All through the beginning of this school year, feeling like I was not getting enough time to read what I wanted to read, I quietly chanted (to myself!) “Holiday Break is for Reading; Holiday Break is for Reading; Holiday Break is for Reading…”
With just a few days left of this holiday break, I am happy to say that I have spent time reading similarly to how I did as a child: crashed out on the couch or on my bed during the day and under the covers with a small book light in the wee hours of the night. It’s been wonderful.
Following is a list of my holiday break books, plus a few gems from the fall. In no particular order…
Ghost: Track (book 1) by Jason Reynolds
My fifth-grade students have been crazy for this book and book two, Patina. Now that I have read it, I understand. Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, is a runner. He has a natural ability for running that he discovered in the most terrifying of circumstances. Luckily, a local track coach recognizes his talent and takes Ghost under his wing to help him as an athlete and a young man trying to make sense of the world. The first chapter of this book is so expertly crafted that I closed the book for a few moments before starting chapter two to let the story sink in. When I get back to school I’ll be after Patina.
It All Comes Down to This by Karen English
I’m not going to lie, I picked this one off the new book shelf because I thought that the cover was an interesting swirl of images. The story introduces 12-year-old Sophie in Los Angeles in 1965. Her family is the only African-American family in an all-white neighborhood. Sophie struggles to find friends, feels uncomfortable and sad about her parent’s rocky marriage, and is dreading the day her older sister leaves for college and leaves her alone. My favorite character in this book is the family’s new housekeeper. She seems like a crotchety old woman who has nothing good to say about anything, but as the events in the story unfold and the layers of her character are peeled back, you discover so much more. Sophie does too.
Greetings from Witness Protection! By Jake Burt
Nicki Demere is a foster kid; an unadoptable (she thinks) pickpocket. Nicki, along with several other foster kids who have struggled to find permanent homes, is selected to take part in the U.S. Marshall’s witness protection program. Her task: to move in with a family, assume a new identity, and keep the family safe from the extremely violent mobsters they are hiding from. Good luck, Nicki! I picked up this one because the reminded me of a favorite from last year, All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor. I was not disappointed.
42 is Not Just a Number: The Odyssey of Jackie Robinson, American Hero by Doreen Rappaport
This is a must read for anyone interested in baseball, Civil Rights, and American Heroes. I was stunned by all the new facts I learned about Jackie Robinson. If you haven’t read it yet, the time is now.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez
Does anyone out there make zines anymore? Malu, the punk-rocking, skateboarding, cilantro-hating, middle school student, is a master zine-maker. This book is about her first year in a new school that’s 1,000 miles away from the home she’s always known and her punk-rocking Dad.
The Wall of Fame Game: The Magnificent Mya Tibbs (book 2) by Crystal Allen
With Denver’s annual Stock Show starting this week, it was fun to read about a family that’s boot-stompin’ fun. Mya and her little brother Nugget are worried about how their family will change when their baby sister Macey is born in a few weeks. Will they get to continue all their gosh-darn-root-tootin’ family traditions?
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This is an amazing sequel to the amazing Newbery Honor book The War That Saved My Life. If you haven’t read these two yet, please put them at the top if your pile!
Beyond the Bright Sea and Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.
I’m a big fan of listening to audio books in the car. Lauren Wolk is an amazing new talent in the middle grade world. Her books Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea are two of my all-time favorites and reading them again via audiobook has been a treat. The beautiful language, deep and complex characters, unexpected plot twists, and profound lessons about life are just as compelling the second time around.
What did you read over the holiday break?