Kellee and Ricki’s #MustReadIn2015: It’s the End of the Year!

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#mustreadin2015 is a challenged hosted by Carrie Gelson at There Is A Book For That

“For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books (5? 10? 20? 30? more?) that you commit to reading in 2015. Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and be from any category (adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc.).  As your TBR list grows, you promise you will get to the books on this list.”

These were our hopeful lists, and we did not achieve as many books as we wanted, but this challenge did lead us to read so many more books than we would have read without the challenge! Next year, we may not do 25 books. 🙂 Many are books were texts that we wanted to read for a long time, others were books we just really wanted to read in January 2015, and lastly, some are books we really need to read because we’ve promised someone (or each other). Primarily, we included young adult and middle grade books because they were what we were going to try to read more in 2015. We read many books not on this list, and that is, perhaps, why we didn’t completely finish our lists! Our sons wanted picture books, too, so we couldn’t say no to them!

Our full, original #mustreadin2015 book lists are available here

You can also read our updates:
Kellee & Ricki’s #MustReadin2015 Spring Update
Kellee & Ricki’s #MustReadin2015 Summer Update

Ricki’s #mustreadin2015 Final Update

 Completed: 14 out of 25

I did not meet my goal because I got a bit caught up in new releases, but I am strangely satisfied by the number of books that I finished. Many of these books were on my TBR list for a long time, so I am happy I made some progress on the older part of that list. Next year, I am going to be a bit more realistic.

gracefully like water on stone longwalk out of my mind wonderstruck

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky is a beautifully written story about a character named Grayson who was born male but has always felt like she was a female. I have read many books about gender identity, and this one stands out. Grayson felt very real to me, and I felt like I was going on a roller coaster ride right along with her as she confronted the daily challenges with gender. This is a text that is marketed more toward the middle grades, which is refreshing to me. Many (but not all) books about gender identity are geared toward the high school level, and while this is great, I believe we need more books about this important topic for younger readers.

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath is a fantastic book in verse that is set in the Ottoman Empire during the 1910s. It blends genres of magical realism and historical fiction. The point of view alternates with each poem, so I came to understand the differing perspectives of the family depicted in the text. The horrific genocide against Armenians is not common in literature, and this text sheds light on a time period that should be depicted more often. The strength of the children in this book will be inspirational to readers.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is based on the true story of Salva Dut, a Lost Boy of Sudan. I would love to teach this book alongside Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone because there are many parallels across the story—and yet, there are also differences that would provide rich discussions. This is a book that made me want to be a middle school or elementary school teacher. I would love to do the Water for South Sudan challenge with my students. This sort of advocacy would be very empowering for students.

Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper. I could not put this book down. I don’t think I will ever forget Melody. She is a fifth grader who has cerebral palsy and has never spoken a word. Melody has such a strong spirit, and she is hysterical. Despite so many setbacks and frustrations, she is such a powerful force. Not only does this book teach empathy, but it makes me want to be a better person. The ways Melody is able to perceive others will teach readers a lot about being human. This is going on my favorites list!

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is another book I’ve wanted to read for quite some time. Everyone raves about Brian Selznick, and now I understand why! I loved the way he layers illustrations with story. The book follows two characters (many years apart), and the parallels in their story make this book quite powerful. This is my first Brian Selznick book, but it most definitely will not be my last.

Kellee’s #mustreadin2015 Final Update

Completed: 17 out of 25

I love having a #mustread list because it really pushes me to read books that others have recommended or that I’ve been meaning to read for many years. Many of my 8 that I didn’t read will be moved to my 2016 list.

Here are the books I’ve finished since our summer update:

how it went down readbetween hook's revenge tyrell

How It Wend Down by Kekla Magoon is a book that I think should be read and discussed by all teens. It looks into prejudice, point of view, gangs, love, abuse, and so much more. Mostly in this time where more and more black men are being shot, we really need to be talking to young people about why and look at our prejudices and how to stop this from continuing. Kekla Magoon brilliantly intertwines all of the stories and truly makes you look at Tariq’s murder.

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles is another brilliant text by Jo Knowles. Her ability to find the truth in so many different types of teens is just incredible. This book has a whole other aspect that I am so impressed with: the way the stories intertwine and all revolve around the middle finger but all in different ways. I definitely recommend this and all of Knowles’s books.

Heidi Schulz must have read my mind when writing Hook’s Revenge because I’ve always felt that Hook was the most interesting character in the Peter Pan stories (Peter himself is actually a bit obnoxious), and I wanted to know what ever happened to him. These books tell me not only that, but also the story of his feisty daughter. Jocelyn overcomes so much to finally become a pirate then, once in Neverland, she goes on quite an epic journey to avenge her father’s honor. Jocelyn is a spit fire and is ready to lead her crew on an adventure of her lifetime.

I am so glad that Ricki told me that I must read Tyrell by Coe Booth. I had read Bronxwood years ago, but it wasn’t until I read Tyrell that I really understood the context of Bronxwood and really found the love for Tyrell. Actually after reading Tyrell, I went back and reread Bronxwood and also read Kendra because I just didn’t want to leave the world. Coe Booth’s voices in her novels are so real and her stories are heart-wrenching and authentic.

Did you have a #mustreadin2015 list?
Share your final update below!
And don’t forget to share your #mustreadin2016 lists next Tuesday!

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Kellee and Ricki’s #MustReadIn2015 Summer Update!

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Background of #mustreadin2015 for those of you who missed introductory post:

#mustreadin2015 is a challenged hosted by Carrie Gelson at There Is A Book For That

“For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books (5? 10? 20? 30? more?) that you commit to reading in 2015. Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and be from any category (adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc.).  As your TBR list grows, you promise you will get to the books on this list.”

These are our hopeful lists. Many are books we’ve been wanting to read for a long time, while others are books we just really want to read as of right now (January 2015), and lastly, some are books we really need to read because we’ve promised someone (or each other). Primarily, we included young adult and middle grade books because they are what we are going to try to read more of this year. As Carrie said, we will absolutely be reading many books not on this list! And don’t worry, we will still be reading the latest and greatest picture books to our boys.

Our full #mustreadin2015 book lists are available here

Ricki’s #mustreadin2015 Summer Update

 Completed as of July 1:  9 out of 25

I started off a little bit behind, and I am slowly picking up my pace. At this rate, I am still behind, but I am going to try to do better next quarter!

rain reign east of eden x counting

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin is a beautiful story of a young girl with Asperger’s and her relationships with her family members, schoolmates, and dog. She has such a good heart, and this book teaches a lesson to children. I was impressed that this is the same author as The Babysitter’s Club series. While I loved that series as a pre-teen and teen, this book has a bit more meat to it. I’d recommend this book particularly to middle schoolers and upper elementary schoolers, but people of all ages will love it.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck is a classic that many people reference in their work. I have read most of Steinbeck’s work, and this text seemed to evade me. This year, I buckled down and vowed to read it. There are several stories (across generations) in this epic, and I enjoyed reading it very much. I’d heard that it was a modern-day Cain/Abel story, so I thought I knew the ending. Everything did not align as I thought it would. So if you have been putting this book off because you think you know how it ends, I recommend you read it. As with all of Steinbeck’s books, the characters are wonderfully written and are quite unforgettable.

by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. I just blogged about this book yesterday and listed it as my favorite YA text I’ve read this year. Mainly, I love it because it really made me think. Malcolm Little is a troubled boy, and he doesn’t always make the best decisions. This made me shake my fist at the book several times. I would love to read this book in a classroom and hear the enriching conversations that would come from a study of this text.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan is a book about a young girl with a lot of heart. In fact, I think she would get along very well with the girl in Rain Reign. Willow is a 12-year-old genius, and when tragedy strikes, her world is knocked from under her feet. While this book was about a tragedy, I found myself laughing frequently. I wish Willow was real because I felt as if she became my friend. All of the characters in this book are wonderfully drawn, and I am so glad I put this hyped-up book on my #mustreadin2015 list because it was simply fantastic.

Kellee’s #mustreadin2015 Summer Update

Completed as of July 1: 12 out of 25

Although I didn’t read as many of my must read books this quarter (only 3 vs. 9 from January to April), I am still feeling good about finishing up by the end of the year. I have continued enjoying every single one of the titles that I have read from my list.

x papercowboy verynearly1

X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon is a book that needed to be written, and I am thankful that it exists. Learning about the childhood of Malcolm X was so interesting, but what makes this book so special is the tough topics that it addresses. Such racist yet changing times are a backdrop to Malcolm’s story which makes this book so timely with so much prejudice still existing today.

Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine was a much tougher book than I expected. While Levine’s Lions of Little Rock overall had a positive tone, even in light of some of the very hard themes within, Paper Cowboy is enveloped in sadness and hardship from right at the beginning. Going through the journey with Tommy as he realizes his bullying ways, deals with his mother’s postpartum depression and his sister’s accident, and learns the consequences of some terrible mistakes is quite exhausting; however, you become so invested that as things get better, you feel a weight lifted off of you.

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson is so funny and smart! I love Hilary because she is exactly who no one wants her to be except herself, and she rocks it! (Girl power!) She doesn’t let anyone tell her she can’t be a pirate which leads to her becoming one and being quite good at it which leads to quite an adventure! The Gargoyle is also one of my favorite funny characters ever. Additionally, I think the addition of letters and forms throughout the book give it a special aspect other books don’t have. And I highly recommend the audio book!

Do you have a #mustreadin2015 list?
What are your #mustreadin2015 books?
Share your update below!

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Kellee and Ricki’s #MustReadIn2015 Spring Update!

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Background of #mustreadin2015 for those of you who missed the introductory post:

#mustreadin2015 is a challenge hosted by Carrie Gelson at There Is A Book For That:

“For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books (5? 10? 20? 30? more?) that you commit to reading in 2015. Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and be from any category (adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc.).  As your TBR list grows, you promise you will get to the books on this list.”

These are our hopeful lists. Many are books we’ve been wanting to read for a long time, while others are books we just really want to read as of right now (January 2015), and lastly, some are books we really need to read because we’ve promised someone (or each other). Primarily, we included young adult and middle grade books because they are what we are going to try to read more of this year. As Carrie said, we will absolutely be reading many books not on this list! And don’t worry, we will still be reading the latest and greatest picture books to our boys.

Our full #mustreadin2015 book lists are available here

Ricki’s #mustreadin2015 Spring Update

 Completed as of April 2: 5 out of 25

I am a bit farther behind than I would like to be, but I know I am going to skyrocket ahead this summer. I have been reading books outside of my list (e.g. books for The ALAN Review), but I am back on track. I just started my 6th book this week, and I moved a few others to my nightstand. That is the first step, right? I’ve loved every book I read, and they ALL lived up to their respective hypes, so I am pretty happy I committed to this challenge.

audacity dreaming in indian _206890SchEsperanza_0.tif

how it went down secret hum of daisy

*Please click the book covers above for full reviews.*

I loved the bravery and dogged determination of Clara in Audacity by Melanie Crowder. This book in verse impacted me in ways I cannot describe. It made me feel a sense of feminism and strength while teaching me about labor unions and the Orthodox Jewish faith. It belongs in classrooms, and it will empower young women.

Dreaming in Indianedited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Leatherdale, brims with stunning illustrations, photography, artwork, and words. The voices of the young people within this book will stick with me forever. It shows the connectedness of Native Americans while also showing the distinctness of tribes.

I wish I had written a full review for Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza RisingAt the time, I decided I would skip a lengthy review because many of the readers of this blog have likely read it. How silly of me! I am disappointed in myself because this was an unbelievable book that deserves a full review—regardless of how old it is. I got lost in Esperanza’s story–it is a book that kids will read and not realize how much they are learning because the story is so compelling.

Everyone seems to be talking about Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down—and for good reason! Each chapter is short (a few pages) and the narrators shift as they tell about the shooting of a teenager. The reader is suspended in a feeling of disbelief as s/he tries to navigate the truth. It feels quite realistic to recent news stories which have horrified America—Treyvon Marton, Michael Brown, and many other young Black men. This would make for a great conversation starter in classrooms.

I asked my book club to read The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer, and all four of us fell in love with the story. It is a quiet book about a young girl who loses her mother. Readers travel through a gamut of emotions while reading this book and experience the stages of grief right along with the narrator. This is an important book that would be a great resource for many teachers.

Kellee’s #mustreadin2015 Spring Update

Completed as of April 2: 9 out of 25

It seems like I am right on track to finishing my 25 books, and the best part is that I have enjoyed every single one.

never fall down the lions of little rock dungeoneers

betternate howtospeakdolphin secret hum of daisy

counting by 7s strangelibrary gabit

I am so glad that Ricki told me I needed to read Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick. It is one of those books that sticks with you after you finish it, and you cannot help but talk about. I find myself mentioning it at least once a week in my classroom. It wrecks your heart. I am also so glad I learned about the Cambodian genocide. It makes me a better person. (Full review)

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine is a book that I have been meaning to read since it came out, and I am so glad that I finally did. It is a different look at integration in the south during the late 50s. I got so invested in the story and was lucky enough to be reading the book at the same time as a student. It was so much fun to discuss it with her.

I loved Anderson’s novel Sidekicked, so when I read about The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. It is a story filled with adventure, suspense, and mystery. I love that the main characters are underdogs and easy to connect with. I cannot wait to share my full review as it gets closer to the publication date.

Oh. My. Goodness. I love this book so much! I just finished it, and I immediately had to read the second one. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle is more than just a funny book about a young boy auditioning for a Broadway musical. It is about a boy who doesn’t feel like he fits in at home because of who he is. There are so many young kids out there that will connect with this feeling. And the prejudice and bullying that Nate faces is so real for so many. However, this book has hope. He finds something he loves and it helps him find a place to be himself.

Ginny Rorby has written five novels, all of which I have loved. Her newest, How to Speak Dolphinlike her others deals with both animal and human issues. This book looks at autism, blindness, animal captivity, and much more–all important issues, but her book never feels like it is overloaded. Fans of Rules by Cynthia Lord will definitely love this one. (Full review)

Like Ricki said above, The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer is a book that will definitely pull at your heart strings and become a favorite. It is an intense look at grief and family. (Full review)

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan‘s Willow Chance is one of the most amazing young woman I’ve ever encountered in a book. She is brilliant and somehow changes the lives of every person she encounters. And she is not the only well-crafted character in the book–everyone in the book is important and very well developed. This is a wonderful middle grade book that I now know why so many people love it.

My brother and father love Haruki Murakami‘s novels, so when a special edition novella came out, my mom got a copy for me and I got one for my brother and father. I am happy I read The Strange Library, so I can now see what the fuss is about. Murakami’s writing is riddled with metaphors and imagery. Although I still don’t know if I understand it all, it was quite interesting.

The voice of Gabi in Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero is one of the best in any YA I’ve read recently. She is so real, and I found Gabi to be a book that so many teens will connect with. I not only loved the truth in her story, I adored the unique format  and the cast of characters. (Full review)

Do you have a #mustreadin2015 list?
What are your #mustreadin2015 books?
Share your update below!

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How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

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how it went down

How It Went Down
Author: Kekla Magoon
Published: October 21, 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.

Goodreads Summary: When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.

In the aftermath of Tariq’s death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.

Tariq’s friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.

Ricki’s Review: In light of the recent protests, this is an incredibly insightful book that is very important. The point-of-view shifts every 2-3 pages, which was very thought-provoking. Too often, books depict stereotypical portrayals of members of cultures, and the gamut of characters within this text felt very realistic. For some, this book may be too gritty and too uncomfortable. There is nothing comfortable about discussions regarding inequities and privilege in society. But if you walk down the halls of my high school, there is nothing in the book that is not a concern in schools. This is not a feel-good read, but it made me think. And thinking…is a very good thing.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: There is much to discuss in this book. Teachers could use it to start conversations about power and privilege. There are a lot of discrepancies between the characters’ perceptions of the shootings, and I imagine students would disagree about what happened. Teachers might elect to hold a verbal or silent debate. Also, I would love to discuss the structure of the text. The creativity in the form is purposeful, and it would be interesting for students to investigate why Magoon structured it in the way she did.

Discussion Questions: Why does Magoon structure the novel with alternating voices? How is the novel structured as a whole?; Does this story serve as a counter-narrative? If so, how? If not, why not?; Did Tariq have a gun in his hand? Why do/don’t you think so?; How does the story evolve as time passes?

We Flagged: “As a black man, you have to keep your head down. You have to keep yourself steady. You have to follow every rule that’s ever been written, plus a few that have always remained unspoken.”

Read This If You Loved: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, On the Run by Alice Goffman, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees, Autobiography of my Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers

Recommended For:

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Kellee and Ricki’s #MustReadIn2015

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#MustReadIn2015 is hosted by Carrie Gelson at There Is A Book For That:

“For anyone out there with a To Be Read list that seems like it will never end, this challenge is for you! This is all about making your own personal list of books (5? 10? 20? 30? more?) that you commit to reading in 2015. Books can be published in any year, be from any genre, and be from any category (adult, YA, MG, Graphics, NF, etc.).  As your TBR list grows, you promise you will get to the books on this list.”

These are our hopeful lists. Many are books we’ve been wanting to read for a long time, while others are books we just really want to read as of right now (January 2015), and lastly, some are books we really need to read because we’ve promised someone (or each other). Primarily, we included young adult and middle grade books because they are what we are going to try to read more of this year. As Carrie said, we will absolutely be reading many books not on this list! And don’t worry, we will still be reading the latest and greatest picture books to our boys.

Now without further adieu:

Kellee’s #mustreadin2015

#mustreadin2015Kellee's

Ricki’s #mustreadin2015

ricki mustread2015

Kellee’s #mustreadin2015

1. Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña

2. Tyrell by Coe Booth Completed 11/25/15

3. Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick Completed 2/6/15

4. Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles Completed 12/3/15

5. Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine Completed 2/20/15

6. The Dugeoneers by John David Anderson Completed 1/30/15

7. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle Competed 3/29/15

8. Knockout Games by G. Neri Completed 9/6/17

9. How To Speak Dolphin by Ginny Rorby Completed 1/16/15

10. Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine Completed 4/26/15

11. Secret Hum of Daisy by Tracy Holczer Completed 2/7/15

12. How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon Completed 12/7/15

13. X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon Completed 6/20/15

14. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart Completed 3/9/16

15. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan Completed 3/24/15

16. Year of Shadows by Claire LeGrand

17. The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz Completed 7/21/16

18. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

19. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

20. Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker Completed 8/9/15

21. Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz Completed 10/8/15

22. The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson Completed 5/12/15

23. The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami Completed 1/16/15

24. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero Completed 1/10/15

25. Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden

Completed: 20 out of 25

Ricki’s #mustreadin2015

1. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

2. Audacity by Melanie Crowder Completed 1-30-15

3. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

4. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan Completed 6-19-15

5. Dreaming in Indian, Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Leatherdale Completed 2-8-15

6. East of Eden by John Steinbeck Completed 5-17-15

7. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan Completed 1-13-15

8. Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky Completed 12-21-15

9. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

10. How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon Completed 1-10-15

11. Just One Year by Gayle Foreman

12. Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath Completed 9-23-15

13. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park Completed 12-30-15

14. Knockout Games by G. Neri

15. Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper Completed 12-25-15

16. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

17. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin Completed 4-13-15

18. Rules by Cynthia Lord

19. The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer Completed 2-19-15

20. See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles

21. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

22. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

23. When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

24. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick Completed 12-22-15

25. X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon Completed 5-31-15

 Completed: 14 out of 25

We’d love to hear about your #mustreadin2015 list!

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Updates throughout the year: 

#MUSTREADIN2015 SPRING UPDATE

#MUSTREADIN2015 SUMMER UPDATE

#MUSTREADIN2015 END OF YEAR UPDATE