My Must Read Titles for 2019

For those readers and list makers, nothing is more exciting than January! The time to make an amazing list of books to read for the year!

Where will our reading lives take us? What adventures and emotions will we experience through the books we read? Always, there are endless possibilities.

So many books. Limited time.

New books to distract us from other books.

A must read list ensures not all are forgotten!

#MustReadin2019

Join the #MustReadin2019 community!

To read more about the challenge and add your list, read here.

MustReadnovels

Here are the 30 titles I am going to try and read over this year. As always these titles will represent only a portion of my reading. My goal? To read most of these. I use this list like a road map of where to turn next when I come to a pause in my reading choices. It is always waiting to guide me. But it also waits patiently when I am distracted by new books. Often, I am.

Making a list like this – a To Read list – also allows us to reflect on the reading that we want to do. I know I want to emphasize middle grade novels. I didn’t read as much as I usually do in 2018 so my list has more titles that are published in 2018 or earlier (19 titles) and fewer 2019 releases (11 titles).

Here is my list:

Published in 2018 or earlier

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

The Soul of an Octopus

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing

After Zero by Christina Collins

After Zero

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey, Kiddo

The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

The Dollar Kids

Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor
Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson Read January 6th 2019 5 stars

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

A Girl Like That

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

Far from the Tree

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Lu by Jason Reynolds

Lu

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

All that I can fix, chan

From You to Me by K.A. Holt

Girl sitting on pier and lookingat the river

Sweep The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

Sweep

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Tight

Wild Blues by Beth Kephart

Wild Blues

(Time Castaways #1) The Mona Lisa Key by Liesl Shurtliff

The Mona lisa key

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Published in 2019 

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Padma Venkatraman The Bridge Home

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

The Lost Girl

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Dig by A.S. King

Dig, King

Song for A Whale by Lynne Kelly

Song for A Whale

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Shouting at the Rain

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

OtherWordsHome

The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

To Night Owl from Dogfish

Where the Heart is by Jo Knowles

Where the Heart is

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James by Ashley Herring Blake

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James

What novels are at the top of your TBR list? Please share! 

 

Monday August 1st, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. Summer = no classroom photos of engaged students so I am sharing a sliver of my read aloud shelf newly set up in my new classroom. This is a tall shelf full of fiction (at the top) and nonfiction (at the bottom) read alouds and it makes me very happy!

Monday August 1st, 2016

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the Blog:

I still haven’t got my blogging momentum back so just this post from this week.

Celebration: Worries

Books I enjoyed:

Lots of wonderful picture books did make it into my week! Here are my favourites:

I want a Monster! by Elise Gravel

I have a thing for monsters. I find students love nothing more than creating, imagining and reading about monsters. This title is a must have for the primary classroom with a wonderful create your own monster step by step guide in the back – the perfect extension activity. Also great for a “pet” theme.

I want a Monster! by Elise Gravel Monday August 1st, 2016

Every Day Birds by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated by Dylan Metrano

I love the language (poetry) and the illustrations (cut paper) in this title that highlights birds that children may see in their every day lives. More details about each bird are at the back of the book. What a lovely gift book this would make for little nature lovers. Of better yet for kids that NEED to get out into nature more.

Every Day Birds Monday August 1st, 2016

Follow Me! by Ellie Sandall

I loved the repetitive language and the adorable pictures. A lovely story time title that invites participation!

Follow Me! by Ellie Sandall Monday August 1st, 2016

When Dad Showed me the Universe written by Ulf Stark and illustrated by Eva Eriksson

I really liked this book – while it deals with huge – universe sized – concepts it is also grounded in family routines, real life and yucky things we might step in. Philosophical, beautiful, quiet. Would be a wonderful shared read aloud with one child at a time.

When Dad Showed me the Universe Monday August 1st, 2016

Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds by Marianne Dubuc

If this book had existed when my own children were pre school age, I know we would have owned it. Illustrations to get lost in as we follow Mr. Postmouse on his route.

Mr. Postmouse's Rounds Monday August 1st, 2016

Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies

This book. I am REALLY trying to not buy any new books until I figure out where to put all of my current books in my new classroom. But, this book . . . I think I need to own it. It is pretty precious and allows us to talk about loss in a gentle, imaginative way.

Grandad's Island Monday August 1st, 2016

Can I Tell you a Secret? by Anna Kang and Christophe Weyant

Why not get a little help from your readers if you are a picture book character that isn’t overly courageous?

Can I Tell you a Secret? Monday August 1st, 2016

One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

Absolutely delightful!! The language is fun – Eucalyptus is full of a lot of syllables and is more entertaining than one would think to say again and again! And these illustrations . . .

One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree Monday August 1st, 2016

Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles

There are many things that make this an appealing and important middle grade read. Noah, the main character offers the reader humour, an honest voice and a glimpse into the challenges of middle school, friendship and identity. This part of the story is delivered with lots of humour, believable vulnerabilities and a realistic seventh grader voice. Noah’s life is about more than school and figuring out how to be a teenager. There are struggles at home as he and his parents dance around older sister Emma’s struggles with eating and control. Because this is Noah’s story and not Emma’s, the story line focuses on what it is like to face a health/mental health crisis in a family – an important perspective that Knowles lets us explore. Emma and Noah have a lovely sibling relationship but this is hardly perfect family life. Real, honest and sometimes heartbreaking. Highly recommended for readers 10 and up.
I was pleased to win an ARC of this novel in a Goodreads giveaway.

Still a Work in Progress Monday August 1st, 2016

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 29/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 201/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 28/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 26/50 books read

Up next? I am still reading  Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña. Our new family read aloud is Rescued by Eliot Schrefer.

Sad books: Slice of Life #15

Be warned, I am about to rant a little. Yikes and oh my, I think we need to be so careful with how we talk about books we don’t like.

I just read a comment about how books about grief are boring. Okay, sure, not every reader loves every kind of book. Personal preference reigns supreme in the literary world. I just don’t understand why some people bash emotional books. If a book explores death, grief, sickness, pain or suffering, it is painted with a wide sloppy brush saturated in black paint: too dark, too sad, too depressing, to be avoided.

It is “too easy to write about grief” the criticism continued. Grief seems, to me, one of the most complicated things to write about. At least to write well. It is comprised of such a range of feelings: anger, sadness, guilt, confusion, pain. To hit all of these things correctly for a character. Believably. Honestly. This is not easy.

Grief and hope are intertwined. When a character stands balanced precariously between them, that is when the reader feels the most. Achieving that balance in life or in words, is not even close to easy.  But it is truly beautiful.

Sad Books #sol16

Readers seek out what they need. When we find books that allow us to experience emotions we can explore vicariously and from a distance, a book can really be the right book at the right time.

Stories let us choose our vantage point: witness, companion, fully immersed. That choice keeps us safe. That choice lets us have the experience we need.

I know I have avoided highly emotional books out of fear of my own strong reactions. Books that especially scare me? Books where children die, go missing or contract an incurable disease. But honestly, when I finally pick up emotional titles and let myself be surrounded by the story, it is here, where I feel the most human. Sometimes, turned inside out and raw but sharp and clear and wiser.

Not that I am an advocate for only sad books. Hardly! Different readers want different experiences and they seek out books looking for a myriad of things: adventure, action, humour, drama, escape, high fantasy, etc. No one genre makes us more or less of a reader.

For a while I thought amusing stories were fun but kind of forgettable. Then I began sharing silly, funny and absurd stories with my students. There is nothing like the amused joy of a room full of children sharing a story together! Laughing deep and contagiously? It doesn’t get much better.

Lots of books. Lots of genres. Available for lots of readers. This is how it should be. If we are in the business of helping books land in the hands of readers, we should not be painting any genre with a dismissive sweep. Instead, we should be polishing the shelves and helping them all shine.

And since I feel the current need to be champion for highly emotional stories (of the middle grade/young adult variety), I am going to share ten of my favourites.

Read one or all ten.

Cry a little and feel big.

The older I get, the more I realize that every time your heart breaks a little, it heals a little stronger with room for more.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Bird written by Crystal Chan

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

See you at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

The Summer of Letting Go written by Gae Polisner

The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Each Little Bird That Sings written by Deborah Wiles

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Monday September 14th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. I now have a class again and as media consent forms get signed, I can begin sharing photos of the reading happening in my room. Here is a photo of my new class voting on our favourite #classroombookaday of the week. They were so excited! Some thought that because they voted for the book that received the most votes that they had won! Very cute.

Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

A review of the book Sloth Slept On with student reactions

My weekly celebration: 5 words which reflect my first week

Books I loved:

Where’s Walrus? And Penguin? by Steven Savage

As I was reading this book, I forgot it was wordless. The story is so engaging and clever.

Where's Walrus? And Penguin? Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Ellie by Mike Wu

Ellie wants to save the zoo but also to find what makes her special. A sweet little story of perseverance and caring.

ellie Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon

A sloth is discovered by three children sleeping in a tree. Just who is this creature? And . . . what should they do with him? Lots of fun.

Sloth Slept On Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva

Wow, this book impressed me. Such a tale about approaching the world with a unique perspective and creativity.

Young Frank, Architect Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Dandelion’s Tale written by Kevin Sheehan and illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

The desire to be remembered, the cycle of life – some heavy themes in a delightful picture book.

the dandelion's tale Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

What in the World?: Numbers in Nature written by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

Perfect to inspire looking closely at the world and finding numbers everywhere we look.

What in the World Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles

Lots of sadness and despair here. Such an interesting concept. Despite all of the different narrators, this title really held my attention. A well written, powerful book.

Read between the lines Monday September 14th, 2015 IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 52/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 322/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 16/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 59/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 36/50 books read

Up next? I am reading a number of titles including The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.

TTT

This week’s topic? Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

I decided to stick to middle grade and young adult titles.  I chose authors where I have read three or more titles and who I can’t read to read more from.

 Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Shared alphabetically by author and featuring one of my favourite titles from each:

Kate DiCamillo How to pick a favourite DiCamillo title? I have to choose Flora and Ulysses because it was pure pleasure to read this aloud to my class. Some sentences were better than the best chocolate in my mouth. And yes, there is that Newbery medal . . . 🙂

flora and ulysses  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Beth Kephart There is such a beautiful quality to Kephart‘s writing. I love many of her books but I think Going Over is my favourite.

Going Over Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Shannon Hale I have read many, many Shannon Hale titles but I think the book that I would read again and again is Princess Academy. It is one title that every child I pass it to absolutely loves.

 Princess Academy  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

A.S. King I fell fast after I read my first A.S. King title. My favourite? Everybody Sees the Ants Lucky Linderman is unforgettable.

Everybody Sees the Ants  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Jo Knowles is another author that after reading one book, I went on to read every book. Which book hit me hardest? See You at Harry’s I was a weepy mess reading this beautiful book.

 See You at Harry's  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

It will be no surprise to Barbara O’Connor that she is on this list I am sure. She is probably the author I most often recommend to be read aloud in the classroom. But I think it is this book – Greetings from Nowhere that is most often on my mind as of late. I think it is calling me to reread it.

 Greetings from Nowhere  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Kenneth Oppel may be the author I have most often read aloud to my own children. But my favourite from him is one I read just on my own: Half Brother. I treasure my signed copy.

 Half Brother  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Andrew Smith seemed to write books faster than I could read them. After hearing him speak, I now know why this appeared to be the case.. I love the characters in Winger so much that this is my favourite title.

Winger  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Even though I am highly addicted to the Raven Boys titles, it is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater that I love best.

 Scorpio Races  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for That

Deborah Wiles – oh this author. Again, I am choosing a title that was such a delight to read aloud: Each Little Bird that Sings Such a beautiful book full of heartbreak and hope.

each little bird  Ten MG and YA authors I read the most from There's a Book for ThatWhich authors have you read again and again?

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out

I am celebrating the characters in middle grade and young adult novels who make strong impressions. When you read a lot of novels, there is the wonderful opportunity to “meet” many incredible characters. First, it was these 25 boys that I wanted to highlight. Now, it’s time for the girls!

These are the female characters who have stayed with me. I sometimes worry about them. I stop and remember their actions. The big and bold things and the quietly brave. I admire their choices, the way they move on from mistakes, their soul searching. I honour these 25 girls who live beyond the pages of the books they live in.

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Sophie in Endangered written by Eliot Schrefer

Endangered In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Francesca Schnell in The Summer of Letting Go written by Gae Polisner

The Summer of Letting Go In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Flora Belle Buckman in Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo

flora and ulysses In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Marlee in The Lions of Little Rock written by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock  In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Jewel in Bird written by Crystal Chan

Bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Comfort Snowberger in Each Little Bird That Sings written by Deborah Wiles

each little bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Fern in See you at Harry’s written by Jo Knowles

 see You at Harry's In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Vera in Please Ignore Vera Dietz written by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgie Burkhardt in One Came Home written by Amy Timberlake

one came home In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

May in May B. written by Caroline Starr Rose

May-B In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hattie Brooks in Hattie Big Sky written by Kirby Larson

hattie-big-sky In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Calpurnia Virginia Tate in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate written by Jacqueline Kelly

Evolution-of-Calpurnia-Tate In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucy in Half a Chance written by Cynthia Lord

Half a Chance In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Josie in Out of the Easy written by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Stargirl Caraway in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

stargirl In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gloriana (Glory) June Hemphill in Glory Be written by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gabi Hernandez in Gabi, A Girl in Pieces written by Isabel Quintero

Gabi A girl in pieces In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Turtle in Turtle in Paradise written by Jennifer L. Holm 

 Turtle in Paradise In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak

book thief In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgina Hayes in How to Steal a Dog written by Barbara O’Connor

 how to Steal a Dog In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hayley Kincain in The Impossible Knife of Memory written by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossible knife In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Rose in Rain Reign written by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Carley Connors in One for the Murphys written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

OnefortheMurphys In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Piddy Sanchez in Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass written by Meg Medina

yaqui In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Willow Chance in  Counting by 7s written by Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting by 7s In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out

I read a lot. As in hundreds and hundreds of books a year. Many, yes, are picture books. But many are novels. 95% of these are middle grade and young adult novels. So, in some ways, I can say I “meet” a lot of young people. Some make me cry. Some leave me laughing. Some inspire. I have a myriad of emotions as I read about each of these young fictional lives: confusion, hope, worry, relief, upset, happiness . . .

These characters often stay with me. And because they do, I want to honour them here. These boys*, in the pages of the books where they live, impressed me in notable ways. I admire so many of them for their honesty, their growth, their vulnerability, their hard choices, their loyalty, their mistakes, their learning and their endurance.

In their own way, each is brave and real. Meeting them will enrich every reader.

 In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Doug Swieteck in Okay for Now written by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Miguel in We Were Here written by Matt de la Peña

We Were Here  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Nate Foster in Better Nate than Ever written by Tim Federle

Better Nate than Ever  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That,

Jack in Dead End in Norvelt written by Jack Gantos

 Dead End in Norvelt  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ben in Half Brother written by Kenneth Oppel

 Half Brother  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Travis in Blue Fish written by Pat Schmatz

bluefish  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Fadi in Shooting Kabul written by N.H. Senzai

Shooting-Kabul-Senzai  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Matt in The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds

boy in the black suit  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moon in Alabama Moon written by Watt Key

 Alabama Moon  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Holling Hoodhood in The Wednesday Wars written by Gary D. Schmidt

 The Wednesday Wars  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucky Linderman in Everybody Sees the Ants written by A.S. King

 Everybody Sees the Ants  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Oscar in The Real Boy written by Anne Ursu

 The Real Boy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Moses in Crow written by Barbara Wright

Crow  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

 Victor (a.k.a. “Little Man”) in Paperboy by Vince Vawter

 Paperboy  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Julian in Twerp written by Mark Goldblatt

twerp  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Josh in Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

 Living with Jackie Chan  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for ThatJoey in Nest written by Esther Ehrlich

Nest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ali in When I Was the Greatest written by Jason Reynolds 

when I was the greatest  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albert in Fish in a Tree written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish In A Tree  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Albie in Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Absolutely Almost  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Junior in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie

absolutely true  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Jack in Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson 

Small_as_an_Elephant  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Ryan Dean West in Winger written by Andrew Smith

Winger  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Peter Stone in Wish Girl written by Nikki Loftin

Wish Girl  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Steven in Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie written by Jordan Sonnenblick

Drums Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick  In the world of books: 25 boys who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

*Coming soon: In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out