In honor of Children’s Book Week, May 4-10, I am offering a longer version of Saturday Mornings for Kids
And a big thank you to Carla of Carla Loves to Read for the awesome logo!
The books I am recommending today are all Cybils contenders from last year for grades 5-8, grades I am familiar with because I teach 5th graders in Sunday school, and I also spent nearly twenty years teaching 6th-8th graders in Alvin Public Schools in what seems like another lifetime ago. Here we go with the recommendations:
Pay Attention Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt had the most grabbing gimmick as its opening of all 200+ books I read for Cybils. It begins on a dark, stormy night with a pounding on the front door. When Carter opens the door, there, drenched on the mat is…A BUTLER! This “Jeeves” type character is sent to help out a frantic mom and her four kids, who are experiencing hard times. With his butler, Carter is able to “save the day” and save the future of the world as we know it. Hilarious!
On a more serious note, Melanie Sumrow’s The Prophet Calls is a thought-provoking look at New Mexico polygamy. Gentry Forrester, the young protagonist has to save herself and her family from The Prophet and his teachings and control.
Set across the world in India, The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman is also very thought-provoking. Runaways from a poverty-stricken, abusive home must make their way in a city inhabited by “slavers.” This story was inspired by children the author met in India.
On Snowden Mountain by Jeri Watts deals with 12 year old Ellen’s difficulties during WWII. Her father is away and her mother is severely depressed, leading to Ellen and her mother having to live with Aunt Pearl, a hard, demanding woman.
Finally, Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles, an author I’ve read before, addresses diversity in an outright manner. Basically, it is a look at the emotions and impressions of 13 year old Rachel, who is dealing with multiple family problems as she deals with the inner questioning of whether she even likes boys.
All of these are books that deal with the questions and issues their target audience deals with on a daily basis, if not for themselves, vicariously with their family members and friends. Isn’t it good to have authors who are not afraid to address the issues parents and teachers are sometimes uncomfortable discussing? These books are a good “jumping off places” to begin such conversations with simple questions of “What did you think of the book?” or “What was the book about?”