Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer Reading 2009

This summer I created a list of some of the best books of 2008. I looked at other consultant best lists, award winners, all time favorite writers and series, and of course, my own favorites. Whether you are a teacher, librarian or parent, share these wonderful books with your kids. The more the merrier. (Note- This list is K-3, 3-6 and 5-8. I am working on a 6-12 list that I will post next week.)

Interest Level- K-3 (Actually of interest to most people)

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek : a Tall, Thin Tale (introducing his forgotten frontier friend) -- Hopkinson, Deborah. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 3.4, 36p
In Knob Creek, Kentucky, in 1816, seven-year-old Abe Lincoln falls into a creek and is rescued by his best friend, Austin Gollaher.

The Apple-Pip Princess -- Ray, Jane. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Candlewick Press, 2008, RL 4.5, 32p
In a land that has stood barren, parched by drought and ravaged by frosts since the Queen's death, the King sets his three daughters the task of making the kingdom bloom again, and discovers that sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference.

Are You Ready to Play Outside? -- Willems, Mo. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 1.3, 57p
Elephant, who is cautious and pessimistic, and Piggie, who is optimistic and sometimes reckless, go outside to play in the sun and hope that it does not rain. (Read the series- Elephant and Piggie!)

Bats at the Library -- Lies, Brian. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
Bored with another normal, inky evening, bats discover an open library window and fly in to enjoy the photocopier, water fountain, and especially the books and stories found there. (You may want to read the first book, Bats at the Beach.)

Before John was a Jazz Giant : a Song of John Coltrane -- Weatherford, Carole Boston. {IL K-3, 788.7} -- Henry Holt, 2008., RL 3.8, 26p
A biography of John Coltrane that focuses on his childhood and adolescent years and discusses his inspirations, influences, family, the development of his musical talent, and more.

Beware of the Frog -- Bee, William. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Candlewick Press, 2008., RL 2.2, 42p
Sweet old Mrs. Collywobbles lives on the edge of a big, dark, scary wood, but has a pet frog to protect her from greedy goblins, smelly trolls, and hungry ogres.

Big Plans -- Shea, Bob. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 1.4, 42p
An unrepentant little boy, sent to the corner for bad behavior, thinks about his very big plans for the future.

The Blacker the Berry : Poems -- Thomas, Joyce Carol. {IL K-3, 811} -- Joanna Cotler Books, 2008., RL 2.9, 32p
A collection of poems, including "Golden Goodness," "Cranberry Red," and "Biscuit Brown," celebrating individuality and Afro-American identity.

Chicken said, "Cluck!" -- Grant, Judyann. {IL K-3, -E-} -- HarperCollins, 2008., RL .8, 32p
Chicken wants to help Earl and Pearl plant their pumpkins, but she only manages to get in the way, until grasshoppers invade the pumpkin patch and Chicken is the only one who can stop them.

A Couple of Boys have the Best Week Ever -- Frazee, Marla. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Harcourt, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
Friends James and Eamon enjoy a wonderful week at the home of Eamon's grandparents during summer vacation.

Fly High, Fly Guy! -- Arnold, Tedd. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Scholastic, 2008., RL 1.2, 30p
When Buzz, his parents, and his pet fly go on a road trip and get lost, Fly Guy comes to the rescue to help them find their way home. (Read the series, too!)

Goose and Duck -- George, Jean Craighead. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Laura Geringer Books, 2008., RL 1.7, 48p
A young boy becomes the "mother" to a goose, who becomes "mother" to a duck, as they learn about the rhythms of nature together.

Help Me, Mr. Mutt! : Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems -- Stevens, Janet. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Harcourt, 2008., RL 2.3, 50p
Dogs across the United States write to Mr. Mutt, a people expert, for help with their humans.

The House in the Night -- Swanson, Susan Marie. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 1.7, 40p
Illustrations and easy-to-read text explore the light that makes a house in the night a home filled with light.

How I Learned Geography -- Shulevitz, Uri. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008., RL 2.7, 32p
As he spends hours studying his father's world map, a young boy escapes the hunger and misery of refugee life. Based on the author's childhood in Kazakhstan, where he lived as a Polish refugee during World War II.

Just Grace Walks the Dog -- Harper, Charise Mericle. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 3.6, 163p
Eight-year-old Just Grace and her best friend Mimi embark on a campaign to convince Grace's parents that they are responsible and dependable enough to get a dog. (Read the rest of the series, Just Grace.)

LaRue for Mayor : Letters from the Campaign Trail -- Teague, Mark. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Blue Sky Press, 2008., RL 3, 32p
Mrs. LaRue's dog, Ike, decides to run for mayor of Snort City after realizing the front-runner, Chief Bugwort, wants to enforce leash, curfew, and other laws for dogs. (Read other adventures of Ike by the same author.)

Look Behind! : Tales of Animal Ends -- Schaefer, Lola M. {IL K-3, 590} -- Greenwillow Books, 2008., RL 4.7, 32p
Looks at the characteristics of different animal butts and how their owners use them, featuring one rear end for each letter in the alphabet.

Maybe a Bear Ate It! -- Harris, Robie H. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Orchard Books, 2008., RL 1.5, 36p
At bedtime, a young boy who cannot find his favorite book imagines the various creatures that might have taken it from him.

The Moon over Star -- Aston, Dianna Hutts. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 4.8, 32p
On her family's farm in the town of Star, eight-year-old Mae eagerly follows the progress of the 1969 Apollo 11 flight and moon landing and dreams that she might one day be an astronaut, too.

Nic Bishop Frogs -- Bishop, Nic. {IL K-3, 597.8} -- Scholastic, 2008., RL 3.7, 48p
Full-color, illustrated photographs describing the characteristics and behaviors of a variety of frogs around the world. (Part of series, Nic Bishop Animals.)

One Boy -- Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Roaring Brook Press, 2008., 42p
A boy creates ten paintings in this counting book that also explores the relationship of words within words.

Our California -- Ryan, Pam Munoz. {IL K-3, 979.4} -- Charlesbridge, 2008., RL 3.7, 42p
Colorful illustrations and rhyming text describes the sights and sounds of California. (Also available in Spanish.)

Papa and Me -- Dorros, Arthur. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Rayo, 2008., RL 2, 25p
A bilingual boy and his father, who only speaks Spanish, spend a day together.

Piano Starts Here : the Young Art Tatum -- Parker, Robert Andrew. {IL K-3, 786.2} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 2.2, 34p
Explores early twentieth-century jazz pianist and virtuoso Art Tatum's passion and talent for playing the instrument, and includes illustrations and biographical information.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! -- Willems, Mo. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 1.2, 34p
The pigeon really, really wants a puppy, but when a puppy arrives the pigeon changes its mind. (Read other books about the pigeon by the same author.)

Planting the Trees of Kenya : the Story of Wangari Maathai -- Nivola, Claire A. {IL K-3, 333.72} -- Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008., RL 3.3, 32p
Relates the story of Wangari Maathai, a native Kenyan who taught the people living in the highlands how to plant trees and care for the land.

The Retired Kid -- Agee, Jon. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 2.6, 32p
Although he enjoys some aspects of his retirement, eight-year-old Brian gains a new perspective on his job of being a child after spending time in Florida's Happy Sunset Retirement Community.

Silent Letters Loud and Clear -- Pulver, Robin. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Holiday House, 2008., RL 2.8, 32p
When Mr. Wright's students express a dislike for silent letters, the offended letters decide to teach them a lesson by going on strike.

Sisters & Brothers : Sibling Relationships in the Animal World -- Jenkins, Steve. {IL K-3, 591.56} -- Houghton Mifflin, 2008., RL 3.2, 32p
An illustrated picture book that investigates sibling relationships within the animal kingdom.

Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express -- McDonald, Megan. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Candlewick Press, 2008., RL 3.2, 118p
Stink Moody, friends Webster and Sophie, and Mrs. Birdwistle visit tourist attractions in Virginia as they try to give away 101 guinea pigs rescued from a laboratory, although Stink is very reluctant to relinquish his favorite, Astro. (Read the rest of the series about Stink, as well as books about his sister, Judy Moody, by the same author.)

Stinky : a Toon Book -- Davis, Eleanor. {IL K-3, 741.5} -- Little Lit Library, 2008., RL 1.7, 40p
Stinky, a monster who lives in a swamp, comes up with all kinds of strange ways to get rid of a kid who has wandered into his territory. (Beginning reader, graphic work)

The Storyteller's Candle -- Gonzalez, Lucia M. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Children's Book Press, 2008., RL 2.6, 30p
During the early days of the Great Depression, New York City's first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpre, introduces the public library to immigrants living in El Barrio and hosts the neighborhood's first Three Kings' Day fiesta.

Traction Man Meets Turbodog -- Grey, Mini. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Alfred A. Knopf, 2008., RL 3.4, 32p
Traction Man braves the evil bin things in order to save Scrubbing Brush, who had been thrown away by the little boy's father and replaced with a battery-operated dog. (You may want to read the first book, Traction Man, before reading the sequel.)

What Can You Do with a Rebozo? -- Tafolla, Carmen. {IL K-3, -E-} -- Tricycle Press, 2008., RL 2.9, 25p
A spunky, young Mexican American girl explains the many uses of her mother's red rebozo, or long scarf.

What to Do about Alice? : How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove her Father Teddy Crazy! -- Kerley, Barbara. {IL K-3, 973.9} -- Scholastic Press, 2008., RL 4.8, 44p
An illustrated biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth that focuses on her experiences while her father was president of the United States.

Wolfsnail : a Backyard Predator -- Campbell, Sarah C.{IL K-3, 594} -- Boyds Mills Press, 2008., RL 4.4, 32p
Close-up photographs and simple text describe how a wolf snail hunts, attacks, and eats it prey.

The Wolves are Back -- George, Jean Craighead. {IL K-3, 599.773} -- Dutton Children’s Books, 2008., RL 2.5, 32p
Describes the ecological benefits brought about by the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.

Interest Level 3-6

Alvin Ho : Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things -- Look, Lenore. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 3.8, 172p
A young boy in Concord, Massachusetts, who loves superheroes and comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors, wants to make friends, but first he must overcome his fear of everything. (First book in a new series.)

Bird -- Elliott, Zetta. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Lee & Low Books, 2008., RL 3.8, 42p
Bird, an artistic young African American boy, expresses himself through drawing as he struggles to understand his older brother's drug addiction and death, while a family friend, Uncle Son, provides guidance and understanding.

The Calder Game -- Balliett, Blue. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Scholastic Press, 2008., RL 5.4, 379p
When seventh-grader Calder Pillay disappears from a remote English village--along with an Alexander Calder sculpture to which he has felt strangely drawn--his friends Petra and Tommy fly from Chicago to help his father find him. (Third book in a series)

Clementine's Letter -- Pennypacker, Sara. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 4.7, 150p
After learning that her favorite teacher will be leaving for a trip to Egypt and will be absent for the remainder of the year, Clementine devises a plan to get rid of the substitute and get Mr. D'Matz to stay. (Second book in a series of 3 books.)

Coraline -- Russell, P. Craig. {IL 3-6, 741.5} -- HarperCollins, 2008., RL 5.8, 186p
Coraline, who lives with her parents and some other people in a strange old house, explores the garden, grounds and eventually the inside of the mansion, where a door leads her to another universe that darkly mirrors the one she arrived from. Graphic novel adaptation. (You may also want to read the original novel version by Neil Gaiman.)

The Discovery and Mystery of a Dinosaur Named Jane -- Williams, Judith. {IL 3-6, 567.912} -- Enslow Publishers, 2008., RL 5.2, 48p
Tells the story of the tyrannosaur Jane, from her discovery and excavation in the badlands of Montana to her display at the Burpee Museum in Rockford, Illinois, and explores the mysteries of her life millions of years ago.

Farmer George Plants a Nation -- Thomas, Peggy. {IL 3-6, 973.4} -- Calkins Creek, 2008., RL 6.3, 40p
Describes how George Washington built his farm at Mount Vernon, discussing his experiments with seeds, fertilizers, and tools and presenting related letters and diary entries.

Hate that Cat -- Creech, Sharon. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Joanna Cotler Books, 2008., RL 5.2, 153p
Jack is studying poetry again in school, and he continues to write poems reflecting his understanding of famous works and how they relate to his life. (You may also want to read the first book, Love that Dog.)

I, Matthew Henson : Polar Explorer -- Weatherford, Carole Boston. {IL 3-6, 910.911} -- Walker, 2008., RL 6.5, 32p
Shares the story of Matthew Henson, an African-American man who vigorously pursued his dream to reach the North Pole along with explorer Robert Peary.

If You're Reading This, It's Too Late -- Bosch, Pseudonymous. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Little, Brown, 2008., RL 5, 385p
Cass and Max-Ernest discover the Museum of Magic, unscramble more coded messages, and solve new mysteries in their attempt to thwart the Terces Society's ambitions of discovering immortality. (You may want to read the first book- The Name of this Book is Secret, before reading this sequel.)

The London Eye Mystery -- Dowd, Siobhan. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- David Fickling Books, 2008, RL 6.1, 322p
When Ted and Kat's cousin Salim disappears from the London Eye Ferris wheel, the two siblings must work together--Ted with his brain that is "wired differently" and impatient Kat--to try to solve the mystery of what happened to Salim.

The Maze of Bones / (39 Clues, book 1) -- Riordan, Rick. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Scholastic, 2008.
Amy and Dan, members of the powerful Cahill family, try to uncover the thirty-nine clues which will reveal the secrets of their lineage and find out what really happened to their parents. (There are others in the series too!)

Masterpiece -- Broach, Elise. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Holt/Christy Ottaviano Books, 2008., RL 5.3, 292p
After Marvin, a beetle, makes a miniature drawing as an eleventh birthday gift for James, a human with whom he shares a house, the two new friends work together to help recover a Durer drawing stolen from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My One Hundred Adventures -- Horvath, Polly. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008., RL 5.2, 260p
Twelve-year-old Jane, who lives at the beach in a run-down old house with her mother, two brothers, and sister, has an eventful summer accompanying her pastor on Bible deliveries, meeting former boyfriends of her mother's, and being coerced into babysitting for a family of ill-mannered children.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey -- Stewart, Trenton Lee. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Little, Brown, 2008., RL 6.8, 440p
Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance, all graduates of the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and members of the Benedict Society, embark on a scavenger hunt that turns into a desperate search for the missing Mr. Benedict. (You may want to read the first book, The Mysterious Benedict Society, before reading this sequel.)

Nightmare at the Book Fair -- Gutman, Dan. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 3.3, 230p
On his way to lacrosse tryouts, the president of the PTA asks Trip Dinkelman to help her with the book fair, resulting in Trip sustaining a head injury which causes him temporary amnesia and makes for an interesting journey home.

Pale Male : Citizen Hawk of New York City -- Schulman, Janet. {IL 3-6, 598.9} -- Knopf, 2008., RL 5.8, 34p
Recounts the true story of Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk living in New York City who has become one of the city's most-watched celebrities and bird watchers, tourists, and residents admire the bird and his nest, built on a Fifth Avenue apartment building.

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon -- Barry, Dave. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Disney Editions/Hyperion Books for Children, 2008., RL 5.9, 482p
Fearing that the sinister Lord Ombra was not destroyed, Peter and Molly travel to the land of Rundoon, which is ruled by the evil King Zarboff. (This is the 3rd book in the series.)

A River of Words : the Story of William Carlos Williams -- Bryant, Jennifer. {IL 3-6, 811} -- Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 4.6, 34p
Presents a picture book biography of American poet William Carlos Williams, who studied to become a doctor, but still found time to write poetry.

Sipping Spiders through a Straw : Campfire Songs for Monsters -- DiPucchio, Kelly S. {IL 3-6, 782.42164} -- Scholastic Press, 2008., RL 3.2, 32p
A collection of creepy critters sing their favorite campfire sing-alongs, slightly altered for little monsters.

Ways to Live Forever -- Nicholls, Sally. {IL 3-6, -Fic-} -- Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008., RL 4, 212p
Eleven-year-old Sam McQueen, who has leukemia, writes a book during the last three months of his life, in which he tells about what he would like to accomplish, how he feels, and things that have happened to him before he dies.

We are the Ship : the story of Negro League Baseball -- Nelson, Kadir. {IL 3-6, 796.357} -- Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2008., RL 6, 88p
Explores the history of Negro League baseball teams, discussing owners, players, hardships, wins, and losses; and including illustrations.

Interest Level 5-8

Ain't Nothing but a Man : My Quest to Find the Real John Henry -- Nelson, Scott Reynolds. {IL 5-8, 973} -- National Geographic, 2008., RL 6.4, 64p
Historian Scott Nelson introduces children to the life of the real John Henry, drawing on songs, poems, and stories to describe the man behind the legendary African-American hero.

The Battle of the Labyrinth -- Riordan, Rick. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Hyperion, 2008., RL 4.1
When demonic cheerleaders invade his high school, Percy Jackson hurries to Camp Half Blood, from whence he and his demigod friends set out on a quest through the Labyrinth, while the war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. (4th book in the Percy and the Olympians series. Final Book is also out.)

Bird Lake Moon -- Henkes, Kevin. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Greenwillow Books, 2008., RL 6.6, 179p
Twelve-year-old Mitch, spending the summer with his grandparents at Bird Lake after his parents' separation, becomes friends with ten-year-old Spencer, who has returned with his family to the lake where his little brother drowned years earlier, and as the boys spend time together and their friendship grows, each of them begins to heal.

The Diamond of Darkhold -- DuPrau, Jeanne. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Random House, 2008., RL 5.3, 285p
After obtaining an ancient book with only a few pages remaining, Lina and Doon return to Ember seeking the machine described in the book that might be able to aid their new community, Sparks, through the winter.

Diary of a Wimpy kid : Rodrick Rules -- Kinney, Jeff. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Amulet Books, 2008., RL 5.7, 216p
Greg Heffley tells about his summer vacation and his attempts to steer clear of trouble when he returns to middle school and tries to keep his older brother, Rodrick, from telling everyone about Greg's most humiliating experience of the summer. (Book 2 in a series. Book 1 is free online at

Found -- Haddix, Margaret Peterson. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 5, 314p
When thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time. (First book in new series, author of series, Shadow Children.)

The Graveyard Book -- Gaiman, Neil. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- HarperCollins, 2008., RL 5.7, 312p
After Bod’s family is murdered, the orphaned Bod, short for Nobody, is taken in by the inhabitants of a graveyard as a child of eighteen months and raised lovingly and carefully to the age of eighteen years by the community of ghosts and otherworldly creatures. Winner of the Newbery 2009

Savvy -- Law, Ingrid. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Dial Books for Young Readers, Walton Media, 2008., RL 6.5, 342p
Recounts the adventures of Mibs Beaumont, whose thirteenth birthday has revealed her "savvy"--a magical power unique to each member of her family--just as her father is injured in a terrible accident.

The Underneath -- Appelt, Kathi. {IL 5-8, -Fic-} -- Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008., RL 5.6, 313p
An old hound that has been chained up at his hateful owner's run-down shack, and two kittens born underneath the house, endure separation, danger, and many other tribulations in their quest to be reunited and free.

I would also suggest you read the CYRA nominees for next year or whatever state reader's choice awards you have.

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