Saturday, June 29, 2013

Unleashing Readers Blog Hop

I am so excited to be taking part in this blog hop today to support the launch of Unleashing Readers, a blog by Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsberg.   Go check it out! It is going to be a wonderful resource for teachers.  On their blog, Kellee and Ricki will be sharing reviews of books and letting us know how they envision using the book.  This is a wonderful idea and I cannot wait to see all the great reviews they will do.

Part of the work on their blog will be to recommend books for different parts of the reading workshop.  They have defined four categories on their blog: read alouds, literature circle/book club books, close read/analysis books, and classroom library books.  To find out more about the different classifications go to this post on Unleashing Readers.

I was asked to share my favorite book in each of the categories listed here.  However, it is impossible for me to narrow my selections down to one choice so I have a few picks in each category.

Favorite read aloud title:

Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen is a short book that I like to use toward the beginning of the school year.  It is quite graphic but it lends itself to deep discussions about the way slaves were treated and the value of education.  I have read this one with multiple middle school classes and they have all been riveted by the story.  I like that it is nice and short also so we can get through it quickly.  

Wonder by RJ Palacio is a new favorite.  It is one that helps students learn about empathy and to think about the way they treat other people.  I like the way this book is written from different points of view throughout the book and it gives me a chance to talk about perspectives and voice.  

Favorite Close Read/Analysis book:

The Giver by Lois Lowry is an amazing book.  There are so many literary elements that could be discussed with this one.  There are also many themes and moral issues that can be discussed.  

In reading American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, we talk about stereotypes and culture.  I combine the reading with a unit about graphic novels and we learn about the elements that comic makers use to write their books.  This book brings in Chinese folk tale elements as well and it is a chance to talk about traditional literature in different cultures.  

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is a book that has many elements which are ripe for discussion.  There are many spots throughout this novel that students can stop to notice changes taking place.  It is also a good book for comparing to the movie.

Favorite Literature Circle/Book Club book:

Tangerine is full of discussion points.  Students can relate to the main character and his moral dilemmas.

Tuck Everlasting brings up many interesting discussions. The idea of immortality is intriguing to many people.  The question of whether you would drink from that spring of water if you knew it gave you immortality is one that sparks a lot of debate.  However, it is better for literature groups because I have come across students who could not read this one for religious reasons.  

All books by Pamela Munoz Ryan are amazing books for discussion, but this one was particularly powerful.  There are a few instances in which the inferences a reader makes are crucial.  It was a great book for teaching this comprehension strategy to support a small group that was struggling with this concept.  

Cole is such a dynamic character and students really get into the story.  This is a great book for discussion because the character is so full of rage and students can really picture this kid.  It also is a great book for talking about how the character changes.

Favorite Book for the Classroom Library:

Inkheart is a favorite of mine.  I love the way that there is a love of books woven through this amazing story.  Every student should read this one, but it is long and intimidating for some.  

A Monster Calls is a wonderful book.  The story is heartbreaking and beautiful.  The artwork in this book is amazing as well.  

Students absolutely love this one.  I shared many of the dystopian series with my students this year, but this one was the favorite.  I think the length of the book makes it seem more manageable to my students.  This is one that all middle school classroom libraries should include.

Favorite Book Overall:

I have such a hard time with this question every time I am asked.  I don't have one favorite book, I have multiple favorites!  I will narrow down the list to three books...just know that this kills me because there are so many others.  

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  Really I love all of Austen's work. 

I was so impressed with the style of this book as well as with the story.  This is truly a literary  masterpiece and I absolutely love the book.  

Anne of Green Gables is a book that I devoured over and over again as a child/teen.  I shared the book with my grandmother and we also watched the PBS movies together multiple times.

What are your favorites?  Please share in the comments below.  


  1. Andrea,
    You have such great taste. I have read most of the books you listed and found myself nodding my head a lot. I had forgotten about Nightjohn. I read it when I was in school, and this post brought me back!

    Thanks for joining the blog hop. It was really neat to see your choices. :)

  2. Great picks! I loved Tangerine, and it doesn't seem to get a lot of attention. I agree that it would make a great small group book. Book Thief is a beautiful book. I read A Monster Calls in the spring and thought it was stunning. I just finished Prodigy on audio - loved them both! Tuck Everlasting is one of my all-time favorite children's books!

  3. I love, love, love A Monster Calls. There area. Few on your list that I haven't read, but I will put them on m list. Thanks!

  4. I originally had Tangerine on my list, as well, but changed my mind for some reason. I'm so glad to see someone else mention this title. It's been several years since I've read it, but it's still one of my favorites.

  5. Andrea,

    Love all of the different books you mentioned - I haven't used any in the context you mentioned (except Wonder) and am definitley going to have to play around with them. I appreciate the suggestions!

    Thank you for being part of the blog hop :)

  6. These are great choices, Andrea! I so love A Monster Calls. Unfortunately my copy was never returned. I wanted to read Wonder to my sophomores this year but all of my copies were checked out and stayed check out until the end of the year :) It will be a read aloud book this coming school year, that's for sure.

    -Sarah @ YA Love