Who Writes This Blog?



Bet you can guess: Who's the writer and who's the (young-at-heart) 6th grade teacher?

Here on my author site, I've handed over this blog to Louise Hopping (@​HoppingReads), my sister, my two-time coauthor, and a veteran 6th grade teacher.

For decades, Louise has evaluated books for tweens (ages 10-12.5) for quality, classroom suitability, and kid appeal. She adds only the best titles to her locally famous FREADom classroom library.

Her blog is aimed at anyone keen on putting good books in the hands and minds of tweens.
—Lorri (the writer, on the left)

Louise, age 11, in her favorite big, green chair.

ARCs and Review Copies


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 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, Grade 6
c/​o St. Michael School
11311 Hubbard
Livonia, MI 48150

All the material on this website is copyright © 2000-2017 by Hopping Fun Creations. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to visitors to download, print, and use the "Freebie" materials for personal or educational use only. Reproduction, reposting, sales, or distribution in any form or media is prohibited without written permission.

READALICIOUS!

Books for Tweens

Dear Parents of Rising 6th Graders

June 3, 2016

Tags: summer reading, fantasy, nonfiction

Every June, I send home a letter for parents of my next year's class of 6th graders. On the first day of school, 2016, we'll have something to talk about, something in common, even if the tweens just do a few of these stay-sharp summer activities.

The reading list is at the core, a bit different each year and designed to provide a wide range of genres and levels—something to appeal to every kid.

Dear 6th Grade Parents,

I look forward to meeting everyone in the fall. In the meantime, here’s some information to digest over the summer.

First, a subject dear to my heart - literature! It is impossible to overstate the importance of reading. So, in 6th grade, as children’s author Gary Paulsen says, we will “read like a wolf eats.”
(more…)

Poetry? Fun AND Cool?

May 30, 2016

Tags: poetry, writing, reading incentives

Sterling Publishing has a series of "Poetry for Young People" books.
Yep, it's true. The key: Everyone loves a surprise. Close an envelope, tell kids there's something really amazing in there, and then give them strict instructions NOT to open it. BAM! They're hooked.

I adapted my ultra-successful poetry unity from this Poem in Your Pocket activity, by The Poetry Society of America.

Each sixth grader chose an envelope, sealed shut, from one of eight piles. Then, they had to wait ALL WEEK to open it. I caught many of them holding their envelopes up to the light to try and get a peek at what was inside.

One mom told me that she was duly chastised for trying to open it early: "Mom, we are NOT allowed to open that until Friday!" Here's how that long and suspenseful week unfolded.
(more…)

The Kid Who Wants to Tell You Something

December 4, 2015

Tags: nonfiction, historical fiction

So, I’m in my 26th year of teaching and I guess that means I’ve taught a lot of kids, seen a lot, done a lot, been through a lot. Many moments stand out: amazing, sad, touching, frustrating, mundane, hilarious….

The business of a classroom, first thing in the morning, is a relatively routine moment – teachers greeting, students organizing for the day. As any teacher will tell you, part of that routine is The Kid Who Wants to Tell You Something.

I’ve heard all kinds of things during that time:

Ms. Hopping, my cat had kittens.
Ms. Hopping, I went to the book store and got a boxed set of Harry Potter.
Ms. Hopping, my dog was hit by a car.
Ms. Hopping, did you see the Michigan State game yesterday?
Ms. Hopping, we won our hockey game last night, but there was a fight in the stands.
Ms. Hopping, my cousin is getting married and I’m in the wedding!
Ms. Hopping, I'm going to Disney World over Easter Break.
Ms. Hopping, I went to the Tiger game last night.
Ms. Hopping….

(more…)

The ARC (Advanced Reader Club) Reviews Are In!

October 22, 2015

Tags: advanced readers

What's next for the ARC readers?
Last year, lightning struck when I figured out the time-efficiency equation that is crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing, as many of you know, means farming out to the general public a request for ideas, actions, or input that one person alone cannot possibly undertake.

I was that person. Faced with the perpetual challenge of keeping up with my ever-growing my to-read stack, which dwindles only slightly in summer and then mushrooms during the school year, I started an ARC: Advanced Reading Club in my sixth grade class.

The idea was to recruit my very best readers to help me prescreen, rate on a scale of 1 to 10, and review boxes of ARCs—advanced reading copies—from publishers and independent authors and filter out the definite "no's" (zero) while raising to the top the "yes, yes, yesses! (10's)" The first task was to determine if a book is "appropriate" for sixth grade (we talked about that a lot) and, secondly, merits a coveted spot in my FREADom Classroom Library.

The program launch was an enormous success, with the excitement and enthusiasm spilling over into the general population such that there was a bit of a feeding frenzy each time I opened a box. (Seriously! Read that earlier post!)

I promised to get back to you about what last year's ARCs found. Here's a selection of the very first reviews, in the words of the sixth graders, who clamored to be "the first!" to read books that hadn't yet been published. (But, now they are now!)
(more…)

Spontaneous Poems on the Power of Words

May 13, 2015

Tags: poetry, censorship

A boy named Jack doesn't think poems are for boys. But, after his hearing his teacher read poetry all year, he's inspired to write about his dog. And keep writing."
So, we were reading aloud the book Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech, and close to the end, there's a crushingly sad part. (I won't spoil it, but maybe you've guessed.)

A couple of students cried. Real tears.

One girl said, "Man, I'm cryin' over here!" Sob.

I was not the least bit surprised. Happens every time I read this book.

I said, "It's not an author's job to make you feel happy. It's an author's job to make you feel. That's the power of words."

Whoa. Floodgates. An energetic and excited conversation ensued, which the sixth graders eventually tied to our censorship unit at the beginning of the year. (Be still my heart!)

The gist of what they said, "Dictators don't want people to know things, and they keep information from people, and it's powerful."
(more…)

My ARC (Advanced Reader Craze) Book Club is Born!

March 8, 2015

Tags: censorship, classroom library, book club, advanced readers, reading incentives

Reading incentive: Three unopened boxes full of unpublished books, sitting on a shelf in very plain view.
A few days ago I put a bug in the ears of a couple of my most rabid readers. I told them I wanted to start a book club at recess for books that aren't published yet.

Aren't published yet? How is that possible? Like, we'd be the first ones to read them? grin

I pointed to three unopened boxes of ARCs—Advanced Reader Copies—and explained what ARCs are and why publishers and sometimes the authors themselves send them to book reviewers and bloggers.

I added that I had no idea what book titles were inside the boxes (knowing full well that last year's ARC box contained quite a few super hits).

I left the mystery boxes in plain sight on a shelf and let the ear bug go to work. I watched and listened for an hour or so as the whispers went 'round. still grinning
(more…)

Why I Love Banned Books

September 18, 2014

Tags: classroom library, banned books

Which one has banned books? I didn't realize how much they really do look alike until my sixth graders got a little confused.
If you want to get tweens to read, forbid it!

It's really that easy.

So, every September, Banned Books Week helpfully opens the door to showcasing the many, many titles that have been ousted from schools. Together, we view and discuss a slideshow that showcases authors and their challenged books. (The American Library Association has a collection of materials.)

My tween specific list, presented in full conspiracy ("Shhh! They don't want you to know this stuff!"), is like catnip to sixth graders. This year, in particular, students expressed true shock and outrage! Indignity, even!

"What? Why?!" "Really???"
" I don't get it."
"But... that's a really good book!"
"I LOVE that book!!!!"
"But, isn't that book a classic?"

As a reading teacher, I couldn't be more pleased. Of the forbidden books that I introduce by author, plot, and title, the big reveal to students is that.... (more…)

Check Out a Sixth Grader! And Other Creative Ideas on Teaching with Photo and Picture Books

August 15, 2014

Tags: classroom library, middle grade, Michigan

My FREADom classroom library has a good selection of photo books and Caldecott winners to inspire future creatives.
Recently I attended the Buy Michigan Now Festival in the small, charming town of Northville. Always on the lookout for new books, sure enough, a title caught me eye and the charming, engaging author reeled me into his world.

Wayne Brillhart is a photographer and author from Hartland, Michigan. His latest story book, The Deer with the Purple Nose features some extraordinary photos of the state's indigenous wildlife. (Check it out on Amazon: The Deer with the Purple Nose.)

As a photographer, Wayne has traveled the globe, but he tells me that it was in his own backyard where he discovered stories to tell with his pictures. More than a collection of photos, The Deer with the Purple Nose is a fun mystery told from the point of view of Wayne's English setter, Purdy.

As Purdy attempts to solve the mystery of why Dottie the deer has a purple nose, the dog engages with all manner of Michigan wildlife: a groundhog, raccoon, chipmunk, and 10 species of birds. The storyline supports Rachel Carson’s idea that children have a natural interest in the world around them, but that interest needs to be cultivated and nurtured. (It's well worth exploring her book on the topic to learn more: The Sense of Wonder).

Okay, so I really like this message and this book, but the story is aimed at young kids. How can I use it with my sixth graders without them feeling like they're being babied? (Babying is like death for a tween.) (more…)

Summertime is for ARCs: #amreading

July 17, 2014

Tags: middle grade, novel, historical fiction

When I hand my students a summer reading list at the end of the school year, they should take comfort in the fact that they're not alone. On day one of summer, I claw through my boxes and stacks of to-read books, prioritize them, and plow through them at every spare moment from June to the start of school.

Right now, I'm tackling a couple of interesting ARCs—advanced reading copies from publishers—that I'd like to share with you. (more…)

Dear 6th Grader Parents-to-Be: Summer Books!

June 29, 2014

Tags: summer reading

An incoming 6th grader is already ready to roll.
Dear 6th Grade Parents,

In 6th grade, as children’s author Gary Paulsen says, we will “read like a wolf eats.”

I look forward to meeting everyone in the fall. In the meantime, here’s some information to digest over the summer about a subject dear to my heart: literature!

Reading will soon be a way for your emerging 6th grader to travel to some amazing places via my very own FREADom Classroom Library.

My best advice: make reading a daily habit.

Below are some books I strongly urge you to consider for your summer reading pleasure. (more…)

Stories & Games

Born-Digital Products
Science and nature games, activities, animations, and more for ages 6-9.
A digital story told in narrated episodes, interactive journals, social media, and other platforms.
A narrative video game (Dig-It Games) in which students join archaeological adventures, solve puzzles, and discover an ancient culture.
Children's Books
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.
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.)
The Body as Evidence (Autopsies) and Crime Scene Investigation!
Outdoor fun for 6 to 8 year olds.
Tornadoes! and Hurricanes! are my two best-selling books with 1.6 million sold!
Games
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!
Lively games and activities about grammar, vocabulary, and dictionary skills.
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.