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The Only Good Part of Testing

  • Posted on April 30, 2012 at 7:32 PM

is that students cannot wait for the testing to end so they can read.

Imagine a 55 minute test that has 95% of the students finished in 20. What will they do after testing? Nothing. They cannot read a book. They cannot turn their tests in early. They cannot write. They cannot draw. They must simply sit there. If they put their head down on the desk, fall asleep and drool – the teacher is in trouble for ruining the answer sheet.

Even during their ten minute break between parts 1 & 2 (AKA Parts A & B), they are not allowed to read. The inhumanity! Today was our fourth and final day of testing for third and fourth graders. Before the test started several had shown me their books they were currently reading. Many of the children were pleading to use their downtime to read. Some had checked their tests over 2 and 3 times and weren’t going to do any better with the extra time.

As soon as the test ended, they cheered with one arm and drug out books with the other. They couldn’t wait to get back to reading and learning something. They were fidgeting because they wanted out of those chairs and to be allowed back in the library to get new books. I watched as they stacked 4-5 titles each instead of the district’s suggested 2 titles. They had reading to catch up on and had been deprived by four days of testing.

So what did I do? I reminded them that when they grew up, they could become politicians and remember that testing was never as important as reading. They could vote to provide access to more reading materials and waste less time on testing materials if they believed reading was more important.

Shoutout! Hey, Michael Dahl, the students in Ms T’s third grade class want you to know that they think the Library of Doom serious is awesome, incredible, and very exciting. One even called it spine-tingling scary but not the kind that kept you up at night. I found homemade bookmarks and notes they sent each other describing where the books “lived” in the library and how to request a book be reserved.

Planning an event "they" say will fail

  • Posted on April 30, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Have you ever planned something and been so excited about it, but all along the way there are “those” who just shake their heads and say “This is going to be a disaster!”

Fortunately, I am good at pretending to never hear the naysayer’s so I can continue on to do what I think will help promote reading. Here are some examples:

our bookfair. My school hadn’t had one in over ten years. With over 99% poverty rates, “everyone” told me not to be disappointed if it flopped and was a waste of my time. Instead we sold over $4000 worth of books at reduced costs. We added in a RIF event and every student received a free book. We held Read Me Week and demonstrated why reading was important. We read in the hallways and watched the second grade team teachers suddenly grab Dr. Seuss books and start reading aloud to children.  We had 100 people show up for a breakfast event of donuts(I provided), coffee, and juice. They bought books and TALKED to their children about reading.

our cookies and books night. The PTO provided cookies. I provided plates, napkins, cups, etc. We used the Scholastic Book Fair Klutz-Build-a-Book kits and provided space. We had 75 students and family members participating. It was standing room only at one point. We had lines waiting for table and chair space to create. The event was supposed to end at 7:30 and at 8p.m. I was still shooing little ones home with their kits in the plastic bags I provided.

our trip to the Nashville Sounds and the Ozzie Reading program. Oh, wait, we haven’t gone there yet. Our students have been reading to get to the different bases to earn a ticket to the Nashville Sounds game this month. I just turned in our order for over 400 student tickets. The P.E. teachers extraordinaire have worked with me to help track reading and to arrange for busses. The PTO is paying for the busses for the school to attend. I am tracking and filling out paperwork so I don’t miss anyone.

The day of the game we will leave in time to get to the stadium, have to eat our sack lunches outside on the sidewalk since we cannot take food in to the stadium, march these 400 students from our school around the outfield in celebration of reading, and find our seats amongst the other elementary schools attending. I’m trying to keep concerns to a minimum, yet there are naysayer’s that keep saying this is going to be a disaster.

Pray for me in what ever manner you choose so this event will be a success. I feel it is already a success because we have students setting goals and reading to meet them. As one little boy told me, the ticket is nice, but the best part is being one of the kids that read ten books a base. He told me he would never have tried some of those Stone Arch chapter books if I hadn’t urged (okay, he said nagged) him to keep reading to move to another base.

How do you handle the naysayer’s?

Spring Board Books

  • Posted on April 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM

While I appreciate so many of my friends and colleagues getting pregnant just so I can prepare board book baskets for them, I’m always struggling to find new titles that are just right. Betsy Bird pointed out that board books must be good “Cause when you read something 500 times, you’re either going to go insane or you’ll internalize it to the point where it’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever read.”

Here are a trio of titles for spring board books:

In the Garden by Elizabeth Spurr illustrated by Manelle Oliphant – a board book. Peachtree Publishers, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-56145-581-2 $6.95

The Fuzzy Duckling (a Golden baby book) – a board book. Jane Werner Watson; illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. Random House Golden Books, 2012. ISBN 978-0-307-92966-2. $ 6.99.

Duck & Goose Here Comes the Easter Bunny! by Tad Hills – a board book. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. ISBN 978-0-375-7280-8. $6.99.

In the Garden takes the concept of a young boy planting a garden and waiting for his plants to grow. It takes great cleverness to be able to write only two words on a page, yet create a rhyming book that can be read over and over. To read In the Garden, a parent might race through each page quickly to hear the rhyme, then return to read and savor each pastel-colored illustration. Words like shade and earth may take more parent vocabulary to describe, but as I read, I found myself adding many words the second and third time through to point out parts. I would pause to count the sprouts, compare whether something was in the shade or the sun, ask questions like “Why did the boy shout?” and basically take the time to strengthen observation when reading.

Parents who are nature-conscious will love this title, as will budding scientist families. I’d place it in the basket of any of my STEM teacher colleagues. Hmmm. I hope Cara Wade isn’t reading this so she’ll be surprised to open her baby basket with In the Garden, seeds to plant, and fake safe plants.

Here is the publisher’s description of In the Garden:

Simple and evocative language and charming illustrations describe a boy’s experience in the garden. In this gently rhyming board book, a young boy creates a garden, one small action at a time. First he digs in the dirt and plants seeds, then he adds soil, water, and some patience. With time, the seeds grow and the boy excitedly discovers what he has helped to make. Along the way, readers learn the words for simple objects related to the garden and nature. Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant together create a perfect sit-in-your-lap reading experience for toddlers.

The Fuzzy Duckling remains a favorite Little Golden book so I was happy to see this become a Golden Baby board book this year. I tried it out with my preschool grandson and he loved it. We began reading together, and I was thrilled when he began anticipating and chiming in “but they would NOT”. The unusual part of reading this book is how every child I read it to stops me before the end and wants to count the animals. I have never made it through completely to the end without having to count at least one page. It seems that as soon as the number pattern becomes clear, young preschoolers want to embrace the number concept.

My favorite part of this book remains the sweet, soft illustrations by Caldecott winning illustrators Alice and Martin Provensen. Academically, I was able to introduce the concept of adjectives without using that word while reading. It helped foster an appreciation of the way we describe animals in The Fuzzy Duckling. For example, we have eight hungry pigs, seven playful puppies, six lively lambs, etc. Here’s an opportunity for parents to build essential vocabulary while having fun.

Duck & Goose Here Comes the Easter Bunny! is part of the Duck & Goose series by Tad Hills. While I love Duck & Goose, I sometimes have an OCD moment. For example, the title is Duck & Goose, but the illustration on the front cover shows Goose on the left and Duck on the right. I want their word placement to match their picture placement. Still, when I look in Tad Hills eyes, I start to swoon and forget what my complaint was. Most of the other books in the series have them in the “correct” order.

Duck & Goose Here Comes the Easter Bunny has the glittery feel of raised letters on the front cover. I wish there could be more pages with tactile. This title takes more thinking time for babies to discover that things happen around them like the Easter Bunny’s arriving and leaving behind large eggs. There are opportunities to discuss possible hiding places and the features that make them bad places. I’m going to save this title to put in a basket for baby bird lovers and those families that watch the birds at the park. There are so many cute, cuddly, cloth dolls of birds to include in the basket.

Somehow when putting Duck & Goose titles in a basket, How Rocket Learned to Read pops up and asks to go along each time. Tad Hills titles make wonderful picture book and board book gifts.

Polly Horvath translates Rabbit to bring us Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Extraordinaire! by Mrs. Bunny

  • Posted on April 28, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! by Mrs. Bunny translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-375-86755-2 $16.99

Have you experienced that moment when you are reading a new book and suddenly wished you had a class of students in front of you so you could read aloud and share the rush of fun? Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire! is such a book, simply hysterically fun and meant to be shared.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny book is deceptive! It is surprising! It is quick reading with lively banter and vocabulary that tickles your tongue. The cover is quite misleading. I was expecting a simple third or fourth grade chapter book featuring animals. Instead, I find plucky, practical fifth grader Madeline who possesses the skills to fend for herself and care for her hippie parents. This is an adventure story that happens to be divided not-so-neatly between human and animal characters.

Who could resist picking up a book with a letter on the back from “The Enemy” using the phrase “Mwa-haha?” I cannot resist reading aloud Mwa-haha. In fact, while I write now, my four dogs are staring at me wondering why I keep saying Mwa-haha yet aren’t causing any visible trouble.

Madeline and her parents live in Canada near Vancouver and Hornby Island. Of course, as all practical and plucky characters must be, Madeline is SMART and looks forward to Prince Charles’ presenting her three graduation awards. While she is diligently working to earn money to buy the shoes she needs for graduation, sinister forces – err… sinister foxes are at work. How do we find out? We read “Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Madeline, back at her house, sinister forces were at work.” Now that’s the kind of sentence we can inspire dreamers with.

Who are these sinister beings? Why, foxes, of course! When Madeline’s father Flo expresses his surprise that foxes are so commercial, the Grand Poobah replies, “Foxes are titans of industry! Have you never heard of Fox Studios? Fox Television? You didn’t think it was owned by hoomans, did you?”

Aha! This explains much of the evil doings of our world. The foxes are behind them. Of course, if I had been a bunny like Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, I would have known to beware foxes long ago. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have recently moved from a mountain hutch to a new home in  Rabbitville in Cowichan Valley. Mrs. Bunny believes foxes “regard the houses in Rabbitville as a strip of fast-food joints.” and doesn’t “want to be someone’s Big Mac.”

When Madeline’s parents are kidnapped, Madeline needs a combination of animal and human helpers to survive. Since Mrs. Bunny is easily bored and they both look so dashing in fedoras, Mr and Mrs. Bunny have decided to become detectives. Soon Madeline and the Bunny’s join forces in this mystery adventure filled with slapstick moments and joyful banter.

You’ll have to pick up a copy of this wacky wonderful tale and share your joy with others. Be sure to read every bit of the last chapter. You won’t want to miss a moment of this extraordinary adventure.

The Dreaded Display Case

  • Posted on April 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Why did I insist they get a locksmith and unlock that large glass display case? Now I have to create innovative displays frequently and I need ideas. I’m struggling with finding a compromise between a fantastic looking glass cage and a working, innovative learning idea center.

While I was searching I started reading other website ideas like:

eHow’s Ideas for Library Display Cases which suggested things like a Local Author or Creature Showcase.

This post on Squidoo had some excellent photographs and links to other blogs with ideas.

This led me to the Creative Library Display blog with posts like this one on I’d rather be travelling the world.   I’d like to try that, but we keep receiving the memo not to hang anything from the ceiling since it sets off the security alarm.  There is an amazing display for Summer love by Anita, with books that I would need an entire crew to help create.

I especially appreciated the page of Display tips from including  3 ways to attract attention:

  1. colour
  2. hologram card or shiny materials like gold, silver, metal, curling ribbons etc.
  3. movement

Marketing the Library Display suggests “With book displays and bulletin boards you an draw attention to new books, special collections, under-circulated titles and services that are offered within the library that often go unnoticed.”

I hadn’t though about marketing the services we provide. I wonder if anyone has done that in a school library. One of my concerns has been when I books in a glass case display, they are less accessible for checkout. Some teachers will ask for books in the display, but seldom to students. They see closed glass shelves meaning “Don’t touch!”

Despite those links, I was still frustrated. I need more visual ideas including photographs. Fortunately, I found Informania and Three For: Awesome Ideas for Library Displays. They included links to Flickr images of displays and Pinterest. Exactly what I needed!

Elaine Pearson writes the blog Library Displays: Creative Ideas to Promote Books from your Library Collection. Her ideas are frequently cross-posted and she has some useful links.

Do you have other sites to share?

Top Teen Titles #1

  • Posted on April 15, 2012 at 6:08 PM

#1 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown and Company, 2005. ISBN:  9780316015844, 235 pp.

Publisher’s Description: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.

Quotes from Readers: “Romance for teens that is thrilling and safe.”

“The most popular title for teens since 2005”

“This title caused busy teenage girls to stop and read.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads, TeensReadToo.

Awards: Georgia Peach Book Award (2007), Kentucky Bluegrass Award for 9-12 (2007), An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2006), Prijs van de Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen (2008), Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Older Readers (2009); West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Older Reader Award (2008), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2008), Grand Canyon Reader Award for Teen Book (2008), Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for High School (2007), Gateway Awards (2007), Golden Sower Award for Young Adult (2009), Nevada Young Readers’ Award for Young Adult Category (2007), The Flume: New Hampshire Teen Reader’s Choice Award (2007), Garden State Teen Book Award for Fiction (Grades 9-12) (2008), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Young Adult (2008), Rhode Island Teen Book Award (2007), Evergreen Young Adult Book Award (2008), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2006), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2006), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010), Iowa High School Book Award (2008), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006), Abraham Lincoln Award (2008)

Diane’s note: Romance lives on and takes the #1 slot for Top Teen Titles. This makes sense when you consider the factors that make a Top Teen list as opposed to a children’s book list. Look at the complete list to see the themes of growing up, realistic fiction, drama, and fantasy as a higher level.

Twilight continues to woo new readers every year. Romance became popular again when Twilight was released. Would you believe the http://thetwilightsaga.com/ page has 503,149 members?  I can recall trying to find romance as a teen and giving up. I read Harlequin Romances, Silhouettes, and more from seventh grade on. My grandmother received hers in the mail so I knew I could always borrow 20-30 a week to read and get me through study hall. I can recall blushing a few times and giggling out loud.

As an adult, there are many titles of paranormal romance available not suitable for early teens. I’ve just recently finished reading 23 books in one series by Christine Feehan and I am a big fan of Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series. But when teens would ask me for romance books, I’d struggle to find something that didn’t focus on the sexuality as much as the romance. Twilight was an answer to prayers for romance reader’s guidance. Since Twilight, publishers embraced romance again with a twist for teens like the Harlequin Teen series.

When Twilight was released, I read and enjoyed Bella’s story because Bella was not a perfect heroine. She may even be clumsier than I am (those of you who suffered playing volleyball, basketball, and softball with me at Willow High School may disagree), but Bella has a maturity that I admired.

Twilight has been criticized by some people who feel Bella is helpless and passive, needing someone to save her. “Perhaps it was because I was a novelty here, where novelties were few and far between. Possibly my crushing clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress.”

Since I was able to put Twilight on my lovely Kindle for only $0.99 one day, I have enjoyed searching for words like damsel (occurs once), helpless (four times), and saved (8 times). I knew eventually I’d get to the phrase I remembered.

While in the hospital Bella is telling Edward that a man and woman have to be somewhat equal in a relationship without one of them always “swooping in and saving the other one. They have to save each other equally.” Bella insists she doesn’t want to always be Lois Lane, but wants to be Superman, too.

So for those of you who claim Bella is too passive, just wait because she has her own superpowers still to be released. Much like our teenagers have so much more to reveal in the future.

The detractors from Twilight just don’t get that this is an unusual vampire story and a romance without too much smut or mushiness. Boys and girls have enjoyed reading Twilight. My male middle school students wrote as many positive reviews as the girls did.

The Wrap-up Two years ago I surveyed teachers, librarians, students, and many others asking them to submit their top 3 choices of titles that should be in a teen collection. Little did I know that after I compiled the list and began writing about them, that I would have to go back and re-read all 100 of the top teen titles (plus many of their sequels) and some of them more than one time. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and exasperating to try to write just a little bit about each title, and to hopefully convince others of the merit of these titles.

Did I like every book? No, thank you very much, but then a perfect collection will have something for everyone to like and to dislike. If the survey was taken now, I wonder how drastically it would change. Would the Twilight and Harry Potter series still rank as high? Would Hunger Games score higher now that the movie has been released? How about the new titles that have been released in the past two years? I’m thinking of the YALSA Notable lists, the CYBILS, the Printz award winners, and new series that have captured the attention of our teens. While some of the titles are bound to change rankings, it has been fascinating the chart the interest in the Top Teen Titles.

The Complete List:

#100 Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic Press, 2009  ISBN13: 9780545123266
#99 Running Loose by Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow Books, 2003. ISBN: 9780060094911 224 pp
#98 Prama by Jamie Ponti. Simon Pulse Publishing, 2008. ISBN13: 9781416961000 194 pp
#97 The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein by Libby Schmais. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, December, 2009 ISBN13: 9780385906739. 288 p.
#96 Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park. Apple Soup/Knopf, 1995 ISBN 0-679-87088-1 88 pages. Grades 3+. Available from Random House.
#95 Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills by Charles Henderson. Berkley Publishing Group, 1988. ISBN13: 978-0425103555
#94 Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986. ISBN13: 978-0374347963.
#93 The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. Disney Hyperion Books, 2009. ISBN13: 9781423101475. 400pp
#92 The Journeys of Socrates by Dan Millman. HarperOne, 2006. ISBN: 9780060833022 Pages: 352; $14.99; Ages: 18 and up
#91 The House of Night series by PC Cast and Kristen Cast
#90 The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx. Pocket Books, 2007. ISBN13: 9780743486286. 432 pp
#89 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007.  ISBN: 1416914285. 485pp
#88 Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. HarperCollins, 1995. ISBN13: 9780064405843. 224 pp
#87 Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant. Walker & Company, 2006. ISBN13: 9780802777348. 277pp
#86 America by E.R. Frank. Simon & Schuster/Anthenum Books for Young Readers, 2002. ISBN13: 0689847297. 224pp
#85 All-American Girl by Meg Cabot. HarperTeen, 2002. ISBN13: 9780060294694. 256pp
#84 Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. Atheneum, 2002. ISBN13: 9780689853234. 240pp
#83 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Delacorte Press, 1999. ISBN: 0385323069. 256pp
#82 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Warner Books, 1960. ISBN13: 9780446310789. 288pp
#81 The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer. Orchard Books, 1994. ISBN13: 0531086798. 311 pp
#80 My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Atria Books, 2003; paperback version, Washington Square Press, 2005. ISBN13: 9780743454520. 432 pp
# 79 Night by Elie Wiesel. Hill and Wang; Revised edition (January 16, 2006)  ISBN13: 9780374500016. 128pp
#78 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Currently available: Aladdin (December 26, 2006). ISBN13: 9781416936473. 192pp
#77 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Bantam pb, 1953. ISBN13: 9780671824495. 258pp
#76 White Fang by Jack London. Puffin Books, June 2008 edition. ISBN13: 9780141321110. 307 pp.
#75 Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Harcourt Books, 2006. ISBN13: 9780152058265. 352pp.
#74 House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. A Richard Jackson Book/Atheneum Books for Young Readers , 2002. ISBN13:  9780689852220. 400pp
#73 We Were Here by Matt de la Peña. Delacorte, 2009. ISBN13: 9780385736671. 386pp
#72 Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor. HarperCollins, 2008.  ISBN13: 9780060890889. 304pp
#71  TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY – Jay Asher. Penguin, 2007. ISBN13: 9781595141712. 304pp
#70  Call of the Wild by Jack London. 1903 Available from Tor Classics ISBN13: 9780812504323 , 128 pp.
#69 Blankets by Craig Thompson . Top Shelf Productions, 2003. ISBN 9781891830433. 592pp
#68 Feed by M. T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, 2004. ISBN 9780763622596. 320pp
#67 Nation by Terry Pratchett. HarperCollins, 2008. ISBN 0061433012, 367pp
#66 Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos. Farrar, 2002. ISBN 374399883. 208pp
#65 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic Press, 2000. ISBN 9780439139595. 734pp
#64 I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
#63 Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Myers
#62 The Host by Stephenie Meyer
#61 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling
#60 Catching Fire – Collins
#59 Band of Brothers by Stephen E Embros. Simon& Schuster, 1992. 336pp hardcover. Available from Pocket Aug, 2002. ISBN13:  9780743464116.  480 pp.
#58 Holes by Louis Sachar. Yearling Books, 1998. ISBN: 0440414806, 240 pp.
#57 Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. TOR/MacMillan, 2008. ISBN: 978-0765319853. 384 pp.
#56 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle .  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1962. ISBN: 0-374-38613-7. 230 pp.
#55 Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, 2006. ISBN13: 9780763624026. 358pp.
#54 The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central Publishing, 2009.  ISBN:  0446547565, 400 pp.
#53 The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. Greenwillow Books, 2006.  ISBN13: 978-006083577X. 400 pp.
#52 Just Listen by Sarah Dessen Viking Juvenile, 2006. ISBN13:  9780670061051. 371 pp.
#51 Forever by Judy Blume – 1975 ISBN13: pp.
#50 Eragon by Christopher Paolini. Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. ISBN13: 978-0-375-82668-8. 497 pp.
#49 Vanishing Act by Jodi Picoult.  Atria Books, March 2005 ISBN:  9780743454544, 432 pp.
#48 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by JK Rowling. Scholastic, 2000. ISBN: 9780439064873, 341 pp.
#47 Paper Towns by John Green. Dutton, 2008. ISBN:  9780525478188, 305 pp.
#46 A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Delacorte,  2003. ISBN:  9780689875342,  403 pp.
#45 The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #4) by Phillip Pullman. Knopf, 1966. ISBN: 9780679879244,  399 pp.
#44 A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck. Dial, 1998 ISBN 0803722907 ,  192 pp.
#43  The Thief (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner. Greenwillow, 1996. ISBN: 9780688146276 , 224 pp.
#42 If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson. Puffin, 1998. ISBN: 9780142406014 , 192 pp
#41 I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. St. Martin’s Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books, 2003. ISBN: 978-0-312-31616-7, 352 pp.
#40 Wednesday’s Letters by Jason F. Wright. Penguin Group, 1998. ISBN:  9780425223475, 288 pp.
#39 Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. Puffin, 2004 (First published in the UK 2000). ISBN:  9780142401651,  256 pp.
#38 Ring of Endless Light (Austin family #5) by Madeleine L’Engle. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1995. (First published Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1980.) ISBN:  9780440910817.
#37 The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger. Hamish Hamilton, 1951. ISBN: 0316769177. 288 pp.
#36 The Body by Steven King. Penguin, 1999. ISBN: 9780582418172, 80 pp.
#35 A Child called “It” by Dave Pelzer.  Health Communications Inc., 1995. ISBN:  9781558743663, 184 pp.
#34 The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. Greenwillow Books, 2000. ISBN: 9780688174231, 288 pp.
#33 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Knopf, 2005. ISBN:  9780375831003, 512pp.
#32 Sabriel (Abhorsen series #1) by Garth Nix. Harper Collins, 2008 (first published in 1995). ISBN:  9780061474354, 336 pp.
#31 The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 1995. ISBN:  9780385321754, 224 pp
#30 The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. Vintage, 1996 (First published as Tiger, Tiger in 1956). ISBN:  9780679767800, 272 pp.
#29 The Secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum. Deseret Book Company, 2005. ISBN: 9781590383995 , 352 pp.
#28 Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1982. ISBN:  0374303665, 233 pp.
#27 Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. Harper Collins, 2004. ISBN: 9780060736255 , 128 pp. (Originally published 1989)
#26 The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Macmillan Children’s Books, 2001. ISBN:  033048205X, 240 pp.
#25 Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Harper Collins, 2008. ISBN: 9780061431838 , 432 pp.
#24 Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The by E. Lockhart. Hyperion, 2008. ISBN:  9780786838189, 342 pp.
#23 Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. Scholastic Press, 1988. ISBN:  9780545055765, 320 pp.
#22 Goose Girl, The by Shannon Hale.Bloomsbury, 2003. ISBN:  9781582349909, 400 pp.
#21 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Simon Pulse, 2005. ISBN: 0689865384 , 448 pp.
#20 The Fellowship of the Rings (and The Lord of the Rings series) by J. R. R. Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin, 1954. 424 pp. My versions are from Houghton Mifflin.
#19 Blue Sword, The by Robin McKinley. Greenwillow, 1982. ISBN:  9780688009380, 288 pp.
#18 Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. Warner Books, 2007. ISBN: 0446528056 , 224 pp.
#17 Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow, 2001. ISBN:  9780688180191, 224 pp.
#16 Tears of a Tiger (Hazelwood High #1) by Sharon M Draper.  Simon Pulse, 1996. ISBN: 9780689806988 , 180 pp.
#15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows #7 by J. K. Rowling. Scholastic, 2007. ISBN: 9780545010221, 759 pp.
#14 Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN:  9781416912040, 335 pp.
#13 The Giver — Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books, 1993. ISBN: 9780395645666  , 192 pp.
#12 Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. Little Brown & Co, 2007. ISBN: 9780316160209, 629 pp.
#11 Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. Little Brown & Co, 2008. ISBN: 9780316067928 ,754 pp.
#10 Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Scholastic nonfiction, 2005. ISBN:  9780439353793, 176 pp.
#9 Looking for Alaska by John Green – 2005. Puffin, 2005. ISBN: 9780142402511 ,221  pp.
#8 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Tor, 1985. Tor Science Fiction, July 1994. Revised Edition, ISBN:  9780812550702, 324 pp.
#7 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic, 2008. ISBN: 9780439023481, 374  pp.
#6 New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. Little Brown, & Co., 2006 ISBN: 9780316160193, 563 pp.
#5 Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007. ISBN:  9780316013680, 230 pp.
#4 Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone (Book 1) by J.K. Rowling. Scholastic Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780439554930, 310 pp.
#3 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Puffin, 1999. ISBN:  9780141310886, 208 pp.
#2 Outsiders, The — S. E. Hinton. Viking Children’s Books, 1967.  ISBN: 9780670532575 , 192  pp. Available today from Viking Children’s; 40th Anniversary edition (September 6, 2007) ISBN: 978-0670062515.
#1 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown and Company, 2005. ISBN:  9780316015844, 235 pp.

Top Teen Titles #2

  • Posted on April 15, 2012 at 9:41 AM

#2 Outsiders, The — S. E. Hinton. Viking Children’s Books, 1967.  ISBN: 9780670532575 , 192  pp. Available today from Viking Children’s; 40th Anniversary edition (September 6, 2007) ISBN: 978-0670062515.

Publisher’s Description: First published by Viking in 1967, The Outsiders immediately resonated with young adults. This groundbreaking novel was like nothing else out there—it was honest and gritty, and was a deeply sympathetic portrayal of Ponyboy, a young man who finds himself on the outside of regular society. Forty years later, with over thirteen million copies sold, the story is as fresh and powerful to teenagers today as it ever was.

Quotes from Readers: “Timeless”

“A list like this needs something classic, and I feel like The Outsiders captures a certain vocabulary of past teens even better than The Catcher in the Rye.”

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, TeenReads.

Awards: Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Secondary (1991), ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1975); ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (2006.03|Criminal Elements, 2006); ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000; ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999 ; 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Susan Eloise Hinton was the first recipient of the YASD/ SLJ Author Achievement Award created to honor an author whose work has been taken to heart by young adults over a period of years, providing an “authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.” When you visit the ALA YALSA website for the now named 1988 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner, you can read “S.E. Hinton’s books have shown, over the past twenty-one years, the “lasting ability to speak to the young adult experience, to help reader to become more aware of themselves and of the world around them.” In presenting this award to S.E. Hinton for The Outsiders; That Was Then This Is Now; Rumble Fish and Tex, the Young Adult Services Division recognizes that these books provide a window through which young adults can view their world. In them a young adult may explore the need for independence and simultaneously the need for loyalty and belonging, the need to care for others, and the need to be cared for by them.”

Diane’s note: In the 1960’s fifteen year-old Susan Eloise Hinton was frustrated with the only books for teens revolving around prom and dating. When a friend of hers was beaten while walking home for being a greaser, she took her anger and wrote a novel about the cruelty of teenage life and social cliques. This changed juvenile literature in American and  began Young Adult Literature and realistic teenage fiction as we know it. When it was released, reluctant readers – especially boys- related to the story and her portrayal of conflict, brotherly love, and coming of age. Of course gangs and violence were part of the story which reflected the realism and respect for the audience.

The Outsiders remains  popular today and is often included in middle and high school curriculums. When S.E. Hinton was asked why the book has remained popular through the years, she replied:

“Every teenager feels that adults have no idea what’s going on. That’s exactly the way I felt when I wrote The Outsiders. Even today, the concept of the in-group and the out-group remains the same. The kids say, “Okay, this is like the Preppies and the Punks” or whatever they call themselves. The uniforms change and the names of groups change, but kids really grasp how similar their situations are to Ponyboy’s.”

Some schools and libraries have banned The Outsiders for the portrayal of gang violence, underage smoking and drinking, as well as strong language/ slang and family dysfunction. When I was able to convince a teacher to use The Outsiders with a group of Middle School students, it was an instant hit. Many of the students sought other realistic fiction titles afterwards, particularly those dealing with gangs and the type of daily violence to which they are exposed. I had one teacher hesitate to use The Outsiders because she thought it would be dated and students wouldn’t relate. Yet the beauty of S.E. Hinton’s writing and her impact is just as strong today. Stay gold, Ponyboy.

Beverly Cleary's birthday is D.E.A.R. Day?

  • Posted on April 12, 2012 at 1:15 AM

Thanks for Amazon and Pixel of Ink’s letting me know that Beverly Cleary’s birthday, April 12th, is celebrated across the country on D.E.A.R. Day, with activities related to the Drop Everything and Read Program. One of the most popular and honored authors of all time, Beverly Cleary has won the Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw, and both Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books.