• To encourage young readers to become better acquainted with contemporary books with outstanding literary appeal,
• To broaden students' awareness of literature as a life-long pleasure,
• To encourage reading aloud in classrooms as a means of introducing reading for pleasure, and
• To honor favorite books and their authors.
Each year, the Virginia State Reading Association chooses books that they feel are the "best of the best" or noteworthy in young adult literature. Since I am a middle school teacher, I use the middle school list as the books I will use for my 6th grade book club. Some years they have been GREAT (2008-2009) and other years they have no been so great (2009-2010). But that is the beauty of the program, everyone will have a different opinion about the book choices but it is a chance to be exposed to books you might not have read otherwise.
The program is neat in that the council provides a list of books, bookmarks, awards for participation for students, and then a voting ballot for students across the state to vote on their favorite books of the year.
As a teacher, I never read the books before out book club starts - there is something magical that happens between a teacher and her students when they are able to discuss a novel and what they each think of it! And my students like knowing that their teachers are reading the same things they are...it gets them more into it!
I am posting information about this because the 2011-2012 list is out, and I am super excited about the titles for middle school! The high school list is pretty amazing too :) I am sure every state has a reading council and it might be worth checking out what the selections for your state are. Check out the titles our book club will be reading this year:
Bystander by James Preller
Eric is the new kid in seventh grade. Griffin wants to be his friend. When you're new in town, it's hard to know who to hang out with, and who to avoid. Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular.
But something isn't right about Griffin. He always seems to be in the middle of bad things. And if Griffin doesn't like you, you'd better watch your back. There might be a target on it.
As Eric gets drawn deeper into Griffin's dark world, he begins to see the truth about Griffin; he's a liar, a bully, a thief. Eric wants to break away, do the right thing. But in one shocking moment, he goes from being a bystander...to the bully's next victim.
Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
When actor John Wilkes Booth raced from Ford's Theatre after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln, he began a mad flight that lasted 12 days. James Swanson's Chasing Lincoln's Killer recapitulates the exciting chase through small towns and swamps by drawing on letters, manuscripts, trial transcripts, government reports, and contemporary newspaper interviews. This juvenile nonfiction hardcover displays history as it should be seen: up close and personal.
The Leanin' Dogby K.A. Nuzum
More than anything, Dessa Dean needed a friend. A friend with whom she could share her heart. Then there came a scratchin’ at the door and Dessa Dean’s life was forever changed. This is the story of a girl, a dog, and the friendship that saves them both.
Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine
In Caitlin's world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That's the stuff Caitlin's older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon's dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger's, she doesn't know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white - the world is full of colors - messy and beautiful.
Kathryn Erskine has written a must-read gem, one of the most moving novels of the year.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.
From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.
Pop by Gordon Korman
When Marcus moves to a new town in the dead of summer, he doesn't know a soul. While practicing football for impending tryouts, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with an older man. Charlie is a charismatic prankster—and the best football player Marcus has ever seen. He can't believe his good luck when he finds out that Charlie is actually Charlie Popovich, or "the King of Pop," as he had been nicknamed during his career as an NFL linebacker. But that's not all. There is a secret about Charlie that his family is desperate to hide.
When Marcus begins school, he meets the starting quarterback on the team: Troy Popovich. Right from the beginning, Marcus and Troy disagree—about football, about Troy's ex-girlfriend, Alyssa, but most of all about what's good for Charlie. Marcus is betting that he knows what's best for the King of Pop. And he is willing to risk everything to help his friend.
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
For thirteen-year-old Sam it’s not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older brother (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever.
Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds literature about the Black Panthers under Stick’s bed, he’s not sure who to believe: his father or his best friend. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore.
Sam wants to believe that his father is right: You can effect change without using violence. But as time goes on, Sam grows weary of standing by and watching as his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. Sam begins to explore the Panthers with Stick, but soon he’s involved in something far more serious — and more dangerous — than he could have ever predicted. Sam is faced with a difficult decision. Will he follow his father or his brother? His mind or his heart? The rock or the river?
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.
Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls
"My name is Sam. I am eleven years old. I collect stories and fantastic facts. By the time you read this, I will probably be dead."
Sam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl. And because he has leukemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer. "Ways To Live Forever" is the first novel from an extraordinarily talented young writer. Funny and honest, it is one of the most powerful and uplifting books you will ever read.
When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton
Jimmy lives in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, during the 1940s. He does all the things boys do in the small mountain town: plays a mean game of football, pulls the unforgettable Halloween prank with his friends in "the Platoon," and promises to head off into the woods on the first day of hunting season - no matter what. He also knows his father belongs to a secret society, and is determined to uncover the mysteries behind it! But it is a midnight encounter with a train that shows Jimmy the man his father really is.
Newcomer Fran Cannon Slayton's powerful first novel captures the serendipity of boyhood by shining a spotlight on the peak adventures of Jimmy's life. But at its heart, this is a story about a boy and his father in a time when trains reigned supreme.