As I mentioned in Monday’s post, my library card and I have both been getting regular workouts in recently. As much as I miss my students (I truly do, as anyone in my inner circle will tell you), one of the best things for me about having the summer to myself is the amount of leisurely reading time it provides. So far, the following books are my top 5 favourites from my summer reading list, which grows nearly every day, and includes LOTS of fun and thought-provoking material.
- “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio: The Grade 6/7s that I frequently taught for this year were reading this as a class novel study, in its audiobook format. Their regular teacher also told me several times about how amazing it is, so I really wanted to read it in full myself. I have to say, it DEFINITELY lives up to the hype, and I’m excited to see this book come to the big screen in the Fall. “Wonder” follows the ups and downs in the life of August (“Auggie”) Pullman as he tries to navigate entering both middle school and public school for the first time. Born with a rare condition that has caused a host of different facial features, Auggie was homeschooled during his early school years, and must now adapt to the new social, academic, and various other demands that middle school brings, all while attempting to discover and accept his own self-identity. I fell in love with this book from the first few chapters, finished it in a little over one day, and would definitely consider using it in my future classroom.
- “Auggie and Me” by R.J. Palacio: Rather than a traditional sequel, the author describes this as the companion book to “Wonder,” and I enjoyed it just as much as the first novel. Overall, “Auggie and Me” tells the same story as “Wonder” does, but with a twist: rather than hearing the tale narrated by Auggie, readers are presented with three different versions of “Wonder,” each one told from the perspective of a secondary character. I personally loved this concept, because it allows for a greater understanding and deeper appreciation of the characters whose voices were less prominent in the original book, thus giving each of them a new level of complexity.
- “365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts” by R.J. Palacio: Okay, so I may be a tiny bit obsessed with this “Wonder” series. Can you tell? This one was an even quicker read for me than the other two books, simply because it does not follow the format of a typical novel. Instead, it is a collection of meaningful precepts (rules to live by) inspired by the teaching methods of one of “Wonder”‘s most beloved characters, Grade 5 English teacher, Mr. Browne. This book both warmed my heart, and made me want to use precepts with my own students some day. I highly recommend the entire mini series!
- “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak: I am currently in the middle of reading this book (which was also recommended to me by one of the teachers at my preferred list school this year), and I can already tell it is going to be one that sticks with me. “The Book Thief” follows the journey of Liesel, who is placed in a foster home at the age of 9, after Hitler and the Nazis come to power. The title is derived from Liesel’s practice of stealing Nazi-banned books as a means to make money, and so far, the novel has followed her fight for survival in the face of Anti-Semitism and hatred, as well as her determination to use her stolen books as a tool to learn to read and write (with the help of her foster father, Hans). I know that this will likely be an emotionally intense, darker read, but I am incredibly interested in finding out how it ends, and in learning how I can perhaps use “The Book Thief” in future Social Studies/History lessons.
- “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan: I realize that this book is massively different from the others on this list, but I have included it because it has completely changed the way that I view healthy eating and diet, and I think that this could potentially help me live a healthier life in the upcoming school year. While the book contains 64 guidelines suggested by Pollan, a health journalist, its message is summed up in 7 simple words on the cover: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I really appreciate the simplicity, passion, and wit which always comes through in Pollan’s writing style, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to transform their eating habits in a way that is both simple and manageable.
So that’s it! For now. I’m sure I will have other book-related posts in the future, and I am excited to share some more of what I’m reading. I believe that as teachers, if we want our students to read and genuinely enjoy the practice of reading, we need to model this behaviour by being readers ourselves.