Ms. Pretz’s Top Picks – 2014

We’re nearly half way through 2014 and I have several favorite reads.  If you are looking for some great reads, check out one of these books.

Curiosity

In 1835, when his father is put in a Philadelphia debtor’s prison, twelve-year-old chess prodigy Rufus Goodspeed is relieved to be recruited to secretly operate a chess-playing automaton named The Turk, but soon questions the fate of his predecessors and his own safety.

upside down in the middle of nowhere

At the end of August 2005, ten-year-old Armani is looking forward to her birthday party in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where she and her extended family live, but Hurricane Katrina is on the way, bringing destruction and tragedy in its wake.

hope is a ferris wheel

After moving from Oregon to a trailer park in California, ten-year-old Star participates in a poetry club, where she learns some important lessons about herself and her own hopes and dreams for the future.

lantern sam

In 1937, ten-year-old Henry Shipley must rely on a talking cat named Lantern Sam and a kindly conductor named Clarence to help solve the kidnapping of a young heiress aboard the Lake Erie Shoreliner passenger train.

boys of blur

When his stepfather moves them to Taper, Florida, in the Everglades, twelve-year-old Charlie discovers a secret world hidden within the sugar cane fields, as well as new family connections and friendships.

mark of the dragonfly

Since her father’s death in a factory in the Dragonfly territories, thirteen-year-old Piper has eked out a living as a scrapper in Merrow Kingdom, but the arrival of a mysterious girl sends her on a dangerous journey to distant lands.

nightingale's nest

In this twist on “The Nightingale,” Little John, despite his own poverty and grief, reaches out to Gayle, an unhappy foster child living next-door who sings beautifully and hides a great secret.

the riverman

Fiona Loomis claims she is visiting a parallel universe where a nefarious being called The Riverman is stealing the souls of children and the boy she asks to write her biography because she fears her soul may be next.

a snicker of magic

The Pickles are new to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, a town which legend says was once magic–but Felicity is convinced the magic is still there, and with the help of her new friend Jonah the Beedle she hopes to bring the magic back.

seven stories up

In 1987, while her mother sits in a Baltimore hotel at the deathbed of a grandmother twelve-year-old Annie never knew, Annie travels back fifty years and shares adventures with the lonely girl who will grow up to be her feisty grandmother.

under the egg

Her grandfather’s dying words lead thirteen-year-old Theodora Tenpenny to a valuable, hidden painting she fears may be stolen, but it is her search for answers in her Greenwich Village neighborhood that brings a real treasure.

half a chance

Lucy, with her mother and her photographer father, has just moved to a small rural community in New Hampshire, and with her new friend Nate she plans to spend the summer taking photos for a contest, but pictures sometimes reveal more than people are willing to see.

ophelia and the marvelous boy

Ophelia, a timid eleven-year-old girl grieving her mother, suspends her disbelief in things non-scientific when a boy locked in the museum where her father is working asks her to help him complete an age-old mission.

the ghosts of tupelo landing

When Miss Lana accidentally buys a haunted inn at the Tupelo Landing town auction, Desperado Detectives–aka Mo LoBeau and her best friend Dale–open up a paranormal division to solve the ghost’s identity before the town’s big 250th anniversary bash.

bird chan

Twelve-year-old Jewel was born on the day her brother Bird died and lives in a house of silence and secrets, but a new boy in her Iowa town may help find the answers Jewel wants despite her Jamaican grandfather’s warning that he is a “duppy,” a malevolent spirit.

the night gardener

Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.

west of the moon

In nineteenth-century Norway, fourteen-year-old Astri, whose aunt has sold her to a mean goatherder, dreams of joining her father in America.

the spy catchers of maple hill

Hazel Kaplansky and new student Samuel Butler investigate rumors that a Russian spy has infiltrated their small Vermont town, amidst the fervor of Cold War era McCarthyism, but more is revealed than they could ever have imagined.

Reading Matters

“Kids who don’t have educationally rich summers will be nearly three years behind their peers by the time they reach the end of the fifth grade… Much like we would expect an athlete or a musician’s performance to suffer if they didn’t practice regularly, the same thing is true for young people when it comes to reading performance.”
— Ron Fairchild, Founding CEO, National Summer Learning Association

Reaading Results

Start With A Book: Read-Talk-Explore All Year Long

summer readingIs your child fascinated by dinosaurs, planes, bugs, birds, animals, the moon and stars, art, thunder and lightning? Do you have a young detective, explorer, or superhero at home? Does your child love reading poetry, myths, or tall tales with you? Start with a book … and see where your child’s imagination goes!

American Library Association

The lists are full of book titles to keep children engaged in reading throughout the summer.  Three Summer Reading book lists are available for K-2nd, 3rd– 5th and 6th-8th grade students.

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 Edition 

These lists are compiled by the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College in New York City.

Books 4 Boys

Here you’ll find awesome boy-approved* book suggestions, FREE downloads, and plenty of fun stuff to keep the boys you know reading and—most of all—having fun.

Children’s Choice Awards

A listing of this year’s Children’s Choice Awards Books can be found on this blog post.

Guys Read

Guys Read is a web-based literacy program for boys founded by author and First National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka. The mission of Guys Read is to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.  This site contains great lists and every month features a “Book of the Month”.

HAISLN Recommended Reading Lists 2014

This list of titles has been compiled by librarians at member schools of the Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network (HAISLN).  It includes both fiction and nonfiction books by some of the best authors for children.

Horn Book Summer Reading Recommendations

Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Horn Book has hand-picked some of the top ten in each age range, all published 2013–2014, that are ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

I Hated Reading Until I Read This Booklist for Boys

Ask a boy who hates to read what he does like to do, and you’ll get a surprising array of answers.  Everything from playing sports to building models, to dinosaurs and animals to cars, machines, and movies – the funny ones, the sci-fi ones, and the scarier the better. So let that be your guide.  Find books that plug into his hobbies and interests – books he’ll want to tell his friends about – and he’ll be hooked.

Interesting Nonfiction for Kids

Discover books that show how nonfiction writers are some of the best storytellers around. Learn how these writers practice their craft: research techniques, fact gathering and detective work. Check out how they find unusual tidbits, make the facts interesting and write something kids will love to read. Explore how photos and illustrations are integrated with the text to explain an artist’s vision of the world. Consider what subjects are flooding the market and what still needs a voice. Rethink nonfiction for kids.

Read Kiddo Read

This site was created by author James Patterson and inspired by his experience as a parent trying to ensure that his son didn’t just like to read, but loved to read.  His lists contain newly printed books and modern “classics”.

Reading Rockets Themed Books and Activities for Summer Reading

This site contains lists for 24 different learning themes.

Teacher’s Choices 2014

Each year since 1989, the International Reading Association’s Teachers’ Choices project has identified outstanding trade books, published for children and adolescents, that teachers find exceptional for curriculum use. Parents, also, will find here books good for reading aloud and for help answering questions prompted by tours to a farm, aquarium, or museum or by other shared family activities such as television viewing.

 

Tips for Parents

  • Share your enjoyment of books with your child.
  • Talk over your reading.
  • Continue to read aloud to your child even after he or she reads independently.
  • Encourage your child to choose a book to read aloud to someone else.
  • Broaden your child’s horizons by helping to select from a wide range of subjects.
  • Encourage your child to read whatever he or she enjoys even if it appears to you to be too easy or too hard.
  • Let your child see your enjoyment of your own reading.

Happy National Poetry Month — Bead a Rook!

April is National Poetry Month

Runny Rabbit

 All poetry books can be found in the 811’s in the nonfiction section of the library.

Why read poetry?

Poetry makes excellent read aloud material for families.  It is also an excellent genre to help with reading fluency, as well as volume and stamina.

Recommended Poetry Books

Jack Prelutsky
The New Kid on the Block
Something BIG Has Been Here
A Pizza the Size of the Sun
The Dragons Are Singing Tonight
The Baby Uggs Are Hatching

Shel Silverstein (also wrote bawdy adult material)
A Light in the Attic
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Falling Up

Judith Viorst (mostly writes fiction/nonfiction for children and adults)
If I Were In Charge of the World and Other Worries

Kali Dakos (Author), G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)poetry)
If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand: Poems About School

If you’re looking for some digital sites that have poetry, I recommend the following:

Children’s Poetry Archive

Listen to and read poems by theme or form.

Poetry Aloud

Poetry is not meant to be something you read quietly to yourself, it is something to share and to hear out loud. Here, if you have RealAudio, you can hear the author of the book Old Elm Speaks read several seasonal poems from her book. In one poem it is spring and Old Elm’s leaf buds are just popping, in others his helicopter seeds are twirling, and in others still his leaves are free or many colored.

Shel Silverstein

Animated poems and audio with  Shel Silverstein’s reading some of his most famous poems.

Poetry Writing With Jack Prelutsky, Karla Kuskin, and Jean Marzollo

Judith Viorst – The Academy of American Poets

Poetry for Kids

Helping Children Find and Enjoy the Poetic Side of Life

PoetryTeachers.com

Giggle Poetry

Irresistible Read Alouds

Read Aloud Tips for Parents

  • Share your enjoyment of books with your child.
  • Talk over your reading.
  • Continue to read aloud to your child even after he or she reads independently.
  • Encourage your child to choose a book to read aloud to someone else.
  • Broaden your child’s horizons by helping to select from a wide range of subjects.
  • Encourage your child to read whatever he or she enjoys even if it appears to you to be too easy or too hard.
  • Let your child see your enjoyment of your own reading.

123 versus ABC
written and illustrated by Mike Boldt
(Harper)

Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad?
written by Julie Middleton
illustrated by Russell Ayto
(Peachtree)

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!
written and illustrated by Scott Magoon
(Simon & Schuster)

Bugs in My Hair!
written and illustrated by David Shannon
(Blue Sky Press)

Can’t Scare Me!
written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

Chick-O-Saurus Rex
written by Lenore Jennewin
illustrated by Daniel Jennewin
(Simon & Schuster)

King for a Day
written by Rukhsana Khan
illustrated by Christiane Kromer
(Lee & Low Books)

The King of Little Things
written by Bil Lepp
illustrated by David T. Wenzel
(Peachtree)

Lucky Ducklings
written by Eva Moore
illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
(Orchard Books)

Nurse Clementine
written and illustrated by Simon James
(Candlewick)

The Silver Button
written and illustrated by Bob Graham
(Candlewick)

That Is Not a Good Idea!
written and illustrated by Mo Willems
(Balzer + Bray)

Tiger in My Soup
written by Kashmira Sheth
illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
(Peachtree)

The Tree Lady
written by H. Joseph Hopkins
illustrated by Jill McElmurry
(Beach Lane Books)

Warning: Do Not Open This Book!
written by Adam Lehrhaupt
illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
(Simon & Schuster)

Whale Shines
written and illustrated by Fiona Robinson
(Abrams)

 

And the Winners Are….Caldecott Medal

Gold Medal

locomotive

Honor Books

flora flamingo

mr. wuffles

journeyThis year I found it hard to narrow my Caldecott Contenders to 20+ books.  This seemed to me to be “The Year of the Picture Book”; however, all four of the winners were on my Caldecott Contender list this year.  If had chosen the gold it would have gone to Flora the Flamingo.

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the winners or the books I picked as Caldecott Contenders, stop by the library today.  They are on display and ready for checkout along the blue wall in the Picture Book Section. I purchased multiple copies of all of these books, so more patrons could enjoy these amazing books!

And the Winners Are…Newbery Award

Gold Medal Winner

flora and ulysses

  Newbery Honor Books

billy miller one came home doll bonespaperboyFour of the five winners were in my First Round of Newbery Contenders….I absolutely loved the books on my First Round List.  My favorite character of the year was Georgia Burkhardt in the book One Came Home.   I adored this book and had my fingers crossed, but wasn’t sure the judges would vote for it.  Had I been on the committee, I would have fought hard for One Came Home.  This was an historical/murder mystery that I couldn’t put down.   The most creative book of the year was a toss up for me…I couldn’t decide between Flora and Ulysses and A Tangle of Knots.  The Year of Billy Miller will keep fans of last year’s book Wonder with a good read in their hands.  This book will appeal to a wide range of readers, and I can see it becoming a mentor text or read aloud in many classrooms for years to come.  Just like Splendors and Glooms (2012), Doll Bones was one of those books that I appreciated for the writing, and felt it was a strong contender for a Newbery, but would have probably steered away from as a child because this genre would have kept me up at night.  On another note, Doll Bones is probably the most creative coming-of-age book I have ever read.  I thought that the historical context  Paperboy might be a reach for most elementary students;  I would recommend this book to students who have some background knowledge of the summer of 1959, the beginning of the civil rights movement and the segregated south.  The only book that I’m saddened to see didn’t make the final cut was A Tangle of Knots, although it didn’t receive a Newbery, I feel it is going to be a sure hit with readers who love quirky characters and have the patience to untangle a good plot.

Best Books of the Year 2013

book-wrap-two

What better gift to give than one that can be shared again and again?  If you’re looking for a great book for your child to read this winter break, I highly recommend the books on the lists below.

Guide Book to Gift Books (2013 update)

This is a 27 page annotated listing of books that would make great gifts for children of all ages and is issued by the highly reputable Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

2013 Books Buying Guide (Reading Rockets)

Lots of things go away quickly. But stories and books have sticking power and can be shared time and time again. Try a new story, revisit an old favorite. How about a story of fact or perhaps a fantasy? Stories can be read alone, together, aloud or quietly. Pick up a book for yourself and your favorite child this season.

ALA Notable Children’s Books 2013– nominees

ALSC Best Graphic Novels

ALSC – 2013 Notable Children’s Books

Amazon Best Books of the Year (Board Books)

Amazon Best Books of the Year (Children’s Picture Books)

Amazon Best Books of the Year (Chapter Books Ages 6-8)

Amazon Best Books of the Year (Fiction Ages 9-12)

Goodreads (picture books)

Goodreads (middle grade & children’s)

Kirkus Best Children’s Books of 2013

NPR’s Best Children’s Books of 2013

NY Times Notable Children’s Books of 2013

NY Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year

Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Books (Picture Books)

Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Books (Fiction Books)

Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Books (Nonfiction Books)

SB & F – Excellence in Science Books

School Library Journal – Best Picture Books

School Library Journal – Best Children’s Fiction

School Library Journal – Best Children’s Nonfiction

Society of Illustrator’s Best Books of the Year

"Reading in the Wild"

I am a big fan of Donalynn Miller.  Her book,  The Book Whisper, was not only inspiring, but affirmed my beliefs about independent reading when it came out a few years ago.

Donalynn Miller

From the Publisher: Reading in the Wild explores whether or not we are truly instilling lifelong reading habits in our students and provides practical strategies for teaching “wild” reading. Based on survey responses from over 900 adult readers and classroom feedback, Reading in the Wild offers solid advice and strategies on how to develop, encourage and assess key lifelong reading habits, including dedicating time for reading, planning for future reading, and defining oneself as a reader.

jim trelease

Another NEW professional book that might be of interest to you is Jim Trelease’s, The Read Aloud Handbook, seventh edition.  If you’re like me, his previous editions have been your read aloud “Bible” and go to book.

From the Publisher:  This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning).