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—meaning the book must be available in a print edition.
Send materials to:
Louise Hopping, Sixth Grade
c/o St. Michael School
Livonia, MI 48150
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
Hatchet, G. Paulsen
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
Lincon, by R. Freedman
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
Rascal, S. North
Read All About It, J. Trelease
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, L. Sachar
Splendors and Glooms, L. Schlitz
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
A World Without Fish, by M. Kurlansky
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.
December 6, 2013
BUD, NOT BUDDY, set in my home state of Michigan, is a stage play and movie, too.
Today was a rowdy day at St. Michael's school in Livonia, as fourth to sixth graders assembled and cheered en masse not for a sporting event, but for books! Today was the annual unveiling of the eight Battle of the Books (BOB) titles (listed below).
I LOVE this magic ooh-and-ahh moment, described in last year's Battle of the Books
post, especially because it's immediately followed by a stampede to read
as teams vie to absorb as many facts as they can in preparation for the February competition.
This year, there's a ME in team. On top of my Quiz Bowl and Green Team activities, I'm coaching an eager team of eight sixth graders from three classes—so eager, that they've already whipped through a couple of the short books, even before our first official team meeting. Heck, we don't even have a name yet!
Girls and Boys, Reading Together?
My soon-to-be-named team is a 50-50 mix of boys and girls, which is exciting because the past years' winners have split sharply down gender lines (pretty common in the tween years). Five years ago, an all-girl team of excellent readers won the competition as fourth graders, and then fifth graders, and then (with everyone futilely gunning to topple them!), again as sixth graders. A three-peat! After the super girls graduated out of the arena, different all-boy teams won for two years in a row.
Who will be next? A mixed team, I hope. My
BOB is a friendly competition, of course, designed to maximize the fun in reading, so I plan to keep practices and lunch meetings fun and light, with lots of games and laughter. I think of those lunch meetings as a book club, a social reading experience that's as important for the friendships as it is for the learning. I've created a bookmark for each team member, with their name and the eight titles on it, as a personal souvenir of their reading journey.
My only concern is that they're reading too many books too early. I know. That's a problem
? But, with the competition a few months off, I'll have to make sure they don't forget the details, so I'm already in full coach mode, preparing practice drills and thinking about strategic scrimmages.
Our Eight BOB Books
Looking at this year's list, I find a few titles I haven't read in a while and it seems geared a little more to the lower grades (with one noted exception), and that's fine. More kids will read more of the books, and have fun doing so. Here's what's at the top of our to-read list for the next three months, with a few early thoughts.
November 13, 2013
Some of my sixth graders read nonfiction books exclusively, soaking up facts in their brain sponges, but for the majority, I have to do a little force feeding. And yet...
October 14, 2013
What am I going to do with two computers and 32 kids per class? Nothing, on a daily or regular basis. I use them mainly when kids need technology to accommodate learning issues such as motor dyspraxia, an inability to use fine motor skills; the computers dictate written lessons.
Forget the stereotypical image of a “born digital” kid permanently attached to a digital device, fluent in all things technological. Here’s my reality, with data from the sixth-grade trenches at St. Michael School in Livonia, Michigan.
Let me start by reiterating that tweens are not teens; older tweens are not younger tweens. I know from experience and observation that the 10 to 12.5 age group has unique circumstances and challenges when it comes to reading with technology (or not).
This year, for a deeper dive, I introduced an anonymous attitude survey, in addition to my annual reading interest survey. The attitude survey measures how my three fresh classes of sixth graders (96 of them) feel about print versus digital reading, including their use of digital devices (or not).
They took this online survey a couple weeks ago in computer class, which has one computer per kid. (My classroom has only two computers for student use.) What I learned from the results is that tweens generally have some level of access to devices—tablets, ereaders, desktops, laptops, smartphones. But, on the whole, they don’t own the devices or use them frequently (yet).
In my classes, many tweens tend to get their first cell phone or (if they’re lucky) smart phone and perhaps a tablet at Christmas time. Tweens with older siblings tell me that they are at the bottom of the totem pole and often get pushed off the family computer. So, in response, I give out any online assignments far in advance and include a back-up plan to allow students to complete computer work before or after school or at lunch time, if necessary.
Here are the results from this year’s survey, for data geeks, along with some interesting and thought-provoking comments about reading, for those who (like me) make that their mission. (more…)
August 13, 2013
Sometimes books just grab you, and you can't help but peek inside. A big *thanks* and a *hug* to my classroom library summer work crew.
Two years ago, I started this Readalicious! blog with a post
about the ritual of rebuilding my FREADom classroom library every school year. It's a daunting task of unpacking, sorting, shelving, and cataloguing that never fails to remind me of why I love books.
This year, I am grateful for the help of one of my incoming sixth graders and two former students. These motivated girls worked doggedly for hours! I’m going to have the most organized library I’ve ever had!
They started with the easy stuff—series books and folklore. Then, they put my biographies in alphabetical order by subject and my historical fiction in timeline order (not that the books will stay that way for very long!).
When they got to the nonfiction section, which is growing
in response to the common core initiative, progress slowed a bit. They separated books into categories: U.S. history, presidents, science, geography, ancient history, world history, wars, and miscellaneous. I loved listening to them discuss and debate which books belong in what category.
In the meantime, I kept busy at the book repair and weeding station. Deciding which of my old "friends" to jettison in order to make room for new titles is very, very difficult for me. Among the new acquaintances are three books I highly recommend. (more…)
August 11, 2013
Which books appeal broadly to sixth graders, boys and girls, readers and non-readers?
I love NPR's Top 100 Ultimate Backseat Books for tweens.
I also love that the responses to the list are so passionate and insightful (don't skip the comments!). It's a wonderful feeling when books and reading generate animated dialogue.
I do sympathize with one commenter who said she wished reviewers would fill in more detail, especially when it comes to age appropriateness. The NPR lists spans a Grand Canyon of development—ages 9 to 14. (They generated a separate book list for teens, which I blogged about
In my sixth grade class, I navigate a tremendous, tumultuous gap in maturity among 11 years olds—let alone between 9 and 14. That's the nature of the tween beast.
When selecting reading material for my FREADom classroom library
, I carefully assess issues with language, violence, death, religion, and more on a case by case basis. Adults in a child's life need to be aware of what children are reading, and that's part of my mission.
That said, my number one goal is to put good books in the hands and minds of tweens. So, I decided to narrow down the list and recommend one or two books in each category that I have personally read and that are suitable for ages 10 to 12.5—my sweet spot. I went for variety, including books that appeal to both boys and girls and, in some cases, that I know to be incredibly popular with my tween crowd.
Choosing wasn't easy (all of the books are worthy), but here's what rose to the top. (more…)
July 30, 2013
Did someone really plot to kidnap Lincoln's body?
At the beginning of every school year, one of my student survey questions is:
“If you could talk to any person from history
, who would it be? What three questions would you ask?”
Out of 64 students in my 2013 class, 13 chose Abe Lincoln
—more than any other historic figure, including good old George Washington (tied for runner-up, with eight votes).
Why is Lincoln such a history rock star for tweens?
June 21, 2013
A boy and his pet raccoon—what could be sweeter?
Have you ever spotted a book that you read as a kid and glowed uncontrollably? That warm, fuzzy feeling is what I hope to capture in a time-release bottle every time I recommend a title to my sixth graders. I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m always surprised when it happens to me.
The most recent wave of tender nostalgia struck me at the sight of the 1963 memoir Rascal
, by Sterling North. I was a little wary of rereading it, worried that the story and the characters hadn’t aged well and I’d be crushed. I wasn’t.
Rascal is refreshingly wholesome. It’s the perfect antidote to today’s relentless fervor for dystopian worlds, zombies, and vampires. (more…)
January 2, 2013
My sixth graders started a Word of Mouth wall to share their favorite titles—totally their idea.
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.
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.