This premise for a middle grade reader is quite engaging and it has so much for opportunity from a great classroom reader’s theater opportunity, to listening on tape and of course a fast track read by page. Moving from character to character this mystery of how and what really happened with the homework machine will keep the interest of readers and listeners. Every one wants to know how such an infamous machine gets made, used and hidden.
You can find it on tape or on line easily by looking up Homework Machine audio tape. Try this link: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzs18HMxslA&noredirect=1) This may even be a good starter and then have readers read together. Reading with a theater format of changing characters is so easy with this book. Kids absolutely love reading parts.
I am a fan of Dan Gutman from his early on novels of; The Million Dollar Put, Honus and Me, Back In Time With Ben Franklin, to his latest exciting novel series with Coke and Pepsi a secret agent brother sister team of The Genius Files. He is a master at intertwining the facts to creative fiction. He also makes the characters so completely real with kid thoughts and dialogue that will encourage the best discussions and even inspire the research of the unusual to the most basic. This of course will produce an unusual fact or knowledge base that kids love.
Audio books are great for summer. Set up a special time and stick with it. They will undoubtedly lure students to read or at least be interested in reading. Definately try out Dan Gutman.
Last year one of our best times in the car was listening to a book on tape. People use to be so engaged by the radio just a couple of generations ago. I wanted to try it on my kids to see if they would hold interest. We looked at the options from the library and we decided to get a space adventure, The Search for Wondla by Tony Di Terlizzzi. I thought we’d just try it on our everyday commute about 20 minutes and see how far we can go with it.
When I first put it in I opened the case and it had NINE cds! Whoa, I really thought they would drop out of such a long story. But no way. Kids are surprising. They were entranced by it and were ready for it every time we were in the car. Even on longer trips, because this fourty-two chapter book needed more time, they would fall asleep and then wake…”what did I miss? go back…go back.” I thought it was awesome. I would give a comprehension check(bringing out the teacher in me), to see if they knew what was going on in the story,and they sure did. They even helped me understand a few times when I was too busy attending to driving needs. My husband was lost when coming into the part of the capture and the taxidermist museum. He thought the story was too far fetched for them to grasp, but they caught him up to speed with a group summary and he was quite impressed.
I remember checking at various times if they all wanted to renew it from the library, again. After three, 3 week renewals from the library check-out desk and one long 8 hour trip to the grandparents, we finally finished. There were even times when we sat in our driveway for a few minutes longer so we could get to the end of a chapter. From a book-loving-mom, this was fantastic!
On occasion we would have an extra kid for the driving adventure, they loved it too and wanted to stay in the car. Unheard of, right? My kids ranged from kindergarten, third and fourth grade. We were all so excited to get to the end of the book and then the last sentence came. I was almost mortified. “End of book I.” Really, Tony Diterlizzi? How can you do that? But bravo and now we have the next book on our list. Thanks for the memorable drives, the excellent adventure and I am sure cortex enlarger for my children.
Yes! Books on tape are Excellent! Be surprised about how well your kids can follow a story.
PS. Another book on tape idea is for a summer rainy day. I sent my kids to the car with a snack and a cd & book companion, (or a tape!). And they enjoyed the driveway and obeyed the rules of coming in when finished. It was a great summer station. But do make sure they know the rules of being clear of the drivers’ seat. And put the brake on please.)
I long for summers to catch a blanket or on the covered porch with an ongoing summer novel, with the kids. Last year it was Mouse On The Motercyle, by Beverly Cleary. The summer before was Charlotte’s Web, by EB White. This summer it was Stuart Little, also by EB White. I had gotton one of those oversized novel-to-picture books from Borders- (sniff, sniff) and it was fun to read together during our lunch times, just a chapter or so. The pictures are big enough to share across the table. Whatever the format, it has been 3 great years of sharing novels. Before of course it was picture book reads and small chapter books. This summer tradition is super fun and I hope you all get to do it too or remember for next year. Although it is just as rewarding on a cozy couch or special chair.
My reasons for picking out a book for summers instead of letting them choose are sometimes selfish. I’d like the kids to know some of the classics in childhood literature and because there are just so many these days I hope to get in a few of my own favorites from what the teachers may not read. Another great reason is that, I love reading aloud and they get to share it with me because I like it. There that said about my summer read project. The other thing that I love about family reading is that it is just nice to sit and discuss a book with each other. Sometimes it is only a sentence or two but those are good connections nonetheless. I am amazed when I ask questions and all my kids respond at one time or another. Even after a couple of weeks, the brain is so amazing as kids do remember, even at age 5. I think this art of reconnecting stories from widespread days or weeks is something at a loss these days with instant retrieved movies and sequels. So reading a novel over a period of days and weeks and even over the summer is good recognition skills. Recently I just heard a fact on reading as a source to help others out of depression. (London, study- from documentary “Why Reading Matters.”) That is pretty cool.
l think that reading helps us bond as a family and I want my kids to desire that connection of reading with stories later too. It might even help them some day if they find themselves in difficult situations. For now, it gives them a place to discover some feelings when seeing the path and choices of some characters. Light questions and ones we really can’t answer are just good in well told stories. Like, Does Charlotte have to really stay behind? Should Ralph risk even carrying an asprin? or Does Stuart ever find Margalo? I really get to know my kids a little more when they have a concern about a character or a hope. And that’s a good reason to share a good read. I’m always reminded at the end of a book why reading together is important. Sometimes we have big discussions of what really happens and sometimes not. Even the shrug at the end of a book when they say they like it, I see they are thinking a few other things about it. I just like that.
Get a family classic or one of your most favorite from years past and enjoy the time well spent in a family read. Think ahead for next summer.
This lovely summer picture book by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee is one to share often. It was a Caldecott Honor of 2010 and ‘know wonder’ it won awards as it cultivates a feeling of togetherness from families to towns all across America while enjoying the wonderful resources brought from the land. Also the use of lines in this book are fantastic and the pictures bring together the young, the old, and diverse cultures in a natural harmonious way. I came across this book in my recent literacy class and I am so excited to check it out for my family and when I teach again. From the easy going poetic verse to the glorious understanding of peace and harmony, check this book out.
The end of the school year is about Science fairs and getting kids to think of summer science projects. Michele Torrey has some great characters who share a science mystery and then she shares how to go about proving the mystery with science. What a great interactive read without having the computer these days. The experiments can even be done at home with the simple directions and supplies. I love her creative mix of science and fiction that helps kids thinking, reasoning and even discovering. Check out her great books that can be for early readers as each book has 4 stories and experiments. It also holds the interest of older readers and their ability to carry out the mystery and science projects.
Books by Michele Torrey
Doyle and Fossey : The Mossy Lake Monster, The Case of the Terrible T. Rex, The Case of the Gasping Garbage
Did you know that April 23rd is St. George’s day? He is the patron saint of England who slayed a dragon. Read some history on this for fun but then read some of the tales about this Saint as told in The Reluctant Dragon. The story of the gentle dragon is a passed down treasure from when it was first written in 1898, By Kenneth Grahame.
I recently read a new version of The Reluctant Dragon in a chapter book form. It is called Kenny and the Dragon. I did not know this was a passed down tale until finishing and we made the connection with another picture book of ours retold by Robert D. San Souci. What was interesting is that my son made the connection with the name of the original author and the characters in the story. The main character is Kenny a rabbit in the medieval countryside. The very scholarly, poetic, and proper dragon was named Graham. We loved this connection and it made us want to know more about the tale that started it all.
Kenny and the Dragon, is written by Tony DiTerlizzi (co-author of the Spiderwick Chronicles) This is a great quick read and a nice read-a-loud. We did both. My 3rd grader had to read it quickly after we started the first chapter and my other two (7 and 4) kept asking for more each evening. It is great to find a book that keeps so many listening ears. I like how the author brought the family life and support into the story. It is not something that you see too often. This really is a book for the whole family. From Kenny the sincere and ultimately brave rabbit to the librarian (St George) who defends the king and works for the people, to the mother who shares a good meal, and of course a most enchanting chance to meet up with a friendly dragon makes for a read that is true to what we hope can happen in times of war, a peaceful ending.
Hail to St. George! Hail to Kenneth Grahame! Hail to Toni DiTerlizzi!
I’ve got to say that this book is quite funny, creative and on my top list for boys 3rd- 6th grade. If you ever wanted to have a friend with an odd but exciting talent, then this book will have you amazed. Everyone is interesting to Ordinary boy who doesn’t seem to have any special powers to fight off villains in a city of all superheros. Everyone at school knows he doesn’t have any powers or abilities but his loving superhero parents love him anyway. Friends like Stench, Tadpole and Plasma Girl keep him in good spirits when the villains attack but they are surprised that even an ordinary boy can help fight off the most evil villain, Dr. Brain Drain and save the city from disaster, while also saving the ego of the most sought after superhero idol. (All this with the help of family, friends and other do-gooders of course.)
This story uncovers some big questions like; who ever wins a cereal box contest? and how many tries does it really take to reach 1000 tickets for a prize in an arcade? Who is really behind the answers to these questions is quite dastardly. Even a closer look of what happens in a community when ‘scarcity’ creeps around the corner is shared in a fun way. You’ll never spit watermellon seeds the same way after you read this. And of course, you will want to read the next two books. Now go and save the day! Read a good book.