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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

The Last Surviving Novel: Summer Reading

What I mean by a high-interest article from Newsela.
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?  Read More 

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Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes

Before handing this middle grade novel to a student, I ask a few questions:

What things are you are willing to say, “Yes!” to? Cleaning your room? Going to church on Sunday? Babysitting young children? Digging for a lost ring in the kitchen garbage? These day-to-day tasks are easy to agree to, and sometimes, just as easy to say no to. (I'd love to hear from some kid about that!)

But what if your parents say, “Yes” to something big that affects you directly—like serving in the military? How would your life be different?

What if your mom or dad were deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan? What if you had to move every couple years to a new military base; new home, new school, new friends? Would you even have close friends?



Author Sara Lewis Holmes is married to an air force pilot and has raised two children. She wrote OPERATION YES based on her family’s experience in the military.

In an interview with author Kathy Erskine, she said, “Much of my family’s real life is in there—including air shows, FOD [foreign object debris] walks, 'remove before flight' key tags, the sound of flight suits in the dryer, living on base, moving often, dealing with deployments, bravery, fear, uncertainty, hope, and the kindness of all the communities we’ve been a part of.”

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