I am an elementary school media specialist (librarian) and a new mom. My daughters (born 12/27/2010 and 6/27/2013) are teaching me all kinds of new things every day. One thing they have taught me is that sometimes, there just isn't room for much else besides learning. If you're not sleeping, eating, talking, blogging, or whatever, it might just be because you're TOO BUSY LEARNING!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Reading for the Child at Heart

Today in Greensboro, it is hot hot hot. The perfect day to sit inside in the air conditioning with some lemonade and a good book. Here are a few of my top recommendations for your summer reading pleasure. These are all children's and young adult books selected from my school library specifically for my mom (but you'll like them too). Mom and I are pictured on the right. We both loved children's literature even before I was a media specialist.
  • Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan - This is one of my favorite authors, especially in the arena of multicultural children's literature. Ryan usually writes characters with roots in Mexico, and Naomi is one of the more brilliant of these. I love Naomi's transformation throughout the book, and I love that Ryan doesn't shy away from writing about complicated circumstances. Naomi's family and extended family are some of the strangest group of characters you might think to put together in a story, but the whole thing works.
  • Blue by Joyce Moyer Hostetter - This is especially for the North Carolinian readers. Blue is a piece of historical fiction written about the polio epidemic in Hickory, North Carolina, in the 1940s. Great use of imagery and symbolism in this book, and it's on a level that most fourth graders could grasp. And it made me cry.
  • Clementine by Sara Pennypacker - Here is a modern-day Ramona the Pest. Clementine is lovable and mischievous, and the book is hilarious. I especially recommend this one to folks who may be affected by some level of hyperactivity, as Clementine certainly is.
  • Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson - This is a recent Newbery Honor Book, and I read it because it had won the award. I gave it to Mom because my mental picture of Hattie's Montana is probably due as much to childhood road trips to the Midwest as to the author's fine descriptions. Montana, although it is the setting of the book, really could be considered a character as well.
  • Hidden on the Mountain by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland Desaix - I hate to read Holocaust Literature (too horrible), but I loved this book. It's a nonfiction account of a community in occupied France (Le Chambon) whose inhabitants hid Jewish children during the Holocaust. The authors did extensive research for the book, and all of the accounts are based upon interviews with real people who were hidden in Le Chambon. It's pretty thick, but I read it in about two days because I could hardly put it down.
  • The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron - The Newbery Award winner that caused a huge stink the year it was awarded. Why? Because the word "scrotum" appears in the book, and on the first page too! But seriously, once you grow up and read the book, it does belong in the library, thank you very much. Like Hattie Big Sky, the setting here is strange and wonderful and integral to the plot and character formation. And like Becoming Naomi Leon, Lucky is blessed with a highly peculiar family situation.
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - Here's the Caldecott Award winner for this year, which was a but of an upset because it's not a picture book, per se. Selznick has pioneered a new kind of "novel in words and pictures," as he calls it. After every section of text, Selznick tells part of the story with a series of pictures. Consequently, the book is physically huge, but that just makes elementary school children love it all the more. Mom has already read this one and commented, "it was good. I'm going to try to get Dad to read it, too. It would make a good movie (I'm sure the author hopes someone in Hollywood thinks so, too)." Actually, one of the reasons Selznick chose to write/illustrate his book the way he did was because he was thinking of it as a movie, and the "cinematic novel" format, as some have called it, fits the book's theme perfectly. My fondest hope is that it will not be made into a movie, but that's just because I want kids to read it.
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan - This is the first book in a series called Percy Jackson and the Olympians which has been quite popular with upper elementary and middle grades readers. After reading it, I can see why. Even the snippet I read to my children at school this year had them on the edges of their seats. When I stopped reading, they protested, which was music to my ears of course.
  • The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes - I try to read the Coretta Scott King books each year, and that's why I picked up this one. Nikki Grimes is better known as a poet than as a novelist, but her style carried over well I thought. This is a short and poignant read about a girl named Paris who struggles to figure her life out in the midst of a horrible family situation and subsequent foster care. At my school, we have a large population of foster children, and when I shared this book with classes, the foster children in the room showed a great deal of interest in reading a book about someone like themselves. The best part about the book is that although some of the situations are dismal at best, the overall tone is hopeful, and I loved the ending.
  • Rules by Cynthia Lord - You should click the link just to look at the cover, which is the best book cover I think I may ever have seen. Kids want to read this book before I even tell them about it because the cover pulls them in. And the book doesn't disappoint. It's a compelling story about a girl who has a brother with autism and a lot of questions about how her life should look.
How about you? Any summer reading recommendations? Does anything in the list look intriguing to you for this summer? Or perhaps you've already read one (or several)? Leave comments, and happy reading!

1 comment:

Kimberly/lectitans said...

I'm having a bad blogger day. I tried to post a comment 3 times and various things made me fail.

In short:
I love the Lightning Thief, I've been wanting to read many of the books on your list for a long time, and I highly recommend Kerry Madden's Maggie Valley trilogy: http://lectitans.livejournal.com/37721.html