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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer Reads #6: Among the Hidden

Today I am introducing the first of a series that was once again recommended by my students. I ended up buying the entire series with Scholastic points at the end of the year, and I will eventually read the rest. This one was captivating!

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Among the Hidden is the first book in the Shadow Children series. Luke is a shadow child, meaning he isn't supposed to exist. Out of fear that they would run out of food, the government established a law that families could only have two children. Luke is the third. No one other than his immediate family knows about him, and he has never been away from home. When a neighborhood is built nearby, Luke cannot go outside anymore and, worse, has to spend all of his time in the attic.

But then he discovers there is another shadow child nearby. And he takes a risk to meet her.

Guys, I did this one as a book club, and I had a hard time stopping each week for the discussions. My first interaction with this book was the hook, and it is one of my favorites ever. I was completely into this all the way through and can't wait to read the rest!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Reads #5: Ungifted

It's week five already, and I am fulfilling my promise with a fun, lighthearted book! This is the perfect one for that, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my students and I did.

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Ungifted is about a boy named Donovan who is a bit of a prankster and is always causing problems. Well, it's all fun and games until he accidentally rolls the globe right off an Atlas statue, through a full parking lot, and into the gym where his middle school team is playing a game. And then, to add to his luck, he is spotted by none other than the school's superintendent. Donovan is certain that his life is officially over, but through a crazy turn of events, his name is accidentally passed on for a school for gifted students.

Gifted he is not, but he figures it will be the perfect place to hide out until the whole mess blows over. Plus, his parents are proud of him for once. While there, he learns to accept and befriend the eclectic bunch of students in his class, and he's even able to help them out. Maybe he is gifted after all? You'll have to read and find out!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summer Reads #4: The War That Saved My Life

Hey guys! I hope you're having as much fun with these as I am! The book I'm sharing with you today is the first one that I read after school let out, and I could have easily read it in one sitting (and almost did) if my family hadn't complained that they wanted to spend time with me. Oops!

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This book was on the Virginia Reader's Choice list for middle school, which I am slowly working my way through. I'm also reading from the elementary list, but not necessarily every book. Once again, I had a few students read this first and tell me it was amazing. I trust their judgement now and hope that my next set of kids have equally amazing taste. But I will stop bragging now...

You will want a tissue and/or to throw things when you read this book because Ada, the main character, really has a crappy life. She was born with a clubfoot that was never treated. Instead, her mother is ashamed of her and will not allow her to leave the house at all. She teaches herself to walk in secret and ends up running away with her younger brother when children are being evacuated from London at the beginning of World War II. They arrive in the countryside and are taken in by a single woman who doesn't really want them. However, she takes care of them well and gives them opportunities that they did not have.

The book is an emotional roller coaster, but I can't say much more without giving it away. Ada's hurt reaches far deeper than her foot, and it takes a lot for her to overcome it.

Next week, I'm going to choose a more upbeat book!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Reads #3: Out of My Mind

Week three is here! Woohoo! I want to just show you what I mean when I say I have a lot to read this summer.

It's a little crazy. And that actually doesn't account for all the books because I didn't have some and am checking them out on my kindle. Let me know if there's one you especially want to hear about, and I'll move it up further on my list. Or, of course, if you have any suggestions of books to add to my list. I currently finished The War that Saved My Life, Wolf Hollow, Space Case, Solo, and Fuzzy Mud. Reading The Thing About Jellyfish and have and A Night Divided on deck. So many books!

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This book was another recommendation from a student. She told me it was on of the best books ever and then bought it for me. I quickly added it to my ever-growing list and worked to move it up quickly so I could read it. Once again, it did not disappoint. My kids really do have impeccable taste in books! 

Out of my Mind is about a girl named Melody who is wheelchair bound and cannot speak or write. But she is brilliant! She just doesn't have any way of showing it (think Stephen Hawking). Her babysitter believes that she is smart, so she works tirelessly with Melody to add pictures and letters to her wheelchair so that Melody can "communicate" by pointing. By fifth grade, she finally has a teacher who decides Melody should spend some time working in the regular education rooms with a one-on-one aide. Like her babysitter, this aide knows what Melody is capable of and works to help her show it. The problem is that it's very difficult for her new classmates and teachers to accept it as well, and Melody struggles to find her place.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer Reads #2: Because of Mr. Terupt

So welcome to week two of my Summer Reads series! For those who don't know, I'm kind of piggy-backing off an idea one of my amazing friends, Andrea at This Literacy Life, does with her Book Talk Thursdays. I have SO many books that I have read this year and many many more that I brought home to read this summer, so I shouldn't run out of material for a while. The question will be can I keep up with blogging about them! My boys are getting a little older and more independent, so I should be able to manage as long as I remember. Let's see if I can revive this old blog!

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Today's book is the first in a trio, but the first is definitely the best. I had to check this book out for myself after quite a few of my students recommended it. Mr. Terupt is a brand new 5th grade teacher, and his students love him. His methods may be a little unconventional, but there is no doubt that the kids are learning and growing. Then something happens that changes everything mid-year, and the class has to learn how to lean on one another to get through it.

I really like how these books are told from multiple students' perspectives. The second book, in my opinion, is a little more on the cheesy side, and then the third book follows the students to middle school, which is fun to see them grow. You should at least read this book! It has some great humor thrown in along with the tension and uncertainty through the last half of the book.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Reads: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Hello, blogging world! It's been quite some time. Since I last wrote, I have moved schools (and school districts) and just completed my first year teaching 5th grade Gifted Language Arts. It's been busy, and I've felt like a brand new teacher since almost all of my previous experience has been with struggling readers, but I'm loving it! 

Anyway, I have been busily reading some of the latest YA novels to catch up with my avid readers this year, and I decided that the perfect way to get back into the groove of writing is to talk about a different book each week! I'm going to call this my "Summer Reads" series, and then I hope to also continue it into the school year, just maybe less frequent.

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The very first book I want to discuss is this year's Newbery medal winner, The Girl Who Drank the Moon. When I saw this one, I immediately purchased it, especially since it is fantasy, which I have realized my classroom library is lacking.

I would actually classify this book as a mix between Dystopian and fantasy. The premise is that there is a village who "sacrifices" a baby every year to a witch so that they may remain safe. This baby is put outside the gates of the village and left for dead, and then the witch supposedly comes along to eat it. However, the truth is that the witch knows nothing of their "sacrifice" and actually rescues the baby every year from what she believes is a village of cruel and heartless people. These babies are fed starlight on the journey to different villages (earning them the name Star Children) where one lucky family is selected to care for them.

One year, Xan (the witch) accidentally feeds the baby moonlight, which enmagics the young child. She ends up caring for the girl herself, and there comes a time when she will come to know the village she came from once again.

I loved this story! It paints a beautiful picture of love and hope, and it also shows how things aren't always what they seem. I actually went back and ordered a small group set to do with a group of students, and this was one of their favorites.