Monday, January 02, 2012

Holiday Book-A-Day

Really, I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed participating in Holiday Book-A-Day. Reading Donalyn Miller's idea on her blog last spring, I participated in #bookaday Summer. It was such a great way to catch up on my stack of books!  I felt the same way about the holidays.  We had a 12 day break, but I started early. My goal was to read 18 total books. Because holidays are busy, I knew I wouldn't be able to read a book every day, so I set a goal for an average of a book per day and a total of 18. I was smart about giving myself time to catch up on those shorter books that I hadn't gotten to yet!  It was a great vacation filled with new books, many of which I am excited to share with my students.  Below is the list of books I read along with some highlights.

Picture Books
I read several picture books. Most of my picks were books that I have been wanting to read before the Caldecott is announced in January.

BONE DOG by Eric Rohmann and THE HOUSE THAT BABA BUILT by Ed Youngare two I had wanted to read because they are both on several Mock Caldecott lists.

**I forget how I discovered FRENCH DUCKS IN VENICE by Garrett Freymann-Weyr but I loved it. It is a longer picture book that has a fairy-tale feel.  It is a sweet book with a great message about loss, friendship and healing.

Looking to add new picture book biographies, I read HERE COME THE GIRL SCOUTS by Shana Corey about the woman who created the Girl Scouts. An interesting look at something I hadn't thought much about.

I heard Joyce Sidman speak at the CLA Breakfast at NCTE in November and finally had time to read SWIRL BY SWIRL. This is a fascinating picture book about spirals in nature. Her poetic language makes it pretty unique.

*THE PRINCESS AND THE PIG by Jonathan Emmett is one that I keep hearing about. It is a fun twist on princess stories and will make a fun read aloud for all ages.

**THE SCAR by Charlotte Moundlic is a story of grief. A child has lost his mother to a long-term illness. This book is brilliant. I am not sure how to share this one or whether to share this one with young children but it is an important one to have on my shelf. It is one of the most well-done books on death that I've read for children.

**Thanks to Colby Sharp, I discovered PAUL THURLBY'S ALPHABET by Paul Thurlby. This is a simple picture book--one letter and word per spread. The illustrations are quite fun and kids will have a great time with this one! One of my new favorite alphabet books!

Graphic Novels
I also read 3 very different graphic novels that I've had on my stack. I am not a huge graphic novel reader so I only read the best-reviewed out there.  I want to keep up but they are not easy reads for me. Loved these three!
AROUND THE WORLD by Matt Phelan is a nonfiction GN and tells three stories of people who traveled around the world.

*A VERY BABYMOUSE CHRISTMAS was a fun one to read on Christmas Eve!  A great holiday treat.  I can never get enough of Babymouse!

I'm so glad I made time to read ANYA'S GHOST by Vera Brosgol. A unique YA graphic novel-perfect for middle school.

Middle Grade Novels
My goal was to stick with 2011 Middle Grade Novels until I caught up on my Newbery reading, but I could not resist reading a few 2012 ARCs and they were amazing.
*THE AVIARY by Kathleen O'Dell was one that I loved, even though I didn't expect to. It is a unique story with characters who I fell in love with. Definitely not one I would have picked up had it not been on the Anderson's Book Shop Mock Newbery list.

THE APOTHECARY by Maile Meloy is an interesting fantasy that is showing up on lots of 2011 lists. I think there will be a lot in this one that appeals to 4-6th graders who enjoy fantasy and magic.

*THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GAWAIN THE TRUE was on Mr. Schu's list of top books of 2011. I had missed it completely and am so glad to have discovered this series. It is a fun series for fantasy readers and for kids semi-new to chapter books.   I loved the humor in this one and found myself laughing out loud in several spots.

I loved both 2012 books that I read.  Both are must-reads in my opinion. (I would recommend preordering both so you don't forget!)

***THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate. This is one I am so excited to share with my students.  A great animal story based on a true story of people standing up for the rights of animals.  Love love love everything about this book!  (more in this previous post)

***EYE OF THE STORM by Kate Messner is a great sci-fi adventure. It is hard to find great science fiction for this age so this is a great addition.  I could not put this one down. I loved the plot and the characters!  I loved the whole premise of this book--it was complex in the ideas and also fun to read because of the way Kate wrote it up.

I also read A YEAR WITHOUT AUTUMN by Liz Kessler. This was a quick read and one I think middle grade readers will enjoy. There is a good mix of fun and depth to the story.  Fans of 11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass and fans of THE MAGIC HALF by Annie Barrows will like this one.

Young Adult
I haven't read much by James Howe in a while and I was so happy to have found ADDIE ON THE INSIDE, a younger YA novel, probably perfect for middle school students. I loved Addie and everything about her. The real life middle school struggles were handled well and I can imagine this will be an important book for so many kids.  Hoping to read the rest in this series soon. (This was also written in verse which makes me love it even more:-)

*****HOW TO SAVE A LIFE by Sara Zarr may be my favorite YA read of the year.  I don't want to say much about it but I remember Paul Hankins mentioning it early in the year.  Definitely a must-read in my opinion. This one will live with me for a long time.

I finally finished WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen. It wasn't a favorite but I think that's because I dragged it out for so long. I definitely need to give myself more time to read adult fiction as I didn't do that much this year.

Short Stories
I picked up THE TINY BOOK OF TINY STORIES by Joseph Gordon-Levitt because I thought it would be a handy book to use in Writing Workshops.  I love the idea of a story being told in a few words and with twitter and texting, I thought some of these pieces would be fun to study with kids.

I'm already looking forward to Summer Book-A-Day!


  1. I am super excited to read the Ivan book.

  2. Glad to read that you like A Year Without Autumn. I put it in a student's hands this morning first thing...that will be the real test! :)

    Happy New Year!

  3. Here is my holiday book a day post.



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