Tuesday, February 22, 2022

A Reading Trend - graphic novels!

It's been an interesting year for reading at my school.  I've been watching what the 3rd and 4th graders read and it has been a big shift from years past.  Graphic novels have always been a hit, but this year, it's almost exclusively what they want.  And just in case you think book talking and book passing by the kids isn't happening, I can tell you it's alive and well!  Towards the beginning of the year it was the HiLo series.  I couldn't keep track of who had what book.  All I know is between my library and the school library, our HiLos were gone!  Next it was Amulet.  I hadn't seen a resurgence of that series for about seven years.  It's not that they hadn't been read in that time, I just haven't had the same amount of holds on those books since then.  Now Bird and Squirrel is taking off.  Other fantasy series that have also been popular this year are 5 Worlds and Plants vs. Zombies.  Over on the realistic fiction side, my Babysitter Club and Babysitters Little Sisters books are always gone.  The Click series is super popular.  New Kid and Class Act are always gone.  And lots of the non-series titles are getting love too - Roller Girl, Twins, Measuring Up, and Pawcasso.
I also have been noticing the trend in publishing of graphic novels for the younger crowd too.  Lots of new graphic novels for readers have been published.  Perfect for readers who are working on stamina and need a shorter read.  Many of these books have more decodable words which means younger readers can start with graphic novels at a younger age!
So whenever I see a new graphic novel, I  am much more likely to purchase it right now.  Keeping readers reading!

Here are some newer titles you may want for the readers in your life!  Let's start off with some fantastic sequels.  If any of these series are new to you, make sure you find all of them, they are crowd favorites!

Hilo Book 8: Gina and the Big Secret
HiLo: Gina and the Big Secret
by Judd Winick
This is my absolute favorite graphic novel series.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  The stories have so much heart, so much humor, so much fun, such good stories!
While it's hard to follow up my favorite (HiLo: Gina the Girl Who Broke the World) this one does a great job.  Gina has recently discovered she has magic, HiLo is a real boy (or is he??) and together, the crew needs to right the Earth back to normal.  Easy task for them, right?  I love the twists and turns and surprises that happen along the way.
The hold list is already very long for this one!  Make sure you have extra copies!

Katie the Catsitter by Colleen A.F. Venable
Katie the Catsitter: Best Friends for Never
written by Colleen AF Venable
drawn by Stephanie Yue
This is the second book in the series and I'm so happy to hear the creators are already working on more.  Katie is such a fun character for middle grade readers because she is relatable and she gets to help a superhero!  In this second book, Katie's best friend is back from summer camp and the usual growing pains of being apart for a summer, having made new friends, and trying to fall back into your regular friendship occurs.  I like that the old friendship doesn't completely dissolve and we still see Katie grow as a character.  
I already have a hold list for this one too!

Baloney and Friends by Greg Pizzoli
Baloney and Friends: Dream Big!
 by Greg Pizzoli
This early reader graphic novel chapter book is the third in the series, and like its two predecessors, I was cracking up as I read it.  Featuring four friends with very different personalities and voices, you can read just one chapter from the book and capture readers' attention!

Besties by Kayla Miller
Besties Work It Out
written by Kayla Miller and Jeffrey Canino
illustrated by Kristina Luu
Technically, not a sequel, but it's set in the world of the "Click" graphic novels (with Olive - Click, Camp, Act, and Clash).  This time we have BFFs Beth and Chanda who are both trying so hard to save up money for something special.  When they are set up with the perfect job by Beth's older sister, surely nothing can go wrong?  Beth and Chanda are about to get a perfect lesson in responsibility that neither were expecting.
This one will be a huge hit with readers who are already fans of the "Click" series.  We'll get book 2 of the "Besties" series this fall.

Bedtime Jitters by Norm Feuti
Beak & Ally: Bedtime Jitters
by Norm Feuti
I really enjoyed the first book in this series.  Beak (a bird) and Ally (an alligator) seem to be a weird match as far as friendships go, but in reality, alligators and birds have a symbiotic relationship.  
In the second book, Beak is having trouble sleeping due to all the nighttime noises in the swamp.  It's up to Ally to give Beak a little help.  But it's when the two work together do they really feel the power of friendship!
The first book in the series just won a Geisel Honor Award, whoo hoo!

Now let's check out some new(er) stand-alone graphic novels!

Otto by Jon Agee
Otto: A Palindrama
by Jon Agee
A graphic novel that is made up entirely of palindromes.  At times, definitely silly and nonsensical, but many of them move the story along!  
Otto is at home with his parents and dog, when he seems to fall into a scene that is inside his bowl of wontons.  Otto moves from place to place in search of his dog.  Along the way he meets many people who have things to say, forwards and backwards, of course!

The Odds #1 by Matt Stanton
The Odds
by Matt Stanton
Here comes a new series that will be a must have to own.  
Quiet and shy Kip has just woken up to a variety of creatures in her room.  Some have come from the comics her dad draws, others from her imagination, or own drawings.  Some are from books or video games.  No one is quite sure what their purpose is, but when Kip and her dad lock them up in the basement, they get loose and run.  While Kip's dad is fine with them gone, Kip has taken a fancy to them and wants to find them.  Can Kip find them and can they help her out with a problem of her own?
It's a quick read and the story ends in a satisfying way that gets you excited for future stories.

Housecat Trouble: (A Graphic Novel)
Housecat Trouble
by Mason Dickerson
This is a new series but I did not get this one.  Buster the cat's owner has just gone away for a day and he's found their house full of weird, purple, blobby monsters.  Good thing a spirit-sniffing cat has come by to help!  With two new cat friends, Buster is able to conquer his scaredy-cat feelings and take back the house.

Paws: Gabby Gets It Together
PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together
by Nathan Fairbairn
Illustrated/Colored by Michele Assarasakorn
No doubt this will be a series that is loved by readers.  A realistic fiction series that is billed as being a "Babysitters Club" for dogs, fans of the BSC will flock to this one too.  A group of friends from a multi-age classroom bond over their love of animals, especially since none of them can have a pet due to one reason or another.  To help them be around animals without actually owning one, they come up with the idea of being dog walkers.  Of course, nothing goes as planned and arguments happen.  This is the first in the series.  I'm sure it will be popular.
A big problem with the illustrating is the Asian character has half moon eyes when laughing and just black dots for eyes when showing extreme emotion.  This stereotype needs to end.  Now.
Publishes March 8th.

Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy
Huda F Are You?
by Huda Fahmy
A book about identity and fitting in.  A memoir graphic novel from Fahmy, growing up as a Muslim.  In this memoir, Huda and her family have just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a place that has a large Muslim community and Huda and her sisters won't be the only women in hijabi.  But even then she doesn't fit in because Huda still can't find, not only her group, but she needs to also figure out who she is... how does she identify?  This young adult GN is perfect for upper middle grade readers and high school readers.  Huda's humor will resonate with readers and the questions she asks herself are also some of the same questions many of us ask ourselves.

Batpig by Rob Harrell
When Pigs Fly
by Rob Harrell
First appearing in his middle grade book Wink, Batpig now has his own graphic novel.  It will be welcomed by fans of DogMan as it has goofy humor and lots of puns to make readers laugh out loud.  
Gary the Pig was just an ordinary pig with regular friend-type problems, when his friend Brooklyn the Bat accidentally bit him on the nose, which of course gave him super powers!  Gary wrestles with how to handle these powers, and until he figures out exactly how to use them, he keeps them a secret from everyone but Brook.  Which is fine until his other BFF, Carl the Fish, finds out he's been keeping a secret from him!  Can Batpig save the day and his friendships?
Definitely a series you'll want to have multiple copies of!  Looking forward to the next book, coming this June!

Hope you found a new graphic novel or two for your readers.  I know mine are gobbling these new ones up!

Monday, February 14, 2022

#KidsLoveNonfiction Campaign 2.14.22

Today is Valentine's Day and I'm celebrating children's love of reading nonfiction.  As readers of my blog know, this genre of books has a special place in my heart because I've seen young readers get excited to read nonfiction - to satiate their curiosity about the world around them or to learn more about a passion.  Whether nonfiction is their favorite genre or it's because a specific topic fascinates them, readers are always drawn to nonfiction books.  Despite having specific awards dedicated to finding excellent titles of nonfiction literature for young readers, this particular genre still is not recognized by bestseller lists.  Sibert Honor Award winning author, Melissa Stewart, asked me to share this open letter with blog readers.  Please take a look and if you believe in this cause, please follow the link to sign your name to the petition.

Announcing the #KidsLoveNonfiction Campaign

This morning, Mary Ann Cappiello, Professor of Language and Literacy at Lesley University, and Xenia Hadjioannou, Associate Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the Harrisburg campus of Penn State University, sent the letter below to The New York Times requesting that the paper add three children's nonfiction bestseller lists to parallel the existing picture book, middle grade, and young adult lists, which focus on fiction.

This change will align the children's lists with the adult bestseller lists, which separate nonfiction and fiction. It will also acknowledge the incredible vibrancy of children's nonfiction available today and support the substantial body of research showing that many children prefer nonfiction and still others enjoy fiction and nonfiction equally.

If you support this request, please follow the signature collection form link to add your name and affiliation to the more than 200 educators and librarians who have already endorsed the effort. Your information will be added to the letter but your email address will remain private.


Nonfiction books for young people are in a golden age of creativity, information-sharing, and reader-appeal. But the genre suffers from an image problem and an awareness problem. The New York Times can play a role in changing that by adding a set of Nonfiction Best Seller lists for young people: one for picture books, one for middle grade literature, and one for young adult literature.  

Today’s nonfiction authors and illustrators are depicting marginalized and minority communities throughout history and in our current moment. They are sharing scientific phenomena and cutting-edge discoveries. They are bearing witness to how art forms shift and transform, and illuminating historical documents and artifacts long ignored. Some of these book creators are themselves scientists or historians, journalists or jurists, athletes or artists, models of active learning and agency for young people passionate about specific topics and subject areas. Today’s nonfiction continues to push boundaries in form and function. These innovative titles engage, inform, and inspire readers from birth to high school.  

Babies delight in board books that offer them photographs of other babies’ faces. Toddlers and preschoolers fascinated by the world around them pore over books about insects, animals, and the seasons. Children, tweens, and teens are hungry for titles about real people that look like them and share their religion, cultural background, or geographical location, and they devour books about people living different lives at different times and in different places. Info-loving kids are captivated by fact books and field guides that fuel their passions. Young tinkerers, inventors, and creators seek out how-to books that guide them in making meals, building models, knitting garments, and more. Numerous studies have described such readers and their passionate interest in nonfiction (Jobe & Dayton-Sakari, 2002; Moss and Hendershot, 2002; Mohr, 2006). Young people are naturally curious about their world. When they are allowed to follow their passions and explore what interests them, it bolsters their overall wellbeing. And the more young people read, the more they grow as readers, writers, and critical thinkers (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2021; Van Bergen et al., 2021).

Research provides clear evidence that many children prefer nonfiction for their independent reading, and many more select it to pursue information about their particular interests (Doiron, 2003; Repaskey et al., 2017; Robertson & Reese, 2017; Kotaman & Tekin, 2017). Creative and engaging nonfiction titles can also enhance and support science, social studies, and language arts curricula. And yet, all too often, children, parents, and teachers do not know about recently published nonfiction books. Bookstores generally have only a few shelves devoted to the genre. And classroom and school library book collections remain dominated by fiction. If families, caregivers, and educators were aware of the high-quality nonfiction that is published for children every year, the reading lives of children and their educational experiences could be significantly enriched.

How can The New York Times help resolve the gap between readers’ yearning for engaging nonfiction, on the one hand, and their lack of knowledge of its existence, on the other? By maintaining separate fiction and nonfiction best seller lists for young readers just as the Book Review does for adults.

The New York Times Best Sellers lists constitute a vital cultural touchstone, capturing the interests of readers and trends in the publishing world. Since their debut in October of 1931, these lists have evolved to reflect changing trends in publishing and to better inform the public about readers’ habits. We value the addition of the multi-format Children’s Best Seller list in July 2000 and subsequent lists organized by format in October 2004. Though the primary purpose of these lists is to inform, they undeniably play an important role in shaping what publishers publish and what children read.

Adding children’s nonfiction best-seller lists would:

  • Help family members, caregivers, and educators identify worthy nonfiction titles.

  • Provide a resource for bibliophiles—including book-loving children—of materials that satisfy their curiosity.

  • Influence publishers’ decision-making.

  • Inform the public about innovative ways to convey information and ideas through words and images.

  • Inspire schools and public libraries to showcase nonfiction, broadening its appeal and deepening respect for truth.

We, the undersigned, strongly believe that by adding a set of nonfiction best-seller lists for young people, The New York Times can help ensure that more children, tweens, and teens have access to books they love. Thank you for considering our request.

Dr. Mary Ann Cappiello 

Professor, Language and Literacy

Graduate School of Education, Lesley University

Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Former Chair, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Committee 


Dr. Xenia Hadjioannou

Associate Professor, Language and Literacy Education

Penn State University, Harrisburg Campus

Harrisburg, PA

Vice President of the Children’s Literature Assembly (CLA) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). 



Allington, R. L., & McGill-Franzen, A. M. (2021). Reading volume and reading achievement: A review of recent research. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(S1), S231–S238. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.404

Correia, M. (2011). Fiction vs. informational texts: Which will your kindergarteners choose? Young Children, 66(6), 100-104.

Doiron, R. (2003). Boy Books, Girl Books: Should We Re-organize our School Library Collections? Teacher Librarian, 14-16.

Kotaman H. & Tekin A.K. (2017). Informational and fictional books: young children's book preferences and teachers' perspectives. Early Child Development and Care, 187(3-4), 600-614, DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2016.1236092

Jobe, R., & Dayton-Sakari, M. (2002). Infokids: How to use nonfiction to turn reluctant readers into enthusiastic learners. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Pembroke.

Mohr, K. A. J. (2006). Children’s choices for recreational reading: A three-part investigation of selection preferences, rationales, and processes. Journal of Literacy Research, 38(1), 81–104. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15548430jlr3801_4

Moss, B. &  Hendershot, J. (2002). Exploring sixth graders' selection of nonfiction trade books: when students are given the opportunity to select nonfiction books, motivation for reading improves. The Reading Teacher, vol. 56 (1), 6+.

Repaskey, L., Schumm, J. & Johnson, J. (2017). First and fourth grade boys’ and girls’ preferences for and perceptions about narrative and expository text. Reading Psychology, 38, 808-847.

Robertson, Sarah-Jane L. & Reese, Elaine. (Mar 2017). The very hungry caterpillar turned into a butterfly: Children's and parents' enjoyment of different book genres. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 17(1), 3-25.

Van Bergen, E., Vasalampi, K., & Torppa, M. (2021). How are practice and performance related? Development of reading from age 5 to 15. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(3), 415–434. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.309

If you support the request to add three children's nonfiction bestseller lists to parallel the existing lists, which focus on fiction, please add your name and affiliation to the signature collection form

Monday, February 7, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.07.22

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.

As I mentioned in my first IMWAYR post of 2022, I was making no commitments to a weekly post!  It looks like right now I'll be closer to a monthly roundup!  I wanted to put a couple of posts together in January, but my Sundays (usual blogging days), got eaten up by other things.  And in the spirit of blogging not being something that stresses me, the posts just didn't get done.  And since I'm doing a roundup with lots of books, I'll try to be quick and simple with my details!

Picture Books

I Eat Poop.: A Dung Beetle Story
I Eat Poop: A Dung Beetle Story
by Mark Pett
It has poop in the title.  That sells it right there.  Positive message about identity.  Is it the best example?  No, but it comes through clear, and again, it has poop.  *adult, shrugs shoulders*

The Year We Learned to Fly
The Year We Learned to Fly
written by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael López
From the duo that brought us The Day You Begin brings us another beautiful story (although in my opinion Day is better).  Don't miss the author's note because it brings in a part of history that makes this book even better.

Love You by Heart
Love You By Heart 
by Peter Reynolds
This is better as a gift book (in time for Valentine's Day) than one you would choose for a class read aloud.

Friends Are Friends, Forever
Friends Are Friends, Forever
written by Dane Liu
illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
One of my favorite picture books I read in January.  Moving away to a new country, leaving loved ones behind, and starting over is hard.  

by Matthew Forsythe
I love how this book constantly makes the reader make predictions and change them based on what happens.

Change Starts With Us
Change Starts With Us
by Sophie Beer
Perfect for April's Earth Day, or any day!  Easy ideas for youngsters to try.

What Can You Do with a Rock?
What Can You Do With a Rock
written by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Katie Kath
Loved how this one was organized!  Perfect to talk about discoveries, perspective, and of course, rock collecting.

The Problem with Pajamas
The Problem with Pajamas
by Lauren Stohler
It's hilarious and you get to say "inconceivable"!  Funny but heartwarming story.

That Egg Is Mine!: A Silly Story About Manners for Kids
That Egg is Mine
by Liz Goulet Dubois
A must have if you have Elephant and Piggie readers.

Nonfiction Picture Books

I Am an American: The Wong Kim Ark Story
I Am An American: The Wong Kim Ark Story
written by Martha Brockenbrough and Grace Kim
illustrated by Julia Kuo
Must have when discussing immigration.

We Are One: How the World Adds Up
We Are One: How the World Adds Up
written by Susan Hood
illustrated by Linda Yan
It will make you think about the parts of "one" in a whole new way!

Lights Day and Night: The Science of How Light Works
Lights Day and Night
written by Susan Hughes
illustrated by Ellen Rooney
YES!  We need more nonfiction like this - books that support science curriculum standards.  It is hard to always find read alouds (that don't sound like their textbook counterparts) to go along with these topics.

Middle Grade

Across the Desert
Across the Desert
by Dusti Bowling
I love the desert setting, the sense of adventure and urgency throughout the story, and how quick the book takes place.  It makes it even harder to put down!

Cuba in My Pocket
Cuba in My Pocket
by Adrianna Cuevas
I binge read this one and really enjoyed it.  I liked that it was written from the perspective of a boy leaving Cuba and trying to fit into America.

The Ice House
The Ice House 
by Monica Sherwood
A book about the pandemic, but not about the pandemic.  There is a Freeze and the entire planet is frozen and full of snow.  Yet kids are still dealing with other very real problems.

Adult Novel

The Maid
The Maid
by Nita Prose
Loved this book. Quick read.  Molly the Maid (a quirky character, for sure) looks very suspicious in the murder of a wealthy hotel guest.   But it's the people who come to Molly's aid that help you realize what a great character she is.

Currently Reading

Forbidden City (City Spies, #3)
City Spies: Forbidden City
by James Ponti
If you haven't read this series yet, change that NOW!  I will often read a couple of books in a series so I have a feel of it, but then I usually just put new books out as I get them.  Not this one.  I'll read all of them!

Loads of other books in my piles.  I've been making some headway with them.  Looking forward to more reading in February!