"Teachers are solar powered. They recharge during the summer." – Unknown
These are the books I'm reading this summer.
1. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling -- Genre: Realistic Fiction/Life Problems
What would it be like to be born without arms?
What would it be like to be without arms and move to a new town and school in junior high?
2. How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Conner -- Genre: Realistic Fiction/Life Problems
This story combines homelessness, a very cute dog (who is not homeless) a spunky girl, and figuring out how to steal a dog.
3. The Hate U Give (Realistic Contemporary Fiction) by Angie Thomas -- Warning: a lot of language and some violence and sex. It includes both positive and negative family relationships and role models. If you're interested in reading this, I'd advise talking with a parent about it, and waiting until you're in high school.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
4. Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and Melissa Marr. Because I teach the mythology class, I've been looking for more novels that are based on mythology. The main characters are descendants of the Norse Gods who must stop Ragnarok (while other descendants try to bring it on). I hope to read the other two books in the series -- Odin's Ravens and Thor's Serpents.
5. The Silver Penny by Randall Wright
Twelve-year-old Jacob (whose nickname is Deb) lives on a farm in the early 1800s in Pennsylvania and has a bad case of wanderlust. No hex can keep him from yearning for far-off places, and neither can a broken leg. But it can keep him from moving around at all. Deb is so miserable that he even misses doing chores. Nothing cheers him up -- not his cousin Tam and especially not that strange boy Bray who's been hanging about.
The only glimmer of brightness in Deb's life comes from Grandpa's lucky silver penny, which keeps mysteriously showing up. Soon its strange powers lead him on a journey that might be just the cure he needs. -- summary adapted from Amazon.
This is a strange book -- a mix of historical fiction and magical realism -- but I enjoyed reading it. Mr. Wright is a local author.
6. Red Queen -- (Dystopian Fiction) - by Victoria Aveyard - There are suggestions that this is a world that developed after some great destruction of what could have been our world. People have evolved into two types -- those with red blood who have become the servant/slave class, and those with silver blood who have special powers and rule absolutely and with cruelty. Mare has red blood, but she and the silver royals discover that she too has a special, dangerous power. The royals attempt to use her for their own purposes, and she soon learns that "anyone can betray anyone." This is a four book series. I very much enjoyed the first book.
7. The Night Diary (Historical Fiction) -- by Veera Hiranandani -- Nisha and her twin brother are twelve years old and live with their Hindu physician father, their grandmother, and their Muslim cook and gardener Kazi in the part of India that in 1947 became Pakistan. Their mother (who died when they were born) was Muslim, so there had been some disapproval when their father and mother had married, but in general Hindus, Muslims, and Sihks all got along fine in their community until Great Britain gave India its freedom and the leaders decided there should be one country for Muslims and another for Hindus. For her twelfth birthday, Kazi has given Nisha a diary, and Nisha decides she will use it to write every night to her dead mother. The diary becomes the record of her family's flight from what was their home and is now dangerous and often deadly for Hindus. If you liked reading Refugee, you will probably also find this book very interesting.
Enrique's Journey (adapted for young people) (Nonfiction) by Sonia Nazario
This nonfiction book tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who attempts (several times) to travel from his home country of Honduras to the United States to find his mother. She had left him and his sister in the care of family members when he was five. Her husband had left the family and she was desperate to support her children -- providing them with food, clothing, and perhaps even education.
Educated: A Memoir (Autobiography) by Tara Westover -- Tara grew up in Southern Idaho with survivalist parents. She was not sent to either elementary or secondary school but eventually taught herself enough to be accepted to a university at age seventeen, then goes on to Cambridge and Harvard.
The Lost Girls of Paris (Historical Fiction) by Pam Jenoff -- I enjoyed reading it, but it fell short of what it could have been. This is one of those books where it feels like the author tried to wrap up the ending too quickly.
“Fraught with danger, filled with mystery, and meticulously researched, The Lost Girls of Paris is a fascinating tale of the hidden women who helped to win the war.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours -- comment found on Amazon.
Becoming (Autobiography) by Michelle Obama
This is Michelle Obama's autobiography. Regardless of the reader's political views, it is both interesting and inspirational.
Abandoned books: (both of these are books for adults)
Lincoln in the Bardo -- too strange and too crass for my taste
I, Eliza Hamilton -- Good, but I had other books I'd rather read at the time.
Other books you might be interested in:
I haven't read all of these books, but other teachers are recommending them. You could check CommonSenseMedia for more information on at least some of them.
Suggestions for Summer Reading --
If you haven't read
the Harry Potter series,
or Percy Jackson,
or Magnus Chase,
or the Legend Series,
or Hunger Games,
Matched (a community a lot like that of The Giver, but with very interesting differences),
the other books related to The Giver: Gathering Blue, Messenger, Son,
or Arc of a Scythe,
I Am Number Four,
Among the Hidden,
Diary of a Wimpy Kid,
Sammy Keyes series, (girl detective extraordinaire -- and very funny),
this could be the time.
Individual Books (some have other related books):
Or how about
or any of Alan Gratz's books (he wrote Refugee),
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander,
The Secret Life of Bees,
Out of My Mind,
Al Capone Does My Shirts,
The Fourth Stall,
The Hobbit (and The Lord of the Rings series),
Savvy (three books),
Walk Two Moons,
When You Reach Me.