew it! That last page in Mighty Jack and the Goblin King was just too good not to be followed up with a joint adventure. Yay!
  • Jen Wang -  author of last year’s hit, The Prince & the Dressmaker, has a new graphic novel coming out in September called  Stargazing. This one draws on her personal experiences and is the story of two friends - Moon and Christine.
  • And this November we’ll get The Midwinter Witch - the third and final book in the trilogy that includes The Witch Boy and The Hidden Witch.
  • And - wow, I’m just going to start saving up now for September because the graphic novel adaptation of Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover is also coming out on September 24th!  It’s going to be a pancakes and ramen noodles for dinner kind of a month if I want to keep up with all these awesome books coming out!  (And I haven’t even gotten past the graphic novels!)
  • And…. I think, maybe, possibly.. that Amulet #9 (the final one of the series) will be released late this year. But I can’t find much info on it. No title, no date, no synopsis - nada! So, I’m cautiously optimistic that it will arrive in 2019.
  • Finally - another graphic novel to be on the lookout for later in 2019 is Twins by author Varian Johnson who you may know from The Parker Inheritance and illustrator Shannon Wright. The publication date isn’t yet announced, but apparently it’s about twin sisters struggling to figure out individual identities in middle school and it’s based on Johnson’s own childhood experiences as a twin.

New Releases from 2017 / 2018 Debut Authors

  • Early February brings us the second in Anna Meriano’s Love, Sugar, Magic series called A Sprinkle of Spirits and oh is that cover gorgeous!
  • And definitely snag a copy of the sequel to Jarrett Lerner’s EngiNerds - Revenge of the EngiNerds out on February 19th. It is EVEN FUNNIER than the first one. And that’s saying something!
  • Another book I’m looking forward to is Jen Petro-Roy’s Good Enough - about a young girl with an eating disorder.
  • Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta - the follow up to The Serpent’s Secret is out on February 26th.
  • And the end of February also brings us Bone Hollow  by Skeleton Tree author Kim Ventrella.
  • Also be on the lookout for The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras on March 5th. That sequel is getting rave reviews so it’s definitely one to add to your library.
  • Alyson Gerber, author of Braced, will have a new novel out called Focused. It’s about a middle school girl who loves chess and has been recently diagnosed with ADHD. Definitely a book a lot of my students will be able to connect with!
  • In the last week of April we get the sequel to Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah and the End of Time called Aru Shah and Song of Death
  • This April brings us the second novel from Rebecca Donnelly called The Friendship Lie.
  • One book I’m excited to dip into this spring is Up for Air by Laurie Morrison. You might know her from last year’s Every Shiny Thing.
  • From the author of 2017’s The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora and 2018’s Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish comes Each Tiny Spark. This is Pablo Cartaya’s third MG novel and this one features a young girl, a father recently returned from deployment, and… welding. So look for that one in August.
  • And The Cryptid Keeper, the sequel to Lija Fisher’s 2018 The Cryptid Catcher is out this August as is Melissa Sarno’s A Swirl of Ocean.
  • In September comes the sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. It’s called Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus and follows Aven’s adventures as she heads into high school. At first I thought that might put it in the YA category, but from what I can tell, it’s still middle grade.
  • This fall we’ll also be treated to Abby Cooper’s third novel - Friend or Fiction. Just like Sticks and Stones and Bubbles, this one is also magical realism. It’s about a girl named Jade. In the pages of her notebook, she writes all about Zoe--the most amazing best friend anyone could dream of. But when pretend Zoe appears in real life thanks to a magical experiment gone right, Jade isn't so sure if she likes sharing her imaginary friend with the real world.  
  • Another treat in store for you this fall is the third novel by Elly Swartz - Give and Take. This book is about 12 year-old Maggie whose grandmother’s recent death has triggered her to start hoarding things under her bed.

2019 Debut Authors

So - I’ll just say right now that I could have had an ENTIRE show just dedicated to the amazing middle grade debuts coming our way this year but at some point, I had to cut myself off.  So - I’ll include a link to the Novel19s website where you find many more middle grade debuts and discover some of your new favorite authors.

  • The Whisperers is Greg Howard’s middle grade debut and one that has really caught my eye. Just listen to this description: “Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home.” Oooo…. This one is out January 15th.
  • If you are looking for a new book for younger middle grade readers - something along the lines of Ramona Quimby or Stella Diaz - check out Meena Meets Her Match by Karla Manternatch.
  • One book that keeps popping up into my radar is the middle grade debut of Padma Venkatraman called The Bridge Home about four children who discover strength and grit and family while dealing with homelessness. That one comes out Feb 5th so be on the lookout for that one.
  • Another debut that I have been dying to read is The Simple Art of Flying by Cory Leonardo!  Let me just read you the teaser: “Born in a dismal room in a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape to bluer skies. He’d like nothing more than to fly away to a palm tree with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by twelve-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by elderly dance-enthusiast and pie-baker Albertina Plopky, the future looks ready to crash-land.”  My step-mother had parrots when I was growing up, so this one in particular I really am interested in reading! So I’ll be checking my mailbox for that one on February 12th.
  • Another debut I am excited to read this year is Joshua Levy’s Seventh Grade vs. the Galaxy! Since one of my goals this year is to introduce my students to more science fiction, a story about a school on a spaceship orbiting Jupiter would be perfect!
  • On March 12 we get Lisa Moore Ramée’s debut A Good Kind of Trouble about a girl who just wants to follow the rules. And sometime this spring we get rather the opposite in Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen by Niki Lenz. This one is about a “bully” who ends up living with her aunt who is a nun and tries to turn over a new leaf.
  • This March is the debut of Julia Nobel with The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane about a girl who gets shipped off to a British boarding school and finds a box of medallions that might just be connected to the disappearance of her father.
  • A graphic novel debut coming in March that looks fabulous is Red Panda & Moon Bear by Jarod Roselló. It’s about two Latinx kids who defend their neighborhood from threats both natural and supernatural.
  • And in late April is the first book in a new MG detective series called Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak and a time-traveling action adventure that will transport readers to ancient Egypt called Jagger Jones & the Mummy’s Ankh by Malayna Evans.
  • Hurricane Season by debut author Nicole Melleby comes out May 7th and oh how do I want to read this novel!  On a recent #MGLitChat focused on the 2019 debut authors, the moderator asked, “What do you hope young readers take away from your book?”  And Nicole Melleby said the following, “ I want them to take away that they’re not alone, that they’re seen, that mental illness is hard but manageable, and that love may have its limits, but help comes in all shapes and sizes. Also that Van Gogh was a brilliant man.”  After reading Vincent & Theo last summer - uhhh…. gimme that book!!
  • Another great middle grade debut to look for on May 7th is Just South of Home by Karen Stong which is described as Blackish meets Goosebumps. The story follows a rule-abiding girl who must team up with her trouble making cousin, goofy younger brother, and his best friend to unravel a mysterious haunting in their tiny Southern town.
  • Also coming this spring is a book that I immediately knew I wanted to read. It’s called Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos. (So, I was pretty much ALREADY sold by the Bowie reference.) The book follows Nova, an autistic, nonverbal, space-obsessed 12-year-old who is awaiting the Challenger shuttle launch and the return of her big sister, Bridget, as she struggles to be understood by her new foster family.  I was a 4th grader when The Challenger Disaster happened and vividly remember watching it happen live on tv, so I am really interested to see how that plays out in this book.
  • Another debut to look for early this summer is All of Me by Chris Baron - a novel in verse about a 13 year old boy who is dealing with a big move, struggles in his parents’ marriage, and his own body image issues.
  • So… if you are a close listener, you have probably figured out that I’m a sucker for books involving baking or cooking.  Maybe that’s why Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca just leapt out at me when I stumbled across it last month. This is a contemporary-fantasy retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream about an 11 year old Indian American girl whose father is a food writer and whose mother is a successful businesswoman. But when she adds some rather…. unusual (and maybe magical?) ingredients to her baking, things get out of hand. So look for that one on June 4th.
  • And if your kids are looking for a fun spooky read this summer, Ollie Oxley and the Ghost comes out on June 18th and looks really cute. It’s about a boy who moves to California and ends up becoming friends with a ghost from the Gold Rush era.
  • Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega is another paranormal middle grade coming this September and it’s described as Coco meets Stranger Things. So, uh… yeah...gimme that for sure!
  • Also coming out this September is The Light in the Lake by Sarah Baughman - a book about a young girl who finds herself caught between her love of science and her late twin brother's belief in magic.

Sequels and Favorite Series

2019 New Releases from Established Authors

  • First up here is the book I am devouring right now - The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart which just came out on January 8th. And oh…. does this book live up to its hype! Brace yourself to hear lots more about this one later!
  • Also out this January is a book my friend Sandy has been raving about - The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, U.S.A by Coretta Scott King honor nominee Brenda Woods. So I definitely need to add that one to my TBR list.
  • This January readers will get a new Gordon Korman novel - Unteachables AND a new Andrew Clements novel - The Friendship War.
  • January also brings us the first book in the really incredible Rick Riordan Presents Imprint - Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee. This is a space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. (By the way - if you have kids who love Rick Riordan’s novels or who love adventure books with a dash of humor and myth - then check out his Imprint site. I’ll include a link in the show notes so you can check them all out. From those lucky enough to read advanced copies, I haven’t heard anything but praise.)
  • Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros is one to watch out for this February.
  • And another upper middle grade February release that caught my attention is a joint novel told in letters by Counting by 7s author Holly Goldberg Sloan and The Interestings author Meg Wolitzer. It’s called To Night Owl from Dogfish and it’s about two very different 12 year-old girls named Averie and Bett who are sent off to the same sleepaway camp in order to bond after their single dads fall in love with each other.
  • February also bring us another novel by Anne Urso (author of the critically acclaimed The Real Boy) This novel, The Lost Girl, is about identical twins Lark and Iris.  
  • On March 5th we get another Lisa Graff novel called Far Away about a girl, CJ, whose aunt is a psychic medium who claims that she carries messages from the dead.
  • And I’m really psyched for We’re Not From Here by Tapper Twins author Geoff Rodkey. This novel is also out March 5th and is about refugees from planet Earth who need to find a new home on a faraway planet. I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this one and it’s quirky and hilarious… and timely. Definitely add this one to your pre orders.
  • March also brings us another Rick Riordan Present’s book called Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. I’ve been hearing lots of great buzz about this one, so I’ll definitely need to pre-order a copy.
  • On March 19th we get a new Kevin Henkes novel called Sweeping Up the Heart and this one is the story of the spring break that changes seventh-grader Amelia Albright’s life forever.
  • In late March Natalie Lloyd fans will be treated to Over the Moon - a story about twelve-year-old Mallie who lives in a mining town where boys leave school at 12 to work in the mines, and girls leave to work as servants for the wealthy. But of course with that quintessentially Lloyd magic interwoven.
  • And another Cynthia Lord book is coming out this March! She is the author of Rules and A Handful of Stars. This one is titled Because of the Rabbit and is about a young girl who starts public school for the first time after being homeschooled.
  • Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles is coming out April 2nd and a really interesting looking book called Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway will be released April 16th. It’s about a girl who has to save her aunt’s pie shop. I think this one would be  a winner for kids who enjoy shows like The Great British Baking Show.
  • In early May, we get to read Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s next novel, Shouting at the Rain about a girl named Delsie who lives with her grandmother, loves tracking weather, and who starts to wish for a more “regular” family and life. You can’t go wrong with the author of Fish in a Tree and One for the Murphys so… just pop this one in your cart now!
  • And another novel that is getting all kinds of early buzz is the latest from K.A. Reynolds called Spinner of Dreams. It’s being called “inventive, empathetic, and strange in all the best ways.”  Plus - it has a really otherworldly cover that I just want to stare at...
  • And finally - I know you all have heard me rave about this one before - but Barbara Dee’s Maybe He Just Likes You is going to be AMAZING!  My students and I got the chance to read the first chapter and we were all already hooked. But let me give you a little taste from the teaser: “For seventh grader Mila, it starts with an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. The next day, it’s another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels…weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature, overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like? They don’t understand why Mila is making such a big deal about the boys’ attention. When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can’t battle this on her own–and finds help in some unexpected places.” I can’t WAIT!!

Phew!!  Alright - I am both energized and - I gotta be honest - a little daunted! But - I am reminding myself and I hope you’ll remember too that it’s not about a mad dash to read all of these books. But to give you a taste of what’s to come so you can match readers with books they might like and get them excited about new releases.

I hope you have a wonderful year reading and I would love to know - what are the books that you and your students are most looking forward to in 2019?

You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or jump into the conversation on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.   

Closing

Thank you so much for joining me this week.  You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org.   And, if you have an extra minute this week, reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are much appreciated.

Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Talk with you soon!  Bye!

Jan 15 2019

38mins

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Rank #2: #30 - Classroom Book-A-Day w/ Jillian Heise

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Intro

Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to help connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I am Corrina Allen - a 5th grade teacher, a mom of two, and spending some rainy summer days with my gals playing Blokus and Canasta and Mario Kart and dreaming of the beach….

This is Episode #30 and today I am sharing with you a conversation with Jillian Heise about Classroom Book A Day. We chat about all the wonderful things that can happen when you read one picture book a day to your class. And yes - even upper elementary AND middle school kids!  I had considered holding on to this episode a little longer, but realized that lots of you start school in August and would want to start planning things. If you’re like me, you need some time to mull things over and see how everything’s going to fit together.

So before we get started, I want to let you know a couple things up front. First, at the end of the conversation we mention some resources where you can find out lots more information about #ClassroomBookADay - especially Jillian’s main post about it from her website where she so generously shares her slideshows. And the #ClassroomBookADay Facebook Group. I joined that last month and the community there has been extraordinarily helpful. So - if you are interested, I’ll see you there. And I’ll post links to those right in our show notes and on the All the Wonders site.

Second - Jillian talks about A LOT of incredible books today and I know that, like me, you’re going to get excited about them and want to jot down all the titles! But - I’ve got your back. Every single title mentioned is posted and linked right in the show notes.

Okay - let’s dive in!

Main Topic - Interview with Jillian Heise

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got inspired to start the #ClassroomBookaDay.

#ClassroomBookaDay is about making time each day in your classroom to read a picture book.

What do you see as the benefit of focusing more on picture books?

I’ve seen these incredible displays of teachers’ #ClassroomBookaDay reading where they post a cover of each book on grid on a bulletin board.

How do you display the #ClassroomBookADay in your school?

How do you see the display of the books as an important of aspect of #ClassroomBookADay?

How do you make time to read one picture book every day?

What is your routine like for reading the books with your students?

What about folks who don’t have their own classroom - librarians, literacy coaches, administrators?

180+ days is a lot to fill!  How do you choose titles?

What are some of your favorite books for the first week or so of school?

Where can people go to get more information?

Aside from picture books, what have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Closing

Alright - that wraps up our show this week. If you have a question or an idea about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or connect on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show along with all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com.  

And, if you like what you hear and value the podcast, please leave a quick review or rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again and see you soon!  Bye!

Episode Links:

Heise Reads & Recommends: www.heisereads.com

BALB Literacy Consulting: www.balblit.com

Facebook #classroombookaday group: www.facebook.com/groups/classroombookaday

Slideshare with Previous Presentations: www.slideshare.net/mrsheise

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/heisereads

#classroombookaday Origin Story & Updates: http://heisewrites.blogspot.com/2014/09/180-bookaday-read-alouds.html

Nerdy Book Club Post - https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/classroombookaday-the-power-of-shared-picture-book-stories-by-jillian-heise/

PIcture Books Discussed on the Show:

To the Sea (Cale Atkinson)

I Want My Hat Back (Jon Klassen)

Mr Tiger Goes Wild (Peter Brown)

Explorers of the Wild (Cale Atkinson)

Pardon Me (Daniel Miyares)

That Neighbor Kid  (Daniel Miyares)

Float (Daniel Miyares)

That Is My Dream (Daniel Miyares)

Barnacle is Bored (Jonathan Fenske)

Poor Little Guy (Elanna Allen)

A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals (Lucy Ruth Cummins)

Sam and Dave Dig A Hole (Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen)

Creepy Carrots (Aaron Reynolds & Peter Brown)

The Monster’s Monster (Patrick McDonnell)

Blizzard (John Rocco)

Each Kindness (Jacqueline Woodson & E.B. Lewis)

The Invisible Boy (Trudy Ludwig & Patrice Barton)

14 Cows for America (Carmen Agra Deedy: Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah & Thomas Gonzaalez)

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Maira Kalman)

The Little Chapel That Stood (A.B. Curtiss & Mirto Golino)

My Teacher is a Monster (No, I am Not.) (Peter Brown)

Wild About Us (Karen Beaumont & Janet Stevens)

My Friend Maggie (Hannah E. Harrison)

Happy Dreamer (Peter H. Reynolds)

A Tiger Tail (Mike Boldt)

Strictly No Elephants (Lisa Mantchev & Taeeun Yoo)

Be a Friend (Salina Yoon)

Let Me Finish (Minh Lè)

School’s First Day of School (Adam Rex & Christian Robinson)

How To Read a Story (Kate Messner)

Dear Dragon: A Pen Pal Tale (Josh Funk & Rodolfo Montalvo)

Beautiful (Stacy McAnulty & Joanne Lew-Vriethoff)

Where Oliver Fits (Cale Atkinson)

Blue Sky, White Stars (Kadir Nelson & Sarvinder Naberhaus)

They All Saw a Cat (Brendan Wenzel)

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors (Drew Daywalt & Adam Rex)

Penguin Problems (Jory John & Lane Smith)

Not Quite Narwhal (Jessie Sima)

Jabari Jumps (Gaia Cornwall)

Dad and the Dinosaur  (Gennifer Choldenko & Dan Santat)

I Like, I Don’t Like (Ale Ale & Anne Baccelliere)

MIddle Grade Books Discussed:

Patina (Jason Reynolds)

Miles Morales: Spider Man (Jason Reynolds)

Wishtree (Katherine Applegate)

The Gauntlet (Karuna Riazi)

Fergus & Zeke (Kate Messner & Heather Ross)

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker (Shelley Johannes)

The Bad Guys (Aaron Blabey)

YA Books Discussed:

War Cross (Marie Lu)

Legend (Marie Lu)

In a Perfect World - Trish Doller

The Names They Gave Us (Emery Lord)

Long Way Down (Jason Reynolds)

All American Boys (Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely)

The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

Dear Martin (Nic Stone)

Jul 31 2017

1hr 2mins

Play

Rank #3: #66 - (Some of the) Best Middle Grade Books of 2018

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Intro

Hi everyone! This is Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a 5th grade teacher, a mom of two girls, and enjoying my extra reading time over the holiday break and the chance to relax.

This is episode #66 and today we are celebrating some of the best middle grade books published in 2018.

Main Topic - The Top 20 Middle Grade Books of 2018

I’m a bit of a data nerd, and I have always been into tracking my reading - from my color-coded index card system in high school to my alphabatized Excel Spreadsheet in the early 2000s to now where I do a mix of Goodreads and a bullet journal. So looking back over the last couple of years since I started doing this show, in 2016 I read 60 middle grade books with 31 of those published in 2016. And my top three books of that year were Booked, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, and The Wild Robot. (You can find that list here.)

Last year, I read 79 middle grade with 55 of those published in 2017. A jump I will totally attribute to the intensity of being on the CYBILS committee. And my top three books of 2017 were Posted, Refugee, and Orphan Island and my top three graphic novels last year were Real Friends, Pashmina, and All’s Faire in Middle School.  (You can find the full list here.)

This year, I read 59 middle grade books with 41 of those released in 2018.

Before I start - a quick caveat. Selecting ONLY 25 titles was almost impossible.  I enjoyed just about every book I read this year, and I know each one will find it’s reader.  So how to choose the top twenty-five? I have two criteria - the writing is immersive (a book I couldn’t put down) and the story has that something special - unique character, an intriguing plot twist, or a thought-provoking theme (a book I can’t forget).  

And again this year, I decided to separate out the graphic novels so be on the lookout for another best of podcast soon featuring just the middle grade graphic novels.   

Okay, let’s get to it!  Here are my Top 25 middle grade novels of 2018:

  1. Granted by John David Anderson

From the author of the soon-to-be movie, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and last year’s amazing Posted is this story about Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets - one of the few remaining fairies entrusted with the job of Granter - a fairy who ventures into the dangerous human world to grant a wish. Ophelia’s increasingly difficult quest to grant a little girl her wish of a purple bike will keep you turning the pages. And her reluctant friendship with the slobbery dog Sam - along with some other hilarious touches like Ophelia’s special song - will make this novel one you won’t forget.

  1. Where the Watermelons Grow by debut author Cindy Baldwin

This book - better than any I’ve read - captures the heat and the swelter of a scorching-hot drought-ridden summer. Our protagonist, Della, is feeling the weight of that and also the burdon of her mother’s re-emerging schizophrenia. But this novel is also laced with the sweetness of friendship and watermelon and hope and a touch of maybe magical honey.  

  1. Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen & Laurie Morrison

This dual narrative novel is about Lauren and Sierra.  The two girls end up living next to each other and becoming friends when Lauren’s neighbors become Sierra’s foster parents.  As Lauren starts to become more aware of her priviledge, she comes up with a - shall we say “ill-advised” Robin Hood scheme that quickly starts to spiral out of control.  Watching Lauren and Sierra get deeper and deeper and deeper into that pit and wondering how on earth they were going to dig themselves out is what kept me turning those pages. And what makes this book unique and fresh was the strength of the two perspectives - Lauren’s chapters in prose and Sierra’s in verse.

  1. The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill

Believe. Give. Trust. With those three magical rules passed on to her from her grandmother, Kate tries to grapple with the changes in her life. Divorce, faltering friendship, and her grandmother’s worsening dementia. Along with the typical difficulties of a 12 year old! I loved this book for its blend of beautiful prose and realism.

  1. Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

This middle grade coming of age novel tells the story of 8th grader Marcus Vega who ends up traveling to Puerto Rico with his mom and younger brother in search of the father who seemed to abandon them years ago. And yes, his journey is about discovering family, but it’s also about discovering his culture. This book is a beautiful homage to Puerto Rico and a story that captures the experiences of many kids with family connections that represent multiple languages and backgrounds.  It reminds me a bit of the graphic novel Crush with a twist of Torrey Maldonado’s Tight.

  1. The Frame Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight

This novel was not only unforgettable but it utterly changed the way I experience walking into a musuem forever. And to me - that is the mark of an excellent book. It makes you see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Frame-up is set in a real-life place - the Beaverbrook Gallery in New Brunswick, Canada. And the art director’s son soon discovers that the paintings are…. alive. And they can travel into other paintings - which is completely fascinating when you consider that this museum includes art from different eras. And multiple paintings of the same person.  What the author does in this world is spell-binding. But things start to get dicey when suddenly the art director’s son and Mona, a young girl in one of the museum’s prized paintings, find themselves desperately trying to stop both an art heist and a plot to destroy their community forever.

  1. Everything I Know About You by Barbara Dee

This book was a fun mix of humor and history intermixed with realistic depictions of issues that young people are coping with - like body shaming and eating disorders and figuring out that whole friendship thing while staying true to yourself and your values.  What made this book stay with me long after that last page was read was the main character, Tally, whose self-confidence and style and body positivity are inspiring.

  1. So Done by Paula Chase

This upper middle grade coming of age story centers around friends Mila and Tai.  The girls have spent the summer apart and as fall starts, it has become more and more clear that their friendship is sputtering out. And yes, part of that is typical things like finding new interests and more focus on boys, but there is this one massive secret hanging over both girls’ heads that threatens to not only destroy that friendship, but could destroy families, too.The slow, shocking reveal of what that secret really IS kept me turning the pages and what made this book stick with me so long afterward are the voices of the characters that are so fresh and unique and real!  During the first chapter, I had a huge smile on my face because I was so happy to be reading a book that sounds like some of my students when they are talking to each other - and don’t think any adult is within earshot. Chase has this incredible knack for voice, and I cannot wait to see what other middle grade books she has coming our way!

  1. The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

Johnson has expertly woven together multiple storylines across two different eras that are beautifully fused together in the final chapters.  The main character, modern-day Candice, discovers a decades old mystery that takes her and the quiet bookworm boy across the street on a quest for a long-lost treasure. But to figure out the clues, they have to delve into some long buried town history that some folks would rather keep hidden. This book is rich with details and touches on topics that are not common in middle grade - like the end of segregation and its impact on black schools and the concept of passing. It’s beautifully written and if you have older middle grade kids who loved The Westing Game and who love mysteries, this is a great book to put in their hands.

  1. You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino

Alex Gino’s second novel for middle grade readers is a sweet story about Jilly, White and hearing, who befriends a Deaf Black ASL user on a fandom website where they connect over their mutual love of a fantasy series. When Jilly’s new baby sister is born Deaf,  she and her parents struggle with which expert advice to follow and everyone makes some missteps along the way. Based on reviews from those in the Deaf community, Gino does seem to get that representation right. To me this book is one to have in your classroom or library because it shows one character’s pathway through learning about incredibly important but tricky topics like white priviledge, racism, micro-agressions, and abelism. And done in a way with warmth and heart.

  1. Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

I’ll admit - this one almost got past me!  I was at school and had forgotten my book at home. And so on a whim, I picked up this book from my classroom library and promptly forgot that any other book existed and promptly fell for Stella’s sweetness and charm. Stella is a third grader, born in Mexico, but now living in Chicago with her mom and older brother. She’s struggling with being in a different class than her best friend, Jenny,  and dealing with the accompanying worries that Jenny might be forming a closer relationship with another girl. Stella is also figuring out where she fits in with her outgoing family since she is more quiet and is working through some speech difficulties. Three things stand out to me about this book - its utter realness, the excellent illustrations sprinkled throughout, and also the fact that this novel intersperses Spanish in the most organic and well-executed way that I’ve ever encountered before. They pop up frequently and naturally, and yet I feel confident that most non-Spanish speaking readers can fairly easily figure out what those words mean from the context.

  1. Takedown by Laura Shovan

I LOVE books that immerse me in a subculture - like Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, and the Irish dancing in Kate Messner’s The Seventh Wish. I was fascinated to learn about wrestling moves and the tournament process in this novel. And of course it doesn’t hurt that the two main characters - Mikayla (known as Mickey) and Lev are written so vividly and honestly. Told in alternating point of view chapters, Mickey and Lev are each dealing with their own middle school difficulties of faltering friendships and dicey family dynamics. When they both wind up wrestling for the same elite traveling team, Lev needs to cope with having a new wreslting partner (a girl), and Mickey has to deal with a wrestling culture that isn’t exactly keen to accept her. How these two characters grow and how their stories intertwine have stayed on my mind - months later.

  1. Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

Another incredible story from a favorite author of so many of my students. Good Dog is told from the point of view of Brodie - a dog who we meet just after he’s entered the great beyond after his death. And as our sweet, noble Brodie figures out the rules of this new place, and makes some friends, he remembers more of his past life on Earth. And remembers the danger that his boy, Aidan, is still in. And Brodie has to decide whether to move on to that ultimate Forever or if saving his boy from that threat is worth the awful price he’ll have to pay to even attempt helping him.  I love this book for so many reasons - but mostly for how it quietly but powerfully connects with Gemeinhardt’s previous novel, The Honest Truth.  I don’t want to say more, but…. if you have a kid who has read and loved that book - give them Good Dog right after.

  1. Escape from Aleppo by N. H. Senzai

This is another novel that snuck up on me and then wouldn’t let go of my heart. For the last couple of years, my 5th graders and I have read Home of the Brave together as the first read aloud. This year I decided to have their book clubs centered around refugee and immigrant stories - with a focus on #ownvoices novels. And Escape from Aleppo was the only book club choice I hadn’t yet read - and so I read along with the kids in that club and followed their reading schedule and joined their discussions. And I completely agree with their assessment - this book is fabulous. It’s about 14-year-old Nadia, who we meet as her family is evacuating their home in Syria in an attempt to flee to Turkey. But in the carnage, Nadia ends up separated from her family and has to make her way through the city of Aleppo in a dangerous effort to reunite with them and to figure out who in the war-torn city she should trust to help her. What stands out to me most is the searing depiction of modern-day war and how much my students saw themselves in Nadia’s flashbacks to pre-Arab Spring Aleppo. Scenes were everything seems stable and Nadia is all about the latest episode of her favorite reality TV singing show and what color she should paint her nails. If you are looking for a companion book to Alan Gratz’s Refugee, this is an excellent choice. And one that will stay with you for a long, long time.

  1. Rebound by Kwame Alexander

This is the much-awaited prequel to the much-loved and much-awarded, novel-in-verse The Crossover. This book is all about Josh & Jordan’s father - Chuck “Da Man” Bell. But - this is an origin story. So when we first meet him, he is just Charlie - an 80’s kid reeling from a family tragedy and trying to find his way forward and trying to find his smile again. When home becomes tense, he is involuntarily shipped off to his grandparent’s house for the summer where he starts to find that path forward. I loved this book for it’s awesome illustratations and all those great 80s references.

  1. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Esteban, Tiago, Holly, Amari, Ashton, Haley - these six kids are brought to an abandoned art room each Friday, left on their own, and allowed to simply talk. And eventually - their stories unfold. Stories of deportation, of harassment, of parent death and incarceration. Of hope and of despair.  And by the end of that year, they have formed a bond and a vow to harbor each other. It’s Jacqueline Woodson so you know it’s gorgeously written, but it also speaks to a great need for empathy in our country right now. And I can attest that it’s not just one of those “important” books that kids don’t really like. It was one of the top requested book club selections and currently has a huge waiting list in my room, so I can vouch for it’s kid appeal.

  1. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Okay - this book creeped me the heck out! And it was glorious! This paranormal horror story is about a young girl named Ollie whose mom tragically died last year, and understandably - Ollie is withdrawn and rather raw.  One fall day, Ollie disovers this strange book that tells the legend of two local brothers who come under the influence of The Smiling Man - with horrific results. When Ollie takes a field trip to a nearby farm, she and her friends Coco and Brian end up in an other-wordly battle to survive the lure of those mysterious forces. This book is so immersive and atmospheric and has one brilliant twist at the end that has me shuddering just thinking about it! Oh - and if you’re the type of person that isn’t at all freaked out by scarecrows - read this book and that will change.

  1. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

There has been sooo much love for this book this year - and if you haven’t yet read it, I will add my voice to all the others telling you…. it’s incredible.  This novel is about a young Pakistani girl whose dream is to finish her education and to become a teacher. But when her mother is struggling with depression after having her fifth baby - another girl - Amal ends up staying home to take of the household. And then, to make matters far worse, she ends up insulting a poweful man in her village and be forced into indentured servitude to work off her family’s debt to him. It was this section of the book and Amal’s complicated relationship with man’s family and other servants that was the most compelling to me.  Amal Unbound was the  middle grade pick for the 2018 Global Read Aloud and is worthy of a spot in any middle grade collection.

  1. Blended by Sharon Draper

As 2018 came to a close, I started scouring the social media feeds of readers whose taste I rely on to see what books from the previous year I may have missed. And by far the one that I kept bumping into… was Blended. And oh were they right to push me to read it! And...confession time - this is the first Sharon Draper book I have read! You may already know her work from Out of My Mind or Copper Sun.  This novel is about an 11-year-old girl - Izzy to her mom but Isabella to her Dad.  Her parents are divorced and every week Isabella has to switch - switch households, switch bedrooms, switch backpacks, switch expectations…. and sometimes feels like she has to switch identities. Her father is black and and lives a far more swanky lifestyle now and Isabella’s mother is white and their home definitely has a more casual vibe. I loved this book because I know how many students can relate to Izzy’s frustrations with parental tug-of-war and that awkwardness with people coming into their lives. But this book had so many more themes that will definitely strike a chord with kids today - racial profiling, school threats, micro-agressions, police shootings, and the myriad other things that make up children’s day-to-day experiences.

  1. The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

Ahhh - this book!  I just…. Okay - plot first. This is the story of Zoey - a seventh-grader whose primary goals in life are to keep her two young siblings quiet and out of the way of her mom’s boyfriend and his father, to scrounge up enough for them to eat, and to stay completely invisible at school. But all of those things become tricky when her teacher pushes her to join the Debate Club after school. This book is about rural poverty, the nuances of the gun debate, domestic vioience… but the way those threads play out are not at all what I had expected - and so much better. This is the novel I wish I had read as a young middle school teacher when I thought that giving an hour’s worth of homework that required colored pencils, a ruler, and internet access was a perfectly acceptable thing to do.  

  1. Front Desk by Kelly Yang Another stand-out debut! And every time I see another starred review or another reader gush about this book, it just makes me heart a little more happy. Front Desk is about Mia Tang whose family - recent immigrants from China - wind up running a motel under less than ideal circumstances. Mia’s expectations of life in America - juicy burgers, a pet dog, a yard, and big pool - differ A LOT from her true life, which she keeps hidden from her classmates. Her life is tough. But once she starts to harness the power of her writing, Mia starts to realize that even the big injustices in life can start to change. Front Desk was another fall favorite of my students and a perfect book club book.  And the last time I checked, it was offered through Scholastic for a great price.
  2. The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

When a sequel comes out to a book that you adored - characters who have found a home in your heart - it’s with trepidation that you crack open that cover and start a new journey with them. Oh but thank you Peter Brown because you did not disappoint and in fact…. I may love this story even more than the first. It’s hard to say anything without giving away the first book if you haven’t read it yet. (And if that’s the case - get on that!) But I will say that this sequel has more action, more human interactions, and therefore - more personal connections that kids can latch onto. And it deals with some big moral and ethical questions!  It’a a brilliant story with a touch of the Iron Giant, a sprinkle of The Odyssey, and a little dash of The Good Place.  

  1. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This is the story of Jermone - a young black boy playing outside his home with a small toy gun. A black boy who gets shot and killed by a police officer in the first pages and whose presence haunts the rest of the pages - and whose story - along with the other boys - haunts me still.  And I can see in my classroom the impact it makes on the young kids who read it. There are instantly caught by that first title page - “Dead” - and those first words - “How small I look. Laid out flat, my stomach touching the ground. My right knee bent and my brand-new Nikes stained with blood.”  Jerome is the first ghost boy we meet, but later there will be Emmett Till and others who get to tell parts of their stories. This book was both completely immersive and has that quality of staying with you long after you’ve read it. And it’s a rare book that deals honestly with racism and police violence in a way that is age appropriate and clear.  And so many people have said, “This is an important book.” It IS - but don’t get it just because of that - get it and read it with kids because it’s an excellent book.

  1. Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

This is, I believe, the first sequel that Kate DiCamillo has ever written. And if this is the quality of a DiCamillo sequel then I hope she writes a TON more - because this book ripped me apart and put me back together again. And I mean that in the best possible way! This book is the follow-up to Raymie Nightingale and focuses on Raymie’s quirky friend - Louisiana Elefante. Lousiana’s grandmother wakes her up in the middle of the night, piles her into the car, and is off to face her reckoning with the curse that has hung over their family’s head. Well, they end up in a Georgia Motel run by a cranky lady - where Louisiana has to take on more than anyone her age should have to.  But also learns a lot about grace and the goodness of humankind as well. Raymie Nightingale was a book I liked pretty well, but nothing compared to this. It’s like this story sat in a rock tumbler until all the extra grit fell away and this sparkling gem emerged at the end.  

  1. Tight by Torrey Maldonado

This book was fast-paced, fresh, and had such a…. bite to it!  It’s the story of 6th grader, Bryan, who loves comics, who loves drawing superheroes, and who loves his mother and a life of no drama. His dad brings enough of that into their life. Money in their family is… tight. So he worries about that and worries about being perceived as “soft” - not tough enough. But then his parents, sort of... set him up with a friend - this neighborhood kid named Mike. And at first, Bryan resists. He gets  weird vibe from this kid. But then the boys bond over comics and Netflix shows and spend more and more time together. They’re tight. But that friendship turns toxic when Mike starts luring Bryan into skipping school, hopping the turnstiles in the subway...and worse. Tight is an exceptional books - raw and real. If you have kids who like Jason Reynold’s Ghost and who liked the Miles Morales Spiderman - this is the book for them!

Alright - those are my top 25 middle grades books of 2018. Now - I want to hear from YOU! What were your favorite reads of the last year and which ones should I make sure to read in the year ahead?

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Jan 07 2019

33mins

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Rank #4: #58 - Cindy Baldwin (Where the Watermelons Grow)

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Intro

Hey everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books!  My goal is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic reads and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen.

I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two girls, a teacher of 5th graders, and starting to have my annual back-to-school nightmares again. Last night it was that I had no clue what my schedule was, I had no plans prepared and was just winging it the entire first day! And - the worst part? I got to the end of the day and...FORGOT to include a read aloud!!! *shudder*

This is episode #58 and today I am giving you a quick first impression of three new books, and a conversation with Cindy Baldwin - author of Where the Watermelons Grow.

A quick update on our Middle Grade at Heart Book Club schedule. The September pick is The House That Lou Built. And in October we are reading The Three Rules of Everyday Magic and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is our November pick.

And remember to set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you don’t miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat!  We’ve got some really interesting topics coming up like ending gendered labels, the importance of immigrant stories, and how teachers and public librarians can support each other.

Book Bites

First up this week is Book Bites - where I’ll give you a quick taste of a few upcoming books. And share first lines and first impressions from reading the first chapter. This week I am previewing The Right Hook of Devin Velma by Jake Burt, The Lighthouse Between the Worlds by Melanie Crowder, and  Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon.

The first novel I want to talk about is The Right Hook of Devin Velma by Jake Burt, author of Greetings from Witness Protection. This novel is about Addison Gerhardt and his best friend, Devin Velma, who is trying to become a social media sensation by pulling a risky stunt at a nationally televised pro basketball game. Devin seems to have some secret reasons for doing something so dangerous, and Addison wants to help his friend but his introversion and anxiety often cause him to freeze up when he’s put on the spot.

First lines: Chapter One: Narrowed Down

I finally figured out why my best friend Devin punched me in the face. At first I thought it was because I saved his life, but that wasn’t it. For awhile, I blamed my freezing, only it wasn’t that either. It wasn’t even Twitter, the Velma Curse, that stupid dishwasher, or the Golden State Warriors. Nope. It was the Double-Barreled Monkey Bar Backflip of Doom.

First impressions: I love this book! And could not stop reading at just that one short chapter. The banter between the two boys is clever and I’m intrigued by the possibility of this book exploring the power and pressures of social media on kids. Twitter is a space where I spend some time but I do have concerns about that. And I’m curious about how Addison’s anxiety plays a part in the plot later on. The Right Hook of Devin Velma is out October 2nd and is definitely one I want to order for my classroom.

The second novel I’m featuring today is by Melanie Crowder - author of  Three Pennies - a book from a couple years ago that I just loved. This novel - The Lighthouse Between the Worlds is about a young boy named Griffin who lives with his father on the coast of Oregon where they tend to their lighthouse. Every day they follow the same routine - a walk on the beach, placing a new piece of sea glass on his mother’s grave, and learning how to cast prisms in his father’s glassmaking studio. Things are routine. Until...one day a group of mysterious strangers appears and Griffin discovers that the lighthouse contains a portal to other worlds and that his father has far more secrets that he ever realized.

First lines: “Chapter 1: The Apprentice Glassmaker

The day began normally enough, for a Tuesday. Griffin and his father, Philip Fen, ate breakfast (juice and apple-butter toast for one, coffee and oatmeal for the other). They buttoned up their thickest flannel shirts and stepped out into the gray morning. Mornings are almost always gray on the Oregon coast. But that’s what makes the green of the mosses and the ferns and the scraggly trees so very green.”

First impressions: My first thoughts on reading the first chapter were how… atmospheric and lush the language is.  And the fact that the mother’s grave has no headstone but only a suncatcher was both beautiful and also sent tingles up my spine - I’m sensing something...off there. This novel is out on October 23rd - the perfect time to read something with a blend of mystery and fantasy.

And book number 3 - Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon - sequel to the award-winning Zora & Me - a fictionalized account of the early life of author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Like the first book, this novel is set in a small Southern town during the very early 20th century of the Jim Crow era, and this book is about Zora and her best friend, Carrie who uncover a tragic mystery centered around an enslaved girl named Lucia.

First lines: From the prologue; “There are two kinds of memory. One is the ordinary kind, rooted in things that happened, people you knew, and places you went…..”

First impressions: I am intrigued - and so fascinated by that concept of the memory of the community and how it impacts all of us in subtle ways we don’t even fully realize. The first chapter launches us into a mystery with the adventurous Zora pulling her friend out into the night into trouble against her friend’s better judgement. It’s so good - and I loved Simon’s beautiful use of metaphor that adds such zing to the language. So be on the lookout for  Zora & Me: The Cursed Ground on September 11th. And if you are like me and haven’t yet read the first novel yet, add that one to your list, too!

Cindy Baldwin - Interview Outline

Our special guest this week is Cindy Baldwin - debut author of the acclaimed Where the Watermelons Grow. We discuss honey, the importance of accurate depictions of disability in children’s literature, Pitch Wars, the Anne of Green Gables adaptation on Netflix, and of course her novel!  And joining me this week to chat with Cindy is one of the founders of the MG at Heart Book Club, and Cindy’s Pitch Wars partner, Amanda Rawson Hill.

Take a listen…

Where the Watermelons Grow

Your debut middle grade novel, Where the Watermelons Grow, was just released this past month...

CA: For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it?

CA: Would you mind reading a favorite passage?

AH: I love how you slip into this southern accent when you read. I think every time you do it, people are surprised. But those who know you aren’t. What’s your history with the setting of this book?

CA: I know that your novel is mostly associated with watermelon, but it’s really more about honey! Is watermelon honey a real thing?

CA: Cindy -  I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, BUT - reading your book made me feel sooooo hot and sweaty!

**BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Paula and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 42:27 mark.

CA: How is the final version of the novel different from earlier drafts?

AH: While the book is about Schizophrenia, you are not Schizophrenic yourself. And yet, your own personal experience with disability helped shape this narrative. How?

Your Writing Life

AH: For those who don’t know, Cindy has Cystic Fibrosis which has her spending a lot of time every day doing breathing treatments and affects her energy levels. On top of that, you have this wonderful spitfire of a child, who Della’s little sister is based on. And if that’s not enough, I know that in the past year you have also suffered from a lot of pain while writing. Yet, you just finished another novel (and it’s beautiful by the way, I’m reading it now.) Talk to us about some of your strategies for getting the writing done even with all these things in your life that make it a bit difficult.

CA: What are you working on now?

CA: While I have both of you here, I have a writer related question to ask.  On Twitter, I keep seeing this thing called PitchWars. What IS that?

Your Reading Life

One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books.  CA: Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child?  And if so, what did they do that made such a difference?

AH: I’d love advice on reading aloud when you have a precocious child, like Kate.

CA: So Cindy - I’ve gathered that you are a fan of Anne of Green Gables. What do you think of Anne with an E adaptation on Netflix?

CA: What have you been reading lately?

Links:

Cindy’s website - http://cindybaldwinbooks.com

Cindy on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook

Amanda’s website - https://amandarawsonhill.com

PitchWars website - https://pitchwars.org

Cindy & Amanda’s blog hop PitchWars post - http://blog.cindybaldwinbooks.com/2018/08/2018-pitch-wars.html

Pragmatic Mom website - https://www.pragmaticmom.com/booklists/

What We Do All Day website - https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/category/books/

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

Horton Hears a Who (Dr. Seuss)

Clementine series (Sara Pennypacker)

Anna Hibiscus (Atinuke)

E.B. White

Dick King-Smith

James Harriot

Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

The Anne of Green Gables graphic novel (Mariah Marsden)

Race to the Bottom of the Sea (Lindsay Eager)

Amal Unbound (Aisha Saeed)

Mostly the Honest Truth (Jody J. Little)

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Aug 20 2018

52mins

Play

Rank #5: #56 - Kelly Yang (Front Desk)

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Intro

Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for educators, librarians, parents, and everyone who loves middle grade books!  My goal is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic books and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen.

I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two girls, a 5th grade teacher, and I just discovered the COOLEST thing last week and I have to share it with you!  There is this teacher named David Marsh and he makes stop motion LEGO Batman Book Talks. They are SO awesome! There’s one for Enginerds and one for Serafina and the Black Cloak - and, my favorite - the one for The Frame-up! I’ll drop a link to his YouTube Channel in the show notes. Do you yourself a favor and go watch them.

This is Episode #56 and oday is all about Kelly Yang and her fabulous new novel, Front Desk.

Before we begin, I have two quick announcements! First is the Middle Grade at Heart Book Club update. This month’s pick is Where the Watermelons Grow, and I am so close to finishing that book - it’s so good and I can’t want to have Cindy Baldwin on the show to chat with me about it. In September we are reading The House That Lou Built and in October is Three Rules of Everyday Magic. So grab those books and let me know if you have questions you think I should ask the authors when they come on the show.

And second quick reminder that Monday nights are the #MGBookChat Twitter chats with some really juicy topics coming up like building book access in book deserts, creating a classroom community through books, and ending gendered labels of books. It can be very easy to get into the hustle and bustle of your day and forget - so set a reminder on your phone for Mondays at 9pm EST and check out #MGBookChat on Twitter.

Kelly Yang - Interview Outline

Our special guest today is Kelly Yang. And as you will hear - she is one incredible and humble person. And since she’s not going to talk herself up, I am. Kelly Yang is one of the youngest graduates of Harvard Law School - earning her degree at 17. She’s a columnist for the South China Morning Post and her features have been published in The New York Times and the Washington Post. She’s a commentator, a debater, and founder of The Kelly Yang Project - an award-winning writing and debate program for kids in Hong Kong. And that’s really just scratching the surface of this WOW Woman! I was really honored that Kelly took the time out her family vacation to sit down with me and chat about so many things - how to reach English-language learners, racial profiling, the Simpsons, her writing journey, and her childhood helping her parents run motels which was the inspiration behind her debut middle grade novel, Front Desk.

Take a listen…

Front Desk

Your debut middle grade novel, Front Desk, has been getting all kinds of love!!  

For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it?

Would you mind reading a favorite passage?

Aside from running the front desk of the motel, Mia is often translating for her family. Was this something you also had to do? If so - how did that impact you?

I adored Mia, but I really really came to love her parents! But… her mother could be carelessly cruel. Her pressure to be good at Math. And then when she tell Mia that the other kids are cars but that Mia is a bicycle - oh my GOD!  I started to wonder if maybe Mrs. Tang was just really scared for her daughter?

One of the most powerful scenes is when a car was stolen from the motel and in the course of that investigation, Mr. Yao discovers that the Tangs have been renting to black people. And he says, “I thought I told you not to rent to bad people.” That thread of discrimination and racial profiling (even by other marginalized people) was woven throughout the story at various points.  Can you speak a little bit about your thought process behind those sections?

I love following you on Twitter and I loved your thread about the Simpsons and Apu controversy. Could you talk a little bit about your response to that and your relationship to that character?

**BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Kelly and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 40:14 mark.

Your Writing Life

What was your journey from Harvard Law graduate to author?

What are you working on now?

Your Reading Life

One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books.  Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child?

What were some of your most influential reads as a child?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Links:

Kelly’s website - http://kellyyang.edu.hk

Kelly on Twitter and Instagram

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

The Babysitters Club series (Ann M. Martin)

Matilda (Roald Dahl)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Unidentified Suburban Objects (Mike Jung)

Peasprout Chen (Henry Lien)

Magicians of Elephant County (Adam Perry)

Alan Gratz

Ban This Book (Alan Gratz)

The Wild Robot (Peter Brown)

The Wild Robot Escapes (Peter Brown)

Orphan Island (Laurel Snyder)

Ghost Series (Jason Ryenolds)

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Aug 06 2018

48mins

Play

Rank #6: #45 - How to Rock Your Read Aloud & a Conversation w/ Colby Sharp

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Intro

Hi everyone and welcome to the Books Between Podcast! I believe in the power of stories to connect us to others in our world.  My goal is to help you connect kids with incredible books and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen.  Every other Monday, I bring you book talks, interviews, and ideas for getting great books into the hands of kids between 8-12.

I am Corrina Allen - a mom of an 8 and 10 year old, a 5th grade teacher, and now making multiple visits to the orthodontist for both of my daughters. Farewell popcorn and hello palate expanders!

This is Episode #45 and Today I’m discussing some ideas to make your read alouds even better and then sharing with you a conversation with educator Colby Sharp about The Creativity Project!

Two quick announcements. First, the March MG at Heart Book Club pick is The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and the April book is The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. So adjust your TBR pile if you want to join us for those conversations later this spring.  And remember that #MGBookMarch is going strong this month, and I have been so inspired by all of your responses. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll jump into the conversation!

How to Rock Your Read Aloud

Last week, I had to be out of my classroom for three days for special ed meetings and various professional development training. And so I left some short picture books for the sub to read while I was away and the students foisted some of their favorites on them as well. And let me tell you - my students had OPINIONS about those experiences when I got back!  And it got me thinking - it is SO hard to grab a book you’ve never read and be open and vulnerable enough in front of an audience to read it aloud well. It takes some bravery to take those chances to give yourself over to the book. In case you were wondering, it was The Book With No Pictures - the incredible book that “tricks” the reader into saying silly things.

So today I am going to share with you some ways that you can rock your read aloud with your students, your own kids, or any group of children. I’ll chat about what to do before, during, and at the end of your read aloud.  And I’ll read aloud some non-spoilery samples from one of my all-time favorite books - and the one whose sequel is released tomorrow - The Wild Robot.

Before the read aloud.

There are some things you can do to prepare ahead of time to make that read aloud really come to life.

  1.  Pick the right book!

Some books just aren’t that great to read aloud. My daughters asked me to read aloud El Deafo a few years ago and it worked...okay… since they could sit on either side of me and see the illustrations, but I think a whole class read aloud of a whole graphic novel would be tough.  Books with short chapters are really great. Books that have tons of internal thinking or long sections of description can be tough though. Also, some of the classics have tricky sentence structure or difficult vocabulary. Or contain messages or stereotypes that we don’t want to perpetuate anymore. So - look to resources and people you trust for some good recommendations.

  1. Listen to great examples

If you want to improve, listen to other people read aloud to pick up their tricks. And listen to audio books. There are often samples you can listen to on Audible that will give you some ideas of voices to do. Or how to modulate your voice and tone and speed to match the story and the characters. We’ll chat more about that in a bit, but I have learned SO much from Jim Dale’s performance of Harry Potter. And Neil Gaiman’s readings of his novels, or most recently, the masterful performance of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Robin Miles. Listening to those examples, helped me realize that a good read aloud IS a performance.

  1. Preview the book ahead of time.

It really helps if you’ve at least read the chapter before so you don’t get lost in the sentences. And read it out loud - even if you’re just mouthing it to yourself. Three things to pay attention to: new characters you’ll have to voice, punctuation, and dialogue tags (the part of the sentence that says “she yelled”, or “he said angrily”). I am reading The Wild Robot with my class right now. I’ve read it before so I thought I was all good, but I didn’t skim Chapter 45 first so when we got reintroduced to the otters, I forgot that the first otter speaking was Shelly and so I read it in a low male voice - and so I backed up and reread it in a more female-coded voice. (I could have decided to just have our Shelly have a low voice - sometimes I think it’s good to adjust expectations a bit. But, I’d recommend just being intentional about it.)  Or sometimes the dialogue tag at the end will say, “he whispered.” and oops! I didn’t whisper that. Skimming the chapter ahead of time will help.

  1. Review

When continuing a read aloud of a chapter book, I have found that it’s helpful to do a quick recap of the last section.  In my class, we call this “Previously in The Wild Robot” and I’ll call on a few kids to refresh our memory of what happened and where we left off. And sometimes I’ll even reread the last paragraph or two just to pick back up the threads of the story to get that momentum back. I notice that my Audible app does this automatically - when I stop the book and restart, it goes back about 15 seconds - which is so helpful.

During the read aloud

As you are performing the story, there are three elements that when they are working well, you will have a memorable and awesome read aloud! Those three elements are your voice, your body language, and your audience.

Let’s talk about your voice first because there’s a lot going on here. First of all, project your voice. And probably more than you think you have to. I don’t know about your space, but I am battling a TON of white noise in my classroom - the heater is blowing, the projector is whirring, the class across the hall is making some noise. So you have to cut through all that and angle your mouth further up than maybe you naturally would.

When you are reading aloud a text, you want to try to find the music and rhythm in the language. It’s about how the cadence and inflection of your voice matches the tone of the scene and how the characters are feeling. If it’s something mysterious is happening, add that little question to your voice. If it’s a sad moment, then you’ll want to slow down and maybe read more carefully with that emotion coming through.

For example, on page 58 of The Wild Robot, there is the part where Roz falls down the cliff:

Expressing the right tone is about finding that rhythm, but it’s also about volume. If a character yells - you yell. And whisper those poignant lines so your class leans in to hear them. Use the dramatic slow down. Speed up when there’s energy or a chase or big climatic scene.

And repeat important parts - look up at the kids. Give them a moment to digest and think. Those lines in the book that give you a deep message, that foreshadow something later, that are the heart of the story - repeat them! And maybe emphasize a different word the second time.

Here’s an example from Chapter 37 of The Wild Robot where we first meet a new character - Chitchat the squirrel.

SO in that section, based on the cues of the text - I made my voice bouncy when Chitchat bounces across the lawn and then fast and sort of nervous when she’s talking.

Another hugely important aspect of using your voice to convey meaning is by what most kids call “doing the voices”. That’s often their biggest compliment to an adult who reads out loud to them - that they do the voices well.  And it takes some practice and some planning to figure out how to perform and almost embody those various characters. Something that has really helped me is to think about what actor or actress might be cast in that role and then try to “do” their voice.  In The Wild Robot, I modeled Roz on Alexa. The older goose, Loudwing, was Julia Sweeney for some reason. Here’s an example from Chapter 44, The Runaway:

Now, YOU and the students might not hear those actors in my voice, but it helps me to keep the character’s voice straight and consistent throughout the book. And it gives me ideas of different ways that I could do different voices.

Now let’s talk about your body language!  First of all, move around the room instead of just sitting in one spot. And try gesturing with the hand not holding the book.  If a character is described as doing an action, like pointing, I’ll point. If the author has the character cough or sneeze - do that! And let your facial expressions reflect the tone of the story and mood of the characters. If there’s anxiousness in the description, furrow your brow and curl into yourself.  If they are described as smiling, I’ll smile as I say that part. And you can hear that smile in your voice. The children look for visual cues to understand the text so add a little performance to it.

A last way to really boost the engagement of your students or children during the read aloud is to get them involved in some way.

Shorter picture books are easier to do this with because they can often see the words to say them. My class loves reading the colored words in books like She Persisted or You Don’t Want a Unicorn.

But it’s a bit trickier when you are reading aloud a novel. But - there are some ways to do it.  One idea is to include your audience in some kind of small action.

I remember when I was taking a graduate education class, my professor read us Seedfolks. And I vividly recall her gently placing imaginary seeds into the palms of each of our hands as she read. Just that small little thing brought us into the story, and I’ve never forgotten it.  (It also goes to show that you are never too old to enjoy a read aloud! And that you can get cool ideas by listening to experienced people read out loud.)

In our class, one of the mentor texts we use a lot is Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. And there’s this part where the teacher dumps this nasty old red cottage-cheese-smelling sweater on the desk of one of her students. So, of course when I read it aloud, I mimic dropping that sweater on a student’s desk and then aim the teacher’s dialogue at that kid.

Or one time I was reading a poem where one of the characters got their shoulder bumped by another person, so as I read that part and walked past a student I dipped down and (gently!) bumped their shoulder with mine.  Now, you have to know your kids well enough to know who would respond well to that. Adding those little actions can really get the audience more invested and involved in the story.

At the end of the read aloud

At the end of the read aloud time, when you’ve got to stop. Always try to end on a cliffhanger - even if it’s the middle of a chapter. A lot of authors are really skilled at those chapter endings but you want to leave them wanting more! Begging to read just one more chapter! And sometimes - indulge them!

Most importantly - enjoy yourself!  If you are having fun reading the story and you are getting into it - your kids will love it, too.

There a hundred reasons why read alouds are so important. Of course it models fluency and introduces sophisticated vocabulary. I’ll just end by  mentioning that many accomplished readers talk so fondly about those early experiences being read to that sparked that passion for story in their lives. For me, that’s my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Simile, reading The Search for Delicious to us. I just fell head over heels for that story in a way that it became part of me. Read alouds create this shared experience that you and those children will have forever.

And now - I would love to hear from you! I am always looking for ways to improve my read alouds, and I’m sure our listeners would love more ideas as well. And I am sure you have some awesome suggestions! You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Colby Sharp - Interview Outline

Our guest this week is Colby Sharp! He is a teacher, one of the founders of the Nerdy Book Club site, a co-host of The Yarn podcast, organizer of NerdCamp Michigan, and now…. author of The Creativity Project!  A few weeks ago we sat down to chat about the book, what’s been inspiring him in his classroom, books he’s been reading, and so much more!

Take a listen...

The Creativity Project

The Creativity Project will finally make its way into the world this March. How did this project get started?

Logistically - how did the exchange of prompts work and how did you decide who received which prompt? Did you get to see them before they went out?

Are there some responses that are really memorable to you?

I love that The Creativity Project works not only as an anthology that you could just enjoy as a reader, but also as a spur to your own writing. It’s going to be a great resource for teachers!

Have you used the prompts in your own classroom?

What writing projects are you working on now?

Your Teaching Life

You recently switched grade levels - going from teaching 3rd grade to 5th grade. How has that been going for you?

What have been some of your favorite, most memorable teaching moments with your students this year?

What does reading look like in your class?

Your Reading Life

Something that I think about a lot is how sometimes it only takes ONE person to really influence a child’s reading life - either in a positive way or sometimes in a negative way.

Was there someone in your life who impacted you as a reader?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Links:

Colby’s website - https://www.mrcolbysharp.com

Colby on Twitter and Instagram

Student Podcasts: Colby’s Students & Corrina’s Students

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

Hatchet (Gary Paulsen)

Holes (Louis Sachar)

Enticing Hard to Reach Writers (Ruth Ayres)

The Truth as Told By Mason Buttle (Leslie Connor)

Freak the Mighty (Rodman Philbrick)

See You in the Cosmos (Jack Cheng)

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Mar 12 2018

44mins

Play

Rank #7: #19 - Rethinking Reading Logs

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who loves middle grade books.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two daughters and a 5th grade teacher in Central New York. My goal is to help you find fabulous books for your kids and help create a community where we all can support each other as we build those readers.

This is Episode #19 and today we are discussing ways to get away from reading logs and featuring three incredible science fiction/fantasy graphic novels.

Main Topic - Rethinking Reading Logs

Our main topic today is rethinking reading logs. This topic has been on my mind for a couple of years but I recently got fired up about it again when I came across a great article by Shaelynn Farnsworth called “6 Alternatives to Reading Logs”. (As always, I’ll link to that in the show notes.)

First, we’ll define what a reading log is, chat about why they are popular and sometimes valuable, we’ll discuss some potential problems with traditional reading logs, and then I’ll share eleven great alternatives that you can start using tomorrow.

What is a Reading Log?

Traditionally, reading logs are a worksheet where students record the titles of books they’ve read, including a daily tally of minutes or pages. Usually, teachers ask parents to sign them. For example, my 2nd grade daughter has a weekly sheet where she colors in a box for every ten minutes she’s read at home. She writes a reflection on the bottom and we’re supposed to sign it every week. Lately this kind of reading log has gotten some pushback - from both teachers and parents. You probably have an opinion about them.

Why are Reading Logs popular?

What’s the purpose and the benefit? Some of it may have to do with teachers just going on autopilot and using practices they are familiar with from colleagues or their own schooling. That’s why I used them for so long. I think also we teachers are looking for tangible evidence that kids are reading and reading outside of school. Also, reading logs are a way to communicate the importance of reading to students and parents and an attempt to get families involved in nightly reading routines. Because many strong readers do record at least some aspects of their reading, and we have this instinct to track habits we want to encourage in ourselves - your eating habits or steps on a Fitbit. Also - sometimes Reading Logs are used to try to motivate kids to read more and to award prizes. I think that can work for short periods of time - we recently had a two week reading challenge at my school where everyone - kids and staff - were challenged to read 100,000  minutes in two weeks. It was quick and fun but not for the whole year. Tracking reading can be a powerful tool when kids know the purpose and it’s for their own reflections and not a “gotcha”. If you want to learn more about some authentic ways to track reading, we covered that in Episode 8. I’ll drop a link to that in the show notes or you can just scroll back down in your app after you’re done with this episode.

What are some downsides to Reading Logs?

Reading Logs - especially the year long parent signed minute tracking type can be problematic. You and I know that lots of them are faked. Heck - I’ve even “fudged” my own children’s! Now - to be clear - I didn’t lie about how many minutes she read or faked a signature or added on more time. But sometimes it got to be Sunday night and we’d forgotten to jot down the minutes and so we’d estimate how much she read each night and use different colored pens so it’s not obvious we filled it all in the night before. If I am doing that, you know for darn sure that most families are doing something similar at least some of the time. And if there’s a penalty for not turning them in, it creates a situation where kids are punished for home environments that make it difficult for them to get daily signatures. And it can create contention at home. And I never want reading time to be a battle. Also - when the numbers of minutes or books read are publically displayed with a child’s name attached  - that can be embarrassing for kids. I have a FitBit and I am trying to get in more steps daily. I recognize that my health is important, but I’m not doing great with that yet. Do I want my stats posted all over the walls of the school for everyone to see? No - I do not. So please don’t do that to kids.

What can we do instead?

Because responding to reading, signaling the value of reading, and getting students, families, and communities involved in building reading habits are worthy goals. I’m coming at this from a place of wanting to do better myself and specifically to use more technology.  So here are 11 ideas you can start using tomorrow instead of reading logs:

  1. Reading Journals Have children keep a journal of their reading instead. Keep it simple and have them record a quick thought about their reading a few times a week and then share. That’s even more powerful if you keep a reading journal, too!
  2. Status Updates Do a daily “Status of the Class” where each kid (and yourself) does a quick share of the title, page number and what’s happening in the book they are currently reading. For my class, that’s our daily routine after lunch as kids are getting resettled.
  3. Quotes Have students share thought-provoking quotes from their novels or powerful facts from their nonfiction reading on a “Graffiti wall”. Basically you dedicate a white board or put up some black bulletin board paper and get some fun markers and have your class (and you!) mark down your thoughts.  Status of the Class and the Graffiti wall, I think were both originally mentioned in Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer.  If you have not read that book yet, please please go do that before anything else.
  4. Books Talks Invite students to give brief book talks sharing and promoting books they’ve recently read. Often, kids are going to listen to their peers more than you. I like this idea because it helps them practice showing excitement about books, and I hope they’ll carry that enthusiasm out into the world and feel more comfortable talking up books with their family and friends because they’ve practiced doing that in the classroom.
  5. Blogging Get students blogging about their books and reading lives. There are so many possibilities here: book reviews, top ten lists - or top 3 lists (keep it simple!), drawings, you know those BuzzFeed quizzes that ask you which Harry Potter character are you most like? Students could make their own! There are so many cool things kids could do that if you just put it out into the world with a real audience, their engagement and incentive to actually do deep reading and quality work will go up. For me, this is my main goal the rest of this school year. And I am inspired by fellow teachers who have spoken about the powerful things that happen when outside people and authors comment on those blog posts and engage with their students.
  6. Seesaw - I have fallen in love with this app. It’s awesome. Essentially it’s a digital portfolio that students all ages can use. It’s free and kids can get to it on tablets, phones, computers, or Chromebooks. The feed can stay private to your class or be published on a blog. There are SO many ways kids can respond to reading with Seesaw - I’ll just name a few.  They could take a picture of themselves holding their current read and then add an audio clip of them reading aloud a favorite scene. They could snap a picture of a page and annotate it with drawing tools - maybe circling some powerful language or a favorite quote. They could record a video of themselves doing a booktalk. It’s an incredible tool.
  7. Social Media Have students share their thoughts about their personal reading on Social Media - whether that’s a class Twitter account, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat - and whatever else is the next new thing! You could have kids snap a pic of the cover of their book and write a 140 character review. Or share a powerful quote. If they have photo editing software or are using Seesaw, they could mark it up and annotate it. In Shaelynn Farnsworth’s article “6 Alternatives to Reading Logs”, she mentions the hashtag #BookSnaps to connect with other readers and for you adults listening - check it out to get some really game-changing ideas. I want to make sure to mention #BookSnap founder Tara Martin - she’s my exciting new Twitter Professional Development find this week so absolutely go follow her and get inspired.
  8. Interviews - Students can interview a classmate (or sibling or parent) about a favorite book or a current read. Come up with a couple questions, record the interview in a journal, or record a video, and share. This one takes more time and you probably won’t be to do it everyday but it’s a fun way - maybe every month or every quarter -  to change it up and have kids practice having conversations with each other about books and reading.
  9. Online Trackers - Instead of a traditional reading log, have students track their reading on a site like Biblionasium or if their older, Goodreads. These are sites where kids can make recommendations, write reviews, participate in challenges, and really take something boring and dry and turn it into a practice that can last beyond the school year.
  10. Book Trailers - This is a huge favorite. Have kids create a video promoting a book they love. If they can share it with a wider audience than just your classroom, even better.
  11. Pictures from Parents & Family - A couple weeks ago we had a week long Winter Break at my school. And the day before, I sent an email home asking families to send me a funny or interesting or cozy picture of their kid reading over winter break. I just did it on whim, and honestly - I wasn’t expecting too much. BUT - over break, my email box was flooded with pictures of kids reading in snow forts, reading to their little sister or their puppy - one boy was reading on the ferry with the Statue of Liberty in the background. I was crying over these pictures - I was so moved by how many families embraced this and were joyful about sharing those images with me. Now we are going to take those photos and make a video to promote reading in our school.

I hope that you were also inspired by these ideas and now have a seed of something exciting you want to try in your school or with your kids. Some of these ideas I’ve been doing, but I’m starting to see that any one of them will eventually lose its appeal and it’s good to have a variety so kids can see all different ways that reading can be important in their lives and maybe they’ll carry on one of these ideas on their own. And as always, we are learning together and helping each other out, so please share with us your ideas for alternatives to traditional reading logs.  You can tag me on Twitter, Instagram, and now Facebook - our handle is @books_between or email me at booksbetween@gmail.com and I’d love to share your fabulous ideas.

Book Talk - Three Amazing Science Fiction / Fantasy Graphic Novels

In this section of the show, I share with you three books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. This week is all about the graphic novel - specifically science fiction / fantasy graphic novels. And I can attest - these books are going to be winners in your classroom, library, or home. They are Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, Hilo by Judd Winick, and the newly released One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale.

Amulet

I am starting with Amulet. I am going to admit that I was slow to the Amulet series and didn’t even have a set in my classroom until this year. I know, I know - how I could have overlooked this series is, in hindsight, beyond me. But at some point last summer a friend chided me saying, “Really, you teach 5th grade and don’t have Amulet in your room?” She was right!  Alright - some background about the plot. The story revolves around a young girl named Emily.  After a horrific family tragedy in which her father dies, she and her younger brother Navin and their mom move to a mysterious house once owned by Emily’s eccentric - and missing - great-grandfather. While cleaning up and investigating the house, Emily and her brother find a powerful amulet, end up trapped in another dimension, and have to save their mother from a gruesome tentacled monster - all while fighting their own monsters along the way. With some help from some unexpected, umm….  creatures. Here are three things to love about Amulet:

  1. The color palette. This is just a gorgeous book to immerse yourself in! There are cool shades of blues and grays, touches of teals mixed with warm ambers and browns and pinks. Like the colors of a hazy sunset over a blue-gray ocean. Just vibrant, rich warm and cool colors playing off each other.
  2. The creatures and plants in the Amulet world are COOL. Giant pink parachuting mushrooms, a skulking silver eyed elvish villain, adorable rose colored slugs, a menagerie of weird robots, and an unexpected pink bunny(?) named Miskit. I think he’s a bunny - my students thought he was a robot maybe I’m wrong there.    
  3. How completely Amulet sucks kids in. When I was basically TOLD to get this series for my students, I had planned to read book one first. Uh - no. They immediately snagged it from me and from there every book in the series was passed from kid to kid to kid - this web of children all connecting around this one incredible story. At one point in my class, over half my students were reading an Amulet book. It’s one of those moments in your class when you see them forming a community of readers and it just makes your heart sing. So - finally, last week, most of my class was far enough into the series that book one, which is called The Stonekeeper by the way, was finally available. I took it home before anyone could snag it again. And my 9 year old swiped it from the coffee table. And my 7 year old snatched it after that. Honestly, it’s a miracle I’ve gotten to finish the thing!

Amulet is clearly a must-have graphic novel for any classroom library grades 3-8. It’s kind of like a mix between Journey to the Center of the Earth and Zita the Space Girl. And - a bit of advice. Don’t even bother just getting book one - get the whole series because you and your kids won’t be able to stop.

Hilo

Our next science fiction graphic novel is Judd Winick’s Hilo. This is a fun, fast-paced, sometimes wonderfully silly series of three books (so far!) about a young kid named DJ who discovers a robot boy, called Hilo, who fell to earth. And DJ and his friend, Gina, have to help this kid figure out who he is and what he’s doing on Earth. And of course - have awesome adventures fighting off menacing robots. My kids and my students really enjoy these graphic novels. Here are three reasons why we all love Hilo:

  1. The diverse cast of human characters. Our main guy is DJ Lim - an Asian-American kid surrounded by high-achieving siblings and just discovering his own confidence. The story is told from his point of view. The scenes at DJ’s home with his family are some of my favorite parts. His best friend is an African American girl named Gina. It’s nice for middle grade kids to see a strong friendship between a boy and girl. And Gina has some similar struggles going on with her family. She also feels a bit in the shadow of her driven cheerleading twin sisters. DJ and Gina make a great duo.
  2. The “fish out of water” details in the story. Hilo is a robot from another dimension who looks and sorta acts like a boy, but he doesn’t really know his powers and certainly doesn’t know how to behave in the human world. Or at school. He is very, uh enthusiastic about eating weird combinations of food like rice and milk - and he’s enthusiastic and loud about everything really! He takes apart DJ’s dad’s car and paints his house polka dots.
  3. The humor and hilarious catch-phrases. Hilo shows up wearing silver underwear  - at one point his head flies off his body. There are fart and burp jokes galore and Hilo loves the words Outstanding and Hazzah! Really  you’ll be smiling through this whole book.

Judd Winick’s Hilo series is cheerful, positive, laugh-out-loud funny and great for kids who love books like Big Nate and Bone. It’s kind of like a cross between Calvin & Hobbes and Mork and Mindy.

One Trick Pony

Our final featured sci fi / fantasy graphic novel is one that I have been waiting and waiting to read. It is called One Trick Pony - by Nathan Hale. You might know Mr. Hale from his awesome Hazardous Tales historical graphic novel series. If you don’t - you’re gonna love those too! This novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future where alien invaders are devouring every last trace of human-made metals and electronic devices. All that’s left of humanity are small bands of survivors trying to outwit and outrun the aliens.  The main character is a girl named Strata who finds  a beautiful and rare robot pony when she’s out scavenging with her brother and her friend. Strata insists on keeping the horse even though the presence of something technical makes them a target of the aliens who are soon chasing after them. Here are three things to love about One Trick Pony:

  1. Kleidi, the robot pony. She is gorgeously golden and pops out in Nathan Hale’s distinctive two tone yellow/gray coloring for this novel. She adds comic relief when she only listens to Strata and no one else. And plays a surprising role at the end of the book. I gotta say, the ending shocked me - in a good way. It took a twist I was not expecting at all.
  2. The aliens. These are seriously scary multi-limbed, disjointed, frightening giant blobbing aliens called Pipers that release bubbles to capture electronics they scavenge from the earth. And if you’re holding to that technology - you could lose your limb. They are like a cross between the creature from the Alien movie and an Hieronymous Bosch painting. It’s creepy good!
  3. The concept of the caravan. The main character, Strata, lives with this traveling band of “digital rescuers” who save data and technological devices before the aliens can get to it in the hopes that one day civilization can be rekindled. That idea is so, so powerful and timely when you think of efforts to suppress scientific data now. Our own digital rescuers are heroes. I know all you teachers and librarians and book lovers listening can relate when I say that the burning of the library at Alexandria stills shatters a part of my soul to think of all that knowledge lost. And I love how Nathan Hale captured that concept in this graphic novel.

In One Trick Pony, Nathan Hale has masterfully combined two seemingly disparate elements - a girl and her pony story and a fierce science fiction battle book. And it is wonderful! It releases tomorrow - Tuesday, March 14th so go treat your kid, your class, yourself with this fabulous book.

Closing

Alright - that’s it for our show this week. If you have a question about how to connect middle grade readers to books they will love or an idea about a guest we should have or a topic we should cover, I really love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get find a transcript of this show and all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com. While you are there, check out the recent post featuring 20 Books About Refugee & Immigrant Experiences. And, if you are liking the show, please help others find us too by telling a friend, sharing on social media, or leaving a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again and see you in two weeks!  Bye!

http://alicekeeler.com/2017/01/30/6-alternatives-reading-logs-shfarnsworth/

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780470372272

http://www.tarammartin.com/resources/booksnaps-how-to-videos/

http://www.allthewonders.com/books/books-for-better-stories-of-immigrants-and-refugees/

Mar 13 2017

24mins

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Rank #8: #24 - Summer Reading & Nanci Turner Steveson

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Intro

Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who loves middle grade books.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a 5th grade teacher, a mom, and a HUGE Guardians of the Galaxy fan! I just saw the second movie last weekend, and I loved how the writers constructed a story to make me love a character I had previously hated. And I loved how this story shows how an empathic character can be deeply powerful without toting a gun or fighting. Plus - my favorite band is Fleetwood Mac!

This is Episode #24 and Today we are discussing lots of ideas for summer reading and I’ll be chatting with author Nanci Turner Steveson about her new novel Georgia Rules.

Main Topic - Summer Reading

Our main topic today is summer reading! For me,  my school year up here in New York doesn’t end for another five weeks but lots of my friends are already wrapping up their school year so I thought it would be a good time to discuss this topic. And whether you are a parent, or a librarian, or a teacher there will be something in today’s show that you will find useful.

First, we’ll talk about defining the purpose of summer reading and the importance of planning. Then we’ll talk about ways to ensure access to books for kids and end with some fun summer reading ideas.

Purpose

The first thing to really think about is what purpose summer reading should serve for kids. In my view, summer reading should be all about fun and free choice and continuing to build a community of readers. And not earning trinkets. The prize should be the book, the shared experience, not some cheap piece of junk from a chintzy looking treasure box.  Whatever you decide to do to encourage summer reading, please keep the focus on fun and not guilt tripping kids into reading. As we approach the end of the school year and kids dive into busy or unpredictable schedules, maintaining that reading momentum is key. If you are like me and saying good-bye to outgoing students, it feels a little like they are fledging and you’ll be encouraging more reading independence. Or, maybe you are thinking about activities with incoming students. In that case, your goal might be to welcome them into a new community of readers and to start to build or maintain those relationships heading into a new year.

Planning

One of the most effective things that you can do to get kids reading over the summer is to help them make some reading plans before school ends and to fill up their To Be Read list with titles they are excited about. Suggested book lists can be nice - especially if they are created by other students. (You know how it is - kids are going to listen to each other way more than they’re going to listen to us!)

If there are some movies coming out over the summer that are based on books, definitely mention those and maybe show the trailers. For example, I know there’s a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie and Captain Underpants and then Wonder is coming out in the fall.

One thing that I like to do is to try to get kids hooked into a new series right at the end of the year so they are motivated to read the rest of the books into the summer. My school has started using the Units of Study from the TCRWP and our final unit in 5th grade is Fantasy Book Clubs. So they are totally getting hooked on Gregor the Overlander and Wings of Fire and Warriors and already starting to research the sequels.

And - speaking of Fantasy, have you seen the new Wizarding World Book Club being launched this summer through Pottermore? That sounds awesome and every year I have three or four kids who are just getting started in the Harry Potter series so I feel like I relive reading that series every year.  I’ll include a link in the show notes for all of my fellow Potterheads to check out.  So making a great TBR list is one major part of planning summer reading.

Another part is to think about some Summer Challenges. Maybe share the Reading Without Walls Challenge which encourages readers to expand their reading horizons by reading a book about a character who doesn’t look or live like you, a book about a topic you don’t know about and a book in a format you don’t normally read for fun. Scholastic also has a Summer Reading Bingo Card that might be fun to print out and try with spaces like Read With a Flashlight, Read Outside, or Read Aloud to an Adult - those are fun but what might be even cooler would be to have kids design their own Summer Reading Bingo cards!

One last word about planning. Definitely share your own summer reading plans with your students and your kids. They are really more likely to follow through if you join them and make your commitment public.

Access

Alright so you now know your purpose and you and the kids have a plan. Let’s talk about helping them have access to those amazing books they want to read. One great idea that I know a lot of teachers and librarians are doing is to coordinate a Book Swap at the end of the year where kids bring in books from home, share them in some central spot and then take what they want.

Another idea for teachers is to give each child in your class a book as an end-of-the-year present.  I did this for the first time ever last year. I went to my local Scholastic Warehouse during their year-end sale, and I picked out a book that I knew the child had not yet read but I thought they would really like. And I brought with me my clipboard of Status of the Class sheets from the entire year so I had a record of exactly what they had read and I had a decent idea of what they would like. Then I added a personalized note inside, wrapped each one up, and added a Krazy Straw and a some ribbon. Now, depending on your class size or your budget, that is not always an option. When I taught in a middle school with over 60 students, I just couldn’t do that.  Now, I have just one class and also I don’t buy lots of other things so I can splurge a little at the end of the year.

Another way to get more books into kids hands over the summer is to open up your classroom library or the school library over the summer. Some schools I know have library hours once a week. Some handle the issue of access by letting each child take out ten books over the summer. If you can do this, I think it’s a fabulous idea. Why let the books just sit around?

However, if that is not possible or you’re not there yet another thing you can do is send home a resource sheet to let parents know where they can get books over the summer. List the locations of local libraries, of any Little Free Libraries in the area, and also the links to online places where they access books and articles. Definitely don’t forget about digital reading. Places like Wonderopolis or Newsela or any other online databases or subscription site they use during the school year. Often those passwords will work right over the summer. And don’t forget to plug the audio books! Sometimes a summer trip is the perfect time to try out an audio book.

Bringing books out into the community is another fantastic way to get more books out to more kids. You could set up one or more Little Free Libraries near the school. A lot of my local libraries are placing satellite Little Free Libraries around in various parks. If you’re up for a bit of planning - and maybe it won’t happen this summer but put it in the back of your mind for next year - a bookmobile would be another great method of outreach and making sure that every kid can bump into some books over the summer! Julie, a librarian friend of mine, took a bookmobile out to a local breakfast spot on the weekends. A local ballpark where they have summer rec games going on would be another great spot. I’m thinking of summer festivals and 4th of July spots or the Farmer’s Market!

Basically, you want to make sure kids have books in their hands before they leave school and know exactly where to go to get more.

8 Summer Projects & Activities

Let’s talk about some cool summer projects and activities that you can do with students or your own kids. Here are eight ideas for summer reading projects:

  1. Have students write a letter or postcard to you over the summer telling you about a book they loved. You can supply a template if you want and a pre stamped and self-addressed envelope before the end of school.
  2. Do a Library Crawl! I chatted with you about this back in January on Episode 14, but my daughters and I challenged ourselves to hit 16 libraries during the summer of 2016. And we posted pictures on social media along the way, included some Little Free Libraries, and it was a lot of fun. This idea is more geared toward parents but you might find a way to do something similar as a teacher or librarian.
  3. Host a meetup at your local library or bookstore. Set a few dates ahead of time and join your students for a quick get-together to share what you’ve been reading and pick out some new titles. Usually libraries have summer programs going on, so you could time those meetups to match the library schedule.
  4. Meet at school for a Breakfast & Book Swap! Make some pancakes, chat about books, and get some ideas of what to read next.
  5. Share your reading on Social Media. You could encourage kids to share pics of their books on Snapchat or Twitter or Instagram and maybe use a school hashtag. Also - if you use Google Classroom or Seesaw, often students can still log-in to use those over the summer. So, why not take advantage of that and continue to share what you’re reading through June, July, and August?
  6. Summer Book Clubs! If you have multiple copies of the same book, put together a book club that meets a couple times over the summer.
  7. Is an idea called Books on Blankets that I first saw on Stacey Reidmiller’s site Literacy for Big Kids. And basically, they host a get-together once a week over the summer with a read aloud, popsicles, and kids get a free book! Families bring a blanket and sit out on the grass and enjoy a great story together.
  8. Is a similar idea but instead of having a read aloud at your school, do a read aloud station at, say, your local Farmer’s Market. It doesn’t have to be for the whole day - maybe just half an hour! Or really, any place where lots of kids gather over the summer. Just gather some books in a totebag, lay out a beach blanket, put up a sign, and start reading!

You may not be ready to take on some of these ideas, yet. I am definitely not quite ready for some of them. But, every year I feel like I’m adding another piece. But - please keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything yourself. I certainly would find it hard to commit to going to my school once a week for the entire summer. But, I could get together with some my colleagues and some PTO members and we could each take one week.  

My challenge to you and to myself is to find one area where you could encourage more pleasure reading this summer. And I know you’ll get just as much out of it as your kids will.

And of course, I want to hear about your summer reading plans and ideas. You can tag me on Twitter, Instagram, and now Facebook - our handle is @books_between or email me at booksbetween@gmail.com and I’d love to see what you’ve got going on this summer.

Interview - Nanci Turner Steveson

Today I am excited to welcome Nanci Turner Steveson to the podcast. She is the author of Swing Sideways and the newly released Georgia Rules.  We chat about why she set her new middle grade novel in Vermont, the theatre, and her favorite kind of pie. Take a listen.

Welcome to the podcast!

I heard that your first novel, Swing Sideways, was nominated for the Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Award! Congratulations!

Georgia Rules

Your second middle grade novel, Georgia Rules, is released today.  I am so honored to be chatting with you on your launch day!

Tell us about Georgia Rules - what is this story about?

At the beginning of the book, the catalyst that prompts Maggie and her mom to move to Vermont is that her step-father has decided to divorce them and have a boyfriend move in. And I just want to say that situation of a family breaking up and one of the parents moving on to a same-sex relationship is becoming more common - or at least more openly acknowledged. And I am glad that it’s in this book - I think Georgia Rules is the first book I’ve read that’s shown a breakup in that way.

There is this tension between the more formal “Georgia Rules” that Magnolia has been brought up with in Atlanta and the more casual, country vibe of Vermont.

Which one is more in line with your upbringing?

I loved the Vermont setting - it reminded a lot of Central New York actually.

Have you ever lived in Vermont?

The Parker family is known for their pies.

What is your favorite pie?

Your Writing Life

You’ve mentioned that you got a late start in publishing and that your first novel, Swing Sideways, wasn’t published until you were older.

Were you writing all along and just stuck with it until you had a breakthrough or did you also come to writing later as well?

What drew you to writing middle grade?

Theatre

I’ve noticed that you are involved in the theatre! =

What do you do - act? Or more technical aspects?

What sort of chapter books did you like to read when you were a kid?

What about have you been reading lately?

Thank You!

Closing

Okay - that wraps up our show this week. If you have a question about how to connect middle grade readers to books they will love or an idea about a guest we should have or a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Also, this past week I was honored to be a guest on the What Book Hooked You? podcast where I chatted with Brock Shelly about The Book Whisperer and lots of other things. I’ll link to that in the shownotes if you want to check it out.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of the show along with all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com.

And, if you are liking the show, please help others find us too by telling a friend, sharing on social media, or leaving a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again and see you in two weeks!  Bye!

https://www.pottermore.com/news/wizarding-world-book-club-coming-soon-to-pottermore

http://www.cbcbooks.org/reading-without-walls/

http://oomscholasticblog.com/rules/2017ScholasticReadingBingo.pdf

https://littlefreelibrary.org

https://newsela.com

http://www.literacyforbigkids.com/blog/summer-reading-the-authentic-way

May 22 2017

38mins

Play

Rank #9: #34 - Studying Genre & A Conversation with Danielle Davis

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom an 8 and 10 year old, and just finishing my first week back to school with my new 5th graders. And….YAWN!  Is there any tured that’s like that first few days of school tired?  I am gonna get some coffee and I’ll be right back….

This is Episode #34 and today I’m talking about studying genre and then I welcome author Danielle Davis to the show to chat about her debut middle grade novel Zinnia and the Bees, and finish up with a question about book recommendations for an advanced 6th grade reader.

But before we jump into the show, I want tell you that this month’s episodes are sponsored by WriteAbout.com - a writing community and publishing platform that is just perfect for classrooms. It is incredibly easy to use and set up - and boy am I appreciating that at the beginning of the year!  I am also loving how engaged students are when they see their word count grow. And how that pushes them to write even more. And from my end, I love how I can analyze those word count statistics either as a whole class or filter for individual students.  So, if you’ve been searching for an engaging and authentic way to help your students write every day, definitely go visit WriteAbout.com to check it out. And at the end of the show, I’ll share with you my current favorite feature.

Main Topic - Studying Genre

As I start our new school year rolling and we are setting up our reading journals and discussing goals, one of the first things we do is have a quick crash course in identifying genres. So today I want to chat with you about why it’s a good idea for students to study genre, which genres to study, the difference between genre and format, and finally I’ll share some ideas and resources to get your students learning more about different genres.

Why study genre?

So, why study genre? We’ve already got a lot on our plate and a curriculum that is jam packed. Why is it important for students to know the difference between science fiction and fantasy? Or to know a mystery when they see one?

  1. Studying genre helps students expand their reading habits and get introduced to genres they might not have tried yet.
  2. Studying genre also expands students’ views of each genre and helps them realize that NOT all books in a genre are the same. Not all fantasy is about dragons or set in a medieval world. Some have cats like The Warriors series and some are even set in modern times!  And often, books are a blend of more than one genre - Historical Fiction AND Action-Adventure like the I Survived Series. Or Science Fiction with a twist of Mystery like Space Case.
  3. Studying genre helps with comprehension. Knowing how a certain type of book tends to go helps you figure out the plot, make predictions, and pick out themes and delve into character more deeply. For example, if you are reading a Fantasy you’re going to be on the lookout for a quest narrative, special magical objects, maybe a good character who turns out to be bad, and a theme that might be really about Good vs. Evil. If they are picking up a mystery, they’ll want to be searching for clues and twist endings. If reading historical fiction they might be looking for lessons that would resonate today. Studying past turning points helps us figure out who we are. Knowing those common tropes and knowing why those genres are important helps students dig so much deeper and can even change them as a person.
  4. And finally, learning about genre helps kids develop their own reading identity and figure out what they really like. Learning the language and vocabulary of genre is important so they have a name for the kinds of stories they want to read and can then go ask for it at a bookstore or the library or when they search online. So if they know that they like Magical Realism, they can ask the clerk to help them find more of those kinds of books.   Last week I was thinking about how the power of knowing the vocabulary can help you find what you like. My ten year old and I have recently been binge-watching A LOT of Project Runway. And I do not have any kind of background in sewing or fashion terms. For me, when I go shopping, I just kind of wing it and know what I like when I put it on. But after watching several seasons of Project Runway in a row you start to pick up the names of various fabrics and cuts and styles. And I realize - a-ha!  I do NOT like high-low hems or mermaid dresses. BUT - that kind of skirt that always seems to look okay on me? That’s an A-line skirt! SO now, when I go shopping and a clerk asks if they can help me, I will say, “Yes! Show me your A-line skirts and dresses, please!”  Basically what I’m saying is knowing the words for what you like is hugely helpful in efficiently getting you more of that.

Which genres to study?

I tend to focus on how the characters, setting, and plot are all clues to help you figure out the genre. And the fiction genres I focus on are realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, action/adventure, traditional literature (like folk tales, tall tales and fairy tales), science fiction, and fantasy. With a strong emphasis on how sometimes they can blend. And I don’t go into depth at 5th grade, but I do mention westerns, horror, and romance. And I’ll tell you - that Science Fiction/Fantasy genre always seems so imperfect.  I mean - a book with talking animals in it. IS that… fantasy? I wouldn’t put Charlotte’s Web with Eragon. So…. we do talk about how there is nuance and fuzziness in those categories and I introduce terms like speculative fiction, paranormal, magical realism and urban fantasy. I don’t expect mastery here. But - if they can read a book like, say, The Seventh Wish. And say things like “Well, it could be realistic fiction because it’s about a typical family in modern times going through real-life challenges but it might be fantasy because the fish gives out magic wishes.” That is what I’m looking for. Not certainty but the ability to have a discussion around genre and recognize the major elements of each one.

What’s the difference between genre and format?

One of the points of growth for me is really recognizing the difference between genre and format. Poetry and graphic novels are NOT really genres. You can have a novel in verse that is a memoir like Brown Girl Dreaming or realistic fiction, like Moo. And graphic novels span every imaginable genre from traditional literature in Fairy Tale Comics to fantasy in Amulet and science fiction in Hilo to realistic fiction in Roller Girl. And as much as I know that…. I still separate them out because their format does make them so unique. And so many of my students just gravitate toward those graphic novels. So I want to make it easy for them to find. And just last week, after much consideration, I finally caved and shelved Nine, Ten, Towers Falling, Eleven, and the other 9/11 books in historical fiction. (And now I feel really old!)

Some ideas & resources

We’ll wrap up this segment by sharing a few ideas about how to reinforce the study of genre in your classroom or library or with your kids at home! Here are 6 ideas to get you started:

  1. Keep track of those genres on a chart or graph. I have a circle tracker that I love to use that I’ll link to in the shownotes. It’s colorful and flexible and fun!
  2. Give students a stack of books and have them sort them by genre or identify the genre if they are all the same. And encourage them to use the vocabulary they’ve learned to back up what they’re saying. And look at the cover and back description of the setting, characters, and plot for those clues.
  3. Another way to go is to give them a stack and tell them the genre. And then THEY have to create a definition based on the books in that category. And then they can present to their peers. If you don’t have physical books to use, I’ve cut out pictures and blurbs from Scholastic flyers and you could also have them search a genre category on Amazon or Goodreads.
  4. Have students work together to create a genre display. Last year, right around Halloween I had a group of kids work on a mystery/paranormal display for our classroom door.  Kids could also work on a video project or a Google Slideshow to teach others about genre.
  5. I used Kahoot last year to reinforce genre and my students loved it! Kahoot is an online quiz site where teachers can create any type of quiz and students log-in with a Chromebook or ipad and take the quiz and get live results together. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and they have really awesome music on that site!
  6. Have kids make #BookSnaps highlighting the genre of the books they are reading!  I talked more about #BookSnaps in episode #19 which was all about alternatives to reading logs. But basically, kids take a picture of their book, maybe annotate it with a photo editing tool and post it to social media. So, you could direct them to simply post the cover and name the genre. Or you could ask them to find some evidence inside the book to back up why they think that book fits the criteria for that genre. And take a picture of page that offers a clue and then annotate it to explain. I use SeeSaw for #BookSnaps but older kids might like SnapChat or Twitter.

Those are a few things that I have tried and plan to explore this year as I help students grow into self-aware and self-directed readers. But - I know how incredible my listeners are and I am sure you all have some fabulous ideas about how to teach and reinforce genre. Please share them with the rest of us! You can tag me on Twitter or Instagram - our handle is @books_between or email me at booksbetween@gmail.com . And I’ll share out some of your ideas.

Interview - Danielle Davis

Today I am thrilled to welcome Danielle Davis to the podcast. She is the author of the recently released middle grade novel Zinnia and the Bees. We chat about knitting, composting, and the surprising origins of her novel!

Zinnias and the Bees

Your debut novel Zinnia and the Bees was just released this month and I am so excited for my students and kids all around the world to meet these characters.

For those listening who haven’t yet had a chance to read the book, can you tell us a bit about it?

This is an alternating point of view novel like none other that I have read...

How did figure out that you wanted to include the bees’ perspective?

What sort of research did you do to make sure you got those details right?

So, I have to ask about…. KNITTING!

Your Writing Life

Your blog is called “This Picture Book Life”.

So how did you end up writing middle grade?

How does the final version of Zinnia and the Bees differ from earlier drafts?

What is your ideal writing space like?

What’s next for you - another middle grade or will you venture into Picture Books?

Your Reading Life

You read a TON of picture books AND middle grade books!

What drew you to focus mainly on picture books?

Is there a type of story or a genre that others like a lot but you’re just not that into?

What were some of your favorite books as a child?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Thank You!

Q & A

Our third and final segment this week is Question & Answer time.

Question:

Today’s question was texted to me from a friend at school. She asked, “I have a friend who’s looking for some book recommendations for her going into 6th grade boy. He is an advanced reader and loves sports and music.”

Answer:

I had five suggestions - Ghost by Jason Reynolds which would appeal to the sports side - plus, it’s just amazing and if they like it, there is the newly released second book called Patina which is just as fabulous! Posted by John David Anderson is also incredible. And Solo by Kwame Alexander which would be great for a kid who likes music. But - that one veers a little more toward YA. So - while I love that book, maybe take a peek at the content and consider waiting maybe a year or two. I also recommended the March graphic novel series by John Lewis. I think that trilogy is so timely and should be read by everyone so I just have to give a push whenever I have the chance. And finally, I Am Drums by Mike Grosso is phenomenal for music lovers. I just loved that book and can’t wait to see what else he writes.

Closing

Alright - that wraps up our show this week. If you have a question or an idea about a topic we should cover, let me know. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show along with all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com. And, if you are liking the show, please help others find us too by telling a friend, sharing on social media, or leaving a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

And thanks again to WriteAbout.com for supporting the podcast this month - when you visit their website you’ll find fantastic ideas to get your students writing this year. Some of my favorite features are the feedback tools - including voice recordings for students to get immediate and personal suggestions from you right as they are writing.

Thanks again and see you soon!  Bye!

Episode Links:

Danielle Davis’ website: http://www.danielledavisreadsandwrites.com

Danielle’s This Picture Book Life: http://thispicturebooklife.com

Zinnia and the Bees Pom Pom Craft: http://thispicturebooklife.com/pom-pom-craft-zinnia-bees-courtesy-sealed-kait/

Zinnia and the Bees: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781623708672

Books & Things Mentioned in the Interview:

Bees: Nature’s Little Wonders by Candace Savage: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781553655312

The Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780763679224

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780142001745

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=the+girl+flammable

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780385720960

Alethea’s blog - Read Now Sleep Later: http://www.readnowsleeplater.org

Roald Dahl books: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Roald+Dahl

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780547076805

Du Iz Tak by Carson Ellis: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Du+Iz+Tak

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780312367541

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780679734772

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780968876831

Benjamin Dilley’s Thirsty Camel by Jolly Roger Bradfield: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781930900608

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez:  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780425290408

Sep 11 2017

50mins

Play

Rank #10: #70 - Three New Graphic Novels & A Conversation with Jerry Craft

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Intro

Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect the tweens in your life to books they’ll love.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - 5th grade teacher, a mom of an 11 and 9 year old, and desperate to be DONE with winter, please!! Yesterday we saw robins all over the yard and today… it’s covered with snow again.

I believe that the right book can change the trajectory of a child’s life and can help them recognize the world for what it is and what it can be.  And I want to help you connect kids with those wonderful, life-shaping books and bring you inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen.

This is episode #70 and today I’m discussing three new graphic novels that would be great additions to your collection, and I’m also sharing with you a conversation I had with one of their creators.

Book Talk - Three New Graphic Novels

In this segment, I share with you a selection of books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. This week I am featuring three new graphic novels released in the last few months that should absolutely be on your radar - Click, New Kid, and Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy.  

Click

Let’s start with Click by Kayla Miller.  This full-color graphic novel is about 5th grader Olive who is feeling left out and left behind when all of her friends have matched up with each other for the school variety show. They’ve all formed acts together and Olive is feeling like she just doesn’t “click” with anyone or anything.

Here are three things I really enjoyed about Click:

  1. Olive’s Aunt Molly! She’s the kind of aunt we all wish we could have - the one whose house you can stay at when things are tricky at home. The cool aunt with ripped jeans, green streaks in her hair, and a “Kiss the Librarian” coffee mug. (I mean - well, *I* think that’s cool!)  It’s Aunt Molly that gets Olive these DVDs of old-timey variety shows that leads to her “a-ha” moment.
  2. The friendship dynamics in the book! I know a lot of kids can feel like they don’t belong. Don’t feel popular, don’t have a best friend. And as someone who always seemed to be friends with girls who were best friends with each other - I could really relate to Olive.
  3. The third thing that I ended up liking about this book is that it’s slower paced, has essentially one main conflict, and it can be read in one sitting.

Click is a great option for kids in grades 3-6 who liked Sunny Side Up or Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel.  And - Kayla Miller has a sequel coming out on April 23rd called Camp - so if they enjoy Click, they’ll have another one on the way.

Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy

Next up is Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo which is, as you might have guessed from the title - a modern retelling of Little Women. A full-color, 256 page graphic novel reboot of the March sisters’ story. In this retelling, the March family lives in a brownstone in New York City and their father is deployed overseas in the Middle East. So the setting is different, but the girls’ personalities are pretty much the same, but with a modern twist. Meg is the responsible one and works as a nanny. Jo is an ambitious writer, Beth is shy and loves writing music but plays a guitar and not the piano, and Amy is still her obnoxious self - just in a slightly different way.  My eleven-year-old and I devoured this book - oh it’s so good! And here are three reasons why:

  1. That the March family is reimagined as a modern blended biracial family. Mr. March is black and was a widower with one daughter, Meg. And he marries Mrs. March, who is white and also had one daughter, Jo. And they go on to have Beth and Amy together.  And that mix of closeness and conflict that can happen between sisters had my daughter nodding her head and laughing in recognition. We also loved that this modern retelling including gay characters and just an overall more diverse slice of society.
  2. Noticing what’s changed from the original. I’d read the Little Women many years ago but my daughter hadn’t and I doubt many middle grade readers will have. But we had both seen the movie recently and it’s cool to see how those classic characters are updated. Amy is into gaming - and boy is she competetive about it! And she wants to sell Aunt Catherine’s ring to either go to art school or launch a career as a video game reviewer on YouTube. The book includes most of the iconic Little Women scenes - Jo cutting her hair, Amy wrecking some of Jo’s writing, Jo not saving Amy from an accident that could have been tragic, Meg hanging out with a crowd of a different class, the whole Laurie situation. But each are shifted and told in a totally new way that makes sense for the now.
  3. The ending is the same yet totally different. I want to be careful with what I say so I don’t ruin anything if you haven’t read Little Women. First, the story ends when the girls are younger. Jo is still in high school and Meg is in college so there might be an opportunity for a sequel? Also - just like the original, you will need tissues but maybe not an entire box.

Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth is a must-purchase graphic novel for I would say about grades 5 and up. And just like other graphic novels versions of classics like Anne of Green Gables and the Iliad, it’s a way for young readers to access those stories in a format they love. And adult fans of Little Women will love it, too.

New Kid

The third graphic novel that I want to recommend to you this week is New Kid by Jerry Craft. I’m fairly confident that you have already heard about this book since it seems like everyone is raving about it. But let me add my voice to those to say - yes, it’s THAT good. And I am really excited to have Jerry Craft on the show today to talk about how the book connects to his own experiences attending a private school, micro-aggressions, his favorite Chinese food, his inspirations, what’s he’s been reading - and so so much more.

Take a listen:

Jerry Craft - Interview Outline

New Kid has been getting so much love and support from readers online -   you have knocked it out of the park! For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it?

I’ve heard you say that Jordan’s story is somewhat based on your experiences. What are those those similiarites and also - where does the novel diverge from your experiences?

In a previous interview you were asked what message you hoped people would take away from reading New Kid. And one of the things you mentioned was addressed to teachers and librarians “when you see kids of color, make sure you see them as kids first. Because they are! They like to laugh, and play, and use their imaginations, but to me they are constantly bombarded with so many things that force them to grow up at a much faster rate than other kids. Their books. Their movies. Their music. Everything is such a heavy reminder of how terrible their lives are going to be.

And that scene at the book fair is such an illustration of that….

So I have to talk to you about the audiobook of New Kid!  What was the process like and what did you think of the final audiobook?

So - what’s YOUR favorite Chinese food?

A question from Jarrett Lerner..

“I'd love to hear about your favorite comics, comic book artists, graphic novelists. You do such inventive, clever things with your paneling and your visual language. Who are your influences and favorites?

So, everyone wants to know - will there be a sequel?!

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Thank You!

Links:

Jerry’s website - http://www.jerrycraft.net

Jerry on Twitter - @JerryCraft

Jerry on Instagram - @jerrycraft

Jerry on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jerry.craft.162

New Kid audiobook

Jerry’s influences:

John Buscema

Jim Steranko

Gil Kane

Jack Kirby

Will Eisner

Barbara Slate

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

Nimona audiobook

Angel Love (Barbara Slate)

Sweet Sixteen (Barbara Slate)

You Can Do a Graphic Novel (Barbara Slate)

Class Act (Jerry Craft)

Piecing Me Together (Renée Watson)

Queen Raina Telgemeier

Nic Stone

Ibi Zoboi

Jason Reynolds

Kwame Alexander

American Born Chinese (Gene Luen Yang)

Anika Denise

Pura Belpré

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library (Carole Boston Weatherford)

Closing

Thank you so much for joining me this week.  You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org.   And, if you have an extra minute this week, reviews on iTunes or Stitcher are much appreciated.

Books Between is a proud member of the Lady Pod Squad and the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Talk with you soon!  Bye!

Mar 18 2019

44mins

Play

Rank #11: #26 - Caroline Starr Rose & Favorite Fictional Dads

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect middle grade kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of an 8 and 10 year old, a teacher to eighteen 11 year olds, and we are all in the home stretch for summer vacation. It’s almost here. And - if any of you of are headed to the ALA Conference in Chicago this summer, I will be be there on Saturday and Sunday to interview author Mira Bartok about her new middle grade book The Wonderling. So - if you will be there, look for that and I hope we can meet in person.

This is Episode #26 and Today I am welcoming author Caroline Starr Rose to the show and then in honor of Father’s Day coming up, chatting about some of our favorite fictional dads and two fabulous new books featuring awesome fathers.

But first I am excited to tell you that today’s episode is supported by OwlCrate Jr. - a book subscription box just for kids 8-12. My daughters and I have been loving it! Every month has a different theme and it is such a treat to have a package waiting on your doorstep with a box full of - not only an awesome newly released book but fun little items all connected to the theme of that middle grade book.  If you head over to owlcrate.com you can see some samples of past boxes, and if you use the code BOOKSBETWEEN, you can save 15%. I hope you check them out - I really think you’re going to love it!  

This week I am welcoming to the show Caroline Starr Rose - author of the recently released middle grade historical adventure Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine. We chat about the inspirations behind her latest novel, encouraging kids to read more, and we reminisce about Little House on the Prairie.

Caroline Starr Rose - Interview Outline

 Your latest middle grade novel, Jasper and The Riddle of Riley’s Mine, was just released this past February.

Is this your first novel that is not written in verse?

Tell us about this new historical adventure - what is Jasper & the Riddle of Riley’s Mine about?

One of the things I really loved about this book was they way the boys speak - using “ain’t” and “them” instead of “those”, “it’s his own dern fault”...

How did you capture the voices of Jasper and Melvin?

I just noticed that you have a new picture book on the Pony Express coming out this fall, yes? 

I saw that you taught Social Studies and English.  

A lot of our listeners who are teachers and librarians and homeschooling parents are always trying to find ways to connect subjects to really maximize the limited time we all have.

When you were teaching full time, how were you connecting social studies and English?

Is there anything that you used to do as a teacher that now, looking back - you regret?   Anything you would go back and change?

Even though you aren’t in the classroom anymore, your passion for connecting readers and educators with the right book is clear. I especially love the “Classroom Connections” section on your website where you interview authors about their books and include a specific section on how that book would be a good fit in a classroom.

How do you think that we as parents and teachers can raise kids who love reading?

How is having a teenager reader different than having a middle grade reader at home? As someone who has gone through those years and is now out the other side, what can we expect?

You recently posted on your website a quote from Donalyn Miller (one of my inspirations as well!). It said, “I am as much a composite of all the book characters I have loved as of the people I have met.”

Which book characters are you a composite of?

 What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Book Talk - Two Novels Featuring Fantastic Fathers

In this section of the show, I share with you a few books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. This week, with Father’s Day coming up, I thought I would focus on books with great dads. I know it’s such a trope with kids books that the parents get killed off or are otherwise out of the picture so that the main characters can go off on adventures unimpeded, but we’re breaking away from those books today. First, I’ll go into some detail about two newer releases that I have been loving - Amina’s Voice and Beyond the Bright Sea. And then chat about other favorite dads from both modern and classic books.

Amina’s Voice

This week I am starting with Amina’s Voice by an author who is new to middle grade - Hena Khan. This is a lovely and heartfelt story about a Pakistani-American Muslim girl, Amina, who is trying to navigate the complicated tides of middle school friendship where old friends are changing and old adversaries might be changing, too. Amina also has to deal with her rather traditional and more strict uncle visiting their family and figuring out for herself how to express her beliefs and culture. Here are three things to love about Amina’s Voice:

  1. Amina’s family! Her father - who is rather strict, does NOT care if he embarasses his kids by asking a million questions at Open House, but stands up for his daughter at a moment when she needs it. At first I wasn’t sure about him, but oh he grew on me! Her mom, who spends days preparing tons of traditional Pakistani food for their visiting uncle. That doesn’t quite go as planned. And Amina’s older brother, Mustafa, whose interest in trying out for the basketball team instead of joining something like Chess Club causes some friction at home. There was so much to relate to in those family moments in Amina’s Voice.
  2. That ending! I don’t want to give away too much but something bad happens in Amina’s Muslim community and the way things come together in the end makes me wish that every kid could read this story as a template of what to do in that kind of situation. It  didn’t shy away from difficult realities or make problems seem easy to solve yet it was uplifting and perfect.
  3. That this novel offers Muslim students and students from the Middle East with a main character whose background and customs might be a reflection of their own, or have pieces they can relate to. I so wish that I had this book six years ago to offer to my own Amina. She was a student of mine when I taught 6th grade and Muslim. And may have connected to this Amina’s story but she was from Bosnia so although the religious details about the Imam and Sunday school and learning passages from the Quran may have been a connection, the food and other cultural details might not have been. So while this book is absolutely a great addition to any library, I just hope that people don’t stop there and think they’ve covered a niche. It’s one girl’s story and I just can’t wait to see what else this new imprint of Simon & Schuster, Salaam Reads, will bring to the kidlit community so we have more and more stories to offer kids.  

Beyond the Bright Sea

Our second book this week is Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk whose novel Wolf Hollow won a Newbery Honor last year. And this book is, I think, another contender. It reminded me a little bit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with a touch of Orphan Island in there. This book about a 12 year old girl called Crow who as an infant washed ashore in an old boat on one of the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. She is now 12 and being raised by a reclusive fisherman and painter who she calls Osh. And the other people on this tiny close-knit island essentially shun her and will not touch her or touch anything she has touched because they think she came from Penikese Island - the nearby leper colony. And this chain of events suddenly takes off when Crow sees a fire on that nearby island and starts to get curious about where she came from. It’s so good! Here are three things to love about Beyond the Bright Sea.

  1. The timeless quality of the setting. It reminded me of Pax in that way because there are very few clues at first in the way the islanders dress or how technology is described. Eventually, you do discover precisely when everything is happening but the journey of figuring that out is part of what I liked about the book.
  2. It brought to light some real history.  It took me until half-way through to realize that the leper hospital described in the novel actually existed. And they did really dynamite it and burn it down and transform it into a bird sanctuary for awhile. But the small cemetery does remain. I love a book that brings to light a forgotten story from history.
  3. Crow’s adoptive father who she calls Osh. He has his own secrets, his own complicated backstory, but his quiet, earnest protection of her makes you love him immediately. He’s from another land, speaks in a native language that no one on this New England island knows and we really feel for him as he is so deeply afraid of losing Crow - the one thing that has keep him anchored and steady. And as she ventures out to attempt to find her parents, it’s hard for him at first. And - I don’t want to spoil anything for you but oh when you find out what his name means…. Love him!

Both Amina’s Voice and Beyond the Bright Sea are outstanding reads. If you have a kid who enjoyed Finding Perfect or Like Magic or Sticks & Stones - Amina’s Voice would be great next book to introduce them to. And if you have a child who enjoyed Midnight Without a Moon or Wolf Hollow - Beyond the Bright Sea might be the perfect next book.

Q & A

Our third and final segment this week is Question & Answer time.

 Question:

This question stems from a conversation I had with some students who have started to notice that in lots of books they are reading the parents are missing, dead, or otherwise out of the picture. So that had me thinking about counter examples and I came up with some but wanted other opinions, too. So I put the question out there on social media and asked: “Which middle grade books have you read that had great dads?”

Answer:

And actually - there were a ton! Let’s start with some classics:

  • Obviously one of the first mentioned was Ramona and Her Father. Loved him! I still remember that scene when he’s trying to draw his foot…
  • Pa Ingalls from the Little House series
  • Mr. Weasley from Harry Potter - such an honorable man who took on so much risk to protect Harry

And some more modern novels with dads we love:

  • Papa (Hans Hubermann) from The Book Thief is one of my all-time favorite fathers
  • And one new book that came up over and over again and one that has been a classroom favorite with my 5ths is The Crossover - what a great relationship he had with his twin boys.
  • Another book that was mentioned a lot was The Family Fletcher series and the two awesome dads heading up that family. I haven’t read it yet but that title is moving up my TBR list.
  • Melanie Conklin’s Counting Thyme and the newly released Moon Shadow by Erin Downing are both books that I’ve been dying to read that so many mentioned as having a great fathers.
  • The dad from Gertie’s Leap to Greatness and the dad in The Penderwicks and Mr. Pullman from Wonder and the dad from Ida B and Wolf Hollow!

I know there are tons and tons more - so I hope you jump on social media share your favorite middle grade dads.

Closing

Alright - that wraps up our show this week. If you have a question or an idea about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show along with all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com.

And thanks again to OwlCrateJr for supporting the podcast this month - don’t forget to head over to owlcrate.com and use code BOOKSBETWEEN to get 15% percent off your subscription!

And, if you are liking the show, please help others find us too by telling a friend, sharing on social media, or leaving a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again and see you soon!  Bye!

Episode Links:

Caroline's Official Website: https://carolinestarrrose.com

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine Teaching Guide

Where in the World Are We Reading? Activity

Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmond Lewis (Jeannine Atkins)

Wonder: A novel (Emma Donoghue)

Insight (Tasha Eurich)

Three Pennies (Melanie Crowder)

Jun 12 2017

51mins

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Rank #12: #52 - Using Flipgrid to Inspire Readers w/ Nikki Mancini

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Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast to help teachers, parents, and librarians connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a teacher, a mom of two girls, and finally done with school and on to summer break! I said goodbye to my 22 fifth graders last Friday at their Moving Up Ceremony since they are off to the middle school! And I gave each one of them an end-of-the-year gift which includes a Krazy Straw and a pack of Kool-Aid that I attach to a book. And each of my students gets a different book - one that I have hand-picked for them based on everything I’ve learned from a year of getting to know them as readers and as people. Each June I spend about 2 hours browsing the Syracuse Scholastic Warehouse to select something I think each child would like.  

This is Episode #52 and oday I’m sharing with you a conversation with 5th grader teacher Nikki Mancini. We chat about how to use Flipgrid to inspire readers, and of course, what middle grade books we’ve been reading lately.

Today’s episode is sponsored by MoxieReader - a literacy app that’s like a fitness tracker for your reading life. It gives educators insights into their students’ reading lives, customized recommendations, and a way for kids to set and work toward their own reading goals in a way that is engaging and fun. If you are looking for a way to ditch those reading logs and instead have students track their reading in a more natural way, you will definitely want to check out MoxieReader.  As you recharge and reassess your teaching methods this summer, it’s the perfect time to explore a new tool. So head over to MoxieReader.com and the use the code welovereading and try it out!

A couple quick announcements for you! Our next episode features Diane Magras - author of the Middle Grade at Heart book club pick The Mad Wolf’s Daughter. The July pick is Just Under the Clouds and I’ll be chatting with author Melissa Sarno in a couple days so watch out for that episode.  Where the Watermelons Grow is the August pick and for those of you that like plan out even further - we are reading The House That Lou Built for September. And… the Middle Grade at Heart Book Club now has a Flipgrid!  I’ll drop a link to that in the show notes - along with the password so you can join the conversation and hear directly from the authors.

MG@Heart Flipgrid:  https://flipgrid.com/a8acb2

Password: mg@heart

Also, our Monday night #MGBookChat Twitter chats have been awesome!  Some of our upcoming topics include graphic novels, building classroom libraries, and the importance of refugee stories. So set a reminder for Mondays at 9pm EST and check out #MGBookChat for great conversations between educators, librarians, and authors about how to get great books into the hands of middle grade readers!    

For me, Twitter has been an incredible positive influence on my teaching life - connecting me with amazing and inspiring educators across the globe. And one of those educators is Nikki Mancini - who you may know as @missnikkiin5th. I kept seeing her talk about this thing called Flipgrid and finally I was like - you know what? I’ve got to invite her on the show.  I knew that Flipgrid could be a powerful tool, but I had some questions and figured you all might find value in that conversation as well.

After we chatted, I decided to try it out this summer. Because, I had the opportunity this year to meet my incoming 5th graders!  So, I could do what I’ve never done before - I opened up my classroom library and let them take home 2 or 3 (or more!) books to enjoy for the summer. And along with their books, I send them home with a sheet explaining how to access our Flipgrid and posted two topics - one to introduce ourselves and one to share our summer reading!  Before the day was done I had two kids already submitting videos and whoa - I am just brimming with ideas about how to harness this for next year and expand it even further! And I hope this conversation leaves you excited as well. Plus - right after we recorded this conversation, Flipgrid announced that it is now FREE for educators! Oh yeah!

Alright - take a listen...

Nikki Mancini - Interview Outline

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

What is Flipgrid and how did you first find out about it?

Beyond the author element, what are some other projects or uses for  Flipgrid that you have done with your students?

What would you suggest for some quick, easy ways to get started with Flipgrid?

Where would you suggest people go to get more information about Flipgrid?

What are some things you’ve been doing this year in your classroom that you’ve been excited about?

What are your plans for next year?

Links:

Nikki’s website - https://missnikkiin5th.wordpress.com/

Nikki on Twitter

NerdCampNJ - http://nerdcampnj.weebly.com

Nikki’s Author Connection Flipgrid: https://flipgrid.com/d935fd

Information about Flipgrid: https://info.flipgrid.com

Educator & Student Info about Flipgrid: https://resources.flipgrid.com

Flipgrid Inspiration: https://inspire.flipgrid.com

Flipgrid on Twitter and #FlipgridFever

Jewell Parker Rhode’s conversation about Ghost Boys on The Children’s Book Podcast

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

Smart Cookie and Finding Perfect (Elly Swartz)

Kat Green Comes Clean (Melissa Roske)

Babysitting Nightmares: The Shadow Hand (Kat Shepherd)

Amal Unbound (Aisha Saeed)

Daring Dreamers Club Series (Erin Soderberg)

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street (Lindsay Currie)

Ghost Boys (Jewell Parker Rhodes)

Stanley Will Probably Be Fine (Sally J. Pla)

Someday Birds (Sally J. Pla)

Rules (Cynthia Lord)

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Jun 26 2018

52mins

Play

Rank #13: #41 - Jarrett Lerner & the Most Anticipated Books of 2018

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Hi everyone and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a teacher, a mom, and spending a lovely weekend with my family inside away from the bitter cold playing epic games of Sorry and watching all the Star Wars movies. Again.

This is Episode #41 and today I’m sharing with you some fabulous 2018 titles to look forward to this year and an awesome interview with EngiNerds author Jarrett Lerner!

Book Talk - Most Anticipated Middle Grade Books of 2018

Typically in this segment, I share with you a few books centered around a theme. And during the last few episodes I was all about looking back at some of the best middle grade fiction and graphic novels of 2017. (If you missed those, go check out episodes #39 and #40.)

But this week I want to talk about some of the most anticipated books of the upcoming year.  Some are long-awaited sequels or new installments in well-loved series. Some are new ventures for favorite authors. And some are by debut authors. So, buckle up and and get ready to add to your wish list. And just a reminder - before you scramble for a pen and paper. You can find every book mentioned here AND a picture of the available covers AND a link to pre-order them right through the Books Between Podcast link at AlltheWonders.com.  I’ve got your back, I know you’re busy, so it’s all right there for you.  And I’ve come to really love pre-ordering - it helps out favorite authors and it’s like a little gift to your future self.

Two quick things to mention before I start. One - this is just a sampling of all the incredible books coming out this year. I’ll add some links to some great resources in the shownotes where you can find more complete listings of titles to browse through and discover some gems:

http://www.readbrightly.com/middle-grade-books-2018/

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/98185.Middle_Grade_Novels_of_2018

https://mgbookvillage.org/2018releasedates/

https://electriceighteens.com/

And second - publication dates do change, so while I’ve mentioned the book release month - things sometimes change.

All right - let’s get to it!

Coming in January…

Let’s start with the some sequels because there are some AWESOME sequels coming our way to give us something to look forward to during this dreary month….

  • Linda William’s Jackson’s follow-up to Midnight Without a Moon - A Sky Full of Stars is out this January as Rose struggles with the way to face the rising racial tensions in her community.
  • Ooooo - and the new Fenway & Hattie is out this January!!!  I just can’t get enough of that little dog!  This third one is called Up to New Tricks so definitely snag that one for your Fenway fans - and for you, too!
  • And Gordon Korman’s Supergifted is also set for a January release - this is the sequel to Ungifted - a great book about a boy named Donovan who is mistakenly transfering into a gifted program and has to figure out how to pass as brilliant.  This follow up is about his new friend, Noah.
  • We are also getting another Terrible Two book in January - Terrible Two Go Wild!
  • And a new Spy on History book - Victor Dowd and the World War II Ghost Army!
  • Ah!  And we a get a new HiLo book this January! It’s called Waking the Monsters! (As my husband said - yeah, that sounds like what I do every weekday.) Our 8 year old is SUPER psyched about this new book! - so keep ‘em coming Judd Winick!
  • Okay - and it’s not really a sequel BUT - there is just released a GRAPHIC NOVEL version of the first The Wings of Fire book - ahhhh!!!  It’s illustrated by Mike Holmes and my students are going to FREAK when I tell them  tomorrow.

Some other January releases that are looking fabulous are….

  • Betty Before X  - an historical fiction novel set in the 40s about 11-year-old Betty Shabazz - future civil rights leader.  This one is written by her daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz with Renee Watson
  • Winterhouse by debut author Ben Guterson - this is an urban fantasy mystery set in a magical hotel containing a huge library with secrets to discover.
  • We are also getting the first middle grade book by picture book author Angela Dominguez called Stella Diaz Has Something to Say!
  • Another novel that looks REALLY interesting is called TBH, This is SO Awkward by Lisa Greenwald and it’s told entirely in texts.  So I definitely need to check that one out.
  • And my friend Emily Montjoy has been raving about Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard so I’m looking forward to my turn with that one.
  • Also - Leslie Connor, the author of the critically-acclaimed All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, has a new novel out in January called The Truth as Told By Mason Butte - so definitely check that one out.
  • Natalie Lloyd also has a new novel coming out this January! So if you liked A Snicker of Magic or The Key to Extraordinary, look for The Problim Children - which is described as a mix between Lemony Snicket and the Addams Family...
  • Annnd - the new Elly Swartz novel - Smart Cookie!!  I had a chance to read an ARC of this one with my daughters and oh I can’t wait for it to be out in the world!

On to February …

  • One that I’ve had a chance to read ahead of time is Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil.  I’ll talk more about this book later when I have time to really go into depth, but for now I’ll just say - preorder it. A great historical fiction about an Iraqi boy during the first Gulf War.
  • Then we have The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta - a fantasy about a New Jersey girl discovering that she may, in fact, be an Indian princess.
  • The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic looks really fun. It’s about a dorky math nerd who vows to reinvent herself at her new school. And when she makes a wish as the clock strikes 11:11, she gets granted a magical object that might help her.
  • Shannon Hitchcock, author of Ruby Lee & Me has a new novel coming out in February - this one is call One True Way.

In March, there are so books I am really looking forward to! My principal won’t mind if a take a month-long reading sabbatical, right?

  • Like Vanessa is the debut novel by author Tami Charles - it’s set in 1983 and is about a young girl inspired by seeing Vanessa Williams get crowned Miss America and is encouraged by her teacher to enter a beauty pageant.
  • Lauren Magaziner has a new book out in March called Wizardmatch that looks like a fun fantasy.
  • And The Science of Breakable Things by debut author Tae Keller looks really good - a book about a scientifically minded girl competing in an egg-drop contest AND using those skills to try to help her mom deal with her struggles.
  • In March we also get Colby Sharp’s Creativity Project! An “awesometastic” collection of short stories developed from the author’s prompts to each other. It is a fantastic read and such a clever idea!  Definitely one that teachers will want on hand to spark your writers’ imaginations.
  • The Train of Lost Things  by Ammi Joan-Paquette is another favorite of my #BookVoyage friend Emily Montjoy - who has amazing taste by the way. (Definitely go follow her on Twitter @mrsmontjoyreads ! ) So I’m looking forward to a chance to read this one as well.
  • Oh! And the next Dan Gemeinhart novel comes out in March!! It is called Good Dog and I can’t read the synopsis to you or I’ll start crying but it sounds simply wonderful. Of course it is - it’s Dan Gemeinhart!

March lets us reconnect with some favorite characters with a great bunch of sequels coming out.

  • And - probably the book that I have been waiting and waiting for. DYING to read with my daughters - is The Wild Robot Escapes - the sequel to Peter Brown’s incredible The Wild Robot!  So - mark your calendars for March 13th, pre-order this one, AND - if you haven’t yet read the first one…. well, what’s the matter with you? Get on that!

In April we have lots to look forward to including sequels, like:

  • The next Moon Base Alpha book called Waste of Space, Janet Tashjian’s My Life As a YouTuber , and Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl will be out. And Adrienne’s Kress’ second Explorers book - The Reckless Rescue!  
  • And the third book in Jason Reynold’s incredible Track series will be out! It’s called Sunny and follows “the chillest dude on the Defenders team”, but one with a troubled life at home that hides behind that sunny smile.
  • And, the debut by Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jenson, called Every Shiny Thing looks really really good….
  • I’m also looking forward to the new Jewell Parker Rhodes novel called Ghost Boys. It’s about a young boy who is killed by the police when they mistake his toy gun for the real thing. And as a ghost, he witnesses how that event unfolds in his neighborhood and meets other ghosts like Emmett Till. Oh that gives me chills just thinking about it!
  • And - we get a new Kwame Alexander novel this year!  It is called Rebound - the much-awaiting prequel to his Newbery-winning The Crossover. This one about Josh and Jordan’s father, Chuck Bell.

On to the awesome May releases to watch for:

  • Terri Libenson’s new graphic novel - Positively Izzy looks great- it’s the companion to Invisible Emmie.
  • And the The Cobalt Prince, the second 5 Worlds graphic novel will be out.
  • Another May release that I am so so excited about is Most Valuable Players - the next Phil Bildner Rip & Red book.
  • There are three books coming in May that have been getting a lot buzz lately - one is called Bob - written by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. I can’t wait to see the awesomeness THAT collaboration brings!
  • The second one is Aisha Saeed’s middle-grade debut, Amal Unbound, which is about a Pakistani girl forced into working as an indentured servant to pay off her family’s debts. Friends who have read this one are saying it is  incredible.
  • And then I keep hearing about Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Let me just read you a bit from the description and tell me this doesn’t sound AMAZING! Okay, “Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1-She lives in a motel, not a big house. Number 2- Her parents hide immigrants. Number 3-She wants to be a writer.”

In June we have some really cool books coming our way:

  • Kate Messner’s new novel Breakout - based on some details from the real-life (and close to home for me) breakout of two prisoners in New York and how the community reacts to that situation. I can’t WAIT for this one!!

  • Also - Kate Beasley (of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness) and Dan Santat (of a million books you love, most recently the picture book After the Fall) are teaming up for a book called Lions & Liars - about a boy named Frederick who is sent to a disciplinary camp for troublesome boys. That one looks phenomenal!

  • And Laura Shovan’s new book Takedown is coming this June!  Can’t wait to read this novel about a girl who wants to join the wrestling team. I keep hearing people raving about it on Twitter.
  • And Barbara Dee has a new novel coming out in June called Everything I Know About You.

  • We also get to read Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s new middle grade novel The Frame-up! I had a chance to read this one this past fall and it is phenomenal. It’s about a young artist who goes to live with his father for the summer and attends an art-camp at the museum where his father is the director. And he soon discovers that the paintings are alive! Truly - after reading this book, I’ll never look at another painting the same way again.  It’s so so good!

And thankfully I have July and August off from school, so I can catch up AND snag some summer release books such as….

So after August, specific publication dates get a little harder to come by. BUT - a few things have popped up. Like..

  • Also - I saw, I think... a Sarah Weeks has a sequel to So B. It coming out called Soof? That is definitely on my radar!

  • And the big news in my class this week - the 8th Amulet book!!!!!! Woohoo!!!  Oh my gosh - my students cheered when I told them that Kazu Kibuishi announced this on Twitter last week!  It is called Supernova and has a beautiful cover so go check that out and make all your middle grade readers happy by pre-ordering it now.

So so much to look forward to this year! And of course - I’ll keep you posted about all the amazing books headed our way so we can stay up to date. And definitely make sure you check out the show notes and check out those links so you can dive deeper and discover awesome new books that you are looking forward to reading this year. Main Topic - A Conversation with Jarrett Lerner

This week I am so excited to welcome to the show Jarrett Lerner - author of the fantastic middle grade novel EngiNerds. We chat about his plans for the sequel, the power of the perfect metaphor, and Project Runway!

Take a listen…..

Interview Outline:

Enginerds

Enginerds has been getting all kinds of love lately - congratulations!! I saw Colby Sharp used Enginerds as his example in his 5 ways to support authors you love video.

For those who aren’t (yet!) familiar with Enginerds, can you tell what this story is about?

What was your thought process like when deciding what your robots would look like and act like?

Enginerds is in a long and glorious line of children’s books and movies and TV shows featuring robots.

What are some of your favorites?

We are getting a book two, right?!

Other Middle Grade Projects

So I saw on Twitter last month that you have teamed up with Analiese Avery (@_AJAvery) to launch @MG_BookBot.

How did that get started and what are your plans?  

And I am so excited about your new middle grade focused website -  MG Book Village!  Aside from the twitter hashtags, what are you hoping to include on the site?

Tell me about your KidLit Mentorship Project….

Project Runway

Your Writing Life

What is your writing process like?

What are you working on now?

Your Reading Life

One of the things I talk about a lot with other educators is the power of that one person to really influence a child’s reading life - either in a really positive way or sometimes in a negative way.

Was there someone in your life who impacted you as a reader?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Thank You!

Links:

Jarrett’s Website - https://jarrettlerner.com

Jarrett on Twitter and Instagram

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

Jasmine Toguchi Series

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

The First Rule of Punk

Kurt Vonnegut

Baby-Sitters Club

Sweet Valley High

Judy Blume

Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker

Clementine

Ramona

Jerry Spinelli

The Game Masters of Garden Place

Oddity

Other Topics We Chatted About:

MG Book Village Website

#MGBookathon

Electric 18 Debut Group

Project Runway

The Kentaro Dead Cat Scene

Tim Gunn’s Golden Rules

Melissa Roske’s Interview with Jarrett Lerner

Closing

Alright, that’s it for today!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get a full transcript of this show and all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher. Or even better - tell a friend about us!

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Jan 15 2018

59mins

Play

Rank #14: #33 - Launching a Reading Community & A Conversation with Celia Pérez

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Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two girls, a 5th grade teacher, and yeah...starting to have those back to school bad dreams where I’ve arrived at school and I have no lesson prepared or all the furniture has been removed from my room or I’m suddenly teaching Kindergarten!

This is Episode #33 and today I’m talking about launching a reading community in those first few weeks of school and then I welcome author Celia C. Pérez to the show to chat about her debut middle grade novel The First Rule of Punk.

But first I am excited to tell you that today’s episode is sponsored by WriteAbout.com - a writing community and publishing platform that is perfect for classrooms. If you are like me and are looking for an engaging and authentic way to make sure your students are writing every day, you are absolutely going to want to visit WriteAbout.com to check it out.   My favorite thing right now is the thousands of ideas across various genres and formats to inspire your students to write more and write more thoughtfully. So - at the end of the show, I’ll share with you a few of my favorite writing ideas I found on WriteAbout that will get my students excited about writing about their reading this year.

Main Topic - Launching a Reading Community

As the summer winds down and I head back to school, I have been thinking a lot about how I want to make this year different. Make it count. Make it matter. And be more focused and intentional about cultivating that reading community from the start. So today I’ll share some thoughts about how to really develop a strong community of readers before school starts, on that first day, and in those first few weeks.

Before School Starts

Cultivating that new community of readers started this week before I even met my students. I finally got into my classroom this week after our custodians have been busy waxing and cleaning. (Everything revolves around that waxing schedule, right? There was one year I came this close to shimmying through the window to get into my room!)

This morning, I was able to walk through the door - so things are good! And before my new 5th graders even step foot into the classroom, there were three things I knew I needed to take care of:

  1. Make sure I have scheduled time every day for them to read and for me to read to them. From the very first day. And treat those times as sacrosanct.
  2. Make sure they can see themselves in our classroom library. On recent episode (#28 if you want to scroll back in your feed and listen) I talk about the diversity audit that my students did to analyze the books in our library. And over the summer, I have been working on adding a better variety of titles. When I dust off those shelves and put those books in those genre bins and select some enticing titles to feature face out, making sure those books are as diverse as my class and as diverse as their world is crucial.
  3. Create those displays that will get them excited about the reading they’ll do this year. In the hallway right before they enter our room, they’ll pass this giant #ClassroomBookADay display that I have been diligently working on. A big shout out to Lori Lewis in the #ClassroomBookADay Facegroup group who shared (for free!) this cool display of polaroid picture templates for each of the 180 books we’ll be reading this year. So I have been cutting and trimming and measuring and tapping and it’s an impressive display and a promise of what’s to come. And as in year’s past, I also create a “My Reading Life” display for the door where I showcase covers of some recent reads and some all-time favorites. And eventually that will be turned over to my students for their own displays. And of course I always have my own “Mrs. Allen is Currently Reading….” chalkboard display.

On the First Day

That first day is so crucial in setting the right tone and really conveying your priorities by your actions and what you pay attention to.  On the first day of school, I have two goals:

  1. Get to know my students as much as possible. Pronounce their names correctly, start to learn their interests and passions and strengths. And start to build that trusting relationship. Because if I am going to ask them to open themselves up and take risks as readers (and writers!) this year, they have to know that I care about them and want to know their authentic self.
  2. I want them excited to come back.  Gone are the days when I used to start with an extensive review of the syllabus and grading procedures and setting up the rules. Nope. We are having fun. There will be music and movement and an engineering challenge.

And at least one read aloud - probably two! And a chance for them to do some book tastings and exploring what’s available in our classroom library. And - some down time when they can dive into those books and start to build back up that stamina for focused independent reading.

During the First Weeks

During those first few weeks is when that classroom culture of reading really starts to emerge as routines and relationships are established. Within that first week, I like to give a reading survey to get a sense of their likes and attitudes about reading. This is also really important because a carefully crafted survey can give you great data when you compare the answers to those questions at the end of the year. I used to give a paper one but now I use a Google Form. If you want to take a look at a really good sample, Pernille Ripp has a great one on her site that I will link to for you.

But don’t dismiss the power of casual conversation about books during those snippets of time throughout the day like arrival and dismissal and in the hallway. Absolutely share what you are reading but that authentic reading community happens when kids can share with each other their thoughts and feelings and reactions (both good and bad) to that book they brought home last night. A huge part of fostering that reading culture is providing engaging and authentic ways for kids to talk about the books they are choosing to read.

The days of me assigning a diorama of Hatchet or a cereal box craftivity about Wonder are done.  So instead, we’ll have book clubs, we’ll write blog posts and share them with a real audience, we’ll use WeVideo to do booktalks and post them on a YouTube channel, we’ll Skype with authors and other classes for the Global Read Aloud, we’ll create #BookSnaps of our favorite parts, and we’ll tweet our favorite lines and tag the author and cross our fingers for a response! And - most importantly - we’ll do even cooler things that are ideas my students bring with them!

So - I am so so excited for fantastic year of reflecting and growth and learning with my students and with you. I would love to know how you launch your school year to cultivate a community of readers.

You can tag me on Twitter or Instagram - our handle is @books_between or email me at booksbetween@gmail.com . I would love to hear from you.

Interview Outline - Celia C. Pérez

Today I am really really excited to welcome Celia C. Pérez to the podcast. She is the author of the recently released middle grade novel The First Rule of Punk. We chat about her inspirations for the novel, zines, and The Wizard of Oz!

The First Rule of Punk

Your debut middle grade novel, The First Rule of Punk, has been getting all kinds of buzz - everyone is talking about this book!  I just cannot wait for the world to meet Malú.

Can you tell us a bit about this girl - and a bit about her story?

One of the aspects that makes this novel so unique are the zines that are included between some of the chapters. And - I will be honest and tell you that the word “zine” was something I had heard of but the mental image I had was nothing close to the truth. So - for those, like me, who might not be aware...

What are zines?

And what was your process like for creating the zines that are in The First Rule of Punk?

When Malú and her mom move to Chicago, one of the first things they do is scope out and find the neighborhood coffee shop and the neighborhood library.

What was your childhood library like?

There is this tension between Malú and her mother about how to dress and behave. She thinks her mom wants her to be this ideal Mexican-American “senorita” and Malú want to dress in a more edgy style.

Did you feel that cultural tug-of-war in your own family?

I noticed this recurring thread of The Wizard of Oz in the book!

Are you a fan?

I was so intrigued by Malu’s worry dolls - can you tell us a little more about them?  

So, I have to ask…. cilantro or no cilantro?  

Your Writing Life

What were some of the challenges with writing this book?

What’s next for you - do you think you’ll stick with middle grade?

Your Reading Life

What were some of your favorite books as a child?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Thank You!

Closing

Okay - that wraps up our show this week. If you have a question or an idea about a topic we should cover, let me know. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show along with all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com. And, if you are liking the show, please help others find us too by telling a friend, sharing on social media, or leaving a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

And thanks again to WriteAbout.com for supporting the podcast this month - if you head over to their website you’ll find awesome ideas to get your students writing about their reading this year. One of my favorites is: “You have to choose a character from a book you’ve read to lead a group or team you are part of. Who do you choose and why?” (I know who I’d pick!) But I think the prompt I’m going to start with this year is the one called “My Life As A Reader – Memories of Reading” Definitely check that one out when you head over to the WriteAbout site.

Thanks again and see you soon!  Bye!

Episode Links:

Celia’s website: http://celiacperez.com

Witch's Sister by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Tex by S. E. Hinton

Rumble Fish by S. E. Hinton

That Was Then, This is Now by S. E. Hinton

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Red Velvet Underground: A Rock Memoir, with Recipes by Freda Love Smith

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Aug 28 2017

43mins

Play

Rank #15: #59 - Barbara Dee (Everything I Know About You)

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books! And what I love is to help you connect kids between 8-12 with fantastic reads and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen.

I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two, a teacher of twenty-two (as of the last classlist update), and a little over two days away from the first day of school.

This is episode #59 and today I’m sharing a conversation with Barbara Dee - author of Everything I Know About You along with many other fabulous middle grade reads!

A quick update on our Middle Grade at Heart Book Club schedule. This month’s pick is The House That Lou Built. And in October we are reading The Three Rules of Everyday Magic and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is our November pick.

And remember to set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you don’t miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat!  Our upcoming topics are Ending Gendered Labels, Books That Battle Mental Health Stigmas, and Teachers as Readers.  And I would love to have you join the conversation and share your thoughts about those topics.

Barbara - Interview Outline

Our special guest this week is the amazing Barbara Dee - author of so many well-loved middle grade books like Halfway Normal and Star Crossed and Truth or Dare - and lots more. We discuss Hamilton, body issues among young girls, her own experiences with an eating disorder, her secrets to capturing dialogue in her writing, the incredible book that she’s working on next, and of course her latest novel - Everything I Know About You !  

Take a listen…

Everything I Know About You

Your latest middle grade novel , Everything I Know About You, was just released this past summer.

For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it?

Would you mind reading a favorite passage?

One of the things I loved about this novel was that it shed some light on the body issues that so many teens and tweens grapple with. When Ava and her friends have that conversations about “thigh gaps” and being “pre-fat”, I kept think about how many kids feel that pressure over their body….  

Why did you want to explore those issues in this novel?

This story centers around an overnight field trip to Washington D.C.

Did you travel there to do research? Did you see Hamilton?!

So how naughty ARE your cats?

**BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Paula and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 43:30 mark.

Your Writing Life

Everything I Know About You is your 9th published novel.

How has your writing process changed from those first books to now?

If you can talk about it….. what are you working on now?

You’ve mentioned before that one of the ways you get ideas is by eavesdropping.

Where are some good places for aspiring writers to eavesdrop? And how do you keep from getting caught?

Your Reading Life

One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books.  Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child?  And if so, what did they do that made such a difference?

What have you been reading lately? Links:

Barbara’s website - http://barbaradeebooks.com

Barbara on Twitter

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)

The Black Stallion Series (Walter Farley)

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell)

Rascal (Sterling North)

Clock Dance (Anne Tyler)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)

Every Shiny Thing (Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison)

Hope in the Holler (Lisa Lewis Tyre)

You Go First (Erin Entrada Kelly)

So Done (Paula Chase)

Eating Disorder Resources:

National Eating Disorder Association - https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Eating Disorder Referral And Information Center - https://www.edreferral.com

Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness - https://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Sep 10 2018

57mins

Play

Rank #16: #48 - Supporting Students w/ ACEs & A Conversation with Varian Johnson

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who loves middle grade books.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two girls and a 5th grade teacher in Central New York. I believe in the power of books to help us see each other more clearly.  And my goal is to help you find fabulous books for the tweens in your life and help create a community where we all can support each other as we build those readers.

This is Episode #48 and today I’m discussing how to support readers with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and then I’ll share with you a conversation with Varian Johnson - author of The Parker Inheritance.

A few quick announcements before we dive in today - the Middle Grade at Heart Book Club Twitter chat about The Parker Inheritance is Tuesday, May 1st (tomorrow!) at 5pm PT / 8PM ET. Just search for the hashtag #mgbookclub and jump into the conversation. Varian will be participating so if you have a question you want to ask him, here’s your chance!  Also, the May MG at Heart Book Club pick is Every Shiny Thing by Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen and in June we’ll be reading The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras.

And - we at MGBookVillage have some exciting news to tell you! We will be spending the month of May honoring educators! Over the next few weeks we’ll share posts and interviews with inspiring teachers, literacy specialists, principals, and all those who work to create passionate middle grade readers.

We’re also excited to host four educator-focused Twitter chats every Monday evening this May at 9pm EST with topics like Fictional Teachers and Connecting with Authors - so head to MGBookVillage.org for all the details and to stay up-to-date on all things middle grade.

You can also find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of this show at MGBookVillage.org - including links to every topic and book we mention. So definitely check that out!

Main Topic - Supporting Students w/ Adverse Childhood Experiences

A couple months ago I had the opportunity at my school to attend a professional development session lead by my principal, Amy Horack, about ACEs - an acronym which I came to learn means “Adverse Childhood Experiences”. And it really opened my eyes to seeing the struggles many of my students have had in a new light - a new frame that helped me make sense of some of their behaviours and look for ways to support them. So today I am going to share with you a bit of what I discovered that day (and since then) with the hope that you will be inspired to learn more so we can support those students. First, I’ll share some definitions and discuss what Adverse Childhood Experiences are and how to calculate your own ACEs score. Then I’ll chat a bit about what that means for children and what impact a high ACEs score has on their health and behaviors. And then I’ll discuss some things we can do as educators and parents to be trauma-informed in our teaching and help support those kids as readers - and in all aspects of their life.

Definitions and Discussion

Let’s start with a definition. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events that happen in childhood. These might include economic hardship, abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who struggle with mental illness or substance abuse. ACEs are highly correlated with a variety of health problems throughout a person’s life and substance abuse as a teen and adult. And also impact their opportunities and ability to learn.   

In my research, I found several different studies that used a variety of indicators to calculate a person’s ACEs score. There isn’t one set list, but typically there are about 10 questions with a higher score indicating more risk for negative health effects and other impacts that we can see in the children we work with - and the adults in their lives.

I am going to read off a list of situations, and I’d encourage you to first think about your own score. (Mine is three.) And think about the children you interact with. By the time they are an adult, about 67% of people will have a score of at least one. 22% will have two or more ACES, with almost 10% having scores of 3 or higher.

Adverse Childhood Experiences:

  • Have you ever lived with a parent or guardian who got divorced or separated?
  • Has a member of your household ever died?
  • Have you or a member of your household dealt with a life-threatening health situation or chronic disease?
  • Have you experienced a life-threatening accident or natural disaster?
  • Has a member of your household ever served time in jail or prison?
  • Have you ever lived with anyone who was mentally ill or suicidal, or severely depressed for more than a couple weeks?
  • Have you ever lived with anyone who had a problem with alcohol or drugs?
  • Have you ever been the victim of emotional neglect in your home? (For example, you often felt that no one in your family loved you or thought you were important, or supported each other.)
  • Have you ever been the victim of physical neglect in your home? (For example, the adults in your household didn’t provide clean clothes, meals, or take you a doctor or dentist?)
  • Have you ever been the victim of physical abuse in your home? (For example, someone in your household who might hit, kick, bite, or throw things at you?)
  • Have you ever been the victim of emotional abuse in your home? (For example, someone in your household who might swear at you, insult you, or humiliate you?)
  • Have you ever been the victim of sexual abuse or unwanted touching?
  • Have you ever witnessed physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in your home or neighborhood?
  • Have you ever experienced extreme economic hardship where the family found it difficult to cover the costs of food and housing?
  • Have you ever been treated or judged unfairly due to your race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity?

Impacts on Adults

So what does this mean? The first ACEs study conducted in 1998 and reinforced by dozens of studies afterward has found a strong link between childhood trauma and profound negative impacts on adult health like alcoholism, chronic depression, suicide attempts, trouble holding a job - and so, so much more. (I don’t want to go too far down the road of adult impacts because I really do want to focus on children, but I encourage you to take a closer look at that research. I recommended ACESConnection.com and ACESTooHigh.com.)

Impacts on Children

Let’s talk a bit about what the effects of ACEs looks like with kids and how to support them. As others have said, it’s about a change in mindset from “What’s wrong with this kid?” to “What happened to this kid?”  As I read this list of some of the effects on children, think about how that impacts them as readers:

  1. Antisocial behaviors and difficulty trusting others including both adults and peers (I think about how hard it can be for some readers to trust you and your recommendations, and to open up to you and the class about their thinking as they read. These are also the children I see struggling to participate well in in book clubs - who may resist sharing their feelings and being too vulnerable.)
  2. Social isolation (What comes to mind for me are those quiet, fly under the radar, submissive kids - those who curl up with a book as an escape, but not necessarily interacting with anyone else. Or those students who will submit to reading whatever you recommend but who aren’t making their own choices.)
  3. Difficulty seeking help (I absolutely see that kids who are dealing with a lot outside of school, sometimes don’t want to tell me they are having a hard time with a book. They’ll just push through thinking it’s going to make me happy. Or they just don’t have the mental energy to explain what they are struggling with as a reader.)
  4. Frequent absences, medical issues, or requests to go to the nurse / bathroom (Every one of those is just more time away from that immersive, productive reading. I’m also thinking that it’s hard to keep continuity with a book when a child is distracted by a medical issue or missing a lot of class time. I’m thinking of all the conferring they miss, to missing big chucks of the class read aloud where you are modeling strategies. And when they get back and you attempt to catch them up, now they are missing something else… I STILL have nightmares about coming back to school after a long absence and not remembering my locker combination or my schedule - it’s stressful!)
  5. Difficulty with focus and transitions (Of course, a child who is distracted by home situations and dealing with chronic stress will have difficulty selected that good book and a quiet spot to read in the time frame you are hoping for.)
  6. Trouble with organization (I’ve noticed that kids who travel back and forth between two or more households tend to lose things more often - including books. But I’ve also noticed that if a child fears consequences at home of a library fine or a note from me about a missing book, they may not want to even check out books or take them home.)  
  7. Anxiety (In thinking about students with Adverse Childhood Experiences and anxiety, I notice that some really shy away from books with heavier themes that might bring up difficult emotions. They’re the kids who want the assurance that the dog on the cover is going to make it at the end. Or may feel reticent about reading a book that will hit too close home. One the one hand, I think it’s really important to have books available where students can see that characters have dealt with similar issues to their own so they don’t feel alone. And it’s important for other students to read those books to develop some empathy and understanding. But - it’s also okay if a child doesn’t want to read something that might trigger them but instead looks to reading as an escape. So I’m thinking that having fun, light books than can provide that safe haven for students is also key and to honor those choices.)
  8. Difficulty with academic achievement (Absolutely! And since becoming a strong and competent reader is the linchpin to gathering all other knowledge - it reinforces to me that importance of focusing on reading.)
  9. Difficulty planning for the future (When a child can’t rely on stability at home, it’s no wonder that kids can’t tell me what book they’re going to read next or how they are going to schedule in their reading homework at night - sometimes they don’t know what they are coming home to! Or - more likely - they know exactly what they are going home to and it’s not a situation conducive to reading.)
  10. Trouble regulating their emotions and their affect - facial expressions - either exaggerating them or having no affect (This brings to mind a former student who would seemingly overreact to their reading - bursting out in this wild laughter or tossing the book aside in anger. And at the time, I did think “What is the matter with this kid?” But now…I can only wonder - “What was really going on with that child?”

How to Support Students with ACEs

In thinking about how to support the children in our lives who have those ACEs, I think for me, starting with that mindset change was a key first step. I think it’s natural to respond to some of those situations by wanting to get worked up yourself, but I’m trying to pause and realize that it’s not personal. And find some better strategies. So, I do not, by any means, want to portray myself here as any kind of expert. And I encourage you to look at the research yourself and see what might work for you. But after doing some reading, here are some things I’m going to try:

First, I want to recognize and support the resilience they already have. When I think about what some of my students have been through, I am so proud of what they are accomplishing despite the stress they may be under. So, highlighting their strengths whenever possible and help them build themselves up is something I want to focus more on.

Second, since kids who have experienced trauma can often suffer from worry and have trouble regulating their emotions and actions, I want to make sure my classroom environment is as stable and calm as possible. So being more aware of my language and tone of voice and nonverbal cues - even when I’m frustrated is something I want to be more aware of. And providing a stable routine with more opportunities for movement and snack breaks. I’m really intrigued by some teachers who’ve set up what they call a Calming Station in their room with things like a comfortable chair, soft music, lavender scented play-doh, some gum, resources on meditation, and an opportunity to write about what they’re feeling. So I think I’m going to start to get together a kit to keep in my classroom.  

Also, learning more about the impacts of ACEs has reinforced even more, the importance of building relationships with my students. And having more casual one-on-one conversations where I’m not asking them to comply with a direction, but I’m just asking about their interests. Which has the double benefit of helping me know them better as readers and people.  The more I think back, the more I am appalled at the advice I got as a young teacher to never smile before Christmas! Who wants to spend 8 hours a day with someone who never smiles?  These kids - and all kids - need warm, nurturing, safe, and stable relationships. And a teacher who smiles and welcomes them by name every day. I used to give a general welcome as students arrived but this year, I made the decision to make sure I welcome every kid by name within the first ten minutes of them arriving at school. And it has made a difference. And try to ask them a little something (What did you of the ending of Amulet? How was your game last night?) or notice something (The unicorn on your shirt reminds me of this new series you might like - The Unicorn Rescue Society!)

And finally it reminds me to be more observant and not let things go. If something doesn’t feel right in your interactions with a child, I don’t want to let them fall through the cracks. If you notice something that warrants it, please call Child Protective Services. I’ll drop a link to some indicators and a place you can go for more information.  But, if you’ve ever had to call CPS, you know it is complicated.  I’m reminded of The Last Jedi where Luke says to Rey, “This is not going to go the way you think.” There is no quick rescue from those dark situations, but being a positive presence, helping all students develop resilience and coping strategies - or even just offering a few hours of escape - can do more than you realize.

And I’ve said that learning more about how Adverse Childhood Experiences opened my eyes - but it also opened my heart to be more loving not only toward my students but also toward my colleagues - and even toward myself a bit, too.

If you want to know more (and I hope you do!) - I’ve including links to several sites that will give more details and more strategies you can use to help the children (and adults!) in your life.

For more information about ACEs:

https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/practicing-effective-prevention/prevention-behavioral-health/adverse-childhood-experiences

https://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/apps/phl/resource_center_infographic.html

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/resources.html

https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Brief-adverse-childhood-experiences_FINAL.pdf

https://www.weareteachers.com/10-things-about-childhood-trauma-every-teacher-needs-to-know/

https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u57/2013/child-trauma-toolkit.pdf

https://www.thechaosandtheclutter.com/archives/create-your-own-anti-anxiety-kit-for-children

Varian Johnson - Interview Outline

Our special guest this week is Varian Johnson, author of The Parker Inheritance! We discuss his love of puzzles, his research process, favorite childhood books, and so much more!  And joining me this month to chat with Varian Johnson is one of the founders of the MG at Heart Book Club, Julie Artz.  

And I got so much great feedback from you all about the last episode’s Bonus Spoiler Section at the very end of the show that we doing it again! So, if you want to hear Varian talk about the end of his novel, I put that part of our conversation after the credits so this part will be spoiler-free.

Take a listen...

The Parker Inheritance

CA: For our listeners who haven’t yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about The Parker Inheritance?

JA:  One of the things I love about The Parker Inheritance is how vivid the historical storyline is and how well it’s integrated into Candice & Brandon’s present-day story. Can you tell us a little bit about the research that went into writing this story?

CA: Your novel had such depth and nuance and included these small but powerful scenes - like Brandon feeling uncomfortable checking out “girl books”, and his older sister explaining why she slows down to avoid any chance of getting pulled over, the assistant principal discovering Brandon and Candice doing research and asking for their ID, and then...that scene between Siobhan and Chip and Reggie with the Coca Cola.  I just loved how there were these small dips into complicated themes. I guess this isn’t a question per se but more of a thank you for helping me see and think through some of those preconceptions and biases and for writing a novel that will also do that for my students….

JA: Who is your favorite character from The Parker Inheritance?

CA: One of the things I loved about Candice was her love of puzzles - and how she figured out Milo’s schedule so that Brandon could avoid him! Are you into puzzles and codes like Candice?

**BONUS SPOILER SECTION found after the final credits

Your Writing Life

JA: The way you melded the two timelines really built a lot of page-turning tension into the story. How did you plan that out as you were writing?

CA: As a writer, what were your early inspirations and what do you think teachers and parents can do to get young people writing more and writing more confidently?

JA: What are you writing next?

Your Reading Life

CA: Did you have a teacher or librarian in your life who helped you grow into a reader?

JA: I loved all the hat-tips to treasured books like The Westing Game that were sprinkled all through The Parker Inheritance. Any other childhood favorites you still love today?

CA: What are some books that you’ve been reading lately?

Thank You!

Links:

Varian Johnson’s website - http://varianjohnson.com

Varian on Twitter and Facebook

Althea Gibson

Mad Men

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar & Inception

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

The Westing Game (Ellen Raskin)

Holes (Louis Sachar)

Beverly Cleary

Peter & Fudge Books (Judy Blume)

Blubber (Judy Blume)

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret (Judy Blume)

Walter Dean Myers

Virginia Hamilton

Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson)

One Crazy Summer (Rita Williams Garcia)

Once You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead)

Goodbye Stranger (Rebecca Stead)

Shelby Holmes Series (Elizabeth Eulberg)

The Lonely Hearts Club (Elizabeth Eulberg)

The Mortification of Fovea Munson (Mary Winn Heider)

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Apr 30 2018

1hr 1min

Play

Rank #17: #28 - Diversity Audit & A Conversation with Madelyn Rosenberg & Wendy Shang

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love. I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two girls, a 5th grade teacher, and lately I am ALL about the 80s. Have you seen the new Netflix series GLOW? It  stands for “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” - it’s full on 1980s amazing. Now, I never really got into wrestling myself but I love this show. It’s fun and self-deprecating and takes you back.  

Before we jump into the show I just want to mention that the day this episode is released - Monday, July 10th - I am in Michigan at Nerdcamp for the next two days! So, if you are there too - please come say hi! And if not, I’ll be posting lots of updates on my Twitter feed (@corrinaaallen) so you can see what NerdCamp is all about.

This is Episode #28 and Today I share with you my experience doing a diversity audit of my classroom library and then I welcome authors Wendy Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg to the show to chat about their new middle grade novel THIS IS JUST A TEST, which is set - in the 80s!

Main Topic - Diversity Audit

First up is how things went when I did a diversity check of my classroom library. If you listened to the last episode (#27 with librarian Sarah Threlkeld) you heard us chatting about this activity she did with her students to reflect on the diversity found in their school library. And I think even way back to Episode 18, I mentioned reading this fantastic blog post over at Lee & Low Books that shared how one teacher helped her class analyze the books in their room to find out how different genders and races are represented. I’ll include a link to that article and the main framework of what I did is pulled directly from there. So I want to be clear - this is not my idea, but I’m sharing how it went for me with the idea that you might want to try it, too.  First I’ll run through the process and then discuss my major takeaways, and how I’ll do it differently next year.

The Process:

First, I showed my 5th graders two infographics. Both have been shared widely on social media and you’ve probably seen them, but I’ll post them on the website so you can find them easily. The first one was a black and white image called “The Diversity Gap in Children’s Books” and it shows a bar graph of the percent of kid’s books in the past 21 years that contain multicultural content. And shows that sadly steady around 10% from 1994 to 2014. 2014 was a slight tick up to 14% but well below where it should be. This picture, which is put together by Lee & Low Books also includes pie charts that show the percent of the US population that are people of color and a projection that the U.S. population will be 57% minority in 2060, which really brings into focus the disparity.

The second infographic I showed them is from ReadingSpark and called “Diversity in Children’s Books 2015” and is in color with illustrations showing the percents of various groups featured as characters in kid’s books - 73.3% White and 12.5%  Animals/Trucks, 7.6% African/African American, 3.3% Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific Americans, 2.4% Latina/o, and then 0.9% American Indian.

So, we gathered on the rug and huddled around the Promethean board where I had the images displayed. And I simply asked my students to look carefully at them both and to chat with a partner about what they noticed. I explained terms where necessary, but otherwise I just let them have a look and asked them to make some observations.

And from there, I pivoted the conversation to enlist their help in analyzing our own classroom library so that their information could help me when I ordered new books.  And - I was truly moved by their eagerness. These ten and eleven year olds were ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in to see how our books stacked up.  And we started by thinking about this, “What questions do you have about the diversity in our classroom library?”   And they said things like:

How many books do we have by and about Native Americans?

How many books have an African American main character?

What genre has the most diversity?

Are there more books about people of color than BY people of color?

Do we have more books featuring boys or girls?

I’ll be honest with you - their questions went beyond the scope of what I had planned. They went pretty deep and the data we pulled really only started to answer the questions they had.  

So once they had some questions in mind, I had them pair up and grab one bin of books from our classroom library to start sorting through. Our bins are sorted by genre. I used a Google Sheet to record the genre of that bin and some other information.  First, they separated out all the books with people on the cover and analyzed just those. Then they counted how many covers included a person of color and jotted that number down. And then they counted how many covers featured at least one girl. And from there, generated percentages using a calculator - which they enjoyed, but then I quickly learned that we needed a refresher on how to figure out percents.

As each pair worked, they added their data to a shared Google Doc so we could see the information come to life in real time.  It was exciting and the kids were so engaged! I think that when they feel like they are doing real work, important work, and are helping you out in a genuine way, they are all in. And some recognized the injustice in the situation and were eager to start to set things (not right) but on a better path.  

Our takeaways:

So - what did we discover? First up, I’ll give you some examples of the data (flawed as it is). Starting with gender.  One thing that stood out was that 81% of the biographies were about men. Not good. That’s changing immediately.  Also, realistic fiction seemed to have a better balance of girls and boys with most of those bins featuring kids of different genders. And Fantasy, which I thought was going to be worse, actually only between 9% and 50% only with boys on the cover. That was better than I was anticipating because sometimes that genre is known for a lack of gals. (And a quick side note about that. Now that I’m moving away from thinking about gender as a simple binary of boy or girl, I’m also wondering about better methods for categorizing and doing this type of analysis. So - if you have thoughts on that, please do let me know. There is a whole group of folks out there that want to be doing better and if you have an idea about how to make that happen, I’m absolutely listening.)

Okay - on to the data pulled about race and ethnicity.  The percentage of books with no people of color at all on the cover was pretty high. The best category seemed to be realistic fiction which had percentages like 21%, 43%, 63% and one bin at 93%. Some of the least diverse categories were Fantasy with 79% , 80% and 100% of the books in those bins featuring only white people, and graphic novels with 85%. So, now it’s pretty clear where are some particularly troublesome areas and when I go to purchase books, those genres will be my focus.

So, what did the kids say? Well, I think I’ll give you a sampling of some of their comments:

In the words of one of my girls, “We have a lot of books about white boys in this room!” Yes, we do! And most of them are fantastic, but adding other voices is only going to help so that every kid can see themselves and see the wide range of experiences in our country and in our world.

“A lot of books have shadow people on the cover.” They were referring to silhouettes, and this observation lead to some great discussion about what the publishers might intend with that. They were questioning how to categorize those types of covers and if we needed another category.

Another big topic that came up was that some forms of diversity weren’t being accounted for in this exercise. And that all stemmed from the debate about what gender pile to put the book George in. Do we go by the clues on the cover which might suggest a boy? Or do we account for what we know of the story (which is about a transgender girl) and my students said, “We need another category, Mrs. Allen.”  Many students mentioned that religion or disability wasn’t included in what we were looking for. Also, because we only used the visual of the cover, that is really limiting.  A cover that includes a girl or a person of color does not mean that character plays a big part or that they are portrayed in a great way. Were they just the sidekick?

Ideas for Next Time

  1. Do this earlier in the year. (We jumped in during the second to last week of school. I want this to be on kids’ minds much earlier.)
  2. Connect with another class doing the same thing and share results. I think that could be powerful.
  3. Include more categories (maybe religion, disability, LGBTQ)
  4. Do some analysis in other places  (This could be a great teacher/librarian collaboration in the school library. Also examine the public library, a local bookstore, Scholastic flyers, or online stores.)
  5. Take this to that next step and have kids research and recommend titles to fill out the gaps in our library. So that they are playing a part in creating a more diverse selection of books that they will love.

Mainly, I was just acutely aware of how limited this exercise was. And yet - I am so glad we did it. The data we gleaned is not going into some peer-reviewed journal, but it gave these kids (and me!) a taste of that data analysis. And, the best part,  it lead to even more questions - and now they know that it’s a question they should ask about the books surrounding them!  And our shared spreadsheet is messy - some percents aren’t accurate and some kids categorized a little differently. But, my hope, is that when they find themselves in a library or bookstore and pick up a book, they’ll remember this and maybe carry those questions and discoveries forward with them and start to (seek out - no! That’s too weak) start to demand more books that reflect our cultures and our communities.

And for us, let’s not shy away from this work, as uncomfortable and complicated as it sometimes can be.

And as always, I really want to hear your ideas about this topic. You can tag me on Twitter or Instagram - our handle is @books_between or email me at booksbetween@gmail.com and I’d love to hear and share your ideas.

Interview - Madelyn Rosenberg & Wendy Shang

Today I am so excited to welcome Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Shang to the podcast. They are the authors of the recently released middle grade novel This Is Just a Test.  We chat about their collaboration process, epic Thanksgiving dinners, Trivial Pursuit, and all our favorite fashions from the 80s.  Take a listen.

This is Just a Test

Your middle grade novel, This is Just a Test, was just released this past June 27th - congratulations!

What is this book about?

I loved David and his story but I think for me, my favorite part of this book was that it was set in the early 80s with big hair and boom boxes and Boy George!

What was your research process like in order to make sure that the setting was authentically 1983?

Some quick questions about the 80s….

Favorite 80s band?

Favorite Atari Game?

Favorite 80s TV Show?

Favorite 80s Fashion?

Trivial Pursuit plays a big part in this book because David and his two friends Hector and Scott are competing in this big Trivia Tournament and they play the game to practice.

What is your favorite Trivial Pursuit category?

Not everything about the 80s was light and fun - one of the major pieces of this book is the looming threat of the Cold War and David’s anxiety after watching The Day After - a pretty scary movie that shows the effects of nuclear war.

Did you see that movie and did it have the same impact on you?

Your Writing Life

How did you two come to know each other?

What was your collaboration process like for writing This Is Just a Test? Did you meet in person or do most of your work online?

Your Reading Life

What were some of your favorite books as a child?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Closing

Okay - that wraps up our show this week. If you have a question or an idea about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show along with all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com.

And, if you are liking the show, please help others find us too by telling a friend, sharing on social media, or leaving a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again and see you soon!  Bye!

Episode Links:

http://blog.leeandlow.com/2016/07/07/part-1-having-students-analyze-our-classroom-library-to-see-how-diverse-it-is/

Undefeated by Steve Sheinkin

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781596439542

Today Will Be Different - Maria Semple

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316403436

Short - Holly Sloan

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780399186219

Unidentified Suburban Object  - Mike Jung

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780545782265

Jul 10 2017

38mins

Play

Rank #18: #60 - Kate DiCamillo (Louisiana's Way Home)

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone who loves middle grade books!

I believe in the power of stories to lift us up and help us discover who we really are.  My goal is to help you connect kids with those incredible books and share inspiring conversations with the authors and educators who make that magic happen.

I am your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two preteen girls, a 5th grade teacher in Central New York, and really, really glad that September is over.  I always feel like, for educators, September is a little bit like childbirth and having a newborn. Somehow you forget the utter exhaustion and work and lack of sleep every time. And instead you focus on the fresh start! Getting the room set up! Getting to know new personalities and a chance to get right THIS time what you you struggled with last time. And you forget that it took you MONTHS to get them into a decent schedule. And that the first weeks are just…. triage.   So… in solidarity with all the exhausted and overworked teachers and parents out there - I see you. I feel you. I AM you.

And after 15+ years of teaching, I did two things this September that helped my stress level a bit.

  1. I went to bed. And if you know me at ALL - you know how hard this is for me. I am a night owl. I am most inspired between 9pm and 1am. But when I have to get up for work at 5:15 - it was killing me.  Probably literally.
  2. I cut myself some slack. I DID NOT have my classroom “picture ready” on the first day of school. For the last few years, I have decorated my door with all the books I’ve read over the summer with favorite quotes. Nope - not this year. I just couldn’t pull it off. And that was…. honestly disappointing, but I think we need to give ourselves some grace with that stuff. I think we internalize all those Pinterest/Instagram ideas of what an “ideal” teacher and classroom should be and we give ourselves crap when we fall short of that imagined perfection. When in reality - NO one has it all together. Not the “education thought leader” with hundreds of thousands of followers, not the educator with the inspiring YouTube videos, not the teacher with that amazing new book out - NONE of them are living up to what we’re all “supposed to” be doing. Something is falling through the cracks. And I find the ones who admit that are really the ones worth listening to.

So, it is now October. I’m more rested and sooo ready to dive back into things - including bringing you some fantastic interviews this fall!

This is episode #60 and Today I’m sharing a conversation I had this past summer with Kate DiCamillo about her latest novel, coming out tomorrow - Louisiana’s Way Home!

Before we dive into that, I want to give you a few updates.

The Middle Grade at Heart Book Club pick for October is The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill and The Hotel Between by Sean Easley is the November pick.

Also - #MGBooktober is BACK!!  The MGBookVillage is hosting a month of awesome middle grade related book prompts. We hope that you and your students will join in the fun. Just use #MGBooktober to post your responses and to find everyone else’s pics.

And finally - remember to set yourself a reminder for Monday nights at 9pm EST so you don’t miss the #MGBookChat Twitter chat!  This month some of the topics are: Teachers as Readers, Middle Grade Spooktacular (Why Scary Stories Matter), Building Vocabulary with Middle Grade Books, and Taboo Roll Call: Does anything go in Middle Grade now?  Those all sound amazing - so see you Monday nights!

Kate DiCamillo - Interview Outline

Our special guest this week is Kate DiCamillo - author of Because of Winn-Dixie, Tiger Rising, Flora & Ulysses, The Tale of Despereaux, among so many other incredible books. I got the opportunity to chat with her this summer about Louisiana’s Way Home - the follow-up to her 2016 novel, Raymie Nightingale. We talk about why she decided to write a sequel, Pinocchio, bologna sandwiches, and of course her latest novel - Louisiana’s Way Home.

Take a listen…

Louisiana’s Way Home

Your latest novel, Louisiana’s Way Home, is coming out this October. I had the opportunity to read an ARC and simply fell in love this story. It has so much depth and so much clarity all at the same time.

For our listeners who have not yet read the novel, can you tell us a bit about it?

This is the first time you’ve revisited the world of a previous novel.

What was your journey to decide that you wanted to go further into Louisiana’s story?

Early on in the book, Louisiana observes that “There are the rescuers in this world and there are the rescued.”

Which one are you?

My daughter would like to know - do you like bologna sandwiches?

You are known for your vibrant character names but in this book - you have three characters with the same name!

Throughout the novel there is this small thread about the book Pinocchio and how most people don’t remember that Pinocchio kills the cricket at the beginning of the story! It made me think that perhaps adults don’t remember how dark the stories they grew up with actually were...

You’ve mentioned before that when you are writing, the trajectory of the story or the characters will often surprise you.

Were there any unexpected parts of Louisiana’s Way Home?

**BONUS SPOILER SECTION: Kate and I discuss the ending of the novel, and if you’d like to hear that conversation, I moved that part of the recording to after the end credits of today’s episode at the 36:18 mark.

Your Writing Life

Was it challenging to write a novel that would be satisfying for readers of Raymie Nightingale but that would also stand on its own?

If you can talk about it….. what are you working on now?

Your Reading Life

One of the goals of this podcast is to help educators and librarians and parents inspire kids to read more and connect them with amazing books.  Did you have a special teacher or librarian who helped foster your reading life as a child?  And if so, what did they do that made such a difference?

What were some of your most influential reads as a child?

What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?

Links:

Kate’s website - https://www.katedicamillo.com/

Kate on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateDiCamillo

Books & Authors We Chatted About:

Pinnochio (Carlo Collodi)

The Juniper Tree, and Other Tales from Grimm (Illustrated by Maurice Sendak)

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell)

The 21 Balloons (William Pene du Bois)

A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)

Stuart Little (E.B. White)

Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)

Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell)

Polly & Buster (Sally Rippin)

The Borrowers (Mary Norton)

Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

The Search for Delicious (Natalie Babbitt)

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground (Rita Williams Garcia)

Closing

Alright, that wraps up our show this week!

If you have a question about how to connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love or a suggestion about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Books Between is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network. This network features podcasts for educators, created by educators. For more great content visit edupodcastnetwork.com

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show at MGBookVillage.org. And, if you are liking the show, please leave us some love on iTunes or Stitcher so others can discover us as well.

Thanks and see you soon!  Bye!

Oct 01 2018

45mins

Play

Rank #19: #22 - Adrienne Kress

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Intro

Hi everyone and welcome to the Books Between podcast! If you are a middle grade teacher, a librarian, a parent of a child between 8 and 12 - or anyone who just loves to chat about kids’ books - then you are in the right spot!  Our focus is generally middle grade books but occasionally we veer into picture books or YA.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a mom of two, a 5th grade teacher and enjoying our Spring Break! It’s been low key but relaxing.

This is Episode #22 and Today I am welcoming author Adrienne Kress to the show and then chatting about three fantastic books featuring famous people or people who should be famous.

Main Topic - Interview with Adrienne Kress

Today I am honored to welcome Adrienne Kress. She is the author of the newly released action-adventure mystery called The Explorers: The Door in the Alley. And in our conversation we chat about traveling, the difference between writing Young Adult vs. Middle Grade, and high tea. Take a listen.

A few weeks ago as I was preparing to read The Explorers and I knew we would be chatting, I hopped on your website and whoa! You are a woman of many talents - not only an author but an actor, a playwright, producer/director…

How do those roles all work together? What is your day like?

I was reading your bio section in the back of the book and you mention that both of your parents are English teachers and yet I read an article where you described yourself as a reluctant reader as a child.

What was that like for you?

Let’s talk about The Explorers ! Your middle grade book is coming out Tuesday, April 25th.

Tell us what it’s about!

I am excited to get the final version and see the artwork - not only how the artist envisioned the characters and setting, but I was really intrigued by the placement on the pages…

Can you tell a bit about that process?

One of the things that fascinated me about The Explorers Society with the huge multi-floor library built around this giant tree and rooms dedicated to the interests of the explorers. One person explores deserts and one focuses on leaves and another one is interested in sewers.

If you were to join the Explorers Society, what would you dedicate your life to exploring?

You ended this novel with one heck of a cliffhanger!!!

When is Book 2 coming out? Do you know yet?

Not only do you write middle grade books, but you also have YA books out as well.

When you set out to write a book, do you already know ahead of time whether it will be Young Adult or Middle Grade? What is that process like for you?

Coffee or Tea?

What is your reading life like now?  What have you read lately that you’ve really liked?

If people wanted to follow you and find out more about your work , where should they go?

Book Talk - Three Books Featuring Famous People or People Who Should Be Famous

In this section of the show, I share with you three books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. This week we are focusing on stories about amazing people - both historical and modern. They are Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Who Wins? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to Head, and Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

This week I’ll start with Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I’m almost embarrassed to admit where I saw this book first. Umm… it was a Facebook ad. I guess that tells you two things - 1) I spend too much time on Facebook and 2) Facebook knows me disturbingly well!  And - and I guess I’ll add a third - sometimes Facebook ads really do work. I saw Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls scroll across my feed and thought - “Yes! I want that book for my daughters. But - I also want it for me.”  So, let me tell you about it. It is 100 tales of extraordinary women illustrated by 60 female artists from all around the world. It’s written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo - both women entrepreneurs whose idea for this book stemmed from the fact they wished they had grown up with more female role models. The book became the most funded book in crowdfunding history.

Here are three things to love about Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls:

  1. How each one-page biography is written like a mini fairy tale. It’s such a different take on a biography compilation. Let me give you a few examples: “Once there was a little girl who didn’t speak for five years. She thought her words could hurt people and promised herself to never make a peep again. Her name was Maya.” That’s Maya Angelou.  Here’s another one. “Once there was a girl who wanted to drive a car. She lived in Saudi Arabia, a country where religious rules forbid women from driving. One day she decided to break the rules.” - That’s Manal Al-Sharif, the women’s rights activist. I just love them - and there’s something about telling these women’s stories like this that elevates them to a heroic level and makes you feel like you can slay your own dragons.
  2. The variety of stories and the women you get to learn about. For instance, the book includes artists like Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel but also tattoo artist Maud Stevens Wagner. There are well-known political figures like Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Evita Peron but we also get know about Somali politician Fadumo Dayib and Indian Queen and Warrior Lakshmi Bai. There are mathematicians, and surgeons, and drummers, and spies, and chefs, and mountaineers, and one elementary school student - Coy Mathis, born in 2007. And I’ll leave her story for you to discover.
  3. And finally - at the very end there is a place to write your own story and draw your own portrait. How powerful is that?

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls would be a great gift - especially for girls, but could absolutely be enlightening for boys as well. As I was reading some to my daughters, I had my teacher hat partially on and was thinking that this would be great for Women’s History Month next year. We could read one brief story every day and expand our knowledge of some women who should be known and celebrated for their accomplishments.

Who Wins? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to Head

Next up this week is 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to Head created by Clay Swartz and illustrated by Tom Booth. This is an awesomely fun mix-and-match flip book set up as a game where we imagine important historical figures competing in a variety of interesting scenarios. It’s a really sturdy spiral bound book made up of three panels. On the left and on the right are the people. The bottom half features a drawing of that person facing inward toward their opponent and some quick descriptors. For example, we have Harry Houdini (Mr. Magic: Entertainer, Illusionist, Adrenaline Junkie) facing off with Cleopatra (Queen of the Nile: Pharaoh, Feminist, Diva). And  - the bottom lists how each person rates across 7 categories: Wealth, Fitness, Wisdom, Bravery, Artistry, Leadership, and Intelligence. For example, Houdini rates as a 7 for wealth and Cleopatra is a 9. Houdini is a 10 for fitness while Cleopatra is only a 6. So you have some basis for debate. Then the top of each side includes a short biography of each person and a couple “Little Known Facts”.  Then - the middle describes the battle scenario. There are things like: Summiting Everest, Slam Dunk Contest, Rap Battle, Brain Surgery, Wrestlemania, Selling the Most Girl Scout Cookies. On this page, Houdini and Cleopatra are going head to head about who could Sneak Into Area 51! Hmmmm….  I don’t know. Houdini’s really good at escaping from places, and didn’t Cleopatra sneak into see someone rolled up in a rug? Or am I just thinking of the Elizabeth Taylor movie and that is actually a myth.  That’s a tough one.

But that’s what’s fun about this book!  If you’re not already sold, here are three more awesome reasons to love 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to Head:

  1. You - and your kids - are never going to get bored with this book! There are 100,000 possible combinations, and I can attest that with my own kids, the conversation starts with the match-up and then spirals into discussing other situations.
  2. And did I mention? It’s full color!! It’s gorgeous and really designed well. The three panels are not just basic rectangles - they are done in a zig-zag pattern that somehow keeps the pages from sliding over each other too much. They nestle together.
  3. The potential to springboard some cool projects and discussions off this book! Again, I’ve always got my teacher hat on and I kept thinking that it would be really cool to act some of these out. Thomas Edison vs. Mother Teresa in a Hot Dog Eating Contest! Or… if your school is like mine, we often have a biography unit. Perhaps your students could take their biography subject and give them a rating in a few categories and have them face off in different situations. And it doesn’t have to be a lengthy thing, maybe just a quick find a partner and “Okay, Who would do better living on a desert island? You’ve got two minutes to chat and back up your ideas.”  Or - for your own children, this would be the perfect book to stash in your car.

Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring

Our last book this week is Spy on History: Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti with illustrations by Tony Cliff.  This is an interactive historical narrative about an African American spy, Mary Bowser, who infiltrated the Confederate administration. She posed as an illiterate slave in Jefferson Davis’ White House during the Civil War and sent information to Union Generals. Truly an unsung hero of American history. This is based on true events and the history is accurate, but it is dramatized into a suspenseful story.  Here are three things to love about Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring:

  1. The interactive part. Readers actually get to solve a mystery in this book! It comes with spycraft materials like a cipher wheel, red acetate paper, and a white vellum sheet that when you line it up correctly can be used to help crack the code on certain pages.  It is SO cool! And comes with a sealed answer key if you get stuck.
  2. How this book angles history from the perspective of a black enslaved woman. History is told by those in power and for far too long, we have been denied the point of view of most women and most people of color, and I am so glad children get a chance to meet and know Mary Bowser.
  3. And finally, what I liked most about this book was that I couldn’t read it. Now, what I mean by that is that I attempted to read it, but it very quickly got snatched out of my hands. I started reading on the couch and as soon as the words, “OOOoooo...there’s codes in this…” came out of my mouth, my daughters were huddled behind me reading over both my shoulders. Then… they climbed over the back of the couch and into my lap to “help” me flip through the pages. And then they saw the grid of letters and snatched it away to go solve it without me! Argh!

Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring is a little bit like a combination of a Mail order Mystery and Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. If you know a kid who loves a mystery, who loves cracking a code, who loves a suspenseful story - then this one is a winner.

A couple quick announcements before we close today. I’ve skipped the Question & Answer segment the last couple of weeks mainly because I didn’t want to have the episodes run too long. I know several of you have sent questions. Thank you! And I’ll be back on track answering those next time.

Also - I discovered new website for you to check out! It’s teacherswhoread.blogspot.com It just launched a few weeks ago and it’s a great site if you’re looking for more middle book recommendations or engaging literacy ideas to try out in your school.

Closing

Alright - that’s it for our show this week. If you have a question about how to connect middle grade readers to books they will love or an idea about a guest we should have or a topic we should cover, I really love to hear from you. You can email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of the show along all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com.

And, if you are liking the show, please help others find us too by telling a friend, sharing on social media, or leaving a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again and see you in two weeks!  Bye!

http://teacherswhoread.blogspot.com

http://www.adriennekress.com

Apr 24 2017

47mins

Play

Rank #20: #18 - Interview with Paul Goat Allen

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Intro

Hi and welcome to Books Between - a podcast for teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone who wants to connect middle grade readers between 8-12 to books they’ll love.  I’m your host, Corrina Allen - a 5th grade teacher, a mom of two girls, and enjoying a gloriously (and weirdly) warm Winter Break. It hit 70 degrees today. In Syracuse. In February. Hey - I’ll take it!

This is Episode #18 and today we have a interview with genre fiction book critic Paul Goat Allen, I’ll discuss three novels featuring spunky female leads, and then I’ll answer a question about the books featured on our last episode on March Book Madness.

Main Topic - Interview with Paul Goat Allen

Today on the show I am welcoming book critic extraordinaire, genre fiction writing professor, writer, and my husband - Paul Goat Allen!  

Here are some of the books we talking about in the interview segment of today’s episode:

  • Fenway & Hattie by Victoria Coe
  • Wings of Fire Series by Tui Sutherland
  • Harry Potter Series by JK Rowlings
  • Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • Percy Jackson Series  by Laurel Snyder
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
  • Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • A Canticle for Leibowtiz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock
  • The Earthsea Trilogy  by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein

The elements on the  “The Genre Fiction Book Reviewer’s Hierarchy of Needs”

  • Readability (narrative clarity, fluidity,a coherent storyline, brisk pacing)  
  • Immersion (focus on world building, overall description)
  • Characters Depth ( three dimensional , interesting, and emotionally connective characters)
  • Plot Intricacy (Impressively constructed storyline replete with plot twists)
  • Originality & Innovation (innovative narrative element - unconventional protagonist, new twist on an old mythos, etc.)  
  • The Message (profound, spiritual, existential enlightenment)

Book Talk - Three Novels Featuring Spunky Girls

In this part of the show, I share with you three books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. This week I’ll be talking about three fantastic contemporary debut middle grade novels featuring female protagonists who are full of spirit and determination. Even if, for a couple of them, it takes some time to embrace and harness that inner courage. The books this week are Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley, Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat, and A Rambler Steals Home by Carter Higgins.

Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

This week, I’ll be going in order of release date so I’ll start with the September 2016 debut Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat. Doesn’t that subtitle perfectly capture that middle school feeling where everything seems awful but the adults in your life just blow it off as no big deal?  That is precisely the problem the main character, Abbie Wu, faces as she grapples with starting middle school. To Abbie, middle school is just another awful “middle” thing - like the middle seat in the car, the Middle Ages, and… being the middle child. She is stuck between her soccer star perfect older brother and her cute can’t do anything wrong younger sister. I knew this book was a winner when my daughter started reading it over my shoulder. Here are three things to love about Frazzled:

  1. How perfectly this book captures the frustrations of that first middle school year. Like the awful lunches, that awkward feeling of not knowing the kids in your class, and not knowing which electives to pick. Abbie’s two best friends are Logan, genius gamer kid who joins the Coding Club. And Maxine, confident Teen Vogue reader who, of course, chooses drama as her elective. But Abbie doesn’t have a clear “thing” that’s she good at like her friends and so she gets stuck in the doldrums of Study Hall where eventually she becomes the center of a Lunch Revolution.   
  2. Frazzled is fun to read! Now, I love a heavy, deep books, but with the world as complicated as it is right now, it is a joy to jump into such a book that makes me laugh out loud. There are playful and clever illustrations on every page, and I love Booki Vivat’s hand lettered style to the drawings with different textures and patterns to the words. And the self-deprecating honesty of Abbie’s character and how she describes the personalities of her family and teachers is just perfect. This is the type of humor that adults and teachers will like, too. Well - at least I did, anyway! I guess I can’t speak for anyone else! For example, here’s Abbie describing her new Vice-Principal:  “A woman in a frumpy suit walked up to the podium and introduced herself. Mrs. Kline looked nice, but she also looked really tired, kind of like the “before” version of ladies on those makeover shows or like one those grown-ups who always complains about needing coffee.”   
  3. How Frazzled handles anxiety with a light touch. I read a statistic recently that anxiety is the number one mental health issue facing kids today. From what I observe in my own classroom - it is A BIG problem. And I appreciate that a kids’ book tackles it from a place of humor. For example, the giant “Welcome Packet” that arrives from Poindexter Middle School that has Abbie’s mom excited about school shopping has Abbie in near panic mode from information overload. Abbie has nightmares before school starts and attempts to stay home from school. Her Aunt tries to get her to meditate.  At one point, Abbie says, “Like whenever we talk about school, Mom always tells me the same things over and over again - “It’ll be great!”, “Nothing to worry about!”, “Just be yourself!” - as if saying it will somehow make it more true.”   For a worrier like Abbie, when you are surrounded by ever cheerful people telling you that “Everything will work out for the best!” it can feel like you are not even being heard.

Frazzled is a fantastic book for kids dealing with everyday middle school frustrations and anxieties. AND - I hear there is a second book coming out September 26th, 2017 so keep that on your radar!

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

Our next debut middle grade book featuring a determined female protagonist was released in October of 2016 - Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley. This book, and this girl, just worked their way into my heart last fall.  Gertie is one of those kids that you just want to yank from the pages and take home with you. She lives in an Alabama town with her father and her Great Aunt Rae. Her mother, basically abandoned her when she was a baby, but she still lives in the same town. However, Gertie is rocked to find out that her mother is getting married and moving away. So - she has this mission to become the greatest 5th grader ever. To show up at her mother’s door and just say, “Ha! I don’t need you anyway!” Well, obviously, things don’t go as planned. Especially when an overachieving new girl shows up - literally in Gertie’s seat - to thwart her plans.

Here are three reasons why I adored Gertie’s Leap to Greatness:

  1. Her Great Aunt Rae. This lady is gold. She is Gertie’s main caretaker since her dad is on an oil rig for weeks at a time. She lets her have Twinkies for breakfast and every day as Gertie leaves for school, she calls out “Give ‘em hell, baby!” And there’s a moment toward the end when she has Gertie’s back in such a fierce way. Every kid should have Aunt Rae!
  2. How well this book understands how kids can turn on each other - or as Gertie says, they’re “fickle”! I teach 5th grade and can attest - those social dynamics can be complicated. One day things are good and then the social landscape shifts and you are on the outs with your former friends. Even Gertie has this moment when she says an unforgivably awful thing to Audrey - the 5 year old her Aunt Rae baby-sits. And she has to come to terms with that.
  3. The Swiss Chocolate Meltdown. Oh. My. God!!  I know it was wrong, but I just wanted to cheer! I don’t want to say too much but it reminded me of the chocolate cake scene in Matilda. Oh, it’s good! Read the book just for that scene!

Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness is a fun and touching story that’s like a beautiful blend of Ramona and Raymie Nightingale.  These three girls would absolutely be friends - or drive each other crazy. Either way, there would be an adventure. I don’t think this one is scheduled to have a sequel, but I for one would love to jump back into Gertie’s world again.

A Rambler Steals Home

The final book this week is A Rambler Steals Home - Carter Higgins’ middle grade debut. Even though I read it during one of the worst snowstorms we’ve had up here in New York, it immediately swept me away to hot Virginia summers filled with baseball and frog-catching.  The story centers around the traveling Clark family - the dad, Garland, the young brother named Triple, and our main character - 11 year old Derby. Their family drives around in a Rambler car, selling Christmas trees in the winter and selling hot chocolate and gingersnaps and apple cider and cinnamon sugar donuts out of an old concession stand trailer. But - in the summers, they make their home in Ridge Creek, Virginia where they set up a concession stand in the parking lot of a minor league baseball team. But this summer, Derby is confronted with some difficult changes and some secrets to uncover. Here are three things to love about A Rambler Steals Home:

  1. The sweet, homey pace of the story. Now - don’t get me wrong - I do not mean that the storytelling is slow but rather we savor the details of eating an oatmeal cookie on a front porch. We linger over sweet potato fries and a swipe of Christmas Nutmeg lipstick. This is the perfect book to read stretched out in a backyard hammock.
  2. The names are awesome! Carter Higgins has that same magical knack for naming characters as Kate DiCamillo. So, I already mentioned Garland, Triple, and Derby. Derby’s middle name, by the way, is Christmas. But we also have Goose and Scooter and Ferdie and the Skipper and Betsy and Lollie. And of course, a banjo named Twang. How perfect is that?  And not only do these characters have fabulous names, but you enjoy spending time with them. They are the kind of people you just want to surround yourself with in your own life.
  3. The gorgeous, poetic, twangy flavor of the language. Like this line describing the baseball team: “The Rockskippers scattered the field in their blue-and-whites while they stretched and spat and scratched.”

This book is heart-warming and charming and one you and your kids won’t want to miss. It is due to be released Tuesday, February 28th - the day after this episode is out so tomorrow - head over to your favorite bookstore and grab yourself a copy.

So if your middle grade girls - and guys! - are looking for a novel with a spunky female lead, they will really like Gertie’s Leap to Greatness , Frazzled, and A Rambler Steals Home.

Q & A

Our last segment of the show is Question & Answer time.

Question:

After our last episode about March Book Madness was released, I posted a picture on Twitter featuring last year’s tournament bracket from my class to give an example of what a starting bracket could look like. And one of our followers, Eric Carpenter, replied “hope you talk about why only one of these 16 books in this bracket is by a POC. #OwnVoices “

Answer:

So - absolutely.  And just so you all can picture what Eric was referring to, I’ll add a photo of that bracket to the shownotes and the website, but here are the list of the 16 books included on that bracket: The One and Only Ivan, The Honest Truth, I Funny, Big Nate, Hatchet, Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, Home of the Brave, Auggie & Me, The Crossover, The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Smile, Flying Solo, El Deafo, Wonder, and Sunny Side Up.

So - he’s right. The Crossover is the only book on that list from a person of color. So - why is that? I’ll start by describing how those books were chosen and then analyzing why there might be a lack of diversity, and then discuss some ways to change that.  

First - how were the 16 books selected?

Those 16 titles were nominated and voted on entirely by my students last year. I give them total control over that process, simply asking them to nominate books they’ve read and liked. Their favorites. I think kids having ownership of that is important. If I picked the books, I don’t think they’d be as excited about participating. However, I think there is a way to honor students’ choices while still including a more diverse range of authors and characters that not only reflects the community but our society. More on that a little bit.

Second - why was there a lack of diversity in those choices?

Well, I have a few thoughts on that. One might be that the books my students included may reflect the general lack of diversity among the most “popular” middle grade titles. A second thought is that some of the books, like Hatchet and Wonder and Flying Solo and Home of the Brave may have been nominated because my students read them in class as part of the curriculum and book list that my school follows. And only one of them features a non-white main character (Home of the Brave) but that book, while excellent, is still not written by a person of color. Essentially, those books are not featuring enough diversity and not enough stories told by diverse authors. Another piece to that, and probably the largest one - my students are simply not surrounded with enough diverse books written by Native Americans, written by black authors, written by men and women from ethnic, cultural, and religious minority groups. Among many, many other diverse groups. And within my classroom, that is entirely on me. But taking that responsibility means that I have the power to change it.

Alright - if our students and kids aren’t listing diverse books as their favorites, how can that be changed?

A couple very quick ideas knowing that this is just the beginning of a much longer conversation:

  • As you stock your classroom library, as you make purchases for the kids in your life, pick more diverse books written by authors writing from their own experience. Over the last few years, as I have committed to having a vibrant classroom library, my focus needs to shift from just getting any books to being more aware of who is represented in that library. And making better choices. One good place to start is weneeddiversebooks.org and by following the Twitter hashtag #OwnVoices  Scholastic also has a We Need Diverse Books catalog that’s a good resource, too.
  • Don’t just stick those books in your library - read them aloud, book talk them, and build that excitement. If you are excited about a book, the kids will often latch onto it, too.
  • Reexamine those books that are in your curriculum. Like a lot of other districts, my school is thankfully moving away from the one-book-fits-all approach which leaves more space for student choice and for teachers to select more diverse books. Be an advocate for that in your schools. And parents - please speak up, too!
  • Finally - bring this conversation to your students and your children. I plan on sharing Eric’s tweet with my class and asking them to think about it. And in considering March Book Madness, perhaps instead of simply asking students to nominate favorite books, I could have framed the tournament a little differently and asked them to nominate favorite books that represent the diversity of our community and society. So you are still having the books be their choice, but guiding them to be more aware. Also, I read this fabulous blog post last year on Lee & Low Books where a teacher had her students pull every book from her classroom library off the shelves and work in groups to analyze the diversity in the books they had available. It was a powerful exercise - both for that teacher and her students. So I’ll link to that in the show notes so you can check it out yourself.

Now, I acknowledge that we are really just scratching the surface of this topic and we will be chatting a lot more about it on future episodes. And I’d like to get your input and ideas about that. What do you see as the challenges to getting your students to read more diversely? And what concrete things can we do as teachers and librarians and parents to help kids develop deeper connections to more diverse books?

Closing

Okay - that wraps our show this week. If you have a question about how to connect middle grade readers to books they’ll love or an idea about a topic we need to cover, I want to hear from you. Please email me at booksbetween@gmail.com or message me on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between.

Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can get find a transcript of this show and all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com. And, if you are liking the show, if you are finding some value in them, I’d love it if you left a rating on iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again and see you in two weeks!  Bye!

Links:

http://weneeddiversebooks.org

http://blog.leeandlow.com/2016/07/07/part-1-having-students-analyze-our-classroom-library-to-see-how-diverse-it-is/

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/blogs/scholastic-parents-raise-reader/special-edition-weneeddiversebooks-scholastic-reading-club

Feb 27 2017

45mins

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