March 22, 2015

Miriam's 7th/8th Grade Book List--Weigh In!

I've been trying to compile a required reading list for my oldest.  She will be going into grade 7 and she is shifting in her reading from lazy, easy reading (how many Hardy Boy books are there???????) to pushing herself a little.  I'm glad because I was starting to wonder how I would push her upward and onward.  I read above my level because I wanted to read what my older siblings were reading.  I'm already noticing that Emeline (age 8) does this as well.  Since Miriam is the oldest she hasn't really had much impetus to push into the YA genre.

With that in mind, I decided to put together a required reading list for her 7th and 8th grade years.  The idea is that she will read one book off the list a week.  Most of the books can be read whenever, but a few--with similar themes or same historical time period--have to be read at the same time.  That way we'll be working on history and/or science along with LA, some of the time anyway.

A few fun things have happened as I've been working on this list.  One is that Miriam got wind of the list (I had to ask her if she'd read a few titles), she read through the list, and now she's been reading books from the list.  Back to the drawing board again to add more!  Not that I mind, funny girl.

The other fun thing is my perusal of every site I can find that suggesst good nonfiction titles.  I didn't fall in love with nonfiction until college so I didn't read much YA nonfiction.  In putting together the list I had to include some books on other people's recommendation (always scary) and debate internally about books I love.  Some made the cut (Frederick Douglass's autobiography) and some didn't (The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary).  Some were too old, some too young, some about topics that I don't find interesting but Miriam does (forensic science), or vice-versa.

It is such a joy to read about, think about, make lists about, and plan for books!!!

Bibliophile: a person who loves books, or, alternately, me!

Here's my mostly finished list, including the books Miriam has recently read that need to be replaced.  If you have any thoughts, suggestions, comments on quality or age level of the books (or anything else!)--please, I'm seeking after those things.

Yes, I realize I have more books than weeks of school, but I thought that would give her some ownership in her choices.

Thanks for your help!!!!!!

Absolutely Normal Chaos, Sharon Creech

The Egypt Game

The Giver

Maniac Magee

Number the Stars

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Summer of My German Soldier

The Watsons Go to Birmingham


The Dark is Rising series

Among the Hidden

The View from Saturday

The Moorchild

My Louisiana Sky


Homecoming and Dicey's Song

Esperanza Rising

The Fledgling

Little Women

Incident at Hawk's Hill

The Call of the Wild

Jacob Have I Loved

No Promises in the Wind

The Jungle Book

The Hero and the Crown

Freak the Mighty


Far North

Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman

The Outsiders

Across Five Aprils

Adam of the Road

Black Beauty

Cheaper by the Dozen


Girl of the Limberlost

The Hiding Place

Invincible Louisa

Johnny Tremain

Princess and the Goblin

Rifles for Watie

Snow Treasure

A Wrinkle in Time

A Christmas Carol

A Long Walk to Water

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Treasure Island

The Call of the Wild

The Moves Make the Man

The Red Pony

The Devil's Arithmetic

The Andromeda Strain



Up a Road Slowly

The Prisoner of Zenda

Smith by Leon Garfield


Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson


Breaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor by Michael Burgan

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns

Who Was First? Discovering the Americas by Russell Freedman

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on Board by Sheryl Berk

Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy by Seymour Reit

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Temple Grandin

Kids Who Rule: The Remarkable Lives of of Five Child Monarchs by Charis Cotter

Beyond the Dance: A Ballerina’s Life by Chan Hon Goh

 The Bone Detectives: How Forensic Anthropologists Solve Crimes and Uncover Mysteries of the Dead by Donna M. Jackson

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1917 by Michael Capuzzo

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers

Outbreak! Plagues that Changed History by Bryn Barnard

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

Years of Dust by Albert Marrin

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport

Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850 by SusanCampbell Bartoletti

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin

Trapped: How the World Rescued 33 Miners from 2,000 Feet Below the Chilean Desert by Marc Aronson

Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business—and Won! By Emily Arnold McCully

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb

Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler

Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: American’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone

Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by  Karen Blumenthal

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery by Steve Sheinkin

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal

Music was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin

Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities by Paul Hoppe

Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I by Ann Bausum

Truce by Jim Murphy (WWI)

The War to End all Wars by Russell Freedman

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World by Penny Colman

Elephant Talk: The Surprising Science of Elephant Communication by Ann Downer

The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum by Candace Fleming

Scribbling Women: True Tales from Astonishing Lives by Marthe Jocelyn

Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air by Stewart Ross (maybe use with the other kids for a whole unit on navigation?)

I.M. Pei: Architect of Time, Place and Purpose by Jill Rubalcaba

Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keefe by Susan Goldman Rubin

Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Shanzer

Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska’s WWII Invasion by Samantha Seiple

Tom Thumb: The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature by George Sullivan (go along with the biography of Barnum)

Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson

Raggin’ Jazzin’ Rockin’: A History of American Musical Instrument Makers by Susan VanHecke

They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartolletti

The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles by Paul B. Janeczko

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas by Frederick Douglas

Frederick Douglas by David A. Adler

We Are Not Beasts of Burden: Cesar Chavez and the Delano Grape Strike, California 1965-1970 by Stuart A. Kallen

Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed by Sally M. Walker

The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton by Connie Nordhielm Woolridge

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Leaving Glorytown: One Boy’s Struggle Under Castro by Eduardo F. Calcines

Birmingham Sunday by Larry Dane Brimner (read with The Watson’s Go To Birmingham)

Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work), in Words and Pictures by Michael Goodwin

The Word Snoop by Ursula Dubosarsky (history of the English language)

The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson

The Hive Detectives: Chronicles of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns

The Battle of Britain by Kate Moore

Mr. Lincoln’s High-tech War by Thomas B. Allen (use it with the novel about three days of the war)

Women of the Frontier: 16 Tales of the Trailblazing Homesteaders, Entrepreneurs, and Rabble-Rousers by Brandon Marie Miller

The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne by Catherine Reef (would work well with the other books about TB)

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman

Through No Fault of My Own: A Girl’s Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age by Coco Irvine (use with Thoroughly Modern Millie)

St. Paul’s Historic Summit Avenue by Ernest R. Sandeen

March 3, 2015


My nine year old niece recommended Laura Amy Schlitz's Splendors and Glooms and I am so glad she did!!  First Miriam read it and loved it and then I read it and loved it.  It is a Dickensian novel for upper elementary/middle school (but delightful for all ages).  It has some dark magic in it but nothing too creepy.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and put it in my basket at amazon to make sure I add it to my collection.  You might be familiar with this author.  She wrote Good Masters! Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village, which won the Newbery.  She also wrote The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer who Dug for Troy--one of my children's very favorite biographies.  In short, we're going to make sure all of Ms. Schlitz's books wind up on our bookshelf.  She's fabulous.

We listened to Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke on audio book awhile ago and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.  So much so that I bought a copy for Emeline (age 8) for Christmas.  Since then she's read it twice (that I know about--sometimes I sleep and miss things) and has declared it her "favorite book ever."  If you have a child in elementary school who likes humorous adventure stories, I recommend this one.

We had Freight Train by Donald Crews when Cowen was a baby/toddler, but it was destroyed as only truly beloved books can be destroyed.  I figured Oskar would like it as much as my other kids had and so I gave it to him for Christmas.  It hasn't replaced Babies by Gyo Fujikawa as his favorite book, but it is a very close second.  My children were overjoyed when Oskar unwrapped the book because they all remember it and love it.  The best Christmas book reaction, though, was when Oskar unwrapped Jamberry, another book that was destroyed out of sheer love, and Miriam grabbed it right out of Oskar's hands and squealed, "Jamberry!" in pure delight.  Awesome.  

My dad loaned me Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and I loved it.  I rarely read adult books, truth be told, as YA was always my happy place, but I'll be purchasing this book for my library.  I loved everything about it.  

I am always so, so, so, so excited when one of my children read one of my favorite books and love it as much as I do.  Miriam just finished Sabriel, my favorite Garth Nix book.  She then promptly read the sequel the next day.  She loved it, I love it, anyone who likes fantasy will love it.  Read it.  Gold Star Book.