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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

My FREADom Library Gets a Reality Check

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 last year.

Russell Freedman's nonfiction book Lincoln is now partnered with Back to the Day Lincoln Was Shot, by Doris Gormley, a cheesy little Traveling Through Time novel (but kids like it). Jim Murphy's The Journal of James Edmond Pease:
A Civil War Union Soldier, Virginia, 1863
(My Name is America series) is an alternate choice.

The very intense Warriors Don't Cry is the personal story of Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the "Little Rock 9" who desegregated all-white Central High School in 1957. She is now a journalist, and her writing carries you along on a searing emotional ride. I paired Beals' memoir with the novel Words by Heart, by Ouida Sebestyen, about a courageous African-American girl who learns to turn vengeance into forgiveness.

I predict that a very popular pair will be the novel Firehorse, by Diane Lee Wilson (which also made last year's read-and-rank list) and The Great Fire, by Jim Murphy, about the 1871 Chicago Fire. The novel is set in 1872 Boston, the scene of another great fire.

On a lighter note, Carl Hiaason expanded his Florida nature-novel adventure series with Chomp!". I like Hoot! the best and will be be using a couple of those fast, fun tales in my back-to-school Speed Dating activity. Chomp! a light spoof of the reality TV show Survivor about what it takes to truly survive in the wilderness.

Summer Standouts

Two standouts from this summer's stack are Wonder by R.J. Palacio (LOVED this book) and quirky Newbery winner Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos, a tale about a boy, an unusual chore, and "the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, obituaries, Hells Angels, and countless bloody noses" according to the book blurb.

I'll work on more lengthy reviews of my favorite books but, right now, I'm busy getting the rest of my classroom ready for this year's soon-to-be-hooked readers.

PS Looking for more titles? Just posted: Kirkus best nonfiction titles for 2012 in kid's books.

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