Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year-End Programming, Part 3

Today, I'm listing the best children's and young adult books I've read in 2014.

I'm going to say right up front that if you really want the best recommendations for children's and YA lit, you need to follow Judy.  Judy has enhanced my curriculum and my life with her book recs.  You too can have this benefit by following her on Twitter.  Just do it.  Most of the books on this list I've read because of her and my other elementary and YA enthusiast pals, Lee, Nance (who provides many of my early elementary recs, which I didn't include in my total this year), and mm.

Here we go!  The best children's and YA titles I've read this year.  I read 16 books in this category.  Here are top 5 in alpha order by author.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.  This is a story about a high school kid, Hayley, who copes with her dad's debilitating and unpredictable PTSD.  She perseveres, her anger - at her dad and the others who have failed her - simmering. Her default defensiveness caused a heaviness in my chest.  The book is full of feeling and is ultimately hopeful.  It's for 8th graders and older.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.  I covered this text yesterday in my list of favorite non-fiction.  It's truly excellent, and I think it can be enjoyed by readers aged 10 and up.  Maybe younger.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  This book got a lot of hype, and as far as I can tell, it was well-deserved.  An outsider, Eleanor, is unconditionally befriended by a neighbor and schoolmate, Park.  An unlikely, perfect romance begins. This was raw, realistic, and heartbreaking.  I love Park, and I love Rowell.  I read two of her books this year (the other was Attachments), and they were both lovely and spot-on.  This one is for older middle-school kids, high school kids, and adults.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.  This, like Eleanor & Park, is another tear-jerker with a lovable outsider at the center.  Willow Chance is an odd, endearing first-person narrator who frankly describes her experience of grief and redemption.  Her obsessions with gardening and skin ailments personalize her genius. Other characters share the spotlight in 3rd-person chapters. It's really excellent. Target audience, I think, is 4th-7th grade, as well as adults.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  I blurbed this yesterday in the list of my favorite non-fiction.  Double thumbs-up.  Many ages could enjoy all or part of this text.

Here are my next favorites:
  • The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle
  • Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
  • If I Know It's Coming by Nick Hupton
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
And here are the others, all of which I'd recommend to students, depending on their interests:
  • The Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney
  • The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  • Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando


mm said...

I'm now following Judy on Twitter!

jdoc said...

I received an Audible membership and a Kindle for Christmas this year, and your lists are my guide! Thank you!

LH said...

I loved Counting by 7's very much. You've read so many great books. I'm v. inspired.
Judy and Nance are the awesomest book people around. And now I find out that Judy's on Pinterest??? This is mind-blowing stuff.