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June 8, 2015 Summer Reading — It's Not Just for Kids By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    At the end of the school year, I usually have a list of books that I decide to read during the summer for professional reasons. Whether it is to stay ahead of the curve and become more familiar with the current trends in education, or to strengthen my knowledge base, I use the summer for my professional growth. I think it is funny that the general population has this notion that teachers have the summers off. Yes, we may not be teaching in the classroom (although some of us may be teaching summer school), but most teachers I know use the summer to prepare for their upcoming classes.

    This summer I decided to change things up a bit. My approach is definitely to read, but I am switching the genre. This year will be pleasure reading. It’s not what you’re thinking . . . no Fifty Shades of Grey, instead my reading focus will be aligned to what middle school kids are reading. My current students are my reason for the change-up. Listening to them talk about the latest books with such gusto really piques my interest. Eavesdropping on their conversations about Katniss or Peeta in the Hunger Games series or the characters in the new, hot, must-read Divergent series have left me feeling out of touch. Using this as my motivation, my summer reading plan will focus more on books that I could create a book buzz about.

    So, here I go: My Must Read List for the Summer (I am mindful that this list of books may change):


    The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale


    Like many schools around the country, my school has zero tolerance for bullying. This book, which is written in journal form, covers such a relevant topic. Some of my students ordered The Bully Book this year. Each year, our units of study start with "Turning Kids Into Readers" and "Personal Narrative Writing." I am hoping that this book will fit the needs of both my reading and writing units. I must admit that I find the blurb on the back intriguing: "To Whom It May Concern: This is a record of The Bully Book and what it did to me. How I fought it, and the way it fought back . . . I used to think The Bully Book was a myth. Then maybe a mystery I could solve."


    Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm


    I am drawn to books that speak to middle school students. This book reminds me of one of my favorite series, Amelia's Notebook, but in a more grown-up fashion. Skimming through the book, I noticed the reader-friendly format and eye-catching visuals. This looks like a fun and fast read.


    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

    The Common Core State Standards have an expectation that students read various texts around the same subject. The Book Thief would pair with nonfiction reading surrounding World War II, and would be a welcome addition to Number the Stars and Behind the Bedroom WallI could also integrate clips from the movie to enhance my instruction.


    Countdown by Deborah Wiles

    This book will be welcome addition to either my historical fiction or social issues units. Set in the 1960s, Countdown touches on the politics of the Cold War and growing up during this tense time in history. As a child of the sixties, I can identify with the news articles that are weaved into the storyline. It definitely brings back memories.


    Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth

    I'm reading these two because I really just need to find out what the kids are talking about and join the conversation!

    Well it looks like I have my reading list in place. If you need more ideas, you can check the Scholastic summer reading lists here for some great titles. Tune back in September to see how I made out!

    What are you and your students reading this summer? Please share!



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Susan Cheyney