Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World, by Katie Smith Milway (ages 7-10)

Like our animal cousins, young children practice all sorts of skills through play. This powerful picture book takes readers to a refugee camp in Tanzania, where we see how playing soccer helps kids move through their trauma to connect with one another. This is a story that will lead to important discussions about refugees and also about the power of play in everyone's lives.
The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World
by Katie Smith Milway
illustrated by Shane W. Evans
Kids Can Press, 2017
Google Books preview
Amazon / Your local library
ages 7-10
Young Deo had to flee from his hillside farm when the war came, losing his family in the chaos of that dark night. He traveled for weeks alone, finally making it to a refugee camp in northwest Tanzania. 
"one dark night his family was forced to flee their hillside farm"
Deo begins to rebuild his life, but he keeps to himself. He makes a soccer ball from dried banana leaves like his father did, but a bully called Remy and his friends steal it. Remy's gang steals food, pencils, toys from other children. 
"But when food becomes scarce or water runs dry, flights break out. Some boys form gangs to get more food by stealing from others, even though on one has much."
When a coach invites Deo to play soccer, he wants to join in--soccer was one of his favorite activities at home. The coach assigns Deo and Remy to the same team. Through their play, they begin to forget about their anger and laugh together.

This is an important, hopeful book to read together with children, whether as a family or in a classroom. A picture book, especially one that is both hard-hitting and hopeful like this, can provide a perfect starting point for talking about social justice issues of refugees. It not only can create a sense of empathy, young readers from many places will relate to the power of play.

Definitely share the author's note and backmatter with children. You'll meet the inspiration for Deo: Benjamin Nzobonakira who survived fleeing civil war in Burundi and lived as a refugee in Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Information about the refugee crisis, games that build trust and inclusion, and the Right to Play, a play-based nonprofit organization focused on tolerance and peace.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Kids Can Press. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Gone, by Michael Grant: free this week on SYNC Audiobooks (ages 12+)

Imagine all the adults in your life suddenly disappear. Isn't that every teen's fantasy? Leave me alone. I know how to take care of it all by myself! That's where Gone starts, and oh what a ride it is. I highly recommend it to any teen who loves science fiction--my only caveat is that it's a long book, so you have to be ready to dive in.
Gone, by Michael Grant
narrated by Kyle McCarley
Tantor Media, 2016
ages 12 and up 
Starting today, Gone is free through SYNC Audiobooks for Teens. SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+. Gone will be available July 20-26th through the Overdrive App.
Each week, 2017 SYNC is giving away two complete audiobook downloads--pairs of high interest titles, based on weekly themes. From July 20 – July 26, they're focusing on dystopian fantasy novels for teens:
Gone sucked me in from the very beginning. I was caught - completely immersed in this imaginary world where the kids are in charge. The grownups have all completely disappeared. The kids who are 13 and 14 are the oldest kids around, and so have to start figuring things out.

What do they do with kids who are hurt? What about the daycare center full of babies and toddlers without any teachers? What about the kids who are raiding the grocery stores? The excitement quickly turns to fear as a fire starts in a building near the daycare center.

The kids soon realize that they are completely by themselves without computers or cell phones, and without any sign of rescue. They are trapped inside a force field barrier that surrounds the town, and whatever caused this is also causing mutations in birds and animals - along with some strange powers in some of the children.

I originally read Gone 8 years ago, and the excitement has stayed with me. I'm looking forward to listening to this again. Make sure you download your copy between July 20-26 through the SYNC website and the Overdrive app.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lights, Camera, Middle School! Babymouse Tales from the Locker, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (ages 8-12)

Our students love books that blend lots of images with stories that pull them through. With their knack for laughing through all the challenges that life throws your way, Jenni and Matt Holm bring Babymouse into a new format with Babymouse Tales from the Locker. Seek this out for kids who are ready to move to longer novels, but love graphic novels.

Lights, Camera, Middle SchoolBabymouse Tales from the Lockerby Jennifer L. Holm
illustrated by Matthew Holm
Random House, 2017
Google Books preview
Amazon / Your local library
ages 8-12
As Babymouse heads to middle school, she's worried about whether she'll find friends, what she'll wear and what afterschool activities she'll do. With her great sense of style and leadership, she decides to join the film club and is named director of her group's project. But nothing turns out quite as easy as it seems at first glance. She has to wrangle difficult actors (i.e., friends), make decisions about locations, and make sure everyone's on the same page.

Babymouse struggles with friendships in such a relatable way. She yearns to be part of larger friend group, but then ends up pushing her friends away because she's too bossy. Sound like anyone I know (moi???...)...

Fans of Babymouse will find the same blend of fantasy and school life, but kids new to the series will have no problem fitting right in from the get go. While this is set in middle school, the sweet spot will be with 4th graders who are looking ahead a few years as they figure out the changing landscape of friendships.

Take a look at this preview on Google Books to see how seemlessly the narrative moves between text and images:

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Random House. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Downloading audiobooks for you & your kids

Do you listen to music on your phone or tablet? Did you know that you can download audiobooks and listen to them the same way? You don’t have to carry around a box of CDs any more. Here are the ways that I’ve had the best experience:

Audible.com has a vast collection of audiobooks, for children and adults. Audiobooks for children cost between $10 and $20, depending on the length. While this might seem expensive, I would argue that $15 for 7 hours of entertainment is good value, especially if it can develop a love of books.

The best feature of the Audible books is that my phone automatically remembers where I paused listening to my book. Even if I listen to music or another podcast, when I go back to my book - it remembers! I've even found that I can skip or rewind by chapter. They have an extensive selection for kids and young adults.
Your school library: Ask if your school provides access to downloadable audiobooks. Berkeley Unified School District subscribes to Tales2Go for all of our elementary school students and teachers. Tales2Go streams audiobooks to listeners' devices at school or at home. They have over 6,000 titles available. Students have unlimited access to titles, so there's no waiting for a book to become available. This summer, I've listened to Harlem Charade through Tales2Go and loved it.

Your public library: I borrow e-audiobooks through my public library using a variety of different providers. Overdrive, Hoopla, and Axis360 all provide services that my local libraries use. Your library subscribes to these services; you download the free app and sign in with your library card.
Using Axis360 through the San Francisco Public Library, I was able to download How Dare the Sun Rise, a new YA memoir by Sandra Uwiringiyimana. and my daughter downloaded The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. It took less than 15 minutes from start to finish. It was a smooth, easy process. Unlike borrowing CDs from the library, there are no late fees; when your book is due, your access stops. You can borrow it again later. For popular titles, you might need to place a hold -- but it's easy to do through your computer.

SYNC Audiobooks for Teens: SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+, sponsored by AudioFile Magazine and delivered through Overdrive. SYNC is giving away two complete audiobook downloads a week - pairs of high interest titles, based on weekly themes, from April through August.

Have fun, and let me know if you have any luck downloading audiobooks. I'm always looking for good books to listen to!

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, by Pablo Cartaya--smooth, layered & passionate with just a little sass (ages 9-13)

Like a great Cuban meal, Arturo Zamora is smooth, courageous and passionate, with just a little sass to let you know you can't push him around. This debut novel from Pablo Cartaya excels as a layered portrait of a young teen standing up for his family, discovering his passions for social justice and finding the courage to tell a girl that he really likes her.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
by Pablo Cartaya
Penguin // Listening Library, 2017
Amazon / Your local library
Google Books preview
ages 9-13
*best new book*
Every Sunday, 13-year-old Arturo joins his extended Cuban-American family at their restaurant La Cocina de la Isla. When a shady land developer threatens to put up flashy high rise condos, Arturo joins forces with his cousins and friends to fight back. Check out these great opening lines:
"I'm officially resigning from love. Time in a cell will do that to a kid. For the record: I didn't do it. Well, I didn't mean for what I did to blow up in my face. This should have been the best night of my l ife. I was going to save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud... Instead I'm locked in a small room that smells like chorizo and stale popcorn while my archenemy continues to brainwash the community with reggaeton and free sunscreen."
Kids will love the way Arturo can find the courage to go up against the flashy real estate tycoon, but get completely nervous when he wants to tell a girl that he really likes her. They'll also relate to how important Arturo's family, neighborhood and culture are to him. Arturo's voice is distinctive and authentic. I love the way my friend Brenda Khan describes in her review at Prose & Khan:
"Reading it was like being enfolded into Abuela's warm hug. It was like meeting a family for the first time but feeling like I've know them forever. Arturo's voice is earnest and awkward and at times, hilarious but always genuine."
I highly recommend the audiobook. Cartaya narrates his debut novel with humor, grace and ease -- delightfully navigating Arturo’s awkwardness, humor and conviction as he develops his first crush and recognizes the power of his words in fighting for his family’s restaurant. Listen to this sample of the audiobook:

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Penguin Random House and Listening Library, and I have already purchased several more copies. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Monday, July 3, 2017

Celebrating the 4th of July: Picture books perfect for the moment (ages 3-8)

As we head into the 4th of July holiday, I'd like to share two picture books that are perfect for the moment. In my mind, this holiday celebrates the strength and independence of our country, as well as the values upon which our country was founded. I want to remind myself of the key phrases from the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
I want to find ways to talk with children about what it means that all people are created equal, that all people not only have the right to freedom but also the right to pursue their dreams. And that we must do so while respecting everyone else's rights.
Blue Sky, White Stars
by Sarvinder Naberhaus
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Dial Books / Penguin, 2017
Amazon / Your local library
ages 3-8
Inspiring paintings complement spare text perfectly, creating a stirring portrait of America. Naberhaus, an Indian American immigrant, and Nelson, an African American illustrator, begin with iconic images of our country, showing how elements of the American flag resonate today.
"Blue Sky / White Stars"
Paired images make clear associations between America's values and the diversity of our people, honoring all who have helped shaped our country.
"Well Worn"
The layered meanings of the text and images will lead to interesting conversations--about why the artist chose these images, and how they show our country changing and evolving.
"Stand Proud"
Sarvinder Naberhaus has put together a wonderful collection of resources to complement this beautiful book: Blue Sky White Stars website. Teachers will especially enjoy using this to deepen conversations with students. I especially appreciate this beautiful book's message of unity and diversity, together as one country.
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
by Chelsea Clinton
illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Philomel Books / Penguin, 2017
Amazon / Your local library
ages 5-8
Chelsea Clinton's picture book is definitely building on the momentum of the current political climate, but it also captures an important value for this generation--encapsulating what it means to be a feminist.
"Sometimes being a girl isn't easy. At some point, someone will probably tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don't listen to them."
Inspired by Senator Elizabeth Warren's stand against the appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, Clinton uses the word "persisted" as she describes the contributions of 13 American women who stood up for change. The selection ranges from familiar icons, such as Harriet Tubman and Helen Keller, to lesser known leaders such as union organizer Clara Lemlich and physician Virginia Apgar.
"Clara Lemlich...wrote that the factory's conditions made women into machines, and so she persisted, organizing picket lines and strikes that ultimately helped win better pay, shorter hours and safer working conditions"
The real value of this book will come from conversations it might lead to, about these different women. Clinton limits her descriptions to two sentences, just touching on some of each woman's achievements. While some critics say that this makes the broad strokes ineffective (see this Kirkus review), I would argue that it allows the conversation to develop between the child and adult. I do wish that Clinton included an author's note and some sources for further reading, precisely because this might help guide an adult and child who might want to learn more to talk more deeply.
"Ruby Bridges... wouldn't be treated like a second-class student, and she persisted, walking for weeks past angry, hateful protesters to integrate an all-white elementary school"
I am struck by how the history books I read as a student ignored so many of these women. Only two of the thirteen were mentioned in my schooling. This is precisely why this is an important book to share with our young readers--to foster these conversations, so young readers will want to learn more.
"As the first woman to serve as both a U.S. representative and a U.S. senator, Margaret Chase Smith could have let that fact alone be her legacy. Instead, she persisted in championing women's rights and more opportunities for women in the military, standing up for free speech and supporting space exploration."
Illustrations © Kadir Nelson 2017, and illustrations © Alexandra Boiger 2017, shared with permission from the publisher. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Penguin Random House. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, June 29, 2017

ALA 2017 highlights: graphic novels coming this summer & fall (ages 8-14)

My students love reading graphic novels, and I always look forward to expanding our collection. Here are six new graphic novels I'm excited to read this summer and fall.
For my students who love Raina Telgemeier's Smile and Ghosts, I'm excited to share three new books that show regular kids coping with the daily dramas of life. It's definitely worth celebrating how girls' stories are finding great voices in comics, with outstanding authors and artists.

Swing It Sunny, by Jenni Holm, combines heartfelt humor and heartache as Sunny wrestles with her dysfunctional family and figures out middle school. I especially appreciate the conflict and resolution with her older brother Dale who struggles with drug and alcohol problems. I finished reading this with a feeling of holding Sunny's heart in my hands.

The Baby-Sitter's Club graphic novels, adapted by Raina Telgemeier, are perennial favorites. Kids are super excited that a new one in this series will come out this fall. Dawn and the Impossible Three adapts the 5th Baby-Sitter's Club, and is illustrated by debut artist Gale Galligan.

All's Faire in Middle School, by Victoria Jamieson (who wrote Roller Girl), is sure to resonate with many kids struggling with finding friends, being true to themselves and navigating social pressures. As one librarian friend said, "Might as well order two copies right now, because it will never be on the shelf."

Pashmina, by debut author/artist Nidhi Chanani, explores a young teen's identity and relationships through magical realism. Priyanka Das wonders why her mother abandoned her home in India years ago, leaving her father behind. But Pri's mother avoids all discussions about India, leaving Pri just to wonder. But when she discovers a mysterious pashmina, she is transported to a beautiful, amazing place -- but is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? Gene Luen Yang writes, “Colorful and deeply personal, Pashmina illuminates the experience of an Indian-American teenager and invites us to contemplate the power of our choices.”

In Making Scents, Mickey's parents are so crazy about dogs that they raise him with his "brothers and sisters", the dogs of their family. But when tragedy strikes, Mickey must move in with his aunt and uncle who hate dogs--and struggle to find acceptance for who he is. Kirkus describes this as "A heartfelt tale of acceptance, tolerance, and grief."

Nonfiction graphic novels that use humor and illustrations to draw readers into fascinating topics fascinate me. In Older Than Dirt, masterful graphic novelist Don Brown teams with geologist Mike Perfit to introduce young readers to earth science. According to the Kirkus review: "Readers will be entertained, informed, and inspired to learn more about whatever piques their curiosity, whether it is uranium, continental drift, glaciers, or one of the featured scientists, such as Marie Tharp... a grand and exciting adventure."

I'd love to hear about any upcoming releases that you're looking forward to reading! Many thanks to the publishers for sharing review copies. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Monday, June 26, 2017

ALA 2017 highlights: middle grade novels coming this summer & fall

I'm just finishing a terrific weekend celebrating with librarians and authors the best books of last year, and we're already looking forward to books that will soon hit the shelves. All week I'll share books I'm looking forward to reading. I'd love to hear about any upcoming releases that you're looking forward to reading!
The First Rule of Punk, by Celia Perez (Penguin, August 2017)
Mango Delight, by Fracaswell Hyman (Sterling, June 2017)
My Brigadista Year, by Katherine Paterson (Candlewick, October 2017)
Patina, by Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster, August 2017)
Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate (Macmillan, September 2017)

All of these will appeal to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, both in length and topics. Many of my students love realistic fiction they can see themselves in, like debut author Celia Perez's The First Rule of Punk. I am really looking forward to reading this and know many students will love the visual appeal of the zines included as part of this story. I also think many kids will see themselves in Mango Delight, as they follow Mango's friendship drama.

Jason Reynolds' Patina is the second in his Track series, following a track team in New York. Students across Berkeley loved Ghost, the first in this series. Like Ghost, Patina runs to escape from many of her problems, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Jason Reynolds draws readers into her world.

My Brigadista Year, master storyteller Katherine Paterson delves into the life of a young Cuban girl who leaves the comfort of her home in Havana to join Castro's army of literacy teachers. She goes into the countryside to teach villagers how to read. This historical fiction will help readers see into life in 1960s Cuba, as well as learn something about what it means to be human.

Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate, is such a truly wonderful story. I read this early in the year and cannot wait to read it again. As a teacher in Berkeley wrote me after reading this, it restores your faith in books and stories and people. This is exactly why we read -- to think about how we can respond when facing challenges, to know how our actions matter, to have the courage to speak up in the face of society's pressures.

When I get home, I will add onto this list. I'd love to hear about new books you're looking forward to reading.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#SummerReading 2017 for 5th & 6th graders

Kids know that practice is important in developing any skill; our job as parents is making our expectations clear AND creating a positive environment to encourage practice. You'll have much more success persuading your kids to read if they are able to choose what to read.

Validate their reading choices, engaging them to think and talk about what they read. Prod them a little to try something new--I often like to talk about it in terms of having a varied reading diet. Here are some of my favorite books to hook 5th and 6th graders.
Click for a link to the full 2017 summer reading lists
including printable PDFs

Exciting Adventure & Fantasy
Ambassador, by William Alexander
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelley Barnhill
York: The Shadow Cypher, by Laura Ruby
Pax, by Sara Pennypacker

Funny Stories (levels Q-R-S-T)
The 52-Story Treehouse, by Andy Griffiths
Funny Girl, edited by Betsy Bird
Timmy Failure, by Stephan Pastis
Zorgamazoo, by Robert Weston

Adventure and Historical Fiction
Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Inquisitor's Tale, by Adam Gidwitz
Some Kind of Courage, by Dan Gemeinhart
The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Graphic Novels We Love!
Compass South, by Hope Larson
The Nameless City, by Faith Erin Hicks
Olympians series, by George O'Connor
Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson

Stories that Touch Your Heart
Booked, by Kwame Alexander
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, by Pablo Cartaya
The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, by Laura Shovan

Fascinating Nonfiction
Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin
Where Do Presidents Come From? by Michael Townsend
Rhythm Ride: A Trip through the Motown Sound, by Andrea Davis Pinkney
You Got This! Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path and Change the World! by Maya Penn

CLICK HERE for all of the 2017 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#SummerReading 2017 for 3rd & 4th graders

Kids read every day during the school year, sharing books they like with friends. Keep those reading muscles strong over the summer by feeding them a steady diet of fun books to read!

Here are some of my favorite chapter books, graphic novels and nonfiction for kids who have finished 3rd and 4th grades. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
Click for a link to the full 2017 summer reading lists
including printable PDFs
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

Favorite Chapter Book Series (levels N-O-P)
Goosebumps Horrorland, by R.L. Stine
I Survived series, by Lauren Tarshis
Lola Levine, by Monica Brown

Funny Stories (levels Q-R-S-T)
Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom, by Booki Vivat
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, by Mo O'Hara
The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett and Jory John

Adventure and Historical Fiction (levels Q-R-S)
Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko
Full of Beans, by Jennifer Holm
Some Kind of Courage, by Dan Gemeinhart

Exciting Adventure & Fantasy (levels Q-R-S-T)
Wing and Claw, by Linda Sue Park
Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon
Wings of Fire, by Tui Sutherland

New Graphic Novels We Love!
Phoebe and Her Unicorn, by Dana Simpson
Real Friends, by Shannon Hale
The Sand Warrior (5 Worlds), by Mark Siegel


Stories that Touch Your Heart (levels Q-R-S-T)
Amina's Voice, by Hena Khan
A Boy Called Bat, by Elana Arnold
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, by Rita Williams-Garcia

Fascinating Nonfiction
Dog Finds Lost Dolphins, by Elizabeth Carney
Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West, by Emma Bland
Stephen Curry, by Jon Fishman

CLICK HERE for all of the 2017 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#SummerReading 2017 for 1st & 2nd graders

First and second graders have made monumental leaps in their reading this year. Keep those reading muscles strong by feeding them a steady diet of fun books to read!

Here are some of my favorite beginning readers, chapter books, graphic novels and picture books for kids just finishing 1st and 2nd grade. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
click for link to full 2017 summer reading lists, including printable form
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

Beginning to Read (levels G-H-I)
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig, by Emma Virján
Don't Throw It To Mo! by David Adler

Developing Readers (levels J-K)
My Family Adventure (Sofia Martinez), by Jacqueline Jules
Buzz Beaker and the Outer Space Trip, by Cari Meister

Exploring Animals All Around
I, Fly: The Buzz about Flies and How Awesome They Are, by Bridget Heos
Puppies and Kittens (Scholastic Discover More), by Penelope Arlon

Beginning with Chapter Books (levels L-M)
The Infamous Ratsos, by Kara LaReau
Lola Levine Is Not Mean, by Monica Brown

Graphic Novel Series We Love!
Hilo, by Judd Winick
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clayton

Having Fun with Chapter Book Series (levels N-O-P)
Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey
Notebook of Doom, by Troy Cummings

Fascinating Nonfiction
Miguel Cabrera, by Matt Doeden
Plants Can’t Sit Still, by Rebecca Hirsch

Picture Books Full of Imagination
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle
Surf's Up, by Kwame Alexander

CLICK HERE for all of the 2017 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Monday, June 19, 2017

#SummerReading 2017: Preschool & Kindergarten

Summer is here. Kids are excited to have free time, but with that can come the eventual moans of: "I'm bored!" Head to the library or bookstore to stock up on a pile of books.

Here are some of my favorite books to recommend for kids just finishing preschool and kindergarten. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
click for link to full 2017 summer reading lists, including printable form
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

New Picture Books We're Loving
Dad and the Dinosaur, by Gennifer Choldenko
Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall

Wordless Books to Read Together
A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka
Journey, by Aaron Becker

Favorite Books to Read Aloud
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Press Here, by Herve Tullet

Beginning to Read (levels C-D-E-F)
I See and See, by Ted Lewin
When Andy Met Sandy, by Tomie dePaola

Folktales and Trickster Tales
Can't Scare Me, by Ashley Bryan
Little Roja Riding Hood, by Susan Middleton Elya

Beginning to Read More (levels F-G-H-I)
Super Fly Guy, by Tedd Arnold
We Are Growing!, by Laurie Keller

Exploring Animals All Around
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, by Steve Jenkins
Puppies and Kittens, by Penelope Arlon

Picture Books that Make Us Laugh
The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra, by Marc Tyler Noble
Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

CLICK HERE for all of the 2017 summer reading lists, grades K through 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer reading: encouraging children to read

As summer approaches, kids get excited for freedom from the routines and structures of school. But parents often worry how they will encourage their children to keep reading. Kids have put a lot of effort into developing their reading abilities throughout the school year--what's going to happen to all those hard-earned skills over the summer?

Parents and children know that it’s important for children to develop strong reading skills--the question I hear so many parents asking is, “How can I get my child to enjoy reading more?” They’re absolutely right. Enjoying reading is key--we want our kids to get lost in books, totally absorbed in whatever they're reading.

Here are my tips for encouraging children to read:
1) Read aloud. Sharing stories together focuses on enjoyment and meaning. Keep reading aloud with kids, even as your children get older. If you're taking a car trip, try listening to an audiobook together.

2) Choice. What do your kids like to read? When they get to choose, they are more involved and engaged in reading. Use reading levels only as a general guide, not as a a limit on your children's reading.

3) Time and volume. Create structure that sets aside time for reading. The more children read, the better they'll get. Volume really does matter. My biggest question is how you take away distractions so kids can sink into reading a book.

4) Praise the behavior you want to see. Focus on noticing the positive. Ask your children's friends what books they'd recommend. Notice when your children read and praise their stamina.
Are you looking for summer reading ideas? Check out my 2017 summer reading recommendations, created for Berkeley Unified School District families. Please feel free to download these, print them and share with your friends. Most of all, try to make summer reading time a fun, relaxing part of your summer!

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Audiobooks for teens: June is Audiobook Month (ages 13-16)

What draws teens into a story more than anything? Voice. They want to read about a teen that's going through intense experiences--whether it's realistic fiction or fantasy. There are many brilliant YA audiobooks; I'd just like to share a few of my favorites. Think of it as a sampling, and see if anything strikes you as interesting.

Contemporary issues through fiction

As racial issues and gun violence continues to plague our communities, teens want to read and think about how these affect individual people. 

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is absolutely outstanding--riveting, powerful and thought-provoking. Over spring break, sixteen-year-old Starr is the only witness to her friend's fatal shooting by a police officer. As she returns to school, she must navigate the worlds of her poor, predominantly black neighborhood and the wealthy private high school she attends in the suburbs. This is an intense story, even more so with Bhani Turpin's evocative narration that pulls listeners right into Starr's fight to find her voice.

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, also explores the impact of police brutality, alternating between the perspectives of a black high school boy and a white boy at the same school. Two talented narrators portray these different points of view, as these teens are involved in a complex situation.

Gripping fantasy

Many teens love reading fantasy, both as a way to escape but also a way to contemplate "what if..."

In Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, we see Europe on the cusp of World War I--but it isn't quite the world we know from history books. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germans have Clankers, huge manmade steam-driven machines with guns, but the British are Darwinists who harness fabricated animals to wage war. Alan Cummings nails the different accents, as we get pulled into the excitement of battles and intrigue.

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater, is a gripping fantasy that focuses on the Scorpio Races, where riders try to master Water Horses--carnivorous horses that are captured from the ocean. I was totally sucked in by the alternating narration, as I felt both Sean and Puck's yearning for a better life, determined to try to risk it all to win The Scorpio Races.

Modern romance with a twist

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell, is a nuanced, compelling story of first love. The narrators bring alive the inner voices of both Eleanor and Park as they struggle with family, school and their own complex feelings. 

In Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green and David Levithan had me laughing out loud and cringing at the same time as I followed two boys, both named Will Grayson, and their quests to survive high school, find friendship, and grow up--whatever that means. Witty, cynical and irreverant, this book is definitely for older teens with its snarky jokes about sex, relationships and life.

Free audiobooks through SYNC Audiobooks for Teens

SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+ and these are two titles I'm especially looking forward to listening to this summer. Each week, listeners can get two free audiobook downloads, provided through the OverDrive app. Check out the full schedule here.

Between Shades of Gray (available August 3-9) is a moving historical fiction novel that centers around the persecution of Lithuanians under Stalin's rule in World War II. Fifteen year-old Lina is forced to go to a Siberian labor camp with her mother and young brother. They survive the harrowing journey on the crowded, dirty train car to find themselves in the coldest reaches of Siberia.

Shadowshaper (available August 10-16) is a vibrant urban fantasy that I can't wait to listen to. Here's the publisher's description: "With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one -- and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family's past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come."
Every day this week, I am sharing audiobooks for different ages. I'm also happy to offer a giveaway sponsored by the Audio Publisher’s Association June in Audiobook Month celebration. Winners will receive a pair of earbuds and 3 free audiobook downloads from Audiobooks.com! There’s an easy entry form at the bottom of this post.

Click the Rafflecopter form below for an easy entry. Enjoy listening and sharing.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The review copies come from my personal and school libraries. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books