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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

The Yankee Book Swap Game!

Stymied! Which book gift to unwrap? And will she hang onto it or will the next player purloin it?


How to exchange classroom gifts any time of year without spending a penny!

My students wanted to exchange gifts this Christmas, but I didn’t want to lose class time for literature or pressure anyone into spending money. Rather than say no, I took their request as a challenge: How can I make gifting meaningful, fair, fun, and money-free?

Borrowing an idea from some east coast in-laws, I came up with a Yankee Book Swap game (alternately called a White Elephant or Thieving Secret Santa Game). Here’s how we do it—and this year's most coveted titles. Read More 
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The Cardturner, by Louis Sachar

That's my Uncle Bob, playing a family game of Michigan rummy. My mother's about to hammer down the ace of spades (left).


When I heard about THE CARDTURNER: A NOVEL ABOUT A KING, A QUEEN, AND A JOKER, the new book by Louis Sachar (Holes, There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, and Sideways Stories from Wayside School), I had to have a copy for my own bookshelf, let alone the classroom lending library.

Playing cards and board games was a central part of growing up in the Hopping household. To this day, whenever we get together, some game or another eventually comes off the shelf.*

THE CARDTURNER quickly pulled me into the not-so-great life of 17-year-old Alton Richards. What kind of a name is Alton, anyway! Alton drives a beat up car, has no money, no job, and suddenly, as summer vacation begins, he has no girlfriend.

On top of all that, his mother insists that he drive his very wealthy great uncle Lester to Bridge Club four times a week. Bridge is a "boring" card game that Alton knows nothing and cares nothing about. The truth, as Alton well knows, is that Mom wants him to be nice so that old Uncle Lester will remember them in his will.

Alton has been dealt a pretty crummy hand and is feeling a little "played" himself! Even so, he copes by maintaining a dry sense of humor.

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