I like to sing. I don’t do it terribly well, but I don’t let that stop me! Especially, when it comes to books that are songs. They are fun to share with preschoolers who love to hear them. Even if you read them instead, they will enjoy the rhythm of the words. Here are some favorites.
Sam Wilson is 14 years old, lives in New York City, and is a computer genius. It is not unusual for Sam and his friends to hack into computer systems and fool around. In fact, computer gaming and use has reached a whole new level in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner. In Sam's world, being addicted to computer gaming has moved from the basement to gaming lounges. There are individuals who spend their entire days hooked to gaming systems and do nothing else. This book begs the question ...is this a possible future?
A public-service tech announcement to online CRRL patrons: both Microsoft and Mozilla have released updates to their web browsers, which I recommend you install if possible. These can be downloaded from the links below.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie)
- Mozilla Firefox 4 (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/fx/)
Bless This Mouse, by Lois Lowry, is the heartwarming chronicle of the mice of St. Bartholomew’s Church. This community of church mice, led by Mouse Mistress Hildegarde, tries to live quietly, avoiding the notice of Father Murphy, the Altar Guild and other people of the parish. But as they consider preparations for the annual Blessing of the Animals on the Feast of St. Francis, which means cats in the church, they face an even bigger danger. They’ve been spotted. That means the Great X, something they fear even more than cats.
Amy Henderson could not wait to leave Ruby Falls, New York, and start her life in This Must Be the Place, by Kate Racculia. She wants to go to Los Angeles and make monsters—her hero is Ray Harryhausen, talented maker of special effects with stop-action animation and creator of the Kraken in the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans. But like many a movie monster, Amy Henderson leaves disaster in her wake.
Remember comic books? They’re still popular, but so are graphic novels; stories told using the comic form, but published as books. They can be an original tale or a retelling of traditional fiction. “The Swiss Family Robinson,” for example, was recently published as a graphic novel. Well loved by all ages, these books are great for reluctant readers. The combination of minimal text and many pictures grabs their attention and makes reading more accessible. Try some of these with your elementary school students.
Do you thrive on books that keep you guessing to the last page? Does a dark novel set your heart racing with anticipation? Then let me recommend The Thirteenth Tale. But to achieve the optimal reading experience, schedule time on a day when the sky is an ominous shade of gray, an angry wind howls outside your window and your electricity flickers haphazardly. The moment is then prime to open your copy of Diane Setterfield’s debut offering.
Margaret Lea lives a solitary, sheltered life working in her father’s bookstore. Her greatest pleasure lies in surrounding herself with books, both rare and commonplace. She also dabbles in compiling short biographies of obscure but deceased individuals. Out of the blue, Margaret receives a mysterious letter from Vida Winter, one of England’s most cherished writers. Her request is that Margaret document her life story.
Unfamiliar with Winter’s novels, Margaret tentatively reads one title, only to find she’s unable to stop until completing the author’s entire collection of works. She agrees to visit Winter. The elderly writer has apparently fabricated exotic tales about herself over the years, but with only a short time to live, she now wants the truth told.
Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, spans both time and social status. In the present there is Andi, a musical prodigy who is about to get kicked out of her prestigious New York City school. She’s mad at her father for the divorce and at her mother for retreating into her own private shell. But mostly she’s in pain over the death of her younger brother, for which she blames herself.
Jimi Hendrix was an iconic force in rock and roll. His name is synonymous with music. In the book Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow, author Gary Golio introduces us to the young Jimi. The book begins in 1956 in Seattle, Washington, where Jimi was living with his father. They were not wealthy, but Jimi's father recognized that his son had a love for music. Jimi often practiced on his one-string ukele. With it he recreated the sounds the raindrops made as they hit the roof and the windowpanes. Even as a very young boy he interpreted the city sounds that he heard outside the boardinghouse where he lived with his Dad and turned them into melodies.
The seventy-year-old widower and retired librarian, Percy Darling, in Julia Glass’ The Widower’s Tale, has been entrenched in his old house for 30 years after the tragic death of his wife. He’s definitely set in his eccentric ways. But in order to help his daughter Clover find a job, he has allowed the local preschool, Elves and Fairies, to renovate his barn to use as their new venue if they hire Clover. The changes begin with a small purchase: Percy has to give up his daily skinny dipping in the pond on his property and wear a garish pink pineapple print swimsuit for his daily swim.