Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday Salon - Children's Lit

The Sunday

A day late and a dollar short....but since I started this on Sunday, we are just going to go with that!  Wow!  Two Posts in ONE WEEK!   The world must be coming to an end!   I just wanted to thank you for all your comments this week.   It means alot to know that as busy as I am, you are all still here to fall back on whenever I need something!   Truly awesome!

This last semester I took a Children's Lit class.   In the span of the class we had to choose 40 books to read and essentially write "Book Reports" about each one.  I know it sounds like a lot, and it was.  We were supposed to choose books that fit the age level of the children we would eventually be teaching.   Since I am looking to secondary education (probably Jr. High or freshman level), my books were a bit longer than someone wanting to teach Kindergarten.  I spent a lot of time on this class, but found some amazing books! 

We had Categories of Books to read, and had to choose accordingly.    Newbery Awards, Caldecott Awards, Picture Books, Modern Fantasy, Traditional Literature, Poety, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Informational, Biographies, and Multi-cultural Literature.   The books below are the best of the ones that I read.  

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was kind of a cheat for me.   I read it before.  BUT I loved it so much I wanted to read it again!!   The adventures of Nobody Owens is one of the best books I've ever read.    It fit both Newbery and Modern Fantasy.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by  Jacqueline Kelly was a Newbery Honor book in 2010 and it was wonderful.   The year is 1899, and Callie was the lone girl in a large family of boys.   She was smart and eager to learn, especially sciences.   Unfortunately, the only Science she was able to learn was the Science of Housewifery.   Her grandfather, a "fellow scientist" takes her under his wing and opens up new worlds for her. 

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron won the Newbery Award in 2007 and totally deserved it.   Lucky was a little girl that lived in Hard Pan, California (Pop. 47)  Her mother died, her father left, and she was living with her guardian, Bridgette.   She learned about "Higher Powers" by eavesdropping on the twelve-step Anonomous groups.   This book is her journey to find her higher power. 

Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples is a wonderful book.  It is the story of two women alone in wartorn Afghanistan.   When the Taliban come to take Najmah's father and brother she steps up to help her mother.   But when a bomb drops on her family's hut, she finds herself all alone.   Nusrat is an American woman living in Afghanistan.   She is patiently waiting for her husband, a doctor, to return from the war zone.  She spends her days teaching refugee children in her little school, under her Persimmon Tree.

The Lion and the Mouse is a Caldecott Winner in 2010.   It is an adaption of Aesop's fable about the lion and the mouse.  But the beautiful artwork by Jerry Pinkney makes this a perfect book for young children.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick won the Caldecott in 2008.    I haven't seen the movie yet, but I would love to take the girls.  The story of Hugo, a little boy that lives within the walls of a Paris train station is beautiful.   To survive alone, Hugo has to steal.   When he meets Isabelle, a rather odd, bookish girl, he finally finds a friend.   But when he sees the key on a chain around her neck, he just knows it will fit the automaton that his father was working on before he died in a fire.   This story is amazing and if you haven't read it, I highly suggest you do!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite reads of last year.   Told in a first person narrative by 13-year-old Arnold "Junior" Spirit, the story is about a young indian on the Spokane Indian Reservation.    Living here, Junior sees poverty, alcoholism and violence every day.   His parents are alcohlics, and his best friend spends most of his time beating up other people.   After an incident with a teacher at the rez school, Junior feels the only way to ever come out on top is to go to the rich all-white school 20 miles away.  Strong and courageous, Junior is an amazing character.   If transferring to a school where he is the only Native American is hard, coming home to the reservation and having people think you are a trader to your heritage is even harder.   READ THIS BOOK!

The Tale of Desperieux by Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery in 2003.  It's an excellent little fairy tale about a mouse with big ears that falls in love with a Princess.    It's also about a rat named Roscuro that lives in the darkness but secretly covets the light.   It truly is a beautiful story about acceptance.

Where the Sidewalk Ends is a collection of poems by Shel Silverstein.   I've never been a big fan of poetry, but Sliverstein is just the master.  He's funny and profound all at the same time.    I loved this book and read most of the poems with the girls.   "One Sister For Sale" was a huge hit with both of them!

Deadline by Chris Crutcher is a truly inspiring, yet heart-breaking story of a boy named Ben.  He is getting ready to start his senior year in high school, when he finds out at his pre-cross-country physical he has a terminal illness and probably won't live thru the year.   Without telling ANYONE, including his parents or younger brother, he sets out to make his Senior year unforgettable.   Honestly, I'm having a hard time not tearing up just writing this paragraph.   It really is an exception book.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson won the Newbery in 1977.   It's a story we all know.  I can't believe I put it next to Deadline, because now I really am crying.  This story is just beautiful about friendship, family and absolutely aching loss.   If you haven't read it, you really should.

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett is book 2 in the Tiffany Aching Series (of Discworld).  I needed another book for Fantasy and really wanted to finish out this series.   Terry Pratchett is a master-storyteller!    Eleven-year-old Tiffany is about to start her apprenticeship as a witch.  To do so she has to leave the Chalk and her friends, the Nac Mac Feegle (or Wee Free Men) to study with an experienced witch.   On the way, she runs into trouble....and the Nac Mac Feegle are to the rescue!!    Such a funny book!!   I'm thinking of getting the trilogy for Bella to read.   She loved the Hunger Games so much, I think she will really like this one.  She is like me....loves a strong female protagonist! 

Lon Po Po is a Red Riding Hood Story from China.   Ana actually brought this one home from school and we read it together.   The pictures are gorgeous and it is a great way to learn about fairy tales from other countries!  Definitely recommended for kids.

Finally, I'm adding The Spider and The Fly.  The poem is from Mary Howett's 1829 poem.   The reason I loved the book so much though is the absolutely GORGEOUS pictures by Tony Di Terlizzi for which he received a Caldecott medal.  It is all done is black and white.   It really is amazing.  

Well....these are just a few of the books I read for my class.   Almost every book I picked I liked.  These just happened to be my favorites.  So if you are looking for books to read with your kids....or if you just like YA and children's books, you really should check some of these out!! 



Andi said...

Excellent choices! I like all of these books that I've read, and I like this idea for a Children's Lit class! I teach one online for a university in Oklahoma, and I might have to use this idea in upcoming classes. Maybe not 40 though. I'd have to read them. :)

Stephanie said...

40 WAS a bit much! For those reading all picture books, it was a cake walk. I did do some picture books, but all in all, mostly YA. These were my favorites!

Kailana said...

I took a Children's Lit course in university and really enjoyed it. You read lots of great books!

Stephanie said...

Kelly - I know! Probably my favorite class so far. An awful lot of work though.

Nymeth said...

So many great sounding books! Calpurnia Tate in particular really appeals to me. I wish I could take a class like that.

Chris said...

So many awesome books here!!! So um wait…you had to read FORTY books???? GOOD LORD WOMAN!!! I'm surprised you find a second to blog :p Glad to see you doing so well with school though :)

Marg said...

40 books sounds like an awful lot of work, even if some of the books were all kinds of awesome!

And yay for two posts in a week! lol

Michelle Shannon said...

How fair is it that someone preparing to teach kindergarten was able to read 40 picture books while you had to read chapter books? Um - I'm thinking someone wasn't thinking this exercise through completely. Still, I'm glad you were able to enjoy it. I really need to read Bridge to Terebitha again. It has been years.

christina said...

I love Lon Po Po and teach it every year in my fairy tale unit. <3

Stephanie said...

Nymeth - I actually thought of you when I read Calpunia Tate. She is such a strong female character in time period when girls weren't supposed to be strong. I really loved it!

Chris - I know, right?? I almost had a heart attack when I read the syllabus, but it ended up being so good!! Last semester was "play-time" for me. Reading Books, took a theater class and we watched movies, and Shakespeare where we read plays and watched all sorts of film adaptations of it!! This semester is a bit tougher!

Stephanie said...

Marg - At least it added a bunch to my yearly total!! It feels good to be back!

Michelle - It seemed weird to me, but I was ok with it. I probably could have gotten away with reading more picture books. The last books were bios and non-fiction. I think I did use pictures, younger kid books for these.

Christine - Ana loved Lon po Po. It's why I added it to my list. It was a great story!

Debi said...

Sounds like a super fun, if ridiculously time-consuming, project! Sounds like you are in your element back at school, Stephanie, and it is just so wonderful to hear the excitement in your voice! :D

samantha.1020 said...

It sounds like such an interesting class!! And you got the chance to read some really good books it sounds like :) That's the same age group that I'm hoping to teach :P

Chrisbookarama said...

You've been busy! Congrats on finishing those 40 books.

Susan said...

Awesome books you read for your course! wow. And you read the best (or many of them), too. Did you find it made you feel richer for having read them and experienced them? It's funny how we can carry books around with us, isn't it? This was a lovely post to read, Stephanie. There are quite a few on here I want to read. I totally agree with about The Diary of a Part-Time Indian. That was such a truly good book.

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Mari said...

What a lovely collection of books you've read, Stephanie :) I hope you and your family are well.

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rants&raves said...

I've only read two of the ones you are reading. That might be because I took children's lit in another century!

Ciera Horton said...

I love your choices! I have read many of these and they are fabulous!

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Adam Litch said...

Great choices. I have always been partial to poetry and Shell Silversteen was my first, so I do love Where the Sidewalk Ends. Check out my blog if you have the time, you might be interested: