It's been a while since I've shared a book review here on my blog. I try to keep my Goodreads updated, but I'm not the best at that, either. But there's been a few books I've loved lately.
Today I'll share about the most recent one:
THE HOTEL BETWEEN, by Sean Easely
The Book Blurb:
Twins Cam and Cass have never known their parents. They’ve been told their mother died, and Cass is certain their father abandoned them. Cam isn’t so sure. He wants to prove her wrong; he must.
Cam’s wish is soon granted in the form of a glistening, golden sign with elaborate flourishes that reads: The Hotel Between. With doors that open to countries all over the world, magical trollies, charmed corridors that can be altered on a whim, stone elephants that come to life, sweets made from rocks; everything is possible in the Hotel. Cam has a hunch his father is somehow connected to this magical place, and may even be lost within its hidden halls.
Every journey has its risks, and The Hotel Between is full of dangerous secrets. If Cam’s not careful, his stay may be over before his vacation has even started.
This is a fabulous middle grade adventure with magic and mystery at its heart! There are many twists and turns I didn't see coming, and I couldn't put the book down. Sean Easley did an incredible job with world-building and character development-- I will miss these characters AND the magic of The Hotel Between. Luckily, there's a book 2 and I plan on reading it asap!
f you enjoy fantastical stories with magic, adventure, and twisty turns, get this one today! I mean, just look at that gorgeous cover! It really captures the story perfectly.
There are many amazing books appropriate for 4th-8th graders within the 700-950 Lexile range, to include Newbery winners and best sellers. Lexile only measures text complexity (sentence structure, words per sentence, etc.), not content. Consider that Grapes of Wrath and Charlotte's Web both have a Lexile of 680, which is a "3rd-5th grade" score. With this information, you can ask teachers to reconsider the 1000 point cut-off. I've had some success with that.
But sometimes it doesn't matter. Sometimes, you just have to find a book for class that is over 1000 Lexile. (And sometimes teachers don't have any choice, either.) I recently found a couple of wonderful resources that will hopefully make your life easier.
Here is an excellent collection of books from the Brownsburg Public Library that includes classics, YA, and adult fiction and fantasy. I started reading adult fantasy in 8th grade, and it can be quite age-appropriate. For a 7th or 8th grader, I'd definitely consider Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and maybe try out some of the older fantasy books by classic fantasy authors like Mercedes Lackey (Owl Flight), Anne McCaffery (Renegades of Pern), and Terry Brooks (Sword of Shannara.) The pacing may be slower, but if you like any of these, those authors have tons of other books for you to enjoy, set in the same world.
And the Elkhorn Library has this incredible list for 5th and up of books that are 1000 Lexile and up. It gives a tiny blurb about each one, too, as well as Reading Counts points. Some of these would be fine for fourth graders, as well. If you haven't read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, this is your chance to enjoy a fantastic book that is over 1000 Lexile, along with his biography GUTS! Bad Beginnings by Lemony Snicket is good for those elementary kids being told to read 1000 Lexile, to include fourth graders.
You can also ask for help from your local school or public librarian to find suitable books. Librarians excel at helping readers find the perfect book--and created both of the linked lists from this post. WE LOVE YOU, LIBRARIANS!
Another excellent option for 3rd and 4th graders is The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron, which won the Newbery Award. It's not on these lists, presumably because it's not technically over 1000 on the Lexile site (it's listed at 950L), but it is also sometimes rated as 1010L, as evidenced by its Junior Library Guild page. Either way, it's a fabulous book if you can persuade your teacher to allow that apparent 50 point difference (mention that it was a Newbery Award winner.)
These two lists were more effective for me than searching on Lexile's site, but you can do that, too. Lexile's site is more useful if you have a title that you need to check for its level, rather than searching for a title, in my opinion.
Happy hunting for your next required reading, and best wishes!
Hey 4th-8th graders! Today’s post is for you!
Once upper elementary school hits, life gets so busy that juggling your schedule becomes much harder. According to researchers, more and more of you are choosing not to make time for reading.
For your teachers and parents, this can be frustrating. Maybe it’s frustrating for you, too.
My observation as a teacher, librarian, and parent is that sometimes selecting a book off the shelf is actually the hardest part of reading. (I will add here that student self-selection of books is fantastic and if your teacher allows it, say thank you. You have higher odds of increased achievement.)
Luckily, I’ve got a few books to recommend that I’m willing to bet you’ll enjoy. My recommendations have nothing to do with Lexile scores (an often misused tool) and everything to do with fabulous stories that lots of kids have loved. These are tried and true favorites. If you need a book for class—or just for fun—I dare you to try one of these. Give it to chapter 3 and then let me know what you think.
1. Anything by Raina Telgemeier.
They are all super popular: Smile, Sisters, Drama, Guts, and Ghosts.
Graphic novels of any kind are a good bet. If your teacher balks at allowing graphic novels in class, invite them to read my article about the benefits of graphic novels.
2. Anything by Rick Riordan.
The Lightning Thief is the first book of his first middle grade series, but if you are in middle school, you might prefer starting with Book 1 of The Heroes of Olympus series. The characters are older, and the storyline is more complex.
If you’ve already devoured all of his books, consider another upper middle grade fantasy.
3. The Last Kids on Earth, by Max Brallier.
Humorous tales are always a win, and Last Kids on Earth has the bonus of some inside artwork. Plus ZOMBIES.
See also: Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and I, Funny.
4. Love That Dog and Hate that Cat, by Sharon Creech.
Short, easy-to-read, and totally gripping, Sharon Creech tells this story in a one-sided conversation made of poems. Even my students who claimed to hate poetry loved this book and its sequel.
Other novels-in-verse books to consider as well include The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (especially for basketball fans) and Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle.
5. Scary books are constant favorites.
You don’t have to stop reading scary stories once you outgrow Goosebumps. Try a novel by Mary Downing Hahn—she’s the queen of ghost stories for young teens.
If you’re ready to kick it up another notch, try Coraline, Doll Bones, or The Night Gardener.
If you don’t love a book within the first three chapters, it's okay to abandon it and try a different book. If you find yourself abandoning books all the time, though, consider asking your librarian or teacher for some advice on books you might enjoy. But I would be surprised if none of these worked for you!
Bonus— If you have younger siblings, try reading aloud to your younger brothers and sisters. No, I’m not kidding. Books are magical, and little kids will remind you of this truth if you've forgotten. Watch their eyes sparkle as you read to them. Here are some great books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as reading tips and information for families about building a love of reading. The adults in your household will probably appreciate both the linked info and your sibling sweetness.
There is a book waiting for you right now! A perfect book for you! A good book you'll love--you just have to give it a chance!
To those of you in 4th-8th grade and older, I hope I can offer a smidgen of help & encouragement as you traverse the waters of intermediate school, middle school, and high school.