Education Opinion

Book-a-Day Challenge: Week One

By Donalyn Miller — June 12, 2010 5 min read
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The Book-a-Day Challenge took off this week with many bloggers, teachers, librarians, and voracious readers setting reading challenges of their own. Whatever reading goal you set, enjoy yourself and celebrate your love of reading all summer long. My first week of summer reading includes an eclectic list of 20 books and a range of summer reading experiences: holding my granddaughter on my lap, curled up on the couch, or staying up late. I cannot wait to meet more great books next week!

**Starred entries indicate my particular favorites.

Primary Picture Books

**The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez: I loved this wordless picture book about a fox who steals a chicken. When the chicken’s friends chase the fox to rescue her, they discover that the fox is not a villain-- he’s just lonely.

Creak! Said the Bed by Phyllis Root: As each family member hears noises in the house at night, they pile into Momma’s and Poppa’s bed with disastrous results-- a nice read aloud for bedtime.

Fair Cow by Leslie Helakoski: Effie is a great cow, but she lacks the polish of the other state fair contenders. With her friend Petunia the Pig’s help, Effie changes everything about herself in order to look like a champion-- a great lesson for kids about staying true to yourself.

Medio Pollito/ Half Chick: A Spanish Tale by Eric Kimmel: Based on a traditional Spanish folk tale, Medio Pollito/ Half Chick has only one wing, one eye, and one leg. Yearning for adventure, he travels to Madrid to meet the king.

**Polar Opposites by Erik Brooks: Alex is a polar bear who lives in the Arctic. Zina is a penguin who lives in Antarctica. They live on opposite sides of the Earth and possess opposite personalities, too. Alex is messy. Zina is neat. Alex is loud. Zina is quiet. Although these two animals are opposites, they are friends, who meet “in the middle” (the Galapagos Islands) each year.

Seasons by Blexbolex: Bold colors and layered silkscreen illustrations enhance this unusual book about the seasons and life.

Middle Grade Picture Books

The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse: Two Jewish sisters hatch a daring plan to escape the Gestapo by using the feral cats who live in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square.

Daydreams of a Solitary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes and Pauline Martin: Told in episodic comic panels, this story follows a group of forest friends, led by the egotistical Hamster, as they learn lessons in friendship and happiness.

**Dear Teacher by Amy Husband: Michael, who is not looking forward to school, writes a series of outrageous letters to his new teacher. Each letter spins a fantastical tale of Michael’s adventures fighting pirates, hunting for treasure, and traveling to outer space--perfect for the first week of school or a launching a letter writing unit.

The Fantastic Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Heinz Janisch and Aljoscha Blau: Blau’s detailed illustrations and Janisch’s clever retellings bring legendary German folk hero and liar, Baron Munchausen to life.

Middle Grade Nonfiction

Driven: A Photobiography of Henry Ford by Don Mitchell: This book, part of the outstanding National Geographic Photobiography series, presents a balanced look at Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. Artifacts throughout the book like ads, photographs, blueprints, and maps, provide excellent text support.

**Liberty or Death by Margaret Whitman Blair: This book provides historical documents, quotes, and artwork describing the experiences of African slaves who fought for the British during the Revolutionary War, and provides a wonderful nonfiction resource for children reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains and Forge.

Middle Grade Fiction

**As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins: “Life is a journey, not a destination,” a fitting quote for this book, which begins with Ry’s efforts to get home after missing his train to camp, and becomes an interwoven story about what “home” means to each character.

**The Boneshaker by Kate Milford: Milford creates a rolicking fantasy tale that brings back the age old battle between Mankind and the Devil, when Natalie grows suspicious of the traveling medicine show visiting her rural town.

Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World by Scott Seegert: Vordak the Incomprehensible, evil genius, presents his guide to becoming an archvillian--including tips for selecting a costume, building a secret lair, hiring minions, and perfecting your sinister laugh.

**The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood: Miss Penelope Lumley, a fifteen year old orphan and recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, accepts her first job as governess to three “incorrigible” children who were literally raised by wolves.

**One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (reread): Set in 1968, Delphine and her two younger sisters, travel across counry to visit their mother, Cecile, who abandoned them seven years before. Cecile, a poet, who resents the girls’ arrival, sends them to a daycamp run by the Black Panthers.

Young Adult Fiction

**Eli the Good by Silas House: Set in 1976, ten year-old Eli struggles with his father’s post traumatic stress disorder after returning home from Vietnam, his teenage sister’s increasing rebellion, and his estranged aunt’s mysterious return.

Adult Fiction

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters: I chose this book because Sephen King recommended it on his Top Ten Books of 2009 list. The Little Stranger is a creepy, atmospheric novel about the decline of the British aristocracy after World War II and the haunting of a decaying manor house.

Teaching Books

**Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We’d Like Them to Be by Teri Lesesne: Dr. Lesesne, known as the “Goddess of YA literature” shares her insight and tools for leading young readers from easy to increasingly more complex books using their preferences and experiences as a starting point. It’s not too late to join the English Companion Ning’s lively book club discussion of Teri’s book.

If you use Twitter, tag your summer reading with the #bookaday hashtag and follow other readers’ tweets.

The opinions expressed in The Book Whisperer are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.