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July 14, 2017

New Books to Heat Up Your Summer Reading List

By John DePasquale
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    I’m constantly on the lookout for hot new books to share with my students to keep them excited and motivated to read. However, like most teachers, it is nearly impossible to find the time during the school year to read all of these books. As a result, I take full advantage of the summer months to catch up on my reading, so come September, I’m ready with a brand new batch of books to share with my students.

    This summer, you’re sure to find these books with me at the beach.

    The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

    I don’t think there could be a better recipe for a summer book than a gripping whodunit mystery with compelling, well-developed characters. The Goldfish Boy delivers on both. Confined to his bedroom because of an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a debilitating fear of germs, 12-year-old Matthew carefully observes the outside world going on around him from his bedroom window. Matthew learns a great deal about his neighborhood from this vantage point. So, after a neighborhood toddler vanishes, Matthew commits to use what he knows to solve the mysterious disappearance despite struggling with his own fears and challenges.

     

    Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

    Now that she’s in middle school, Amina begins to realize things in her life are changing. Amina struggles to find her voice during this time while navigating changes in friendships at school, in her Pakistani American family, and from within her close Muslim community.

    I think many of my middle school students will be able to relate to Amina’s experiences as she works to develop her personal identity. For more information about Amina’s Voice and discussion questions, I recommend this classroom guide from the Anti-Defamation League.

     

    The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

    To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of fantasy novels. As a result, fantasies are low on the list of books I typically recommend to students. I do recognize the consequences of my bias against the genre, and I’m making a conscious effort to address it.

    To challenge my aversion to fantasy, I immediately added The Girl Who Drank The Moon to my reading list after it won the 2017 Newbery Medal. The Girl Who Drank The Moon is an epic fantasy that includes witches, dragons, and swamp monsters all woven together by the powerful force of magic. I look forward to spending my summer delightfully lost in this magical world.

    Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham 

    As many of us can attest to, finding and keeping real friends is not easy. This is especially true in elementary school when young people are first learning the intricacies of friendship. In an honest graphic memoir, Shannon Hale explores the challenges she experienced in elementary school to develop and maintain friendships.

    Since other graphic memoirs like Smile and El Deafo are some of the most popular books in my classroom library, I’m excited to introduce my students to Real Friends.

    The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla


    In The Someday Birds, Charlie has a very particular way of doing things. This is completely disrupted after his father is critically injured while working as a journalist in Afghanistan. Charlie is pushed beyond his comfort zones as he travels across the country with his siblings to be with his father.

    This book was recommended to me by the parent of a son with an autism spectrum disorder. As she read the book with her son, she told me both of them recognized and identified with Charlie’s particular behaviors and fixations. I hope reading the story from Charlie’s perspective will allow students to develop a sense of empathy for others.

    As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds 

    As Brave As You is the type of book precisely made for a long summer day. Genie and Ernie are two brothers from Brooklyn. They are sent for the summer to rural Virginia to stay with grandparents they barely know so their parents can work on their marital issues. Without cell phones or Google, and with the expectation that they will do chores, these Brooklyn boys are in for some surprises. Through humor and sincerity, this novel maintains a positive message while also tackling important issues like grief and loss.

    Since many of my Brooklyn students return to school in September with fantastic stories of summers they spend down south with family, I think the characters and situations in As Brave As You will resonate with many of their experiences.

    See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

    The Golden Record, sent deep into space by NASA on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977, is a collection of images, record greetings, and sounds intended to tell the story of human existence on earth to extraterrestrials, if they’re out there. Inspired by this, 11-year-old Alex Petroski, the main character in See You in the Cosmos, records everything on his Golden iPod that he plans to launch into space on a self-constructed rocket. As Alex travels alone to launch his rocket, he searches for, and records, answers to big questions about life, love, and bravery.         

    With these books filling up my beach bag, I look forward to reading my way through the long, lazy days of summer.

    What books are you reading this summer? As you make your list, be sure to check out Scholastic’s collection of summer reading resources, and happy reading!

    I’m constantly on the lookout for hot new books to share with my students to keep them excited and motivated to read. However, like most teachers, it is nearly impossible to find the time during the school year to read all of these books. As a result, I take full advantage of the summer months to catch up on my reading, so come September, I’m ready with a brand new batch of books to share with my students.

    This summer, you’re sure to find these books with me at the beach.

    The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

    I don’t think there could be a better recipe for a summer book than a gripping whodunit mystery with compelling, well-developed characters. The Goldfish Boy delivers on both. Confined to his bedroom because of an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a debilitating fear of germs, 12-year-old Matthew carefully observes the outside world going on around him from his bedroom window. Matthew learns a great deal about his neighborhood from this vantage point. So, after a neighborhood toddler vanishes, Matthew commits to use what he knows to solve the mysterious disappearance despite struggling with his own fears and challenges.

     

    Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

    Now that she’s in middle school, Amina begins to realize things in her life are changing. Amina struggles to find her voice during this time while navigating changes in friendships at school, in her Pakistani American family, and from within her close Muslim community.

    I think many of my middle school students will be able to relate to Amina’s experiences as she works to develop her personal identity. For more information about Amina’s Voice and discussion questions, I recommend this classroom guide from the Anti-Defamation League.

     

    The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

    To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of fantasy novels. As a result, fantasies are low on the list of books I typically recommend to students. I do recognize the consequences of my bias against the genre, and I’m making a conscious effort to address it.

    To challenge my aversion to fantasy, I immediately added The Girl Who Drank The Moon to my reading list after it won the 2017 Newbery Medal. The Girl Who Drank The Moon is an epic fantasy that includes witches, dragons, and swamp monsters all woven together by the powerful force of magic. I look forward to spending my summer delightfully lost in this magical world.

    Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham 

    As many of us can attest to, finding and keeping real friends is not easy. This is especially true in elementary school when young people are first learning the intricacies of friendship. In an honest graphic memoir, Shannon Hale explores the challenges she experienced in elementary school to develop and maintain friendships.

    Since other graphic memoirs like Smile and El Deafo are some of the most popular books in my classroom library, I’m excited to introduce my students to Real Friends.

    The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla


    In The Someday Birds, Charlie has a very particular way of doing things. This is completely disrupted after his father is critically injured while working as a journalist in Afghanistan. Charlie is pushed beyond his comfort zones as he travels across the country with his siblings to be with his father.

    This book was recommended to me by the parent of a son with an autism spectrum disorder. As she read the book with her son, she told me both of them recognized and identified with Charlie’s particular behaviors and fixations. I hope reading the story from Charlie’s perspective will allow students to develop a sense of empathy for others.

    As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds 

    As Brave As You is the type of book precisely made for a long summer day. Genie and Ernie are two brothers from Brooklyn. They are sent for the summer to rural Virginia to stay with grandparents they barely know so their parents can work on their marital issues. Without cell phones or Google, and with the expectation that they will do chores, these Brooklyn boys are in for some surprises. Through humor and sincerity, this novel maintains a positive message while also tackling important issues like grief and loss.

    Since many of my Brooklyn students return to school in September with fantastic stories of summers they spend down south with family, I think the characters and situations in As Brave As You will resonate with many of their experiences.

    See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

    The Golden Record, sent deep into space by NASA on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977, is a collection of images, record greetings, and sounds intended to tell the story of human existence on earth to extraterrestrials, if they’re out there. Inspired by this, 11-year-old Alex Petroski, the main character in See You in the Cosmos, records everything on his Golden iPod that he plans to launch into space on a self-constructed rocket. As Alex travels alone to launch his rocket, he searches for, and records, answers to big questions about life, love, and bravery.         

    With these books filling up my beach bag, I look forward to reading my way through the long, lazy days of summer.

    What books are you reading this summer? As you make your list, be sure to check out Scholastic’s collection of summer reading resources, and happy reading!

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