Monday, July 20, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7.20.2020

This weekly post comes from Jen at Teach Mentor Texts
 and Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers.  
It's a great source to find new books to use with your students.

I'm at that point in the summer when I think about all there is left to do and the limited amount of days to get it all done.  Plus we've had weekend celebrations for the 4th of July and my daughter's 15th birthday!  And by celebrations, I mean not going anywhere but slowing down and enjoying family time instead of getting things done.  Which took up blogging time, but that's ok, family time is important too!
And then this past week the anxiety of what next year is going to look like set in.  Because we still don't really know.  It's a lot to think about and the unknown is hard for many of us.
I will continue blogging between now and September, but may take days off here and there just to maintain mental health.  It's going to be an interesting rest of the year.

Last Week's Adventures

Some picture book biographies, including one about problem solving that is a must have!

Graphic novels for newly independent readers, whoo hoo!

Chapter books for readers that take them outside!

A science ladder of chapter books.

Picture Books
Most of the picture books featured today were put on hold before quarantine started.  Curbside pickup has just started and it was so nice to have some new library books to read!  Here are the ones that stood out to me!

Your Name Is a Song
You Name is a Song
written by Jamilah Thompkins Bigelow
illustrated by Luisa Uribe
If you are on social media, you've probably already heard some buzz about this book and I'm telling you it's all accurate!  Such a beautiful story about the way a mother and daughter take on a piece of identity.  The young girl, whose name we don't know at the beginning, is telling her mother about an event that happened at school that is weighing heavy on her heart.  Her classmates and teacher had trouble pronouncing her name and didn't say nice things about it.  It was especially hard seeing the teacher be so rude and not willing to take the time and learn the girl's name.  However, on a walk home, her mother celebrates her name and others by putting them to song and singing them joyously.  When the girl goes to school the next day, she shows her classmates and teacher how to sing her name, and once the others felt the joy of singing a name, they asked her to sing the other names too.
This is a beautiful book about identity and while this book can be shared at any time, it will be especially important at the beginning of the year to talk about identity.  
I particularly loved seeing how this important conversation took place on a walk.  During this pandemic, my daughter and I have gone on many walks.  For the first two months, they were daily!  We had many conversations on those walks - some important, some just to talk, and some funny.  It's one of the few things I'll cherish about this time!

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy
written by Tony Medina
illustrated by 13 artists
A book filled with poetry celebrating the lives of Black boys that is illustrated by 13 different Black authors.  Yes, it needs to be on your shelves.  All kids need to hear this book.

Don't Feed the Coos!
Don't Feed the Coos!
written by Jonathan Stutzman
illustrated by Heather Fox
This is going to be a hit with young readers... it has pigeon poop.  Guaranteed giggles.

Brown Baby Lullaby
Brown Baby Lullaby
written by Tameka Fryer Brown
illustrated by AG Ford
A beautiful book celebrating the love two parents have for their beautiful child.  Put this one on your baby gifts list.

Under the Lilacs
Under the Lilacs
E.B. Goodale
When you were a child, did you ever write a note saying you were running away?  And maybe you did leave the house, even if you stayed in your own yard.  That's what our young main character does, but she gets crafty by finding materials to build her own house.  And even finds room in her heart to welcome her family.

A Space for Me
A Space for Me
by Cathryn Falwell
So many young readers will relate to this story - I know I did!  A young boy has to share his room with his little brother, who is a little messier, a little louder, and hasn't learned how to manage his own space yet!  Tape goes down on the floor, but even that doesn't solve his problem.  He just wants a space for himself.

by Henry Cole
Whether you read this book at springtime, or during a bird unit, or just because, it's a book that will captivate young readers' attention and maybe have them learn something too!  Beautifully illustrated with minute detail using pens and acrylic paints, Cole brings to life the life cycle of a bird with fascinating detail!

Middle Grade

The Aurora County All-Stars
The Aurora County All-Stars
by Deborah Wiles
Out of the four books, this one is my favorite.  I loved the tenacity of House and how he balances being a good son, brother, and friend, even when things are tricky.

A Long Line of Cakes
a long line of cakes
by Deborah Wiles
This book takes just about all of the characters from Aurora County (minus Comfort, and I miss her!) and brings them together to meet the Cake family.  (the story literally takes place immediately following the events in The Aurora County All-Stars)  This family are itinerant bakers and are never around for very long, which is hard for Emma, who feels like she is always having to make a new friend.  This time she vows not to find a best friend because they are so hard to leave, but that's before she meets Ruby Lavender.  
This book feels so much like A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.  An itinerant family, someone who doesn't want to leave, and a mystery to be solved.  You don't have to have read the other 3 books in the series, but it's certainly fun catching up with old friends!

A Wish in the Dark
A Wish in the Dark
by Christina Soontornvat
This is one of the best written middle grade novels I've read.  If this doesn't get a medal next January? February? (not even sure when the awards are in 2021!) I will be mad!
I've heard all positive praise for this book but it's one of those that you need to experience for yourself.
Loosely based on Les Miserables, and as a big fan of the musical, I loved seeing the similar threads.  This is a book you will want to read with students, because the conversations will be so amazing.  You'll talk about darkness and light.  Right and wrong.  Freedom and rules.  You'll talk about who decides your destiny and the power of words.
It's an amazing book.

Lupe Wong Won't Dance
Lupe Wong Won't Dance
by Donna Barba Higuera
A book that is a must-have for middle school libraries.  Kids will love meeting Lupe, who feels strongly about her Chinacan/Mexinese background.  She's on her way to being a full-blown activist as she's already championed causes like having more racial background options on those check boxes.  Her next crusade, getting rid of square dancing!  She does her research but it proves to be a tough fight going against tradition.  But she feels so passionately about it, can she get what she wants without hurting anyone's feelings?  Of course not, it's middle school!

The Brave
The Brave
by James Bird
Wow, what a beautiful story.  Collin always counts every letter in all of the words someone says directly to him in a conversation.  You can be sure that it doesn't win him many friends.  After one fight at one school too many, his father ships him off to his mother.  Collin has never met his mother who does not live in California like him, but in Minnesota on an Ojibwe reservation.  Although all of his defenses are up when he arrives, they all slowly disappear as he feels the love of his mother and those around him.  The biggest change in Collin's life is meeting his next-door-neighbor, Orenda.  She is different just like Collin feels he is different.  However instead of an affinity for counting words, Orenda truly believes she is turning into a butterfly.  The friendship and eventually love that Collin and Orenda feel for each other is beautiful and heartbreaking.
This book should be in all middle school libraries because I have a feeling it's one kids will want to talk about.

Young Adult

Clap When You Land
Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo
I will read everything she publishes.  The command she has of the written word is awe-inspiring.  
This book gutted me.  It's hard to read about death and this one hit my heart.  
Another novel in verse for Acevedo and the way the book's narrator goes back and forth, it seemed to fit so perfectly in verse.
Don't miss this one.

Currently Reading

I have a few going in my pile!

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Dan Unmasked by Chris Negron
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Hope you found some new books here.
Hope you are safe and well.
Hope to see you all next week.
And if you're feeling anxious about this upcoming year, know you are not alone!


  1. A Wish in the Dark is in my to-read stack. I might have to move it up. I loved The Vanishing Half. The author's previous book, The Mothers, was also really great, too.

  2. The Aurora County All-Stars was my favourite in this series too. It hurt to say goodbye to all these characters after reading a long line of cakes. I just picked up Anthem by Deborah Wiles so at least I will be reading her words again.
    Thanks for the heads up about A Wish in the Dark. I now have a reserve on it.
    I too will read anything Elizabeth Acevedo writes.

  3. Interesting books! Clap When You Land looks particularly interesting!
    Check out my IMWAYR:

  4. These books sound great! Your Name Is A Song, Lupe Wong Won't Dance, A Wish in the Dark, and The Brave all sound excellent! Thinking about the rest of the year is definitely stressful, so it's good that you're planning to skip blogging occasionally to keep yourself feeling good. Thanks for the great post!