Thursday, March 19, 2009

Books popular with my 5th graders, and some ideas to help you help them

I am always on the lookout for recommended reads, and I often get requests for a list of books for a specific grade level. There are lots of lists of recommended books out there--right at our fingertips--so, with all the lists out there, how do you know which list is the best one for you to use with your child (or students)? The best thing I've found so far is to just take it on a case by case basis. I'll include a few tips first, then a list of series and titles that are popular with my students, and some links to just a few websites that may be helpful for you.

A few tips:
  • Know your child/student--For example: Is this child inclined to have nightmares? If yes, don't choose "scary" stories"
  • Know what your child is interested in--does this child prefer action? fantasy? mysteries?
  • Let your child see you read something you enjoy.
  • Know how to help your child pick books that are "just right" for them--there is a simple strategy for this that doesn't require test results or any thing complicated--check out the five-finger rule
  • If you have concerns about certain topics or issues of language, use your child's reading choices as an opportunity to discuss these issues with your child.
and finally
  • If you want to encourage your child to read for fun, please, give your child some freedom of choice. It's OKAY for them to choose picture books, graphic novels, non-fiction, "easy" chapter books, magazines, poems, etc. A book doesn't have to be "classic good literature" to encourage someone read (and if you want to stir up a stink, just get a group of people debating what's "good" and "classic" literature!).
A few of the books &/or series that are popular with my 5th graders:

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
The Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls by Meg Cabot
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Ranger's Apprentice series by Jeff Flanagan
The Bone series by Jeff Smith
The Baby Mouse series by Matthew and Jennifer Holm
The Animal Ark series by Ben Baglio
The Molly Moon series by Georgia Byng
The Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator series by Jennifer Allison
The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
The Among the Hidden series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Because of Winn-Dixie and Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Warriors series by Erin Hunter
Judy Blume's books, including the Fudge series and The Pain and the Great One

In general:
  • Anything related to Star Wars
  • Any Guinness Book of World Records
  • "Scary" stories, including Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Ask the Bones, Goosebumps, etc.
Somes sites that may help you in your quest for books for your child/student: national multimedia project that offers informationa nd resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle and how caring adults can help multicultural books (with specific focus on Pacific Rim and South Asia), offering a wealth of book-related resources for teachers, librarians, and parents for kids and parents to find info about their favorite books, series, and authors, including reviews, author interviews, trivia and games, and more

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Neil Gaiman and The Graveyard Book

This is just too cool. If you would like to watch Neil Gaiman read each chapter of The Graveyard Book, head over to his website at and click the link for "Video Tour" (or just click on this link The Graveyard Book). From there, you can open each chapter of his video tour. Apparently, the author is reading a chapter at each of his book tour stops and these readings are being posted for our viewing/listening pleasure. What a wonderful way to allow our students to hear the author speaking his own words! Thank you Mr. Gaiman!