Recommended Summer Reading

Recently, I was looking through my credit card statement and was surprised (and a little bit concerned) to see how many books I had downloaded to my Kindle this summer.  I used to live close to the central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, so I often popped in there to stock up on … Continue reading Recommended Summer Reading

Two Novels to Savor: I’LL BE THERE and PARCHED

When I was in high school, I first read a novel by the writer Alice McDermott and was blown away.  I shared it with a friend and was surprised when she still hadn’t finished it a few weeks later.  Did she not like it?  She assured me that she did.  “I have to read it … Continue reading Two Novels to Savor: I’LL BE THERE and PARCHED

Crafting Likable Characters Who Make Mistakes (with Lessons from Lyn Miller-Lachmann)

My seventh grade students recently finished reading Riot by Walter Dean Myers, which is set in New York City during the draft riots of 1863.  Because the students had studied immigration and visited the Tenement Museum and New York Historical Society during a trip to New York, they were familiar with the setting of Riot, … Continue reading Crafting Likable Characters Who Make Mistakes (with Lessons from Lyn Miller-Lachmann)

Book Binges

I love it when I discover an author a little late in the game, after he or she already has multiple novels out, so that I can finish one and pick up another without having to wait too long.  A couple of years ago, I fell in love with Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury High novels, and … Continue reading Book Binges

Reading Levels Don’t Tell You Everything: A Great Book Is a Great Book

This year, the theme for fifth and sixth grade English and social studies at my school is China.  Last winter and spring, I read several China-related novels as I tried to figure out my book list for sixth grade English.  I wanted a range of books that would engage sixth graders, expose them to aspects … Continue reading Reading Levels Don’t Tell You Everything: A Great Book Is a Great Book

CHAINS and FORGE: Historical Novels that Pass the Student-Interest Test

The English and social studies curricula at my school are integrated, so I end up teaching a lot of historical fiction.  It isn’t always easy to find a book that’s firmly grounded in a historical time and place and well-written and engaging for middle school readers.  But Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains and Forge are all … Continue reading CHAINS and FORGE: Historical Novels that Pass the Student-Interest Test

LIAR AND SPY: An Excellent Read-Aloud Novel

I love to include read alouds in my middle school English classroom.  That usually means choosing an effective read-aloud novel, reading somewhere between five and fifteen minutes per class, and giving students some time to discuss their reactions and predictions as we go.  I find that read alouds increase students’ enthusiasm about books and lead … Continue reading LIAR AND SPY: An Excellent Read-Aloud Novel