Bet you can guess: Who's the writer and who's the (young-at-heart) sixth grade teacher?
Here on my author site, I've happily handed over my blog space to Louise Hopping (@HoppingReads), my sister, my two-time coauthor
, and an enthusiastic reading teacher at St. Michael School in Livonia, Michigan.
For two decades, Louise has been evaluating books for tweens (ages 10-12.5) for quality, classroom suitability, and kid appeal. She adds the best titles to her locally famous FREADom classroom library.
This Readalicious! blog is for tweens, parents of tweens, middle school teachers, and anyone else interested in putting good books in the hands and minds of tweens.
—Lorraine (the writer, on the left)
Authors, editors, publishers: YES, you are cordially invited to submit ARCs and review copies of books for tweens (ages 10 to 12.5), fiction and nonfiction, English language only.
Louise only reviews or lists books that she recommends and can add to her classroom lending library. Email if you have questions.
Send materials to her school address:
Louise Hopping, Sixth Grade
c/o St. Michael School
Livonia, MI 48150
Ebook review copies are welcome, too, but the book must be available in a print edition. (The Readalicious! blog has a classroom lending library at its core.)
Across America on an Emigrant Train, J. Murphy
An American Plague, J, Murphy
The Book Thief, M. Zusak (for mature kids)
Bud, Not Buddy, C.P. Curtis
The Cardturner, L. Sachar
The Cats of Roxville Station, J. Craighead Moore
Chains and Forge (Seeds of America), L. Halse Anderson
The Clockwork Three, M. Kirby
The Giver, L. Lowry
The Graveyard Book, N. Gaiman
Every Soul a Star, W. Mass
The Icefall, M. Kirby
Ida B., Katherine Kannigan
Fever 1793, L. Halse Anderson
The Great Fire, J. Murphy
Gregor the Overlander, S. Collins
Hey! Listen to This! J. Trelease
Holes, L. Sachar
Honus and Me, D. Gutman
The Ink Drinker, E. Sanvoisin
Invasion of the Road Weenies, D. Lubar
Last Newspaper Boy in America, S. Corbett
Last Shot (first in a sports mystery series), J. Feinstein
The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
Moon Over Manifest, C. Vanderpool
Number the Stars, L. Lowry
Oh, Yikes! History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments, J. Masoff and T. Sirrell
Operation Yes, S.L. Holmes
The Pigman, P. Zindal
Read All About It, J. Trelease
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, L. Sachar
Stormbreaker, A. Horowitz
Tangerine, E. Bloor
There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom, L. Sachar
The Watch That Ends the Night, A. Wolf
Whales on Stilts, M.T. Anderson
Woods Runner, G. Paulsen
Wonder, R.J. Palacio
All the material on this website is copyright © 2000-2013 by Hopping Fun Creations. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to visitors to download, print, and use the "Freebie" reproducibles free of charge for educational use only. Reproduction, reposting, or distribution in any form or media is prohibited without the written permission of the copyright holder.
January 2, 2013
Students started a Word of Mouth wall to share their favorite titles.
Goldilocks had the right idea: Sit in the chair that is just right. Eat the porridge that is just right. Find a bed that is just right.
So... “Goldilocks” is my number one rule for reading
: find a book that is just right for you.
Why number one? Because making good choices is the first crucial step to falling in love with reading. If kids enjoy a book, they’ll voluntarily try another one. And another one. A negative experience derails that happy train.
The Goldilocks Rule sounds simple, yet following it is a struggle for some of my sixth graders. An adult who knows a kid well can offer guidance, but one of my goals is to help kids discover “just right” books on their own. It’s an empowering quest made easier by these detective tips, which you could demonstrate using a book that’s unfamiliar to kids. (more…)
December 21, 2012
This year's titles for the Battle of the Books
competition have been announced! The parent in charge went with tried-and-true classics, which the kids are devouring in preparation for the February finale quiz event.
August 27, 2012
Battle of the Books turns reading into a rowdy costume party! Meet the members of the Pillow Readers team.
One evening in February, well past Halloween and not exactly Mardi Gras, our school gymnasium looked like a costume party. Six grey-haired old men hobbled in on canes, followed closely by a bevy of beautifully adorned Greek goddesses. Some hooded grim reapers crept in next and then—what were they? Pillow people?
What whipped these kids into a costumed frenzy? I’m proud to say: books
. At this highly anticipated event, the school’s fourth through sixth graders compete to answer questions about eight books in our annual Battle of the Books quiz competition—BOB for short.
Preparation for this year’s BOB begins right now, at the start of the school year. I help choose the eight book titles and we keep them under tight wraps until December. The trick is to find books that appeal to ages 9 to 12 and provide a range of reading levels. You don’t want fourth graders feeling frustrated. (I’ve provided a sample book list
at the end of this post.)
Soon, our new students will form their teams of six and secure a coach (a parent or teacher). In our school, that’s 16 to 20 teams, with 96 to 120 students participating. No one is turned away, so some teams might have seven or eight members.
Each team chooses a name: The Book Bosses, Contagious Readers, Pretty Little Readers, Agent 00 Divas, the Grim Readers, to name a few recent ones. Then, kids design costumes—in some cases very elaborate—to go with their theme.
By December, teams can’t wait to report to the gym to collect their stack of eight books—an event in itself. I see fists pump and hear shouts of excitement every time kids realize they have already read a title. Sometimes, students argue over who gets to read which book first.
(Be still my heart!)
When the dust settles, the real work begins. Over the next two months, teams meet at lunch, before school, and on weekends to write and answer practice questions, memorize the spelling of author names, and discuss the plots, characters, and settings of each book. By the time the competition rolls around, they know these eight books cover to cover.
August 16, 2012
Pairing nonfiction with compatible novels to get set for Core Standards.
My FREADOM classroom lending library
is back in action! Teenagers Sam and Maddie and a very hard-working sixth grader from last year, Maggie, put in a full day's work to help me set up the entire book center anew. Thank you, ladies!
This year, I removed a gigunda box of books to make room for new titles—more nonfiction (for Common Core informational reading
), the latest award winners, and favorites from the giant stack I've been reading all summer.
Marrying Books to Make Them Multiply
I played a lot more matchmaker this year—pairing nonfiction and historic fiction titles on the same topic. Once kids are mouth-agape about a subject, I plan to keep producing variations and fresh takes for them to gobble up.
A timely nonfiction book, in the face of this summer's severe drought, is Jerry Stanley's photo-documentary Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp
, which I wed to the historical fiction book Out of The Dust
, by Karen Hesse. Hesse's title was #7 in popularity out of all the titles my students read and ranked
August 13, 2012
Leave a comment or email me if you'd like a copy of my Book Buddies reading incentive contract.
At times, getting tweens to read is like bleeding a stone. Sometimes, you just have to cram books down their metaphorical throats and make them read. You just do.
That’s the sticks half of my carrots-and-sticks reading incentive program and, say what you will about bribes and rewards and force feeding, it’s worked well for me for the past 20 years.
I call the program Book Buddies—corny, I know, but books are our friends (I tell my students) and a local business called Buddy’s provides the carrots in the form of coupons.
My biggest stick is: The program counts toward their grades. Here’s how it works.
THE READING CONTRACT
Each September, my students sign a contract to read a minimum of one book per month from October through April. That means everyone must read at least seven books at their reading level. That’s seven whole books. For the whole school year. And for some kids, that’s a struggle, believe me.
For each book completed, students will fill out a verification slip with their name, the book title, the author, and a parent/guardian signature.
At orientation night at the beginning of the year, I speak to the parents at great length about reading. I give them some ideas for discussing books with their children—a great family dinnertime conversation. Christopher Paul Curtis in The Mighty Miss Malone
would call this “Chief’s and Children’s Chow Chat”!
Of course, the kids are welcome to pledge and read as many books as they like each month. Last year, one girl logged an astonishing 119 titles. My classes as a whole (85 students) read 1,752 books
I have actually had parents call me to complain that their kids were reading too much and not getting chores or homework done, or not getting enough sleep. Other kids aim a little higher than they can reach with their monthly goals. That’s why I make those goals eligible for negotiation and adjustment, even though the contract is a “legal document.”
That sounds like a stick, doesn’t it?
August 10, 2012
Read-aloud poems about the sinking of the Titanic.
NPR published a final list
of top 100 teen books, based on audience voting on a pre-selected list.
Teen isn't tween, and I draw that line sharply in this blog. (My sweet spot is ages 10 to 12.5—the upper half of middle grade, if you go by publishing categories.)
Even so, these 10 teen titles were my choices in the initial voting (out of hundreds of titles). The number in parenthesis is the place they came in on the NPR final list. Eight out of 10 made it!
1. The Book Thief (10)
2. The Giver (11)*
3. Go Ask Alice (35)
4. Harry Potter series (1)
5. The Hobbit (5)
6. The Pigman
7. Stargirl (37)
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (3)
9. Tuck Everlasting (30)
10. The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic
*They included the "series," but these titles are really companion books.
Go Ask Alice
is definitely teen, not tween, and has a history of being censored in schools, along with some controversy
over authorship and authenticity. (It's a work of pure fiction.) But, the book made a big impact on me when I read it in my teen years.
August 9, 2012
I feel so powerful. I presented this book in class and, voila!, it landed on the kids' top picks list.
When you want to know what books kids like, ask some kids, right?
This past school year, I did more than ask. We listed, tallied, and ranked all the books everyone in the class read from September to May. The results, listed below, surprised me a bit in terms of which books kids choose to pick up.
First, the raw data. Last year was impressive: 85 students read 1,752 books. One young lady accounted for 119 of those titles! Of the top 10 readers, four were boys.
To compile the data, I asked the 85 sixth graders to rank their 10 favorite books from the titles they read, from 1 (top choice) to 10. Some students had only read seven books (the minimum required by my Book Buddies incentive program
), so I told them to add three titles they enjoyed in fifth grade.
We awarded a book one point for each time it appeared on someone’s top 10 list. If a book appeared as one of the top three on a list, we gave it two bonus points.
The students insisted on being able to list a whole series, instead of one book, as a choice. So, just like the individual titles, I awarded points for a series mention and created a mixed list—single titles and series.
I now present you the finalists in order of popularity. I’d be curious to hear from other sixth grade teachers how our list compares to yours and from sixth graders about their thoughts on the list.
December 29, 2011
How to exchange classroom gifts any time of year without spending a penny!
Stymied! Which book gift to unwrap? And will she hang onto it or will the next player purloin it?
My students wanted to exchange gifts this Christmas, but I didn’t want to lose class time for literature or pressure anyone into spending money. Rather than say no, I took their request as a challenge: How can I make gifting meaningful, fair, fun, and money-free?
Borrowing an idea from some east coast in-laws, I came up with a Yankee Book Swap game (alternately called a White Elephant or Thieving Secret Santa Game). Here’s how we do it—and this year's most coveted titles. (more…)
September 12, 2011
Speed dating books is like taking a bite and feeling free to keep chomping—or move on.
Okay, that's a squirmy title for a middle grade reading blog, but after having lunch with a friend who speed dates, I decided it was the perfect description of what I do on my first day of literature class.
I begin with a declaration: “Literature class, it’s speed dating time!”
Silence. Nervous glances are exchanged, a few questioning smiles, some giggles escape, girls and boys visibly lean farther away from each other, but no hands go up, no one questions the teacher or her odd statement.
I'm confident: My sixth graders are willing to go on any adventure with me. Right? So, I repeat, “It’s time for speed dating. Does anyone know what that is?”
This year, a brave girl raised her hand and explained: "People talk for a short time to see if they like each other. Then, when a bell goes off, they move on to new people."
Exactly! (Tee hee.)
That's when I spring it on these brand new sixth graders that they are about to speed date. But, I add with a deliberate pause, their dates aren't boys and girls (sighs of relief). They will be dating... books! (more…)
August 29, 2011
A student wrote this note of warning to my incoming class of sixth graders. I keep it taped, front and center, to my desk.
A teacher friend who is switching grades this year asked me about good read-aloud books for middle grades. I’ll get to my all-star lineup in a moment, but my best advice, whatever you choose, is: “Hook ‘em and leave ‘em hangin’!“ Ham it up, then stop reading at just the right moment, and they’ll beg for more.
I know some people would rather listen to fingernails on a chalkboard than be plopped alone in front of a classroom full of adolescents, charged with having to entertain
that tough crowd. Not me. Reading aloud is, by far, my favorite time of the school day (for my students, too, I hope). There’s a
ham in me, and I love that
feeling when I look up from the page and see 30 kids hanging on my every word!
Before I get to those enthralling titles, let me put this misconception to rest: Sixth graders are not too old
for read-alouds—even with Mom and Dad or older siblings.
Over the years, I have had the great pleasure of putting books into the hands and minds of tweens of all dispositions and skill levels, and read-alouds are a key to that success. At my school, kids know that, when they walk into Ms. Hopping’s room, I will read to them, and then they will read, too
My mission to hook kids with the right books is unflagging, but I have also found that, when students reach sixth grade, a new level of maturity and readiness propels some of them headlong into the world of reading. At that special moment, I feel blessed to be there to guide the way.
However it happens, one of the most humbling and satisfying things that a parent can say to me is, “You got my kid to read. Thank you!”
If you’re a parent or teacher new to read-alouds, pick up Jim Trelease’s Hey! Listen to This
for grades K through 4, and Read All About It!
for fifth grade and up. These wonderful collections include ear-friendly short stories, chapters from novels, poetry, and even newspaper articles. If you never had the pleasure of hearing Jim speak passionately about reading (he retired in 2008), he still imparts wisdom and resources through his website
So, what are some of my favorite read-alouds? (more…)
Read the sad, moving tale of a peace-loving leader who lost his land, many of his people, and his life-long fight to keep the peace. (FREEBIE history puzzles.)
The true science adventures of Diane France, forensic anthropologist. NSTA Selector's Choice, AAAS/SB&F Subaru finalist, starred reviews!
Adriana Ocampo found her path to science adventure through space-traveling robots and crashing asteroids! (FREEBIE science quizzes and a FREE ebook by Adriana.)
The Body as Evidence (Autopsies) and Crime Scene Investigation!
Venus and Serena, Peyton Manning, Michelle Kwan, and others for ages 6-9. (FREEBIE sports quizzes.)
Outdoor fun for 6 to 8 year olds.
Tornadoes! and Hurricanes! are my two best-selling books with 1.6 million sold
A must-have card game set for English language (ESL/EFL) and language arts teachers and tutors. (FREEBIE ESL materials.)
My top selling game book! (FREEBIE math puzzles.)
Lively games and activities about grammar, vocabulary, and dictionary skills. (FREEBIE word puzzles.)
Great American History Games, 15 Primary Source Activities (plays, games, readings, and more) and more!
Race from Earth to Mars, an orbiting target, by fixing malfunctions and answering intriguing science questions. Endorsed by astronaut Jack Lousma.