The Desk

The Desk
So many projects . . . so little time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back To Basics - My Top Five Picks

Not all that goes on in my library is technology related. It is an elementary school library after all and sometimes it's just about the books. Even though I love technology and learning about all the new toys, I certainly can't forget what actually gets the children and teachers to walk through the door. So, with that in mind, this entry is devoted to just a few of the "chapter" books that I truly love to share with my students and why.

First up is Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. If you have read this book you certainly know why it is my number one recommendation when teachers ask for a good read aloud. If you haven't, run and get a copy. Think The Velveteen Rabbit with a little Flat Stanley thrown in. DiCamillo hit a home run with Because of Winn Dixie and she scores again with Edward. It's one of those books that, as a child, I would have hid under the covers with a flashlight to finish.

Also on my hit parade is Polly Horvath's When The Circus Came To Town. Now, I must admit, this was a book I found by a happy accident. A couple of years ago a title of the same name was California Young Reader Medal nominee. I didn't pay attention to the author and just ordered the title. By the time it arrived in my Follett order I was aware of my error but the cover looked interesting (yes, sometimes, I do judge a book that way) and I started to read the first few pages. I couldn't put it down and have recommended this tale of tolerance in a small town many times. (The Laurence Yep book was also very, very good!)

Patricia MacLachlan is far more well known for the Sarah Plain and Tall series but one of my favorites is a book that isn't as popular, Baby. It's a story about loss and love and family which is what MacLachlan does best. It's also a book that an adult can enjoy as much as a child, maybe more.

One of my favorite moments in the library comes when a fifth grader stares at me incredulously and says, "You mean they made that movie into a book?" This is especially fun when the book in question is The Indian in the Cupboard. This is also a great book for boys who just don't want to read anything but Captain Underpants and Goosebumps. They get sucked in to Omri's world and can't get enough of it.

Finally, in my top five, is a book for those students who are at that higher reading level. You know that kid. He (or she) is in the fourth grade and is reading at a "high school" level. Just ask the mom! She wants to know what you have in the library for her child. The dilemma is that, although the child might be reading at a 10.5 level, the maturity factor is not even close. And I don't carry Tom Clancy in my K-5 collection. For that child I put Peter and the Starcatchers in his/her hands, step back, and watch the magic happen. You just know that Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, for all their adult accomplishments, still remember the magic that being a child is all about. And here again, is a book that parents and teachers can enjoy too.

So, that's my top five recommendations when I'm asked that age old question, "Do you have any good books?" Have you read them? What do you think?

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