For Parents

A Wonder Women Summer

This will always be the summer of Wonder Woman. Finally, a superhero with box office clout who just happens to be…female. I left the theater buzzing with the thrill but also with my fingers crossed that this opens the door to more strong female characters making it to the screen.

Because what girls and boys see up there matters. And what they read matters, too.

I’ve been feeling lucky on behalf of middle grade readers these days because there is an abundance of adventure stories out there with girl protagonists. No longer the side kicks, these mighty girls are driving the story. Full of thrilling action, whip smart characters and a touch of good old fashioned chaos to keep things interesting, this is summer reading at its best.

I have lots of favorites but I don’t want to blow up the blog so I’m limiting my list to a few recent releases:

 

Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy

by Gareth Wronski

I laughed out loud at this adventure of mistaken identity. Holly is determined to do well in school so she can enter the prestigious Falstaff Academy. This does not endear her to her classmates. When three strangers show up and ask Holly if she’s ‘important’, she says yes. This results in kidnapping by space pirates, not your everyday kind of problem. They think she is a princess and whisk her away into a world of aliens and other bizarre space creatures. School Library Journal describes it as ‘An intergalactic romp filled with humor and adventure.’ And I couldn’t agree more. A perfect addition to your summer reading.

 

A Dash of Dragon

by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

A novel written by sisters has to be fun and this one delivers. Lailu Loganberry is an expert at hunting dangerous beasts. And she’s even better at cooking them. At thirteen years old, this master chef has a lot to prove as she tries to run a five-star restaurant, cook the perfect dragon cuisine, repay a greedy loan shark, and outsmart the Elven mafia in a novel full of fantasy, humor, adventure and action. Lailu is just the sort of feisty heroine that goes perfectly with summer reading.

 

Rules for Thieves

by Alexandra Ott

Another novel full of action and adventure and featuring a smart, resourceful girl in the lead. A recent escapee from an orphanage, twelve-year-old Alli Rosco is just getting by on the streets. But after a run-in with one of the city’s Protectors, she’s marked by a curse that’s slowly working its way to her heart. And the cost of the cure is well beyond her reach. Her only hope lies in the legendary Thieves Guild. To join, all she has to do is pass a trial assigned by the King of Thieves. And this is where it gets really interesting! Alli will add heart pounding excitement to your lazy days of summer.

Happy #SummerReading Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Happy Clerihew Day!

What is a Clerihew, you ask?

It’s a comical poem made of four lines – two couplets and a specific rhyming scheme, aabb. It was created by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) at the age of 16 and duly named after him. In a Clerihew poem, the first line names a person with the end of the second line rhyming with the person’s name. Most often, these poems make light of or take the serious out of the person being focused on. They’re funny and light-hearted.

If you’re unfamiliar with rhyming scheme and all the differences, here’s an informative video for you to peek at.

How does Clerihew poetry play into middle schoolers reading and writing? Just that – play. And it can actually play into more than the R and W of school, too. Clerihew poems are all about being silly and causing giggles. They’re all about fun and seeing things in a different way.

Everyone is probably familiar with Garfield the cat. He’s lazy, overweight, has an aloof attitude about life and pretty much everything. His constant picking on Odie in the comic strips is presented in a silly or funny way, even though some of Garfield’s actions really aren’t funny.

That’s what a Clerihew poem does. It takes a person (most of the time famous or well-known) and sheds them in silly or humorous shadows, presenting them in an altered way. It makes light of who they are and shows the flip-side of that person in a nice way. By doing this, it forces the writer to see more than is visibly there, plugging into their creative mind and exploring possibilities. What a great exercise to have middle grade readers/writers do. And they can be silly to boot!

Here’s an example:

Garfield the cat
On his rear he sat.
Eating lasagna galore
All about the decor.

Copyright © 2000 James & Marie Summers

Here are a couple videos about the art of Clerihew poems I think you might find helpful. Here & Here. Take a view and then try an exercise with your students or kids. I remember doing exercises like this with my kids to pass the time as we traveled to yet another of their travel hockey or soccer games.

Have you ever written a Clerihew poem? Why not give it a try in the comments and share? We’d love to read!

Diversify Your Summer Reading

Here’s a Summer Reading Challenge from your book-loving friends at The Mixed-Up Files:

Diversify Your Reading!

Something about the way the modern world works has a tendency to create silos or echo chambers in which are our tastes, desires, and beliefs reverberate back to us from like-minded sources. Ultimately, that kind of intellectual isolation isn’t good for any of us. Books are one of the best ways to broaden your perspectives, but only if you diversify your reading.

Several readers have written about how their lives were changed by changing the way they read. Instead of sticking to the tried and true genres or authors that they knew and loved, these women actively sought titles outside of their usual selections. Kelly Jensen decided to only read women authors for a year, Sunili Govinnage chose to focus on writers of color, and K. T. Bradford excluded books by cis, white men from her list. Each one was surprised at the shift in her perspective after a year of focused reading.

Gene Luen Yang, the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has launched a program with the Children’s Book Council called Reading Without Walls to encourage similarly adventurous reading among kids and teens. You can download an Activity Guide here. Even better, you can play Reading Without Walls BINGO! The BINGO cards are available through the American Bookseller’s Association and at many independent bookstores. I got mine at Roundabout Books in Bend, Oregon!

Here is a list of The ABC Group 2017 Summer Reading Program suggestions to get you started:

  • A book about a character who doesn’t look like you
  • A book about science
  • A book with a differently-abled character
  • A book in verse
  • A book about personal identity
  • A graphic novel
  • A biography about someone who lived long ago
  • A book about a young girl
  • A book about civil rights
  • A book about a young boy
  • A book by someone with a different religion than yours
  • A book about something you know nothing about
  • A book about a character who doesn’t live like you do
  • A book about technology
  • A book about a character like you
  • A book about history
  • A chapter book
  • A book about sports
  • A book written by a woman
  • A book written by a man
  • An award-winning book
  • A book published before you were born
  • A memoir or autobiography
  • A picture book

If you need suggestions for specific titles, We Need Diverse Books has aggregated a wonderful selection of diverse book lists here.

All of us here at The Mixed-Up Files hope that you’ll share youR new favorite books with us!

Happy Diverse Reading Everyone!