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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

More ARC Reviews: Tweens Tell ME Which Books are "Suitable"

The moment I open a fresh box of unpublished books, a box that has been sitting around mysteriously in plain view to build anticipation and pique curiosity, I let my squad of volunteer have at it. A reading frenzy!

The sixth graders in my Advanced Reader Club (ARC) get to choose which books they want to read, screen, and recommend (or not) for my FREADom Classroom Library.*

But, not every review copy finds a reader and not every chosen book gets a review.

A great cover, an intriguing title, a favorite author, an exciting plot description, an addictive genre can all compel tweens to dive into a book. But will they sail through to the end? Or abandon ship?

Unchosen and unfinished books get tossed back into the box.

Here, in this third post on the 2017 selections, are seven books that made it past the first two hurdles—pick me, read me (ALL of me).  Read More 

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ARC Reviews: My Tweens Take on the World's Bestselling Author

The world's bestselling author, James Patterson. (Photo from Jimmy Books website.)

On JIMMY Patterson dot org, the middle grade website of author JAMES Patterson, who claims to be the world's bestselling author (350+ million sold, a Guinness record), the mission is clear:

We want every kid who finishes a Jimmy book to say, "Please give me another book."

That's one of my missions, too, of course, but it's easier said than done. Do "Jimmy books" measure up in the eyes of sixth graders? Three of my ARC (Advanced Reader Club) screeners weighed in on three titles under this relatively new imprint.

Here's what they reported to me, when asked if I should include the books in my ultra-picky FREADom Classroom Library (little space, niche focus on ages 10.5-12, books that are worthy and suitable).  Read More 

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The 2017 ARC Reviews Are In! Just in Time for Censorship Week

Two years ago, in 2015, I started the ARC, the Advanced Reader Club in my classroom, which quickly expanded to include other sixth graders, at all reading levels, and then, last year, even my principal!

My trustworthy sixth graders (and principal) were granted privileged access to advanced reader copies of books yet to be published (thank you, publishers, especially Scholastic) in exchange for telling me whether the books are suitable for my locally famous FREADom classroom library.

Beyond a mere book report, I hoped they would give me the thumbs up, thumbs down on putting a NEW book on my classroom shelves, likely in place of another OLD book since space is limited.

Suitable? What do I mean? What can sixth graders handle? What CAN'T they handle? Questions abounded, good ones, interesting ones... questions that we probe each year during our Book Censorship Unit in September. I love it.

As I start the new school year, I have a box full of ARC reviews from my former brilliant readers who are now seventh graders and thus out of my sphere of influence. THANK YOU, to all who voluntarily participated.

Now, with pride and uncertainty (I have not read all the books), I'd like to report to you, internet at large, their findings.

Which books are safe, intriguing, appropriate, WORTHY of my classroom library, which is resurrected and curated each year with painstaking care?

Let's start with a report from good student Leah...  Read More 
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Return of the ARC (Advanced Reader Craze) Club!

I've already taught my class how to quickly evaluate books based on the cover art and copy. Let the reading frenzy begin!
As a blogger of books for tweens (ages 10.5-12, specifically), I spend my summers reading ARCs—Advanced Reading Copies—of upcoming books that aren't quite published yet. I try to sneak in a title or two during the school year, but time is precious when lessons are in session.

My goal is to find fresh books to add to my locally famous FREADom Classroom Library, a highly selective set that sixth graders can check out at will. I can't go by reviews or word-of-mouth; I have to read the books myself for levels of maturity, quality, appropriate themes, and tween appeal.

Falling behind a couple of years ago, I decided to take a risk and entrust this job to my best readers. I decided to give them books, unread by me, to evaluate for their peers. As I set out the crisp titles, to my glee, a READING FRENZY broke out!!!
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The ARC (Advanced Reader Club) Reviews Are In!

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

Reading incentive: Three unopened boxes full of unpublished books, sitting on a shelf in very plain view.
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
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