Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Were Taught in Schools


I’m back!

Wow! The past few weeks have been really busy and tiring with school starting back up. I didn’t intend to take some time off the blog, but I didn’t plan well and all of a sudden I had a lot going on and no posts planned. And THAT is how the blog gets away from you folks!

But I’m back and I’m working on getting some posts scheduled for the next two months or so. *crosses fingers*

Well, it is time for Top Ten Tuesday (A weekly meme hosted by the lovelies at The Broke and Bookish) and I’m ready to go! There was a bit of a choice for today’s theme.  We could either pair up classic school required reading titles with contemporary books, or we could list titles that we wished were taught in schools. I chose the second option since I’m also a school librarian. Sometimes I read a book that I just have to share with my teachers because I know it fits perfectly into their curriculum…this list contains some of those titles.

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin LevineThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

This is a middle grades level historical fiction novel that would fit really well in an 8th grade American History course. It is all about Little Rock, Arkansas in the year following the integration of the public schools with the Little Rock Nine.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta SepetysBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This one is perfect for a high school history course when covering the Holocaust and World War II. It would be so beneficial to see the Jewish Holocaust was not an isolated event, but that this type of thing has happened in other places/eras as well.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I think this one should be taught in English classes all over solely for the beauty of Stiefvater’s prose.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis

Another 20th Century history topic that gets skipped over frequently in the classroom. It could be taught alongside a 20th century American History course.

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda WoodsSaint Louis Armstrong Beach by Brenda Woods

This quick read could be taught in a science class to support a unit on weather or natural disasters since it’s all about a boy’s experience in the midst of Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkA Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A quick but moving story detailing one boy’s story of civil war in Sudan. This could be taught in a World History class.

Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny RorbyLost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Floridian science and social studies teachers could use this in the classroom when discussing Florida.

 Bystander by James PrellerBystander by James Preller

A fabulous read for a Character Development course on the middle school level as it touches on bullying: the bully, the victim and the bystander.

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine PatersonThe Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

Again, with the 20th century history topics! This one tells the story of an Albanian girl whose family is forced to become refugees while escaping their Serbian oppressors.

Uglies by Scott WesterfeldUglies by Scott Westerfeld

This dystopian sci-fi read could be taught in a middle or high school English class as an alternative to the more traditional dystopian titles.

So there you have it! These are some titles that I think would be great titles to teach in a classroom setting. Have any of you educators actually had to opportunity to teach any of these books? Let me know! I’d like to hear your thoughts!


Waiting on Wednesday: Before You Go

Happy Wednesday everyone!

As you know Wednesday is the day I place the spotlight on an unreleased book that I’m looking forward to reading. Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and is a weekly meme I love participating in!

Before You Go by James PrellerThe book I’m sharing with you today is called Before You Go by James Preller. Now, I was introduced to James Preller when I read his book, Bystander this past year as it was on the Florida Sunshine State list for grades 6-8. It was one of my favorites and my students loved it too. I’m also proud to say that I also had the opportunity to meet James Preller at the annual FAME (Florida Association for Media Education). You can read about that awesome experience which included me meeting other authors and geeking out a bit here.

So, Preller’s new book, Before You Go, is scheduled to be released by Feiwel & Friends on July 17, 2012 so it’s less than a month away! The cover is awesome and incredibly ominous, which I think fits the subject matter well.

The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark, and no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool seven years ago when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

Now, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then, life spins out of control. Again.

Wow. I have to admit that the subject matter intimidates me a little as it sounds like it’s dealing with some intense stuff- accepting a painful past and moving towards redemption while overcoming guilt. Normally this wouldn’t be my first choice in plot (I tend to like things a little happier!) but I have high hopes because I enjoyed Bystander so much. Plus James Preller was such a friendly guy that I’ll probably read anything he writes in the future! Seriously, he was so nice he let me interrupt his quiet planning time in a cafe, before the sessions began, with my generally book geekiness!

I plan on buying Before You Go for my Media Center because I know that my students who read and liked Bystander will be interested in his other books.


Geeking Out, Just a Little

Today I’m blogging from the 39th Annual FAME Conference.

You may be thinking “FAME? I’m gonna live forever!?!”

Not that FAME! This is the Florida Association for Media in Education so I’m here with hundreds of other Media Specialists from around Florida. It’s pretty cool to hang out with and learn alongside fellow book lovers all day!

What’s also great about the FAME conference is that there are authors here!! Last year I met Caroline B. Cooney, Margaret Peterson Haddix (!), and Jessice Day George (!!). I completely geeked out on them and this year is no different.

So far today I’ve had a chance to chat with a few authors while they signed books for my kids. First up, M.C. Delaney author of Obi, Gerbil on the Loose which was a Sunshine State book (elementary) last year. My 6th graders like this title.


Now I also got to talk a little with Jennifer Allison author of the Gilda Joyce series. The newest in the series is set in St. Augustine, Florida which is right around the corner!


I’ve already reviewed books by the next two authors Greg Logsted and James
Preller since their books are on this year’s Sunshine State list. Greg Logsted wrote the spy novel, Alibi Junior High which I loved and so do my kids!

20111006-133746.jpg P.S. There may be a sequel in the works!

James Preller (super nice man! Loved chatting with him about his influences while writing Bystander.


Anything supernatural is a win with my girls at school. Kirsten White wrote Paranormalcy andSupernaturally. She was very friendly and enjoyed hearing about my students.


Thank you to all the authors who signed books and were so friendly!  Tomorrow Roland Smith and Gordon Korman will be speaking also! We so excited!


Tuesday Top Twenty: I Know What you Read this Summer!

Well,  I don’t know what you read this summer, so I can’t write about that.

But, I do know what I read this past summer.  I was busy alright!  This is not a Top Ten today, it’s a list of the twenty (yes twenty) books I read this summer.

1. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

2. Rumors by Anna Godbersen

3. Dark Life by Kat Falls

4. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

5. The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

6. Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid of Westminster by Berkley Breathed

7. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

8. Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story by Tonya Hegamin and Marilyn Nelson

9. Scat by Carl Hiaasen

10. Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

11. The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

12. Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

13. Bystander by James Preller

14. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

15. Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival by Arther Slade

16. Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

17. Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

18. One False Note by Gordon Korman

19. I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

20. The Help by Katheryn Stockett  (The only adult fiction I read all summer!)


Kids are Mean: Bystander by James Preller

As one who was once in middle school, you know it’s there.

As one who is a middle school educator, you know it’s there.


Yea, that is what Bystander by James Preller is all about. Well, not just about bullying, but also about learning how to be strong in the face of bullying.

Seventh grader, Eric is new in Bellport, Long Island.  Eric’s mother just moved him and his little brother from Ohio back to her hometown.
Eric has just met someone who actually wants to be his friend; Griffin.  Griffin is a little strange, but he seems popular, cool and confident.

Soon, Eric starts to notice that all is not well with Griffin.  He encourages Eric to lie to his mother and he always seems to be at the center of bad situations.  The more time Eric spends with Griffin and his friends, the more Eric starts see; Griffin lies, he’s a bully and he’s a thief.

As Eric starts to realize that Griffin isn’t who he wants to be associated with and attempts to break away from the relationship, things take a turn for the worse.  Being on Griffin’s bad side isn’t where Eric wants to be. And as the tagline asks, is Eric just “a bystander? Or the bully’s next target?”.

Things I liked about this novel:

So, I thought this book was a page turner.  I would get to the end of each chapter and think, “Okay, I can read one more!”  or “I need to get back to that book to see what happens next”.  You’re pushing forward through the book just knowing that something is about to happen just right around the corner.  This is totally what one feels like as a victim of bullying, you know its coming, you almost expect it with every turn.  I don’t know if Preller intended this effect on the reader, but it’s there.

Griffin’s character isn’t just some one-sided “mean kid” character.  Often in movies or books the mean kid is just mean, for no reason whatsoever, but Preller provides a little more insight.   As the book progresses, the reader gets a little glimpse into Griffin’s home life and it kind of all falls together; you suddenly understand his motives. I think my friend, Becky (shot out!) always said, “hurt people hurt people”.  I’m sure she got that from someone famous, and it makes so much sense with Griffin’s character.

Things I wasn’t so fond of (oh, and a bit of a spoiler alert):

Mainly, the conclusion.  There is no meaningful solution to the problem.  Griffin, in some strange way, respects Eric, so they kind of silently agree to live and let live and go their separate ways.  The problem I have with this, is that it’s not that easy for a bullying victim to just live life because the bullies do not give up that easily.  Not in my opinion, and not from what I’ve seen working with middle schoolers.   There usually has to be some sort of confrontation, whether with an adult or without.  The ending to me, wasn’t very realistic.

All in all, I enjoyed Bystander and I think it’s a great way to opening up a conversation with your friends, students, or children about bullying.