Monday, August 3, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 8.03.2020

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.

Last Week's Adventures

Chapter books that are mysteries here

Chapter books with dogs and cats here

A roundup of books with characters that have a disability here.  

This new middle grade book is a must have, must read.  I loved the way the author brought together friendship, sports, and comics.  Read about Dan Unmasked here.

Picture Books

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
written by Aya Khalil
illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan
A beautiful story about a young girl who has moved to a new town and struggles to fit in with her Egyptian American heritage.  A teacher that helps bridge home and school, and classmates who learn something new, this book will be a welcome addition to talk about immigration, heritage, family traditions.

Heart on Pluto
Heart on Pluto
written by Karl Jones
illustrated by Andrew J. Ross
An early reading story about Pluto and the New Horizons explorer.  New Horizons was sent to explore Pluto and its planets.  This story is told in the voice of New Horizons and gives some quick information to readers about its trip.  
Perfect for preK-2nd gr readers.

Luci Soars
Luci Soars
by Lulu Delacre
This book keeps growing on me.  It's a metaphor about a child who is different and lets that difference define her... at first.  
Young Luci does not have a shadow.  At the beginning, she didn't know, nor did others.  But eventually she figures it out.  She develops coping mechanisms so others do not notice.  When she's finally brave enough to let others see her difference, they make fun of her.  She asks herself some big questions and allows her to see new, positive things about herself.
Big ideas, which will work well with older readers because picture books are for everyone!

The Ocean Calls
The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story
written by Tina Cho
illustrated by Jess X. Snow
A story that celebrates the haenyeo tradition from South Korea.  The haenyeos are women in South Korea who dive for treasures that are sold in marketplaces.  The money is divided up amongst the women based upon their skill level and productivity.  This information come from the fascinating backmatter included in the book.
The story is about young Danyeon, who wants to become a haenyeo like her Grandmother.  She goes out to the sea with her Grandmother, but has some anxieties about going into the water.  Her Grandmother is a gentle teacher and Danyeon has some small successes in the story.

Every Little Letter
Every Little Letter
written by Deborah Underwood
illustrated by Joy Hwang Ruiz
The letters all live behind their walls and don't mix with anyone else.  The little (lower case letters) are bored and start to explore.  They figure out by mixing with other letters, they make words that make life way more interesting!  Of course the adult (upper case) letters are against this change and it's up to the kids to show change can be good.

Things That Go Away
Things That Go Away
by Beatrice Alemagna
This book should win an award for its use of vellum paper :)
Listing many things that go away - dust (although it always comes back), tears, a small wound, but one thing that always stays.  You have to infer a bit here, but with the hug you see a parent give their child, you can assume it's love.
You may want to put it in your SEL collection to talk about when it feels like the bad things won't go away, or when things feel heavy.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness
by Anastasia Higginbotham
A really important book to read to children and discuss it as you go through it.  These conversations may change the future and allow the younger generation understand how to dismantle racist policies and white supremacy. 

I'm Not a Girl: A Transgender Story
I'm Not a Girl
written by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi
illustrated by Dana Simpson
Co-authored by a young transgender boy, this #ownvoices picture book features Hannah, a character who doesn't understand why people don't see who he is - a boy.
There are so many emotions readers can see as we read Hannah's story:
  • frustration when his parents insist on picking out clothes that don't feel right
  • sadness when Hannah explains he understands that girls are special and cool, but he just isn't a girl
  • freedom when other kids assume Hannah is a boy and plays with him
  • relief when his parents understand and love him for who he is
Fantastic resources in the backmatter.  A must-add to your LGBTQIA collections.

Middle Grade

My Life in the Fish Tank
My Life in the Fish Tank
by Barbara Dee
It's written by Barbara Dee, which means you are getting a realistic fiction, middle grade story about a topic that probably carries a stigma (usually with adults), and probably needs to be talked about more.
This one focuses around mental health.  Zinny's older brother, Gabriel, who is away at college, has been admitted to the hospital because of a car accident.  As horrible as a car accident is, there is more to this event.  It's the beginning of his bipolar diagnosis and the beginning of her family trying to cope with this diagnosis.  Everyone deals with it in a different way, which leaves Zinny feeling confused and upset.
Dee handles the topic very well, creating situations that will feel realistic to readers.  Hand this one to readers of Kate Messner's The Seventh Wish.
Publishes September 15th.  Review copy from Edelweiss.

The Canyon's Edge
The Canyon's Edge
by Dusti Bowling
This book is so uniquely written - parts in verse, parts in prose - that in itself makes it so entertaining to read.  
A survival story that keeps you gripped.  I'm glad much of it is in verse because I needed to read it quickly to find out what happens!  And I read an e-galley so I couldn't just flip to the end to see what happens :)
Great middle school read, especially one that will keep readers reading until the very last word!
Publishes Sept. 8th.  Review copy from Edelweiss.

Adult Novel

The Vanishing Half
The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett
This book really is as good as everyone is saying.  Earlier this year I read Genesis Begins Again and it was the first time I read a book about colorism in the Black community - the varying skin degrees in the black community.  This book is also about that, but it's about a set of twins, who are so light, that one "passes over" and identifies as a white person.  The twins lead separate lives until decades later, their lives intertwine in a way neither had expected.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin Diangelo
Third time is the charm - that's how many times I checked the book out and then finally got around to reading it.  And it wasn't until the third time that I actually owned the book.  Important because it is now full of post it notes that I know I'll be going back and reading over and over.
I appreciate this book because it points out and makes known faults that I can own up to in my own racism.  And it's not something you can say, "oh I get it now" because they are things you have to actively work on over and over again.  
There are some great lists that help you stop and check your privileges and help you think critically about behaviors.  I will refer to these lists time and time again because they really need to be internalized.  I have a long way to go before I fully understand situations, my behavior and part in them, and ways to address it all.
I've read this book but I need to react to this book.  Looking forward to some future conversations with others who have read this.
I also am aware that this book was written by a white author.  While I think she brought a white perspective to this book that is helpful when reaching a white audience, I also understand that when talking about this subject, I need to be listening to authors of color.  I have several books I am reading next that are written by Black authors that I am looking forward to learning more from.
Karen Yingling also brought this article to my attention.  I appreciate that it gives another view of this book and I think it's important we listen to this perspective as well.  

Currently Reading

In Your Shoes by Donna Gephart
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Happy August (how did it get to be August??) Reading!


  1. Oh my, what a wonderful list of books, Michele, which I happily bookmarked. I love reading about the new one by Barbara Dee & by Dusti Bowling, all of them. Things That Go Away & Not My Idea are ones I hope I can find at the library! Thanks much!

  2. I'm looking forward to Canyon's Edge. It sounds great. The Vanishing Half is so good. I hope people will also check out her backlist title, The Mothers, which is great, too.

  3. As a quilter myself, I'm really excited to read 'The Arabic Quilt'! Thanks for sharing this great list of books with us. :0}

  4. These books sound great! Every Little Letter sounds like a fun way to teach kids about diversity, and I'm Not a Girl sounds wonderful as well—I've heard many stories about kids knowing they are transgender from a very young age, so it's great that this book exists for such young kids to read and see themselves in! I also appreciate your thoughts about White Fragility. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Lots of good picture books! I've gone on a bit of a requesting spree so I hope they have reinforced bags at my next curbside pick up.

  6. So many great picture books that are new to me. I wanted to read both of the MG books you shared for a while but haven't managed to get either yet. Thanks for the awesome shares.