Friday, March 29, 2013

Trent's Top 12 Authors for Tween/Teen Boys~Part 2

Andrew Clements~
Every reading teacher has or should have a copy of Frindle as one of their first read-aloud books to tween students.  This book follows Nick as he invents the word Frindle to replace the word pen and the adventure he has battling with his English teacher to get this word used in class.  Frindle cleverly incorporates the origin of words including derivatives from other languages which is the perfect springboard for teachers to expose students to the wonder of language and word meaning. Most of Andrew Clement's books are around an 800 lexile level.

 Andrew Clement's website has posted his newest book, titled About Average.  This is a book about a girl learning to embrace who she is and developing her own sense of self. About Average will be on my gift list for birthdays in the future.
More about Andrew Clements can be found {here}.                                              
David Lubar~
I follow David Lubar on Twitter and he makes me laugh!  Punished is the first book that comes to mind when I hear David Lubar's name. A review was posted of this book last year.  It is one of my all-time favorite books to teach vocabulary.  You can find our review {here}.   He has also written a series of zombie books about a boy named Nathan Abercrombie as well as a series books~all with the word, "Weenies" in the title.  These books were a hit at our school's book fair last week!  
I will be placing Lubar's book, Hidden Talents in my Amazon cart shortly.  It looks like an engaging tween/YA book that I haven't heard about until now.  The book synopsis from David Lubar's website follows:
"Every time Martin opens his mouth, he gets in trouble.  He's just been dumped at the last place that will take him; a school filled with freaks, misfits, and psychotic bullies.  His roommate start fires.  His new friends are thieves and cheats, and his teachers hate him.  Then things really start to get weird."
 Lexile levels for David Lubar's books range from 540-640.  If you would like to visit his website, you can find it {here}.

Mike Lupica~
Mike Lupica writes "meatier" sports stories that are geared toward older boys around a 900 lexile level. Book covers are more mature as are his story lines.  Mike Lupica's newest book is titled, True Legend.  Here is an excerpt from Lupica's website:
"There's a reason his teammates call him 'True.'  Because for basketball phenom, Drew Robinson, there is nothing more true than his talent on the court.  It's the kind that comes along once in a generation and is loaded with perks...and with problems."
More about Mike Lupica's books can be found by following the link to his website {here}.

Eric Nylund~
Eric Nylund writes Science Fiction and Fantasy books geared toward tween/teen boys.  Trent has plowed his way through the Resisters series, which is about a tweenage boy named Ethan who learns that Earth was taken over by aliens many years ago.  All adults are under mind control.  Ethan makes the decision to join the Resisters, a group who fights against the aliens.  Nylund's books are perfect for the tween reader!

 In addition, Nylund has written the Halo series and The Mortal Coils series; both are young adult Science Fiction/Fantasy books. Lexile levels range from 700-800 for his books.  Eric Nylund's website can be entered {here}.

Gary Paulsen~
When you think of Gary Paulsen, you think of solid writing with heart-stopping adventure and events.  In school, Trent started reading Hatchet.  This has translated to reading several books throughout the years including his most recent read, The Glass Cafe; or The Stripper and the State:  How my Mother Started a War with the System That Made Us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous.  Trent's review of this book is {here}.  

Gary Paulsen's books are written for different ages of boys.  Some are definitely tween and others have more mature topics about adolescence and self-discovery that may be more appropriate for teens.  Lexile ranges are from 700-1500 which is great for Trent as it is very hard to find high-level, engaging books.  Trent especially likes reading Gary Paulsen's books because the "voice" of his characters is so strong!

I am very interested in reading Notes from the Dog.  An excerpt from Random House's website follows:
"Sometimes having company is not all it's cracked up to be."  Fifteen-year-old Finn is a loner, living with his dad and his amazing dog, Dylan.  This summer he's hoping for a job where he doesn't have to talk to anyone except his pal Matthew.  Then Johanna moves in next door.  She's ten years older, cool, funny, and she treats Finn as an equal.  Dylan loves her, too.  Johanna's dealing with breast cancer, and Matthew and Finn learn to care for her, emotionally and physically.  When she hires Finn to create a garden, his gardening ideas backfire comically.  But Johanna and the garden help Finn discover his talents for connecting with people."
Random House has a website for Gary Paulsen.  If you are interested, you can find it {here}.

Louis Sachar~
My love of Louis Sachar books started MANY years ago when I was looking for transitional chapter books to engage a group of struggling readers composed mostly of boys.  We started reading, Marvin Redpost:  Alone in His Teacher's House and their first series hook commenced.  It was so much fun watching this group develop confidence and a love of reading!  Lexile level for these books is around 400.

Trent's love of Louis Sachar books started with reading Holes in fourth grade.  We then watched the movie over and over and over...

Trent then moved on to enjoying the Wayside School series.  A new to me book by Louis Sachar is The Boy Who Lost His Face.  This sounds like an interesting book that incorporates a little character education.
Excerpt from Louis Sachar's website:
"Trying too hard to fit in, David goes along with some boys who harass an old woman.  When she puts a curse on him, he is suddenly unpopular at school!  As he tries to rid himself of the curse, David must decide what he truly believes and what is right." 
 Louis Sachar's website can be entered {here}.

R.L. Stine~
R.L. Stine is actually author #13.  We couldn't showcase specific books because we have heard that his tween/teen horror books are the best to read, but both of us are too chicken to start reading one! His {website} even has scary music on it!  We will have to overcome our fear of horror books...

Mark Walden~
Mark Walden is #14 and we have already devoted 2 separate blog reviews to his amazing H.I.V.E.  Series that Trenton devoured!
See reviews:

We welcome your favorite authors for tween and teen boys.  Please leave us a comment.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Trent's Top 12 Authors for Tween/Teen Boys~Part 1

Trent is a voracious reader.  He finds and author that he likes and reads EVERY book he can find; then he moves on to a new author.  Here are his top 12 favorites this year (Part 1):

Avi writes in a mature style that pulls the reader into his stories.  He writes a variety of genres including historical fiction.  Poppy, Crispin and The Fighting Ground are just a start to his popular titles.  Sophia's War is a new Revolutionary War book released September 2012 about a girl who becomes a spy.  Check out more information here. Lexile range is from 600-800's.

Matt Christopher~
Matt Christopher has written a PLETHORA of sports stories that are sure to engage every tween reader!  You will be amazed with his website.  Click whatever sport you are interested in and a number of engaging books at different Lexile levels varying from 400-900 levels will show up to pick from. 

You can find Matt Christopher's website here.

Cassandra Clare~
The Mortal Instruments series is the newest read for Trent.  It is an urban fantasy series filled with demons and the shadowhunters who defend mankind from them.
 There are many characters to keep track of including Clary, Jace, Simon, Isabella, Alec  and Valentine. The Lexile range is 700-800, so the reading level is not too hard and the stories are very engaging.  Right now he is reading the third book in this series.  The first book is City of Bones.  Click here for an excerpt.

Eoin Colfer~
Eoin Colfer writes the Artemis Fowl fantasy series.  Book 1 is titled, Artemis Fowl gives a fresh story line where Artemis, the main character, is forced to find a fairy to decode a book that will save his family's fortune.  The fairy angle to this book is refreshing and clever.  The Lexile range is in the 600-700 range making this series very appealing for all readers including those with "reluctant" in front of their names.  This series is highly recommended.  Link to Book 1 is here.
After perusing Eoin Colfer's website, I discovered that he has a new series soon to be released.  Book 1 is titled, Warp.  Check it out here.

Dan Gutman~
Dan Gutman's range of writing includes humorous (meaning make me laugh until I cry at the tack scene in book 1) My Weird School books in the 300-400 Lexile range to the Baseball Card Adventures series focusing on famous baseball players and time travel with Lexile levels 600-700.  You can find Dan Gutman's website here.

Anthony Horowitz~
Trent just finished the Alex Rider series about a teenage spy.  These books are written at a Lexile level range of 700-800 and have completely captivated Trent's attention from beginning to end.  Here is a summary of Book 1, Stormbreaker, from Anthony Horowitz's website:
"When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down.  Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in grueling SAS training exercises. Then, armed with his own set of special secret gadgets, he is off on his first mission to Cornwall where Middle-Eastern multi-billionaire Herod Sayle is producing his state-of-the-art Stormbreaker computers.  Sayle has offered to give one free to every school in the country-but there's more to the gift than meets the eye." 
You can find a link to Anthony Horowitz's site here.

Six books covered and six books to go in part 2!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Secret Agent Splat by Rob Scotton~Lexile 480

Secret Agent Splat by Rob Scotton is quite possibly my favorite Splat book by far!  


Summary from the book:
"Splat the Cat notices that something isn't quite right in his house.  First the toy ducks his father makes start to go missing.  Then they are mysteriously returned but, strangely enough, without their beaks!  Who could possibly be  causing all of this trouble?  To solve the mystery, Splat musters up his courage and rises to the challenge as Secret Agent Splat."
The story is beautifully written.  The illustrations are adorable and the ending is ultimately about friendship and inviting someone new to join in.  This is a great message and a fabulous book!

Watch the book trailer here.
To purchase this book, click {Secret Agent Splat! (Splat the Cat)}

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Blog Design

New Blog Design by The Posh Box.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi~Self-esteem for all ages

Zero, by Kathryn Otoshi is my new FAVORITE book for focusing on self-esteem for everyone! 

The book jacket description follows:
"Zero was a big round number.  When she looked at herself, she just saw a hole...right in her center.  Every day she watched the other numbers line up to count.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7... She wanted to count too!  But how could a number worth nothing become something?  Zero felt empty inside.  And so goes Zero's search to find VALUE in herself and in others." 
My favorite quotes comes from the number 7. 
"It's what's inside that counts most," pointed out Seven...."Be open.  You'll find a way."
I can see this book being used with teachers at a beginning of the year in-service and with children of all ages using "I Am" poetry, modified for different levels.  I would snap pictures of each adult/child with his/her arms raised high.  Adults/kids would write an "I Am" poem  to be printed off and glued inside of a cut-out zero and affixed to the hands of the person holding it.  

This could easily be a school-wide activity with pictures and poems placed outside of each classroom.  How powerful of a statement would that make?  To me, VERY powerful!

If you have never heard of "I Am" poetry, here's a link to get you started!  

This activity can be used for developing awareness of characters in a story, but I like to start with self-awareness, first.  It makes sense...

This book is such a great reminder that we ALL have value!
To purchase through click the title: Zero.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Went Walking by Sue Williams~Early Literacy

There are many wonderful activities on teacher blogs for I Went Walking by Sue Williams, but I couldn't help but create two more for this book.
I Went Walking is such a delightful, simple book incorporating repetition of phrases, colors, rhymes and engaging illustrations.  It is perfect for an early literacy Reader's Theater and beginning sight words.
I think Reader's Theater is a little boring without props, so I had kids hold the above props and follow each other as their parts were read.  

There are two ways you can perform this Reader's Theater.  The first version is where the lead reader holds the magnifying glass and says, "I went walking."  The animal characters ask, "What did you see?"

The second way is having the lead reader  say, "I went walking," and have students in the class who do not have animal props say, "What did you see?" as they wear cool glasses while participating.  The first way, your Reader's Theater is a small group.  The second version can include your entire class!
This dice game is perfect for working with the long vowel e at the end of a word pattern and beginning sight words.  Kids get to roll (throw) a large die.  Color one die to match the number and then read the word to a partner or small group.  Continue rolling until all dice are colored in.  This activity could be conducted in small groups, with partners or as a differentiated small group activity with an adult.  I love the versatility of this and I will be making more of these games.  

If you would like the free master for this activity, click {here}.

To purchase this book through, click the title.                         
I Went Walking (Live Oak Readalongs)

Happy reading!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell~Early Literacy~Lexile 500

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is wonderful book for young children focusing on the concept that Mom or Dad might leave for awhile, but will always return.  The illustrations are engaging and draw the reader into the story.  The use of repetitive text focusing on the three baby owls and how they feel is sure to validate the feelings of all kids listening to this story.  This is a must buy for all Early Literacy teachers.

I chose to focus on the rhyme family of long e at the end of a word.  This is an early reading pattern/concept as children learn the first word patterns of see, he, me, we, and she much earlier than short e vowel words.  In fact, I recommend teaching short a, long e words, short o, short i, short u and then short e as it is the hardest sound to auditorially discriminate.

Students were directed to count the number of owls on the front of the book.  I placed an owl with the number three written on it in my pocket chart.  We generated a list of words that rhyme with three:  bee, ski, tea, free, see.  Next, I placed a strip of brown construction paper in one of the pockets and we placed rhyming "owls on a branch" on the paper.  Students were given a piece of brown construction paper and a set of rhyming owls to glue on their own branches to reinforce this activity.  Finally, kids were placed in partners to "read" the owls to each other.  

I left a set of owls, a "branch" out for kids to play with.  See picture below.

Click for the FREE activity below.

I found this simple, cute rhyme counting to three from You Tube.

To purchase this book through, simply click the title. Owl Babies: Candlewick Storybook Animations
Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris Lexile Approximately 900

A Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris was my first Zombie book and I really enjoyed reading it.  Carrie Harris' website has the coolest lead-in line.  It says, 

"Someone's been a very bad zombie."
Who wouldn't want to read this book based on that line alone? Her site goes on to introduce the book as follows: 
"Super-smartie Katie Grable gets to play doctor, helping out her high school football team.  Not only will the experiences look good on her college apps, she gets to be close to her quarterback crush, Aaron.  Then something disturbing happens.  Katie finds out that the coach has given the team steroids.  Except the vials she finds don't contain steroids.  Whatever's in them is turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless, flesh-eating...zombies.  Unless she finds an antidote, no one is safe.  Not Aaron, not Kate's brother, not her best friend...not even Kate...It's scary.  It's twisted.  It's sick.  it's high school."

When I looked at this book for the first time I thought it would be full of romance due to the lips being the biggest image, but the cover on this book didn't relate to this book very well. I did wonder what the crystals were on her lips, though.

As I started reading on the book started talking about Zombies and medicine! So, if I had to create a book jacket I would probably involve something with zombies. The downloaded image has a zombie on it, which I think matches much better.

Read the first paragraph. What made you want to read on?
The first paragraph starts by the coach talking to a kid telling her to say something inspirational. It sounded like it could be really good because I didn’t know what the coach was yelling about. By reading on, it talked a lot about football and medicine and gradually started leading up to Zombies! The football coach gave the boys pills that turned them into zombies. Yikes!

Tara’s Thoughts:
I completely loved this book! I have never read a Zombie book before, but after some of the action happened, I wanted to read on and on and on. I would recommend this book for grades 5 and up. It was an easy to read book and only had 200 pages, but I enjoy every second of it.

I highly recommend this book!

To purchase this book through, click the title. Thank you!
Bad Taste in Boys

Friday, March 8, 2013

Where's My Teddy? by Jez Alborough~Early Literacy

The book description for Where's My Teddy? from Jez Alborough's website is too adorable not to quote!
Eddy's off to find his teddy.  Eddy's teddy's name is Freddy.  He lost him in the woods somewhere.  It's dark and horrible in there...
 Where's My Teddy is a delightful book about a bear and a little boy who lose their teddy bears and find the wrong bear in the woods.  Both are greatly distressed until they find each other and switch bears.  It is an easy lead-in to fear and loss for little kids that leads to a positive resolution.

I love, love, love this book!
I searched all of my favorite blogs and Pinterest, but could not find a phonemic awareness activity so I made my own focusing on the -ed family involving Teddy Graham crackers.  It turned out great!
Directions:  Give students one game board with two pictures each of the words:  fed, head, shed, sled, bed and fed.  I cheated a little on the word, "head." That said, it fit the rhyme pattern if not the rime.

The best spinners are made with a paper clip. Simply place a pencil near one end of the paper clip and flick the paper clip.  It spins better than most game board spinners.  I used glue dots to adhere the spinner to a paper plate for better wear.

Students spin the board, read the word the paper clip lands on and place one Teddy Graham on the word that matches.  Continue playing until all spaces have been covered one at a time. When every game board is filled, kids get to eat their Teddy Grahams.

I love this activity because it focuses on rhymes, reinforces a pattern through auditory bombardment and is interactive.  It is  versatile in that it can be completed whole group like Bingo  or with small differentiated groups of learners.

This is as close to a worksheet that you will ever see me complete with young kids.

Click for master:   

Click for spinner:
I would love to hear your feedback and how you use spinners in your classroom!

If you would like to purchase this book through, please click the title. Where's My Teddy? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bear Snores on by Karma Wilson~Lexile 280

Bear Snores on by Karma Wilson is a beautiful book filled with rhythm and rhyme for Prekindergarten through second grade students.  This book is lovely in its simplicity:  Bear sleeps while his friends have a party around him.  He wakes up and is disappointed because he missed all of the fun! Bear joins the party and stays awake as his friends all fall asleep. 

Two activities that I have used with Bear Snores on focus on sentence segmentation and the initial sound of Bb.

When a book has a repetetive line or phrase, I take the opportunity to write that sentence or group of sentences on strips.  For Bear Snores On, I typed the words, "But the bear snores on," using Elkonin boxes and placed them separately on my pocket chart.  Students were directed to put one bear under each word and count the number of words in the sentence.  Then we went back and read each word together.  This is another easy way to teach the concepts of a word and a sentence while incorporating one-to-one correspondence and counting.
The second is a variation of the Sound Muncher  song found at Marcia's Lesson Links.  I changed the "sound muncher" to the "bear muncher" when singing the song.  

 I am currently obsessed with "feeding" a graphic in a bag or garbage can to make an activity interactive for kids so I made a bear face which I affixed to the front of a bag.  The mouth was cut out and kids could feed the bear words that started with Bb.  Incorporating more alliteration into the activity, we said, "Billy bear bites___________," as we fed the bear.  This was a FUN activity! 

My two favorite places to find initial word cards already made that I can cut out and glue to construction paper are Adventures in Speech Pathology and Heather's Speech Therapy.  I say this ALL of the time when I teach my graduate classes, "Make friends with your Speech and Language Therapists!!"

The 3 Dinosaurs blog has neat early literacy packets and great clip-art for this book.  Check it out!

If you would like to purchase this book through, please click the title. Bear Snores on 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall~Lexile 480

The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall is a delightful early literacy book for students PreK-grade 2 which focuses on two main themes:  the sequence of apples growing on a tree and making an apple pie!  

I try to find at least one strong phonemic awareness or early reading skill to go with each book. I chose to focus on the rhyming family of long I at the end of a word as in pie.

Students learning to rhyme need direct one-to-one focus on rhyming words.  The rhyming activity for this book is interactive by putting the rhyming pies in the oven.  Kids open the oven door, pick up a card and "read" the rhyming word.  My "oven" is made from a paper bag from the dollar store.  I don't laminate my items any more.  Kids are allowed to play with them until they are in need of being recycled and then I make a new game.

For students who have more developed rhyming skills and are ready for onset and rime, I have an onset and rime puzzle pieces to place together while stating the onset, rime and whole word.  
Example:  p-ie is pie.

If you are interested in the rhyming words to bake in your oven,click here.

If you are interested in the onset and rime puzzles,click here.

If you would like to purchase a copy of this book through, please click the title. The Apple Pie Tree  

Happy Reading!