Book Trailer Thursday (189)–Before I Fall Movie Trailer

 

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, her debut novel, released seven years ago and is now a movie releasing in March 7th. I remember it being one of the first books I read and reviewed on my blog back in 2010. Since then it’s been a staple in my classroom library and I know will continue to be now that the movie is releasing. Is anyone else excited to see this on the big screen?!

Summary (From Goodreads):

With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today’s foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person’s life can affect so many others.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Starting a Review Club

When I returned from NCTE and ALAN with boxes of books for my classroom, I held a book pass to expose my students to the new titles entering the room. Many of the titles are 2017 releases, which always excites them since they get to read them before anyone else. Since I do this and since these titles haven’t released yet, I haven’t had the chance to read them myself.

Ten years ago when I began teaching I almost always read every single book that entered my classroom. Now that I’ve created such an expansive classroom library and have cultivated a culture of reading in my classroom, I can’t always keep up with my students. I don’t always read every single book I bring into my room. Don’t get me wrong, even with a toddler and a baby on the way, I’m still reading as much as I can as often as I can. But I felt like I needed to do something about the books I haven’t read yet.

My honors freshmen are voracious readers, so I decided to try something with them in regards to these books I haven’t read. I spoke with them about my situation and asked if any of them would be interested in reviewing some of these titles for me. We gathered a small stack of books that I haven’t read, made a list of interested students, and started passing them out. I created a sign-up list on my board. We decided on a process.

My third block honors freshmen have asked for new titles every couple of weeks so they have more time to read the book of their choice and then pass it on to the next person on the list. My first block honors freshmen said they want new books as often as possible (this class tends to read at a faster pace). Once one student is finished with the book, he/she passes it on to the next student on the list. After he/she finishes the book, a review is written and given to me, but we also sit and discuss the likes/dislikes. So far there have been more enthusiastic likes than dislikes! This process gives my students some ownership in the classroom, helps me build deeper relationships with them when we discuss the books, helps the students form relationships with one another as they discuss their common read, and also helps me gain some insight on the books before I read them myself!

Right now I’m thinking about arranging some kind of display in my classroom with these titles and recommendations, but I’m still not sure what it should look like. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them!

These are the titles my freshmen have been sharing so far:

  • This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston (Goodreads)
  • The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Goodreads)
  • Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill (Goodreads)
  • The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius (Goodreads)

So Many Books and Only $25 to Spend

My parents gave me a $25 Amazon gift card for Christmas this year and it’s already burning a hole in my pocket. That doesn’t buy too many books (I plan on spending a little of my own money as well), so narrowing down my list of books I want to buy is really difficult! I need you to weigh in and help me make my decision.

I’m trying to avoid buying doubles of books I already own, even though there are a number of those I need for my classroom. Right now I want to bring in more new and exciting books for my kids to read (and for me to read too!). I posted about this on Facebook and received so many fabulous recommendations! Part of me is wondering which books will receive Printz nods next month as well, but I know I can wait a little while and buy those once they’re actually announced.

My freshmen and seniors this year have similar reading preferences; they love mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, and realistic fiction. I want to get a mix that suits all of those needs, but it’s made even more difficult when there are so many good ones in each genre!

Here are some of the titles I’m seriously considering. I’m including the summary in case any of these are new to you (many of them are new to me), so you can help me decide!

The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier (Goodreads):

Keri has been struggling to run her family bakery since her mother passed away.  Now the father she barely knew—the Lord of Nimmira—has died, and ancient magic has decreed that she will take his place as the new Lady. The position has never been so dangerous: the mists that hide Nimmira from its vicious, land-hungry neighbors have failed, and Keri’s people are visible to strangers for the first time since the mists were put in place generations ago.

At the same time, three half-brothers with their own eyes on the crown make life within the House just as dangerous as the world outside. But Keri has three people to guide her: her mysterious Timekeeper, clever Bookkeeper, and steadfast Doorkeeper. Together they must find a way to repair the boundary before her neighbors realize just how vulnerable Nimmira is.

Wrecked by Maria Padian (Goodreads):

Everyone on campus has a different version of what happened that night.

Haley saw Jenny return from the party, shell-shocked.

Richard heard Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with.

When Jenny accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard are pushed to opposite sides of the school’s investigation. Now conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible—especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.

 

 

 

When the Moon Was Ours by Anne-Marie McLemore (Goodreads):

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

 

 

This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston (Goodreads):

Five went in. Four came out.

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

Dark Energy by Robison Wells (Goodreads):

WE ARE NOT ALONE

Five days ago, a massive UFO crashed in the Midwest, killing thousands of people. Since then, nothing–or no one–has come out.

THEY HAVE ARRIVED

If it were up to Alice, she’d be watching all of this on the news from Miami, Florida. Instead, she’s the newest student at a boarding school not far from the crash site–because her dad is the director of special projects for NASA, and if anything’s a special project, it’s this.

AND THERE’S NO GOING BACK

A shell-shocked country is waiting, glued to televisions and computer screens, for a sign of what the future holds. But when the aliens emerge, they’re nothing like what Alice expected. And only one thing is clear: Nothing will ever be the same again.

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz (Goodreads):

Live by the code. Die by the code?

Kamran Smith has it all. He’s the star of the football team, dates the most popular girl, and can’t wait to enlist in the army like his big brother, Darius. Although Kamran’s mother is from Iran, Kamran has always felt 100% American. Accepted.

And then everything implodes.

Darius is accused of being a terrorist. Kamran refuses to believe it. But Darius has been filmed making threats against his country, hinting at an upcoming deadly attack. Suddenly, everyone in Kamran’s life turns against him and his family.

Kamran knows it’s up to him to clear his brother’s name. In a race against time, Kamran must piece together a series of clues and codes that will lead him to Darius—and the truth.

But is it a truth Kamran is ready to face? And is he putting his own life at risk?

Acclaimed author Alan Gratz (Prisoner B-3087) takes readers on a heart-pounding, nonstop adventure through underground intelligence bunkers and dangerous terrorist cells, weaving a gripping tale about the War on Terror—and the bond between brothers.

LuLaRoe, a Baby, and Teaching, Oh my!

Since I sadly haven’t posted since October, I need to take a moment to update all of you.

My life feels like it’s been turned upside down since October 7th when I got my call to officially become a LuLaRoe consultant. It’s been exciting and fun meeting new people and helping women find clothes that make them feel confident and comfortable, but it’s also been overwhelming since I also found out that I’m pregnant exactly a week after getting that call! Experiencing 24/7 exhaustion and nausea while taking on a second job, teaching full-time, and being a mom to Jack has been quite the experience to say the least! But I’m beyond thankful for both.

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Another exciting update is that I’m going to have my first student teacher when we return from Christmas break! Her name is Mary and I know she’s going to be great. Because of block scheduling and the fact that I have two honors classes, she’ll be splitting her time between my classroom and my best friend, Lindsay’s, classroom. She’s going to take some of my senior classes and some of Lindsay’s freshman classes. She’ll also get to work with my honors freshmen on occasion and Lindsay’s senior IB students. I think it will be a good experience for her. And since she’s double majoring in special education with an endorsement in Autism, she’ll get to work with some of our special ed teachers during planning periods and such. It might sound like a crazy schedule, but Lindsay and I have it all worked out for her so it’s seamless. Regardless, I’m really excited to guide her over the next few months so she can enter the world of YA and see how wonderful being an English teacher can be.

Anyway, even though I haven’t been blogging, I have been reading still. I’m working on a couple posts to update all of you in that department as well.

The Rule, Not the Exception

My mind is racing today with too many thoughts to narrow down. I’m thinking about presidential debates, the summer essays I need to grade, unit calendars I need to finalize, books I want to read and write about, when I’m going to get our grocery shopping done, etc. Yep, racing.

But for some reason I can’t get my mind off the fact that so many of my students year after year don’t like reading and/or don’t consider themselves “readers.” I can’t get my mind off the fact that my classroom library is an oddity to them. I can’t stop thinking about the fact that many high school English teachers don’t offer regular independent sustained silent reading time (I say independent because I’m referring to student choice in the reading). I keep thinking about high school English classrooms WITHOUT classroom libraries. Schools without teachers willing to develop classroom libraries.

I know books are expensive and that we spend so much out of our pockets already, but isn’t literacy and creating life-long readers worth the money spent on books? If we value education and preach the importance of reading, shouldn’t we be making time in class to read? And if we’re making time for our students to read, shouldn’t we be modeling the behavior we wish to see by reading ourselves? I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I was looking forward to a new school year was because I knew I’d have time to read during the day! I’ve heard stories of administrators not understanding classroom time being used for independent reading. What can be done to help these administrators understand and see the importance of time dedicated to reading? If you’ve ever wondered what students think of classroom libraries, I wrote a post about this back in January.

With literacy advocates like Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle, Pernille Ripp and so many others, why are we still missing the mark? When I started teaching, I was fortunate to have a stellar college professor who advocated for classroom libraries, read alouds, SSR time, etc. I didn’t know about Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle, but when I discovered both of them, it reaffirmed what I was already doing as a teacher and what I knew was right. I know that literacy leaders across the country provide professional development throughout the year, but I’m beginning to wonder if those leaders are preaching to the choir and not reaching the teachers who don’t make time for independent reading or creating classroom libraries. If that’s the case, how do we reach teachers who aren’t doing this? How do we invite these teachers into our classrooms and start making positive changes? How do we make this an inviting experience and not one that puts others on the defensive?

I’m in my tenth year of teaching and I’ve long worried about making waves and coming across as “preachy.” I certainly don’t want to offend anyone. But it’s high time we start having some conversations about developing readers and creating reading communities in our middle school and high school classrooms. These conversations need to extend beyond the teachers who are already putting these practices into motion. It would be excellent and empowering if more teachers could learn from each other on a regular basis. If you’ve created a classroom library and advocate for SSR time in your classroom, you should be leading other teachers in your department and in your district. Attending a workshop or conference is a great place to start, but the conversation needs to continue once we’re back in our classrooms. My classroom and classrooms like mine should be the rule, not the exception. Students should walk into English classrooms EXPECTING to see classroom libraries and EXPECTING time to read during class. It shouldn’t be shocking to see classroom walls lined with books.

If you’ve found a way to reach more people about this matter, I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve been wanting to move forward with a classroom library and/or SSR time, I’d love to hear from you as well. Let’s start a conversation and see what positive changes we can make together!

Book Trailer Thursday (188)–Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Book Trailer Thursday

Back in March I discovered that Kendare Blake has a new book releasing this month, so I featured it in a Waiting on Wednesday post. Now discovering that a book trailer was made has me over the moon excited to read it! Just like last week’s Book Trailer Thursday feature, I think Three Dark Crowns is going to make an excellent fall read.

Three Dark CrownsSummary (From Goodreads):

Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen. 

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

Audiobook Review: Run by Kody Keplinger

Audio Review

RunTitle: Run

Author: Kody Keplinger

Narrators: Em Eldridge, Elizabeth Evans

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: June 28th, 2016

Source: Audio purchased via Audible

Interest: Author / Contemp

Summary (From Goodreads):

Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and — worst of all — confronting some ugly secrets.

Audio Review:

I decided to listen to Run because I love Kody Keplinger’s books and also because I was listening to another audiobook, but it was getting a little too “adult” let’s say to be listening to with Jack in the car. Sure, there’s some foul language in Run, but that doesn’t bother me too much. I can tell Jack they’re using a bad word, but how do I explain sexual stuff to a two year old? Not that he understands it, but I’m sure you get where I’m going with this.

Anyway. I don’t think I’ve listened to Em Eldridge narrate any other books, but I have listened to Elizabeth Evans narrate a couple books and I enjoyed it. Also, the audio for Run is just over seven hours long which is always a plus. I enjoyed the dual narration and even the southern accents each narrator used.

Book Review:

The only book written by Kody Keplinger that I have not read yet is The Swift Boys Me. With that said, I feel the need to begin this review by saying that Run is so very different from her other books I’ve read. There’s a love angle in the others (which I enjoy) yet this story focuses more on friendship (which I also enjoy). This book felt like a milestone for Kody Keplinger; I felt like I was reading a book that shows how much she has grown as an author.

Also, the two perspectives really worked for me. I’ve found that I often prefer one character over another when I listen to a dual narrative, but I enjoyed Agnes and Bo equally. I also like that Bo’s point of view is set in the present and Agnes’s story starts when she and Bo first meet and become friends. The stories come together and often added layers to each other’s point of view, if that makes sense.

I love that through Agnes, readers can understand a character who is legally blind. Agnes has been treated differently her entire life and once she becomes friends with Bo she begins to recognize this. Bo doesn’t treat her any differently than a person who can see clearly. I loved reading this part of Agnes’s life because she shows so much growth through this part of the story. Her parents are at times annoyingly overprotective which causes a lot of conflict for Agnes. So we get to learn who Agnes is as a person, her thoughts about being blind and how others treat her, and how she can overcome those obstacles. All while still reading about her friendship with Bo and their story together.

Kody Keplinger also includes poverty in Run. Without intending to, I have read at least three or more books this summer with characters in poverty. I’m thankful that it worked out this way because even though poverty wasn’t the focus of the story, it’s still an important element. And it’s an element that I don’t see enough in young adult literature even though so many students face poverty. Bo lives in a trailer, her mother is addicted to meth, and her entire family has a reputation for being drug addicts, trash, etc. Through both Bo and Agnes we see just how much Bo goes against the family grain.

I really can’t say enough positive things about Run. I’m buying a physical copy immediately because I want it available for my beginning of the school year book pass. I can’t wait to get this book in my students’ hands!

 

Book Trailer Thursday (187)–How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Book Trailer Thursday

The school year is about to begin and even though I don’t want to see summer go, I feel myself gearing up for all things fall. And after watching the book trailer for How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, I’m ready for some chilly weather, cozy on the couch, fall reading.

27405351Summary (From Goodreads):

It’s the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Author Guest Post: Character Playlist from A Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

MirrorintheSky-blogtour

Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana has been such a fun book to read this summer; I can’t wait to share it with my students this fall! This debut released on June 21st and would make a great addition to your classroom library.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I often hear songs and think about books that they should play in if such a thing could happen. The fact that Aditi Khorana created a playlist that Tara’s mom, Jennifer, would love is awesome.

9781595148568Summary (From Goodreads):

An  evocative debut, perfect for fans of Tommy Wallach’s  We All Looked Up, about the discovery of a mirror planet to Earth and how it dramatically changes the course of one Indian-American girl’s junior year.

“Beautifully written, surprising and poignant.”
—Lynn Weingarten, New York Times bestselling author of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

The world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, and Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–or for Tara–will ever be the same again.

MIRROR IN THE SKY Character Playlist – Jennifer

From Aditi: Jennifer is the ultimate child of the 80s. Thinking about that era that makes her feel safe and happy; it was a time when her parents were still alive. It also represents a time when she lost her parents and spent the remaining years of her youth studying to become a ballerina as she moved from one relative’s home to another

 Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
Aditi Khorana [AK]: This song makes Jennifer think of her parents.

Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go’s
[AK]: Jennifer thought Belida Carlisle had the best sense of style when she was younger

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
[AK]: Catchiest song on the planet.

Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
[AK]: Michael Jackson’s dance moves were inspirational to Jennifer, then an aspiring dancer.

Take On Me – a-ha
[AK]: This was Jennifer’s favorite music video when she was a kid.

Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
[AK]: Who doesn’t love this song?

Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode
[AK]: Jennifer’s first concert was a Depeche Mode concert.

All Through the Night – Cyndi Lauper
[AK]: Another Cyndi Lauper song that reminds Jennifer of dancing with her mother.

We Got the Beat – The Go-Go’s
[AK]: Because the Go-Go’s were the coolest lady band of the 80s.

Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes
[AK]: Because Jennifer has Bette Davis eyes.

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
[AK]: Jennifer listened to this song (from the Rocky soundtrack) when she trained to dance.

 Africa – Toto
[AK]: Yes, the ultimate one-hit-wonder, but a Jennifer favorite.

What A Feeling – Irene Cara
[AK]: Because Flashdance is Jennifer’s favorite movie.

Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
[AK]: Jennifer hopes wherever her parents are, they remember her

Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac
[AK]: Both Tara and Jennifer are obsessed with Fleetwood Mac.

Kyrie – Mr. Mister
[AK]: Nobody understands the lyrics to this song because they’re literally Greek. Apparently, the entire song is a prayer—just like Jennifer’s prayer to reunite with her parents.

AditiKhorana-credit RebeccaFishmanABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aditi Khorana spent part of her childhood in India, Denmark and New England. She has a BA in International Relations from Brown University and an MA in Global Media and Communications from the Annenberg School for Communication. She has worked as a journalist at ABC News, CNN, and PBS, and most recently as a marketing executive consulting for various Hollywood studios including FOX, Paramount and SONY. MIRROR IN THE SKY is her first novel. She lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time reading, hiking, and exploring LA’s eclectic and wonderful architecture.

School Year Reading Reflection

I know many book bloggers reflect on their reading life at the end of the calendar year, which I do as well, but as a teacher I like to also reflect on my school year reading. It helps me plan my summer reading so I can work on filling in any gaps I may have had over the school year. I don’t like to plan my summer reading too much, however, because it’s my time to truly dig into my reading pile and relax. Plus, I don’t know what my new group of students will need in terms of reading, but it’s still good for me to always be mindful about my reading choices.

During the 2015-2016 school year I read 56 books which is an increase from last year. I’m sure most of that has to do with Jack being older and I made a concerted effort to listen to more audiobooks this school year. For this post, I’m going to break down my reading life by different categories and some books will be listed more than once depending on the category. It’s important to remember that one book can appeal to a variety of readers for different reasons.

School Year Reading

Historical Fiction/Historical Novels (10 novels read): This school year I tried genre binges which I can tell REALLY helped me diversify my reading since I tend to read mostly contemporary realistic fiction. Through this process I discovered a real interest in reading historical novels.

  • Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
  • A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
  • Jackaby by William Ritter
  • Girl at War by Sara Novic
  • Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowry
  • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
  • American Ace by Marilyn Nelson
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Tomboy by Liz Prince

Fantasy (Roughly 8 novels read): Another binge reading genre for me was fantasy novels mostly because of my fantasy panel at ALAN this past year. I always enjoy reading fantasy, but I’ve noticed that a fantasy novel isn’t always the first one I grab from my TBR pile when choosing a book. I really need to work on that because I sometimes feel like I’m always recommending the same fantasy novels to my students.

  • Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  • The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
  • Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (I reread this as a read aloud/paranormal fantasy)
  • Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (one of my classes wanted me to read the sequel as a read aloud)
  • Jackaby by William Ritter (this has paranormal elements)
  • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (I go back and forth about whether to qualify this as fantasy)
  • Arrows by Melissa Gorzelancyzk (maybe paranormal because of the whole Cupid thing)

Mystery/Thriller (8 novels read): My students this year, maybe more than previous years, love and often requested more mystery titles. This category is tough for me to break down because so many books can be viewed as mystery depending on the plot and the reader.

  • The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Jackaby by William Ritter
  • A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
  • The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
  • The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
  • Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
  • Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West
  • Perry’s Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber

Science Fiction (3 novels read): I simply don’t read enough of this genre. I would love some current (2015-2016) sci-fi recommendations!

  • Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin
  • Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Racially Diverse Characters (10 novels read): I’m really trying to expand my knowledge of books with racially diverse characters because even though the district where I teach is not racially diverse, I don’t want a “white-washed” classroom library. And I know my students don’t want that either; they want broader perspectives than their own. This is still an area of improvement, however.

  • Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt (this also works as a loose Romeo & Juliet retelling)
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
  • The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
  • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
  • Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blockmon Lowry
  • American Ace by Marilyn Nelson
  • Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle
  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (features racially diverse characters in some of the short stories)

LGBTQ Characters (5 novels read): I’ve been working on this area of my reading life for years now. Within the last few years I can tell that it’s making a difference because more and more of my students are openly requesting more of these titles and sharing them once they’ve read them. Also, for the purpose of this post I’m only listing books that feature an LGBTQ main character.

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (features multiple LGBTQ short stories)

More Than One Point of View (13 novels read): My students love books written with more than one point of view.

  • Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
  • The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (occasionally see the serial killer’s POV)
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  • Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
  • Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
  • Arrows by Melissa Gorzelancyzk
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord
  • Unrivaled by Alyson Noel
  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Graphic Novels/Illustrated Novels (3 novels read): I really enjoy reading graphic novels, but I know I don’t read enough of them during the school year.

  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blockmon Lowry
  • Tomboy by Liz Prince

Romance (22 novels read): Not all of these are strictly romance, but many of them feature romantic storylines.

  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (this one isn’t as romantic as her others, but there’s still an element there)
  • Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (I like that this one applies more as dealing with mental illness)
  • Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
  • Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
  • This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
  • Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger
  • Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
  • Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
  • Arrows by Melissa Gorzelancyzk
  • Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West
  • Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry
  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord
  • Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
  • Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

Some other areas of reading/genres/categories I want to read more of are memoirs, books dealing with mental illness, books featuring characters with disabilities, and more books dealing with sexual violence/rape culture. I read a couple books this school year with characters in poverty and I’d like to read more like those. I also noticed that I only read one novel in verse this school year, which is really unusual for me.

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