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I love the Must Read challenge! I took part in 2015-2019 & 2021, so I am happy to join again! It helps me remember to read certain books!

Thank you to Carrie at There’s A Book for That for starting this challenge and to Leigh Ann of A Day in the Life and Cheriee of Library Matters for co-hosting the revival.

For those of you new to the challenge, it has you take a look at the books you wanted to read, but for whatever reason, you have not gotten to them. You then make your own personal list of books you want to commit to (trying to) read.

There is no set number of books and books can be published from any year, in any genre or format, and in any category. These books will not be the only ones you read this year but will be the ones included in your personal challenge.

Visit HERE to see the #MustReadin2021 year end updates!

Visit HERE to see the #MustReadin2022 Roundup!

2021 was my most successful #MustRead challenge I’ve had so far! I finished all but 2 books (40/42)!

For my #MustReadin2022 I let my students choose some titles for me! The ones marked * below are the ones they chose for me; the rest were chosen by me 🙂

  1. The Accidental Hero by Matt Myklusch*
  2. Alice in the Country of Hearts by Quin Rose
  3. All Four Stars by Tara Dairman*
  4. Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
  5. Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
  6. Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  7. Brave Enough by Kati Gardner*
  8. Breathe and Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester*
  9. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller*
  10. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik*
  11. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly*
  12. Delirium (and sequels) by Lauren Oliver*
  13. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon
  14. Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri
  15. Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie*
  16. The Fire Within by Chris d’Lacey*
  17. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart*
  18. Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy
  19. Hunter X Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi
  20. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  21. The Inheritance Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes*
  22. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover*
  23. The Magi by Kevin M. Turner*
  24. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
  25. The Million Dollar Race by Matthew Ross Smith*
  26. Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez*
  27. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart*
  28. The Nerdy Dozen by Jeff Miller*
  29. #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leaderdale
  30. Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney and Robyn Smith
  31. Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes*
  32. Randoms by David Liss*
  33. The Resolutions by Mia Garcia*
  34. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid*
  35. A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams Garcia
  36. Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
  37. That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger*
  38. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo*
  39. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart*
  40. When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
  41. The Whisperer by Fiona McIntosh*
  42. Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak


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2021 is in the books, and I am here to celebrate my favorite books read during the year!

I’m excited for this post because I haven’t done one in a bit since I was on an award committee, but this year I can celebrate!

Here’s a summary of my year in books

Here are my favorites separated into picture books, middle grade, young adult, early readers, kid lit, older nonfiction, and graphic novels/manga!


And there they are! 


I, obviously, recommend these books wholeheartedly, but they are just 50 of so many amazing books I read in 2021–check out my READ bookshelf on Goodreads to see these & more!



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I love following Ideal Bookshelf on social media, and I was so happy to find out that they provide templates to use to make your own ideal bookshelf, and I was so excited to have my Student Literacy Leaders make theirs! They are all displayed in the library now, and I wanted to share them all with you:



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First, thank you to Carrie at There’s A Book for That for starting this challenge and to Leigh Ann of A Day in the Life and Cheriee of Library Matters for co-hosting the revival. Check out others’ fall updates on Library Matters.

In January, I shared about the #MustReadin2021 challenge and my plans. In April and June, I updated you all and it is time for the Fall update!

I chose 42 novels for my #MustReadin2021 challenge, and thus far, as of April I had read 13 of them, in June I was up to 20, and now I am at 25! (16 left to go!) I have linked each title to the IMWAYR post where I shared my thoughts on the books.

I also finished my #BitAbout Books Summer 2021 Reading Challenge!

I also challenged myself to the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge: 30 Books in 3 Months! I separated my challenge, and I aimed to complete 30 prose books and 30 graphic books from June to Labor Day. And I didn’t exactly meet my challenge, but I did finish reading 60 books in 3 months!

I finished my prose YA & MG books challenge and have moved into my second 30.

I almost finished my graphic novel/manga challenge, but if I add in the prose YA & MG novels I’ve read in addition to the 30 above, it perfectly finishes it!

I’m having so much fun doing these challenges!! Check out my Goodreads 2021 Challenge or my Goodreads Read Bookshelf to learn more about any of these books as well 😊
What are you reading? 

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Happy August 10th! That means it is time to share some favorite picture books!

This year, I want to share some favorite fairy tale or nursery rhyme inspired picture books.
(As with most lists, I may have cheated a bit to include more than 10 books, but they all are worth being on the list!)

Bethan Woollvin’s Fairy Tale books

Josh Funk & Edwardian Taylor’s It’s Not a Fairy Tale books

Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale by Sam Wedelich

Eduardo Guadardo, elite Sheep by Anthony Pearson, Illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris

Princess and the Pit Stop by Tom Angleberger, Illustrated by Dan Santat

Deborah Underwood’s Interstellar Cinderella and Reading Beauty

Susan Middleton Elya’s Little Roja Riding Hood (illustrated by Susan Guevara) and La Princesa and the Pea (illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal)

Jon Sciezska’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (illustrated by Lane Smith); The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (illustrated by Lane Smith); and The Frog Prince, Continued (illustrated by Steve Johnson)

The Very Impatient Caterpillar and The Little Butterfly that Could by Ross Burach

The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Happy reading!!!!


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“Recommended Mangas”
by Sabrina Kayat and Lisa Wojciechowski, rising 9th Graders and Kellee’s students 2020-2021 & 2018-2020 respectively

Spy Family by Tatsuya Endo
Recommended manga series by Sabrina

Preview: Spy family is about a master spy that goes by the name Twilight. When it comes to the dangerous missions he is assigned to, he always gets the job done. Him being a master of disguise, he wants to make the world a better place. When he finishes up his current mission, he gets a particular job that requires him to find a spouse and a kid, he just might have hit a dead end. When he does procure both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school, he has yet to know the child he adopted is a telepath and his wife is an assassin.

Review: Having read the first volume of this manga, I can honestly say that this is a must read. This manga has a lot of dramatic irony, and uses it to make a hilarious story. Each character in this story (the spy, the assassin, and the telepath), all complement each other very well. When one character might be lacking in an area, another steps up and aids them. This story also has a lot of family themes and action. Overall, I recommend this manga to older teens.

Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge
Recommended manga series by Sabrina

Preview: Demon Slayer is about Tanjiro Kamado, a boy who regularly goes to a local village to sell coal and make money for his family. One day, he heads out to the village, where his life takes a turn for the worse. At his home, a demon killed his whole family, in the process turning his little sister Nezuko into a demon. Tanjiro decided he would do whatever it takes to turn his sister back to a human, and get revenge on the demon.

Review: Though I have not read the whole series, I recommend this manga to teens. This series has a straightforward story, and the artstyle is amazing. The characters are excellent, each having an interesting story and are likeable in their own ways. In the beginning, I had a hard time getting into it, but eventually it really picks up. All in all, I recommend this series.

Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto
Recommended manga series by Lisa

Preview: Naruto is about a kid named Naruto who is in the Ninja Academy and is really struggling. He wants to be the leader of his village called a Hokage but there may be more to his destiny than that.

Review: The Naruto manga has some really great moments and is a great addition to the fandom. You don’t need to watch the anime to read the books which is also good. The dialogue is very fun, and the designs are really good for the most part. There’s not one time where I asked myself what was going on in the book; everything is very clear and well described.

Thank you so much, Sabrina & Lisa, for the recommendations!! As my Unleashing Readers readers and students know, I have been trying to get some good manga reading in, so I appreciate knowing which to move to the top of my to be read list!

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“Favorite Books”
by Addy Brantley and Bianca Teixera, rising 9th graders and Kellee’s students 2020-2021

Caraval by Stephanie Garber: Very unique type of story. Loved how it had so many twists and turns and you never expected what happened next. The rest of the series was also enticing and flowed very smoothly from one book to the next.

Market of Monsters by Rebecca Schaffer: Never read anything like it. The main character is fierce and smart and could think on her feet. Made us think “what’s gonna happen?” many times that kept us reading them for a long time. Could not put it down, it was so action packed.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: This whole series was filled with so many “did not see that coming” moments. Loved how they connected all different parts of the story together so nicely. The characters had so much personality and you can connect to them so easily.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Definitely our top retelling series! Puts a unique spin on classic stories. Connects all the characters and stories in a way no one could think of. Most of the characters are relatable and make you sympathetic towards them.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: Took place in a world unimaginable. The main character is definitely not one you read about often. Loved how strong and determined she was. Though personally for us, the first book was good, but the second and third? We could not put them down.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer: One of our favorite superhero series. We really liked how we got a perspective from both a “hero” and a “villain”. Enjoyed seeing how they both are not as they seem and why they became what they are.

The Giver by Lois Lowry: Very heartwarming and makes you think about the world differently. Loved the different characters and how they tie all the stories together in the end.

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: Foreign and familiar at the same time, this book shows you how no matter where you come from or what you look like, your life could end up a masterpiece. It’s extremely funny and witty and you can relate to all the stories.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Takes place in a warring country divided by a swath of darkness filled with monsters. Funny enough I liked the side characters more than the main character. This world is utterly immersive and picturesque.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: This book has it all. An impossible heist, amazing characters, magic, an unpredictable plot, and so much more. It’s impossible to put down, this is what fantasy is for.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko: A fight for freedom, family, and justice at all costs. It’s not your typical fantasy, it’s very unique and fresh. This book definitely deserves more love.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer: An amazing backstory for the queen of hearts. I loved how you know what’s going to happen in the end but have no idea how that can happen. It’s the best slow burn book we’ve read.

Thank you so much, Addy & Bianca, for the recommendations!!

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