Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Finding

I've been relearning something I've known for many years: it's very difficult to find THE PERFECT BOOK to read with a class of kids.  Our sixth grade teaching team is looking for something we can use at the start of the year to open our readers' workshop, teach elements of fiction, and hook our reluctant readers.  After several conversations, we've discovered that we would like a fast read with a male protagonist and perhaps a male author.  We'd like it to fit with our first humanities unit, which is about the groups to which we belong.  I've sampled a number of books and had a hard time finding one that's GREAT.  Here's some we've tried:
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.  This book has a girl protagonist and a woman author.  Also, several members of the team were bothered that the story seemed really unrealistic in certain places.
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  Well, this book is awesome, but we found out that at least a quarter of our incoming 6th graders have already read it.  Too bad because I loved it, and so did Dan and Shef when we listened to it during a drive to the cabin.
  • Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.  I like this book, but I fear it's too long for our purposes and maybe not immediately as gripping as need be.
  • Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson.  I've read half of this book, and I'm worried that the message about rule-breaking is too negative, as is the portrayal of middle school students and teachers.  The teachers are actually drawn as lizards.  The English teacher, especially.  Maybe I should just get over myself?
  • A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.  Girl-Woman again.  Plus, I guess people who have the condition that's described in the book take offense at its portrayal here.  The condition is called Synesthesia.
  • The Misfits by James Howe. This one is too dated and reinforces stereotypes rather than challenging them, IMO.
There are also several I haven't started yet, like Okay for Now, which seems long.  Also something about Milo, which is on the Maud Hart Lovelace list for this year.  Something about Milo and Sticky Notes.  I'm also reading Liar & Spy just to see.

At this point, it seems like finding the PERFECT BOOK is a tall order. But, we're trying. I'm learning a ton while trying about various writers and characters.  Bonus for me.


mm said...

Wonder was great, but the others were average to below average (IMHO) although I haven't read A Mango... Okay for Now is on my list. Milo and Sticky Notes is dumb... just saying. I can't wait to hear about the perfect book... Have you considered the Red Kayak... a bit dated, but...

mm said...

How about...
The Tinfoil Sky or Bluefish....

LH said...

I've only read Wonder. So, that's not good. I've gotta get it together in the reading department.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Doll Bones by Holly Black?

Anonymous said...

Center of Everything
Pairie Evers
Three Times Lucky
Lions of Little Rock(historical fiction)
One for the Murphy's
Breadcrumbs (fantasy)