The 5th graders are always a surprising bunch. During book talks today (is it booktalks or book talks?) they offered reads from fantasy to science fiction to historical fiction. Needless to say, we’ve a diverse bunch of readers, but when a student brought up Erin Hunter’s Warriors series, it made me think back on the type of reader I was at their age.
I was a book-mobile-making fiend.
Back in the day, my favorite book related project involved a hanger, string, and some index cards. I made an endless assortment of hanging mobiles that, in retrospect, may or may not have stunned my teacher: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Added to that was that my sister and I (I’m a twin) both reveled in making these mobiles AND had the same teacher…
I’m pretty sure traditional book reports were put back in play the following year.
Yet the variety of stories that students have at their disposal today is astonishing. Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver. Had I been a student with the release of dystopian books, I have to wonder: would I be capable of a) understanding the material and b) enjoying it? What’s more, when broaching book talks with students who are predisposed to liking books that are popular on the big screen and with topics that toe the line of young adult material, I’m torn between giving them what they want and playing it safe.
And so, I research middle grade appropriate dystopian stories: Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden series, the ever controversial The Giver by Lois Lowry, Kate Messner’s excellent recommendation of Crunch by Leslie Connor (about a family that sells bikes in the midst of an oil shortage).
And in between, a few possible titles to appeal to the interests of students at school:
Holly Black’s creepy Doll Bones
Holly Black’s creepy Doll Bones, about 3 children on that edge of childhood and adulthood, who still play with toys, including Queen, a doll containing the bones of a young girl Eleanor who wants to be properly buried back home.
Avi’s supernatural The Seer of Shadows, which pits rationality against the magical, and touches on the historical field (a surprise for me) of spirit photography.
Avi’s supernatural Seer of Shadows
And Tone Almhjell’s Narnia like Twistrose Key, in which a gal, observing that her house is unusual (frost never melts outside in the flower beds, clocks are always slow within the house), finds a key that opens a door in the cellar into the world of Sylver where beloved pets that have passed on are live and well…facing trolls who threaten the peace in their world.
Narinia-like Tone Almhjell’s Twistrose Key
In efforts to try to bring our circulation system a little closer to the 21st century, I’ve made pins on pinterest and hope to include them on the main search screen in Alexandria. If you’re so inclined to find a book in a particular genre (fantasy, mystery, adventure, realistic fiction, fairy tales, sports, historical fiction) look me up, or follow my boards via cathylinmjs.
In the way of all things, there’s always so much to talk about (Jordon Sonnenblick’s touching Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie which I likened to Wonder in terms of feel good endings) and never enough time to just sit down and read.
Drop me a line, let’s talk books.