Late Summer Reading

Texas has these book lists that a group of librarians decide on each year. And there are a lot of them (truly, everything is bigger in Texas): they have the 2×2 list for ages 2 to grade 2, the Bluebonnet list for 3-6 graders, the Lone Star list is for 6-8 graders, and the TAYSHAS list is for high school students.

The Bluebonnet list is unique because if a student reads 5 of the books on the list, they can vote for their favorite title and then the winner is announced for the whole state. It’s a pretty big thing here, at least in the schools and libraries I have any exposure to, and I think it’s a great program.

Massachusetts (a state that I finally can spell without the help of spell check, thank you very much) has a similar program, cleverly called the “Massachusetts Children’s Book Award” for 4-6 graders. Having watched the Bluebonnet program go so well at the school I did my student librarian-ing at, I am planning to run the same kind of program at my elementary schools this year.

Which means I need to read all the books on the list before school starts so I can booktalk them early in the year.

This is the 2009-2010 list for the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award:

The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech
Elijah Of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
Goldwhiskers (Spy Mice) by Heather Vogel Fredrick
Barack Obama: Our 44th President by Beatrice Gormley
Found (The Missing, Book 1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Horns and Wrinkles by Joseph Halgerson
Billy the Fish by Charlie James
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
Swindle by Gordon Korman
Rules by Cynthia Lord
The Big Field by Mike Lupica
Abby Takes a Stand by Patricia McKissack
Out of Patience by Brian Meehl
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor
Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem by Jack Prelutzky
Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper by Michael Reisman
Paint The Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan
Araminta Spookie 1: My Haunted House by Angie Sage
Listen! by Stephanie S. Tolan
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

Embarrassingly, I haven’t even heard of many of these books, but I’m working my way through them now. Three down, 22 to go. Any suggestions on which ones are awesome and should be read first? Because, clearly, I should put off the more dull ones until the very bitter end.

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  • Reply Kelly J. July 24, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Illinois has two sets for the high school crowd, the Lincoln awards and the Read for a Lifetime. The first is voted on by students and represents a lot of variety:
    The second is determined by the state librarian (…also the secretary of state which just leaves me wondering how much he knows about what teens like reading). These titles just baffle me a bit….you can tell which are the "teen choices" on the list without much work:

    Then we have the Caudill awards, which I am helping booktalk:

    The first two awards I've got passive stuff for, but I AM excited to get the teens doing this: Looks like a fantastic way to have their voices heard, and as a bonus, I've read most of those titles!

    Yeesh. There are far too many book awards.

  • Reply Lexilooo July 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Sadly, I don't know any of these! I need to hang out in the children's room more often, but when I am there, I get weird looks, since I don't have any children with me! Booo!

  • Reply Kimberly July 24, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I've heard good things about Jack Prelutzky from my mom, who teaches that age group. She's always really in to finding book for boys especially, so should be interesting.

  • Reply Heather July 24, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    loved weedflower, rules was good too.

  • Reply Elizabeth July 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Sadly, I haven't read any of those (4-6th grade isn't really my scene) but I always like Sharon Creech and I love Margaret Peterson Haddix. I'll have to read those two at least!

  • Reply Kimberly F. July 24, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I'm also kind of embarrassed to say that I haven't read any of the books on that list. However I can say with 99% surety that the Sharon Creech one is going to be great, without even knowing what it's about – but you already knew that!

  • Reply Linda July 24, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    After teaching this age group for 3 years, I've only heard of a few of these, sad. But Swindle was the favorite of one of my 4th graders. He suggested it for my read aloud book, and it was really fun. Baseball cards, scary dogs, villainous characters, rule-breaking adventures, and little word plays advanced students will catch and enjoy, what's not to like (especially for boys in that age group)?

  • Reply Packrat July 24, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    For several years, I worked with this age group as reading aide. I don't recognize any of these books.

  • Reply Camille July 24, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I actually read The Lemonade War when I was teaching elem. school computers. It was something the teacher had read with the class and when they were done they came to my class and we went online and set up our own lemonade stand and competed with each other. It was a cute thing. This wonderful teacher even got the gym teacher involved with some kind of outdoor lemonade making relay race for them! The book is great, but that's the only one I have ever heard of. Although, I bet that they are all good books if they are on the list 🙂

  • Reply Amy Sorensen July 24, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    We do this in Utah too. Ours are the Beehive Awards. At any rate….

    The London Eye Mystery is good. And the Prelutsky poetry book is, too.

    I haven't read any of the rest of them!

  • Reply Lisa July 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    What a great idea to get kids reading. I wonder if SD does it? At any rate, I haven't heard of any of them.

  • Reply Swistle July 24, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Okay, but get to the important part: HOW did you learn to spell Massachuss… Masachuss… Massachusettes… Massachussetts… Massachusetts… because I can never remember.

    Also, I wonder if they write a book for each presidential candidate, just to be prepared.

  • Reply Science Teacher Mommy July 24, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Haven't seen any of them. I had friends in TX who actually disliked the program because they felt like there were some really age inappropriate things in some of the books each year, but that by calling them a "Bluebonnet" book, the librarians and the schools were tacitly endorsing them. Of course, as a librarian, such "controversy" will be the battle of your life. I always told me friends the same thing–you are doing the right thing by reading what your kids read and you will work through it together. Happy reading.

  • Reply Leslie July 25, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Well, I haven't read any of these books but I have read Margaret Peterson Haddix's "Shadow Children" series and loved them.

    PS – I LOVED that you commented on my blog. It felt like a celebrity reads my blog!

  • Reply Jenny July 25, 2009 at 3:07 am

    Wow! That's quite a list… now, having kids that fall into that age range, you're giving me the thought that I need to be reading these books, too! How about I wait for your reviews, and read the good ones, and tell my kids to avoid the bad ones?!…
    Congrats on your spelling accomplishment, by the way. Next comes the crazy pronouciation test for the random towns and city in this state that do NOT sound like the way they are spelled.

  • Reply Jenn July 25, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I had totally forgotten about those book lists until just now. I grew up in Texas and have fond memories of the Lone Star list. I'm pretty sure my school gave out awards or prizes to people who read a certain number of the books. Thinking back, I feel like I read all of the books on the list, but I just looked up the past lists during my middle school years and I don't remember a single one! How is that? Good luck running your own library!

  • Reply Rachel July 26, 2009 at 3:24 am

    I don't know a lot of these books, yikes! My students LOVE Swindle, and I adore the London Eye Mystery (you'll love it because of the London appeal.) I read Paint the Wind to my class because we got to meet Pam Munoz Ryan and sadly we thought it was very boring. But maybe it's better if you read it fast, and not out loud. Good luck! I'd love to hear what ones you like so I can use them with my class.

  • Reply Deanna H. July 26, 2009 at 4:20 am

    I just recently read The Lemonade War and I'm planning to read it aloud to my fourth graders toward the end of the school year. (Get excited for summer and lemonade stands.)

    Don't expect typical outstanding Creech with The Castle Corona, but it wasn't bad.

    I thought Elijah of Buxton was a good historical fiction, but not the best ever. There was one part when I did cry. (How can you not cry in a slave period book?)

    I was very disappointed with Found. I love the author, but I did not love or enjoy this book. I could see how a class of elementary students could get into it though.

    Good luck with your reading. You are going to be the best librarian. All the kids are lucky!

  • Reply Kathleen July 26, 2009 at 6:27 am

    I liked Elijah of Buxton and Feathers. The Green Glass Sea , Paint the Wind and Found were all just okay. I haven't read any of the others. But none of those stand out to me as sounding absolutely amazing….I'm wondering why those are the ones chosen to be up for the award. Hmm.

  • Reply Peaceful Reader July 27, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I loved Feathers by Woodson. This looks like a great list.

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