Tuesday, February 01, 2011

What to Read Aloud Next?

Seems only fair to follow the "Why Read Aloud?" post with one about the challenges of picking the next great read aloud!

We finished The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor last week, and had fun drinking Yoo-Hoo (my first ever!) and making Yoo-Hoo boats with secret messages in them (folded once, twice, three times).

I'd love to read another Barbara O'Connor book (especially after Carol's amazing post on the power of reading aloud How to Steal a Dog and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester).  Great for talking about an author's style.  Great stories. Fun characters.

If my students were two years older, I'd read Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm or Lynne Rae Perkins' As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth.

The book by which my class measures all books this year is Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Emily's Fortune, so maybe they'd like the comic book-style superhero action of Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation.

I'm not sure they're up for a 400+ page read aloud, but I'm going to do my best to sell them on

The Search for WondLa
by Tony DiTerlizzi
Simon and Schuster, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher

I didn't read this book because Al Roker picked it for his Today Show Book Club, I read it because it was next up on the pile, but once I started it, I couldn't put it down (and luckily, because we had an ice day, I didn't have to).

This is my favorite kind of science fiction, with a whole new world -- plants, animals and landscape -- to explore and experience with the main character. DiTerlizzi does a fabulous job describing everything without overwhelming the reader (the frequent illustrations help, too).

Eva seems to be the last (only?) human on the planet. She has been raised in a subterranean sanctuary by a robot she knows at Muthr. Their home is attacked and Eva escapes to the surface of the planet where she must survive for real, not in a hologram practice session.  She depends on her wits and the help of her omnipod handheld (more-than-just-a) computer, a blue creature who speaks an unknown language, and a giant pill bug that communicates telepathically.

There are lots of questions that keep the story moving along: who is hunting down Eva and why, what do the letters "Wond" and "La" and the picture of the girl and a robot on the scrap of the paper Eva treasures mean, and where are the other humans who once lived on this planet?

The book ends with almost as many questions as it begins with -- it is the first book in a series and there is a serious cliffhanger at the end!

Tony DiTerlizzi reacts to THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA being picked for Al Roker's Today Show Book Club.
The book's website, including a trailer, games, and augmented reality.
A peek at how the augmented reality works.

Great Kid Books
Charlotte's Library


  1. How long did it take you to get through "Popeye?" This is with 4th grade, correct?

  2. Yes, 4th grade. Popeye and Elvis took about 10 days. We did a lot of work with Velma's words -- I had all of them + definitions on the SmartBoard and used the "window shade" to reveal them as we came to them. Every day we reviewed the ones we'd already come to and it was fun to hear the kids using those words at other times of the day, or finding them in the books they were reading. And then, of course, there was the fun of the Yoo-Hoo boats!

  3. I enjoyed reading this post. I am in a limbo right now...don't know which book to read aloud next. My sixth graders ask me just about every day what I am going to read, so I know I need to make a decision!
    I've been putting off reading Wondla (probably because of the length), but after reading your post and knowing there is a copy coming to me in the mail soon, I will definitely pick that one up and give it a try!
    I may fall back on a favorite--Leepike Ridge or When You Reach Me.

  4. My 9th grader was really annoyed with this one. If you have a lot of Star Wars fans in your class, they may get very distracted, but the biggest seller of a book is anyone who loves it, and it sounds like you do love this one!


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