Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Anyone have any ideas for the elusive highly engaging, yet low level novel I could use with my class of 7th graders who read independently in and around a 3rd grade level? Preferably short?

UPDATE: I should also mention that plucky heroines need not apply. Not that I personally have a problem, but those stories never seem to work.


Blogger posthipchick said...

Avi's City of Darkness, City of Light, is a graphic novel that the students seem to really enjoy.
I'd go the graphic novel route.

I can loan you a copy to review before purchase, if you like.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liz here from I Speak of Dreams.

Would Karen Cushman's Rodzina be too advanced? It appeals to both boys and girls as it has strong male characters too.

I also like the idea of graphic novels. Lots of dyslexic kids get a lot out of the illustrated classics. Here's a link from a librarian:

Librarian's Pick

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mrs. Katz and Tush
by Patricia Polacco

A lovely book ...

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Avi book, The Good Dog, is great. It is written from the dogs' perspective, and even as an adult I found it fascinating.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yeah, and the Jean Craighead George books: My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, etc.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How 'bout Holes by Louis Sachar?

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freak the Mighty? or Joey Pigza swallowed the key?

3:13 PM  
Blogger pseudostoops said...

Probably doesn't fit into the category of "appropriate," but Go Ask Alice was big in my middle school, and is maybe 4th grade level? And as I recall, the Road to Memphis (part of the Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry series) was pretty easy. Posthipchick's probably got it right with the graphic novel idea though.


3:18 PM  
Blogger leyla said...

Taking Sides by Gary Soto is spectacular. very engaging. of course, it's higher than third grade, probably 5th-6th, but if you're reading it with them, it'll be fine.

walter dean myers is very good for short stories. my kids loved his story "The Fighter" and they loved soto too..

4:07 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

My 11-year-old loves "The Giver" by Lois Lowry, and anything by Margaret Peterson Haddix, who writes thrillers with a creepy Mad Max-type edge. She has been reading all of them for years. Both my kids recommend the Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer.

In past years when we had to give gifts to kids with no interest in reading whose parents REALLY wanted them to read something, the Captain Underpants books and those Calvin & Hobbes comic strip collections were big hits. No matter how annoyingly infantile Captain Underpants sounded to parents (it's actually very funny), I got a number of calls from parents thanking me for finding something their kid would read.

5:59 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

I feel woefully inferior. The only titles I recognize are Captain Underpants and Calvin and Hobbes. Take my certification away.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought of Go Ask Alice, too, and the S.E. Hinton books: "The Outsiders" and "That Was Then, This is Now" are both great and about teens a little older than the age group you are working with. But they are gritty, that might be a plus or a minus for you, dunno.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I like the S.E. Hinton books a lot too. And Paul Zindel had written a lot of great "tween" novels. My favourites were The Undertaker's Gone Bananas and The Pigman.

Maybe Roald Dahl as well? I won't be obvious enough to suggest Matilda, but it is *my* favourite.


8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the YALSA website... lots of great books for reluctant teen readers. Check it out.


9:48 AM  
Blogger leyla said...

trust me, go with Taking Sides. perfect for East San Jose.. also brings up many discussions about what it means to be black or white or latino... is violence inherent in that or not, etc.. also brings up issues about friendship and community and about romantic relationships and young boys and girls... kids dug the book.

Can I just say that i hated Holes?
It's friggin boring. and every other word is "hole" or "deep" or something of that nature.

easy on the perversion. . .

11:30 AM  
Blogger KC said...

This query fits perfectly with today's Daily Howler rant. Check it out.

Also, I posed your question to the sfschools list at yahoogroups (many of the comments here arrived as a result). Assuming you're not already a member, I can compile a list of the recommendations if you like -- most were probably too advanced or otherwise not appropriate. But it was a lively discussion with lots of ideas.

2:36 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

KC -- I'd love to see the list.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Here are other books (not novels) my kids love, though you probably can't have some of them at school:

-- Anything by Dave Barry.
-- "The Onion" colletions, such as "Our Dumb Century" (in which the headline for the moonwalk story is "HOLY S***! MAN WALKS ON THE F***ING MOON!" and Neil Armstrong's actual first words when he set foot on the moon were "Holy living f***").
-- The "Worst-Case Scenario" books.
-- Urban legend collections by Jan Harold Brunvand, which entertain kids while also teaching them some healthy cynicism, street smarts and survival skills.
-- "America: The Book" by Jon Stewart. Probably your principal would frown on the nude picture of the Supreme Court justices, though.

5:49 PM  
Blogger EdWonk said...

I like My Side of the Mountain but Julie of the Wolves might be a little tough for them.

What about H.G. Wells' The Time Machine it's engaging, relatively short, and the vocabulary is challenging but not too difficult.

The somewhat open ending would provide students with opportunities to write alternative endings of their own...

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I've read it aloud to 3rd graders who normally don't sit still for anything. A read aloud with funny voices keeps kids engaged...and this book can do that.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous shieldvulf said...

Kids must still love Kafka's Metamorphosis. Mustn't they? Simple, eerie story of family estrangement: the picture of adolescence.

Kids also dig Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Not novels, but plenty of sex, violence, and challenging language. (It's the CHALLENGE that keeps us reading, isn't it?)

What else? Animal Farm. Flatland. Through the Looking Glass. The Old Man and the Sea. To Kill a Mockingbird. Calvino's The Baron in the Trees. And what about TWAIN?! None of these books is particularly difficult, every one has its challenges, and no one can fault their quality.

One more? Catcher in the Rye. In the eighth grade, it remade me, and all for the better.

1:18 PM  

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