Sunday, October 30, 2011

Low 8th Grade & 7th Grade Book Talk Books

There was some overlap between books that I took to the regular and high 8th grade that I also took to low 8th grade and all of 7th, so below isn't a comprehensive list, just one limited by blogger's tag limit.  Come on, blogger!

Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol.  A graphic novel I really enjoyed!  The art is great, how the illustrator used color and lack thereof.  The story gets a little creepy toward the end; just about right for this age level (although the main character is in high school).

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading, by Tommy Greenwald.  Although a lower reading and interest level (I was only planning on taking this to 6th grade in November), I thought the low readers would appreciate it.  I can't say they seemed excited about it.

The Clueless Girl's Guide to Being a Genius, by Janice Repka.  Not a plausible story line, but the author presented it so well, with characters who seem so normal, that it seemed totally possible.

Define "Normal", by Julie Anne Peters.  Middling reviews, I didn't actually read a word, just gave a brief synopsis to fill an extra few minutes.

Genesis Alpha, by Rune Michaels.  This book has a great level of suspense, and I also appreciate the science-morality questions.  This would be really good in a small classroom or reading group: there's plenty to discuss.

Lawn Boy, by Gary Paulsen. It's weird and I love it and I don't really know why.

Twilight, the Graphic Novel, by Stephenie Meyer. An easy one to bring, promotes graphic novel formats to readers who may not have tried them before.

We Could Be Brothers, by Derrick Barnes.  This one really resonated with the 8th grade low readers.  I can see why it would be popular (which is why I brought it), but even I was surprised: almost the whole class wrote it down.

High School Musical: Battle of the Bands, by N.B. Grace.  Also did not read, but an easy and fast AR point for the kind of kids who like this sort of thing.

Technically, It's not my Fault, by John Grandits.  Meh.  AR, thin book with lots of white space.  I know what some kids are really looking for in a book.

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself, by Lincoln Pierce.  This is kind of like Captain Underpants: main character/narrator is middle school boy, the text is accompanied by sketches and illustrations.  It's pretty funny but not exactly intellectually stimulating.

The reason there are even more than usual (even for me) is because the 8th grade teachers requested a separate book talk tweaked for the lower reading class.  Many titles were presented to all groups, but some were presented just to high readers, or just to low readers.

I was back in the schools on Wednesday for 7th grade.  I had a shorter class period, and I reused some of the books.  Additional/unique titles are:

Withering Tights, by Louise Rennison.  This is a great book.  It's like the author has distilled her earlier work.  Not exactly brainiac reading level, but good.

Freak, by Marcella Pixley.  There is a lot going on here.  This book is a good working definition for "problem novel."  Totally appropriate for 7th and 8th-- and maybe even 6th-- grade, but there are many difficult topics presented.  This would be awesome in small group reading.

The Misfits, by James Howe.  This would also be good as a class read, and appropriate for an entire class (like the 25 that are crammed in at the public schools I visit).  An easier reading level for the target age level but doesn't skimp on some big questions.

The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot.  Some things I forgot to say as I trickled to a stop about 3/4 of the way through the series:
1.  It is severely dated.  What 12-year-old likely reading this remembers dial-up unless they live out in the boondocks?  The language is also a little telling.
2.  It has started to get pretty monotonous.  Mia isn't learning.  I think that's the thing that is bothering me: each book has the same structure, and Mia isn't learning from her past experiences, and is therefore experiencing no character growth.  She's like 15, she's supposed to be maturing over the course of the year, not stagnating (although some 15-year-olds do that, I know...)

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