Code Name Verity- Elizabeth Wein

I really enjoy historical fiction.  Not only do I get to read a great story but I get to learn in the process.  I also love books with strong female protagonists.  This book truly delivered on both counts.  Told from the viewpoints of two different girls during WWII this book has action, intrigue, female bonding and so much more.

Some of the things I loved about this book:

TONS of literary and historical allusions.  This book is for smart people!

A new take on WWII.  I’ve read lots of books focusing on the plight of the Jewish population- which of course is very important, but this takes a different angle.

Young women in positions of importance.  This is definitely a book that proves can be/do anything.  Even pilot planes during war time!

I truly think this would be a great book to use in the classroom.  Check out this novel guide on Teachers Pay Teachers that helps students with the vocabulary, allusions, and general comprehension.

The Lowdown: (via Scholastic)

Interest Level: Grade 10

Reading Level: Grade 6  (While this may be technically true, the dual narrator, and the allusions, along with some of the content make this book appropriate for high school.

Awards: 

Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Young Adult Novel

Golden Kite Honor

There is somewhat of a sequel available too which I have yet to read.

Reading Complexity for Young Adults

There are a ton of great books out there that require young adults to think just a little bit harder.  One of the ways authors accomplish this is by having different point of views, jumping around with the timeline of the story, or using multiple genres to tell a story.

Work

Here’s a round up of my favorite books for teens that don’t follow a typical plot outline.  Help the young adult readers in your life stretch their mental chops.

1.  The First Part Last- Angela Johnson

2.  Code Name Verity- Elizabeth Wein

3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson- David Levithan & John Green

4. Tears of A Tiger- Sharon Draper

5. In Darkness- Nick Lake

Do you have any to add to my list?

The Fault in Our Stars- John Green

Mini Review:

I read this book several months ago and- like everything I’ve read by John Green, I loved it.  LOVED.  I of course bawled my eyes out and all that jazz.  But let me take a minute to explain what I liked about it… I liked, that once again, John Green is making smart kids cool.  That the sexual experiences in the book are well thought out and purposeful and not at all gratuitous.  I like the flow of the dialogue.  And, I really liked, that it got students reading.

I have yet to see the movie but I will soon.  Anyways, I give this book a big thumbs up and think it’s definitely a book both tens and adults can enjoy and learn from.

I think this book is most appropriate for high school students.  I do think it could be used as a whole class read but I would probably just keep it on my bookshelf and recommend it to students.

Keep Reading!

Divergent- Veronica Roth

Review:  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super excited about this book.  It was one, like Twilight that I knew many teens were reading and had been made into a movie.  I also had seen it on lists saying “If you liked The Hunger Games then you might like…”  When I found it cheap at Marshall’s I figured I’d pick it up.  Well, consider me a convert.  I LOVED IT.  I guess I really can’t get enough of the dystopian YA genre! I found the concept different, loved the Chicago references, and enjoyed the variety of characters.

If I used this in the classroom I’d probably use it in a 9th grade class and as a quick- not overly in depth novel study.  I think there’s a lot to the book, but there are other books that I think make better class reads.  I’ve seen middle school students reading it, and that’s probably fine, but there are some sexual undertones that may or may not be appropriate depending on their maturity.  That said, I really really admire the way Roth handles intimacy between Tris and Four.

Have you seen the movie?  I haven’t made it out there quite yet!

The Lowdown: (from Scholastic.com)

Interest Level: 8

Grade Level: 9 (What?! A YA book whose grade level is higher than the interest level!  Praise be!)

Let’s Talk About Books: Book Talks in the Classroom

Getting our students or children to read is often challenging in this multi-media world.  Yet, I’ve found, that even my reluctant readers are interested in a good story.  The thing is- they’re lazy.  Not all of them, but many of them, and the idea of having to sift through books to find one that interests them doesn’t sound like fun.  Or, they don’t find what they want in the first 3-5 books and they give up.  Many of us have AWESOME classroom or school libraries.  We’ve taken time to collect books, buy books, and organize our books only to have our shelves sit there unused.  This is a waste!  Books are not for decoration, they are to be read!

YA

If you’re like me you have a hard time passing up a good deal on a book or a new book so your library is ever growing.  What I like to do when I get new books that I am adding to my shelves is do a brief Book Talk about them.  I often use this as filler right at the end of class.  I show the students the book and give a brief (no spoilers) synopsis.  I tell them, much like I do on this blog, who I think will be most interested by the book.  I relate it to other books or movies I think they may have read/seen and enjoyed.  I let kids thumb through it.  I answer questions.  I am EXTREMELY excited and animated when I discuss the books.  I GUSH about how much I loved it and why.  And almost always the books are immediately checked out.

I also do something similar when a student asks me for a recommendation or when the class finishes a book that they overall enjoyed.  I suggest several other options for their next read.  I find out what they like and are interested in and make suggestions off of that.  I don’t worry about reading level too much because I’ve found that if they really are interested they will find a way.  I also suggest audio books for some of my lower level readers.

Your excitement can and will rub off on your students.  Use it to your advantage.  Get our children reading so they can become lifelong learners.

What about you?  Do you do book talks?  How do you let students know about new books on your shelves?  Or ones that just aren’t getting the attention they deserve?  What works for you and your students/children?  Let me know in the comments.

A Love Letter for the Rest of Us

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  In honor of today I’m bringing you a very special Guest Blog Post from Kate Scott the author of the recently released Counting to D.  Check out my review HERE after enjoying her insights!

A Love Letter for the Rest of Us

By Kate Scott

The first year we were married, my husband gave me the best Valentine’s gift ever: a bouquet of flours. He bought mini bags of all different kinds of flour (whole wheat, cornmeal, cake, barley, etc.) and arranged them in a very artistic display. Since I’m dyslexic, he figured I wouldn’t know the difference between flours and flowers, and the flours had the added bonus of being tasty later.

Yeah, I know. My husband is adorable. And I also know, sometimes, a bouquet of flours is actually better than a bouquet of flowers. Even if I can’t spell either one.

This year, I decided to give a Valentine’s gift of my own. Not just to my husband, but to all the people in the world who can’t distinguish a flour from a flower. That gift is my book, Counting to D, a young adult novel that has a sweet “floury” romance.

The main character, Sam, is dyslexic. She’s a brilliant young woman who can barely read. Her life is a mess, but it’s still her life. She experiences all the thoughts, fears, and emotions that teenagers face—including love.

The relationship between Sam and Nate was so much fun for me to write because they are the type of people I always want to be around. If I were a student at Kennedy High School, I’d want to be best friends with Sam and Nate, which is funny because they’re both outsiders. But even if neither of them knows exactly where they fit in, they still fit together.

Counting to D is not a cheesy romance about perfect, beautiful people finding their “happy ever after.” It’s a book about real teens with real issues, who depend on each other and are stronger as a result. That’s what love is. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

So if you can’t tell the difference between a flour and a flower, Counting to D is my love letter to you. If you love to read, but tend to struggle with talking to real live people, Counting to D is for you, too. Counting to D is for all the real teens, and former teens, who fail to conform to stereotypes and aren’t quite sure where they belong as a result.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

While Counting to D is not available at Hallmark, you can buy it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

How Fast do You Read?

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

Take this neat test on Staples and find out!  I was 3% faster than the average person.  I think I’m faster on paper than on the computer though- anyone else?

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