About 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 © 2000-2018 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.


The Last Surviving Novel: Summer Reading

June 20, 2017

Tags: summer reading, fiction, censorship

What I mean by a high-interest article from Newsela.
Every June, I send the parents of the fifth graders—soon to be my sixth graders in the fall—a list of fiction and nonfiction books for summer reading. These can't-miss, super high-interest titles appeal to a range of tweens, specifically at ages 10-11. My speciality!

This year, my list contained one title, a novel. More about that book in a moment. The rest of the recommended reading section featured selections from an online service called Newsela.

The site features articles about current events and other topics, each one available to read at a range of reading levels (based on Lexile score). Students can self-differentiate by choosing their own reading level, and we can all annotate the text, sharing questions and comments. Call it social reading, a welcome approach since it's generally more fun to do things with others.

Kids take a quick, four-question quiz after reading an article, which allows me to automatically assess and track progress. The readings are short, and I assigned one article for every Monday over the summer. It started with Alex Honnold's first-ever free climb up El Capitan, the sheer cliff in Yosemite Park.

As for the lone novel on the list?

It's a Newbery winner, and I love it. Nothing But the Truth by Avi is a book that l I have either talked about or read aloud to my 6th grade class at the beginning of the school year, for Constitution Day, September 17.

The day falls within my First Amendment/Freedom of Expression unit about censorship, and it never fails to spark lively discussion. (This past fall, a great debate broke out about the football player who didn't stand for the National Anthem. I was happy to see my students were following current events and the news.)

In the novel, a ninth-grader named Philip Malloy breaks school policy and hums during the playing of the National Anthem. He does it in order to get transferred out of his English class because his poor grades are preventing him from trying out for the track team.

He never tells anyone the real reason he wants out; instead, he says that the teacher hates him.

The teacher, a highly regarded veteran, sends Philip to the office after giving him a couple of warnings. The boy's parents and the media pick up on her action as a "freedom of speech" breach, and events quickly spiral from classroom to national crisis.

Kids see it happen on social media all the time. Someone posts something, and the post morphs into a multi-headed beast of a story that rages out of control and can't be slayed. In the novel, readers see many versions of the "truth" unfold throughout the story. Who and what do they believe?

Digital citizenry, skepticism, reliable sources, facts and opinions, and research are all important topics and skills that we'll discuss in September. Where can students go to check facts before they post something on social media? Here are 10 recommended sites, courtesy of ISTE.

Meanwhile, I am about to send a second letter home to the rising sixth graders, recommending summer reading book titles that I have listed in the past.

I also have a stack of reports from this year's ARC Club, the Advanced Reading Craze Club of sixth graders who volunteer to pre-screen soon-to-be published books to see if they qualify for my FREADoom Classroom Library. Look for a summary soon.

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, and social media.
Mayan Mysteries is 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!
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.