Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ms. Esme Recommends: SUMMER READING!

Here we go, Stone Bookworms!  Summer days ahead, with so many lovely, lazy days to read!  Please scroll down for some of the best newer chapter books for children ages 9-12, with both new and classic follow-ups by genre.

But that's not all!  More suggestions by grade level (including young adult literature) by clicking here!


Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi.  Aru has lit the ancient lamp and released The Sleeper, and now must enter the Kingdom of Death to find the key to the monster's defeat.  Part journey, part coming-of-age, fans of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan will thrill to this cliffhanging adventure based in Hindu mythology.

Everything Jennifer Nielsen writes is pretty much amazing, but start with The False Prince, the story of Sage, a boy who is dragged from an orphanage and forced into a plot to impersonate the king.  He must win the right to do so over other boys or lose his life.  High treason and high adventure, talk about a page-turner!  This was a favorite of our Junior Librarian team.

Need more excitement?  You'll also like:
The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
The Collectors by Jacqueline West
The Adventurer's Guild by Zack Loran Clark
The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Eager by Helen Fox


The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon.  Summer at home seems sleepy until a charismatic older kid moves in to the neighborhood, enlisting two brothers to assist in a plan to trade things for higher and higher value until their greatest dream in achieved.  But Styx has a secret that could derail the whole plan.  This award-winning book has a lot of laughs, a lot of heart and a lot to say about friendship.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. What's it like to move to Cincinnati from a war zone?
Gracefully told in verse in the style of Thannha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again that so many of our students enjoyed, meet Jude as she tries to transition from Syria.
You'll also find strong characters and literary friends to make here:
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mulally Hunt
Love Like Sky by Leslie C. Youngblood
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
The First Rule of Punk by Celia Pérez
Restart by Gordon Korman


The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton.  Like solving mysteries?  Then join this team of three middle school students as they compete for a $4,000 scholarship, secretly teaming up and using their special talents to solve more of a mystery than they bargained for.  Fans of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer will appreciate all the Chicago shout-outs in this book!

You'll also find clues to the mystery of what to read next here:
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
Case Closed?  Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science by Susan Hughes
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch
The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange
The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius


The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman.  At first, being homeless on the streets of India afford some independence and adventure.  But when one of them falls ill, the problems will prove a challenge for this makeshift family of children.  I challenge you to stop reading this book once you start.  It's nearly impossible.

Here are a few more high-stakes stories to get your heart pumping:
Trouble Don't Last by Shelley Pearsall
24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling
La Linea by Ann Jaramillo


Sweep:  A Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier  Nan, A young chimney sweep thinks her life is lost in a house fire, only to find herself rescued by a golem, a strange and helpful creature.  Growing up in the time of child labor and rising antisemitism, Nan is going to need all the help she can get.  A powerful story full of honest historical detail that will resonate long after the last page is turned.

More terrific time-travel here:
The Great Trouble:  A Mystery of London, The Blue Death and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani


Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly.  Iris is a tech genius, but she is also deaf, and some of her gifts and talents are going unrecognized by her hearing friends.  When she learns about a whale who also has trouble communicating with his pod, Lynne must figure out a way to help...from three thousand miles away.  Written by a sign language interpreter, this story explores the many ways we can share the best of ourselves and will uplift readers.

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate.  People write their wishes on cloth and tie them to Red's branches.  The old oak tree has seen sit all, or so it seems, until  a new family moves in on the block and the power of wishes may become more necessary than ever.  Our students love The One and Only Ivan by this author, and this title continues to play with point of view and inspire empathy for all living things through en engaging story.

When you enjoy these, you will also want to check out
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
Wish by Barbara O'Connor
FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs
Redwall series by Brian Jacques


Nightbooks by J.A. White.  I can't really beat the flap cover description:  "A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling...This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm with interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales."  A book not only to shiver with and enjoy, but an inspiration to write our own spooky stories...yes, please!!!

If you still want a shiver, you'll also enjoy:
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Terrifying Tales:  Thirteen Scary Stories for Children by Shawn Cobb
Witches!  The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer
The Dream Stealer by Gregory Maguire
Anything and everything by Mary Downing Hahn


Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol.  In this autobiographical graphic novel, Vera is having a hard time fitting in with her Russian camp, which turns out to be much different than she expected. Want some more graphic novels for reading in the tent? Camp by Kayla Miller is a good follow-up, and the ever-popular Raina Tegelmeier has a new one, Guts, out just in time for summer reading!

Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron.  Who hasn't always wanted a "true blue" friend?  A mystery surrounding a mermaid brings two kids together, while the social foibles of the grown-ups around them threaten to tear them apart.  Funny and a tear-jerker, realistic and mysterious, this book manages a lot of balancing acts and will have you believing in summer magic.

Other must-reads just for summer fun:
The 13-Story Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
Rooster Summer by Robert Heidbreder


Did you know there are a few key things you can do before you even open a book to help scaffold your child's reading success?

• Turn on the closed-captioning option on your television set!  Even when your family is in front of a screen, your child will have more exposure to print.  In Scandinavia, most of the televisions are set this way and they have some of the highest literacy rates in the world, even though they don't start formal reading instruction until children are seven.  Use this best practice in your own home!

•  Play books on tape!  Did you know children can listen at a higher level than they can read?  Children with learning differences and challenges and ELL students especially benefit from having books read orally. Even fluent readers benefit from the modeling of read-aloud.  Though regular read-aloud across the grade levels is always the #1 choice to bolster achievement, working or exhausted parents, grab a book and play the audio, allowing children to follow along with the text for increased exposure to print and a chance to focus on comprehension instead of decoding.  It's not cheating, it's succeeding! Besides the many, many FREE audio books for kids available through the CPS Virtual Library, check out audible.com and getepic.com for additional audio resources for home use.  Also great for listening in the car!

• Sign up for the free summer reading program at the Chicago Public Library!  This year's theme is "Explorers at Play" and integrates lots of STEAM and nonfiction!  Perfect for our Stone Bookworms!  We are so lucky to have the brand new and extra beautiful Northtown Branch in our neighborhood, with allowances of up to fifty books per visit!  Especially for kindergarten and first grade, it's important to let them check out picture books and limited vocabulary selections by the pile.  A special bag or box to keep library books separate from home collections or damage will help de-stress your young reader (and you) and ensure timely returns.  Please say hello to our public library partners Ms. Amy (children's) and Ms. Alex (young adult)!  They will guide you to these titles and further fabulous reading!

•  Let the children choose!  Instinctively, as parents, we try to get children to challenge themselves and "level up," but summer is especially the time for children to read for pleasure and to follow their interests and private motivations without so much attention to levels.  Let them select without judgement: comic books, cook books, seemingly endless series books, magazines, nonfiction that seems way too hard, picture books that seem way too easy...let your child explore, find their own way to identifying as a reader, not just as a test-taker for now. These book recommendations above are intended as springboards into discovery, not assignments. When children read for pleasure, they read for life!

More hints for preventing the summer reading slide here!
More Stone Bookworm book recommendations by grade level here!
More books that celebrate diversity here!
Ms. Esme's favorite picture books and more here!
Looking forward to your own recommendations in the comments section!
Happy summer and happy reading!

Links for informational purposes, please support your public library and local independent bookseller.  
Thanks to the Junior Librarians for their bulletin board design and their wonderful help all year.

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