Friday, July 26, 2013

Late Summer Reading Round-Up 2013

This has been a busy summer for me!  I took a four week course at Miami University through the Ohio Writing Project (which I blogged about previously), a did a day writing retreat in Hocking Hills, OH with Choice Literacy, I'm gearing up for a professional development presentation I'll be attending for two days next week presented by Laura Robb, and oh, yeah, school starts in about three weeks.  It's been a summer full of writing, reading, and thinking.  I thought it would be fun to take a look at what I've read so far this summer.  There is a mix of picture books, middle grade novels, young adult books, and adult literature.  Peruse at your leisure.  I would love to know what your favorite book or two have been this summer (so far--there are three weeks left, after all!).

1. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Leisl Shirtliff

I loved this book about Rumplestiltskin's background! Rump is a poor boy living in the Mountain area of his kingdom. His mother died shortly after his birth and his father was already dead. His grandmother raised him until she died when Rump was 11 or 12. Right before his grandmother's death, Rump discovers his mother's old spinning wheel in the wood pile. He brings it in and his grandmother vehemently discourages him from using it. Not surprisingly he doesn't listen and he's soon spinning gold. Spinning gold gets him into some binds, but takes him on an adventure to find the rest of his name (which will reveal his destiny) and his lost family. I think I'm going to start the year with this. It's got everything a 5th grader will love: humor, solid theme, play-on-words, and symbolism, but it's done in a very age-appropriate manner. This is a great read!

2. The Colossus Rises by Peter Larangis

I give this one 3.5 stars. I think kids would give it 4 or 5 stars. The story is full of action, very similar to a Rick Riordan read. I liked the premise that it's based around the seven wonders of the world. There is so much fantastical action that I had trouble keeping up and I often found my mind wandering. The end of the book just cut off, without wrapping up loose ends. Obviously, the next book will pick up right where this one left off, but I'm not a fan of just cutting off a story. I think I could certainly recommend this to kids that love the fantasy/sci-fi genre and kids that love Percy Jackson or The Red Pyramid series.

3. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Somehow, I'd never read this entire book! It was wonderful. Melody is stuck in a wheelchair and cannot talk, but she can think and yearns to speak. She convinces her parents to buy her a medi-board, which allows her to type (with one thumb only) words that the board can speak for her. Melody experiences a whole new world when she can use her talking board at school. She even makes the quiz team and they qualify for a trip to Nationals in Washington D.C. Then, tragedy strikes and Melody has to decide who her real friends are and what it means to be loved.

4. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

I enjoyed this first book in the Unwanteds series. In a nutshell, a group of children is selected every year as "unwanteds" because they've somehow demonstrated some form of creativity in an society that does not value creativity. Said children are sent to a "death camp", which proves to be a lovely world filled with creative artists. The book focuses on a group of kids fighting against their "home" country of Quill when the Quillians discover that the death camp isn't a death camp at all. Reminded my a lot of an updated version of Harry Potter.

5. Doll Bones by Holly Black

A story of three kids on the brink of adolescence who have a last adventure together and try to find their way in the ever-changing world of tweendom.

6. Matched by Ally Condie

Wow! This is one of the best young adult books I've read (listened to) in a long while! Cassia lives in the society and is matched at age 17 (through genetics) to her best friend Xander. However, when she consults her microchip to learn more about Xander, Ky Marcum's picture comes on the screen, leading Cassia to become curious about her match. Was she really supposed to be with Xander, or is she destined to be with Ky? More than a love story, this is an intriguing look at what the world has become and how controlled its citizens are. I would love to read this book with a group of middle school students and have a discussion about the society in which the characters live.

7. Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

What I love about the Hattie books are the strength and determination of a young woman in the early 1900s. Hattie left Montana in the first book and ventured to San Francisco in the second book to follow her dream of being a reporter. She's a plucky, self-sufficient female that doesn't have to rely on the good graces of men to find her way in the world. Bravo Hattie and Kirby Larson!

8. Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long

Another cute installment in the Otis collection. The farm animals are afraid of the bull on the farm because he is not kind to them. When a tornado strikes, however, the bull is scared and Otis comes to his rescue.

9. The Princess and the Potty by Wendy Cheyette Lewison

This is a great book about a princess that has no desire to use the potty (sound familiar?). She decides to go potty on her own terms. Gives me a speck of hope...
This will be especially meaningful for any of you that know me or my husband and our struggles with potty training our soon-to-be four year old (yes, you read that correctly).

10. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I LOVED this book about a brother and sister separated at an early age and all of the people in their lives that intertwined bringing about their eventual reunion. One of the best books of 2013!

This list pales in comparison to other summers, when I was a reading machine.  However, I've devoted copious amounts of time this summer to writing.  Trade-offs, right?  I do plan on getting a few more books in before school starts.  And, of course, reading never stops.  I'll be reading right through the school year.  

Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite summer read has been, be it picture book, early readers, middle grade books, YA, or adult.  I'm always looking for books to add to my ever-growing "to-read" list.  Happy Reading!


  1. I read Maeve Binchy's last book "A Week in Winter". It was just what I needed to read at the end of long days tending newborn twins and a toddler. I could read a chapter a night easily, and each chapter is dedicated to a single character's story. It weaves together all the characters who come to stay at an Irish seaside Inn for a week in winter!

    Zachary was a reading machine this summer. He accumulated over 100 points during his first summer reading program at the library. The twins racked up these points too because mom and dad read to all the boys as a family. We won 5 brand new books. Zachary's favorite book was "Nini Lost and Found" about a sneaky cat who had an outdoor adventure but then found its way home. He also liked a story called "You Can Do It Too". He loves books so much and takes them to bed with him at night. It makes my heart soar!

    Congratulations, Megan, on all your reading and writing accomplishments this summer! Your enthusiasm helps me keep my faith in the teaching profession.

    1. I want to read A Week in Winter, too! In fact, I had it on audio in the car and didn't get to it before someone else needed it at the library. I plan on reading it soon! I like Maeve Binchy.

      Way to go Zachary and twins. I love early readers! Natalie takes books to bed with her each night, too. She can't function without them. :)

  2. I enjoyed Cynthia Kadahota's new book, The Thing About Luck. It focuses on a young girl and her migrant family as they travel the midwest during harvest time. It isn't action packed, but I love their unique perspective. Highly recommended.

    1. I just added this to my "to-read" list. It sounds like it might be a good text pairing with Esperanza Rising. Thanks for the rec!

  3. Yes--Out of My Mind. Everyone I've ever talked to has loved that book. Planning on starting off the year with that as a read aloud.

    My book/author that everyone's talked about but I'm just now reading is Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I can really see myself reading nothing but Gaiman for an entire year. He's that good.

    I also find myself reading mostly nonfiction lately, which has caused me to overhaul my class library.

    Anyway, you have some titles up here that intrigue me...especially Doll Bones. Do you highly recommend it, or just a little bit recommend it? :)

    Great post, Ginther!

    1. Thanks, Noah! My husband really likes Gaiman. I want to read The Graveyard Book. I've had it for a few years and haven't gotten to it yet. Glad to know it's worth it. I've been using more and more NF in my lesson planning and the kids really do love it. Come down and check out my shelves sometime and let me know what you're buying NF-wise.

      Doll Bones is a good one if you don't go into it thinking it's going to be a creepy, scary story, because it's not. It's about kids growing up and not necessarily wanting to grow up. I think it would be a great book for sixth graders.