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Reading Aloud to Teens, Part Two

Last week I set forth some reasons why older children (ages 12-18) have not outgrown the benefits of reading aloud. If you’re convinced about the why’s, you may be wondering about the how’s. Here are a few ideas along that line: Start early. If you’ve read to your kids as preschoolers, and after, they’ll be […]

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*Retro Reads: North to Freedom by Anne Holm

North to Freedom (I Am David) by Anne Holm.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1963 (first edition), 256 pages. Reading Level: 10-12 Appropriate for: ages 12-up Bottom Line:  After escaping from the soviet prison camp that comprised his whole world, a 12-year-old boy must come to terms with who he is in relation to the world. The […]

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

In most science fiction, technological advances are not shown to advance humanity.   However, it would be tough to find a more negative view of a future world than The 5th Wave, which chronicles an alien attack on our weak and vulnerable planet.  Depressing as it is, the story raises some vital questions about humanity, […]

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The 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards–What happened??

As we were saying last Saturday . . . you just can’t predict what the Newbery committee is going to do. Trends have been toward diversity, disability, and difficulty; books that show children in adverse, even desperate circumstances often get Newbery nods. (That’s why I was so sure The Thing about Jellyfish would be on […]

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Reading with Discernment: YA Literature

One of the high school classes I teach is devoted to helping students become discerning readers. Modern young adult fiction can be a minefield of conflicting worldviews, confusing messages, and the subtle (or not so subtle) push for readers to blindly accept the stories they read with little or no hesitation. We spend a good […]

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Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace. William Morrow Paperbacks,2010 (Reprint, orig. 1950). 336 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: Ages 12 and up Bottom Line:  Coming-of-age, romance, and historical fiction is combined in a little-known novel by a classic American author. While all her classmates are going off to college, Emily […]

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Reading Outside Your Preferred Genre

As a teacher, I’ve had various conversations with parents about how to get their children engaged in reading.  The flip side of that conversation comes when a student is interested in reading, but won’t venture outside a specific genre. Now, at first, this might not seem like a concern. If the student is reading, isn’t […]

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The Uses of Terror

Yesterday I made a distinction between “terror” stories and “horror” stories—the latter based squarely on our elemental fear of death, often with buckets of blood thrown in. (Suspense is a sub-category of the horror genre, built on the same fear factor but not so brutal). The horror genre lumps together all stories that could be […]

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The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 by Jasper Fforde. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013. 306 pages Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: Ages 14 and up Bottom Line: In an engaging alternative reality, punctuated with interesting sentences and quirky British humor, a teenage girl faces sorcerers, politics, and a dragon. Jennifer […]

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I Don’t Know How the Story Ends: an Interview with Janie Cheaney

Janie’s newest novel for young folks, I Don’t Know How the Story Ends, hit store shelves this month, and she’s been busy signing copies and enjoying early reviews. Book babies are a bit like eggs in a nest: patiently, the author sits on the drafts of the book, keeping them warm until they hatch. Publication day […]

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Brick Flicks by Sarah Herman

Brick Flicks: A comprehensive guide to making your own stop-motion Lego movies by Sarah Herman. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014. 206 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, Ages 12-15 Recommended For: Middle Grades, Young Adult, Ages 10-up (for experienced Lego builders; may require parental assistance) Moviemaking with Legos has been going on long before the popular feature film […]

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