Are you a teen book lover? Do you love reading and talking about books with your friends? If so, you might like to join Walden’s High School Battle of the Books team. It is similar to the elementary version you might have participated in at the Racine Public Library. Team members meet weekly in the fall and winter in the library during lunch (yes, you can even eat your lunch in the library) and team members collaboratively read 20 amazing books over several months. Of course, you could read all of them if you’d like, but most team members read around five to eight of the books.
Included in the 20 books are usually 3 or 4 non-fiction books. The books are a variety of science fiction, fantasy, adventure, historical fiction, and other genres. Many are award winning books selected for their strong appeal to teens. It’s a great way to keep up with the latest trends in teen books. Every week team members meet and share their thoughts and reviews of the different books they are reading. And sometimes discuss other good books as well.
The titles and authors of each of the Battle books must be memorized for the online battle that takes place in February. The team competes against about sixty teams throughout the state of Wisconsin. Questions are asked about the different books on the Battle list and participants must guess which book and author is the right answer. After the battle the team has a fun pizza party in the library! Since we enjoy meeting with our book friends we keep the meetings going every month even after the Battle of the Books competition is over by having a book club once a month where we all read the same book.
Our first group book club read will be The Red Queen, a best selling, fantasy dystopian fiction book by Victoria Aveyard.
In a similar fashion to Hunger Games and Divergent The Red Queen creates a world in which the Silvers (who have super powers) rule over the impoverished Reds. One red girl, Mare Barrow, looks for a way out of her poverty and life of servitude. She survives by being a pickpocket and without a job when she’s 18 she will be forced to join the military as a soldier. Unlike the other Reds who have little options she discovers she has secret powers. As the book plays out she ends up living in disguise among the Silvers and becoming betrothed to the King’s second son. The books is full of envy, betrayal, and deception. It’s a strong possibility for a future movie.
So, if you’d like to join this great group of book lovers, come talk to Eileen in the library!
Read more about the Red Queen at Good Reads
Listen to Lindsey at Walden III School give her thoughts on the book A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen!
Lindsey also shared these comments, “I thought the book was amazing and it definitely kept me guessing. I was on the edge of my seat during the entire book!”
Walden School students have been reading a great variety of books this month but it looks like historical fiction is the favorite. Four of the top 10 books are WWII books. These excellent books include Soldier X, The Boy Who Dared, Prisoner B-3087, and Between Shades of Gray (not to confused with the other book with a similar title.) These books bring history to life for students! Another new, wonderful historical fiction book, The Lions of Little Rock, dealing with the civil rights period, is being read and enjoyed by middle school students in anticipation of the author visit by Kristin Levine later this month. Revolver is a fun adventure story, and of course students always enjoy graphic novels like Roller Girl and the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. The classic book Speak never goes out of style.
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashim
Multi-cultural literature is one of my favorite book genres. I love to be transported into the lives of fascinating characters living in exotic locations. I recently read a review of Nadia Hashim’s book The Pearl that Broke Its Shell that peaked my interest. It sounded familiar to Khaled Hosseini’s best selling books such as The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and most recently And the Mountains Echoed that I enjoyed so much.
The Pearl that Broke It’s Shell is the story of a young girl, Rahima, living in Afghanistan in 2007. Unlike boys in Afghanistan, who can attend school and have more freedom, Rahima and her sisters are often kept out of school and spend most of their hours confined to their home. Without a son in the family, and a sick father, the mother struggles to get basic food supplies. Rahima’s Aunt shares an old tradition “bacha pos” where young girls can dress and be treated as a son until their time of marriage. She tells them the story of their great Aunt Shekiba who experienced the “bacha pos” a century previously.
The story intertwines the lives of the two women, Rahima and Shekiba, in alternating chapters. It is Nadia Hashim’s first novel and so far it’s been a wonderful story. It’s very interesting to learn more of the treatment of women in Afghanistan. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is geared for adults, but would be appreciated by high school students interested in multi-cultural books.
I promise to keep you posted after I finish it.
Do you have any favorite multi-cultural books to recommend to our Walden family?
High School Students-Do you have an interest in the Holocaust?
For more information, see Eileen in the library about a very interesting online class you can take with her for an elective History class. It is offered this summer and next year. It is a one semester class. Please read the description below from the Racine Unified Virtual School class catalog.
|Holocaust education requires a comprehensive study of not only times, dates, and places, but also the motivation and ideology that allowed these events. In this course, students will study the history of anti-Semitism; the rise of the Nazi party; and the Holocaust, from its beginnings through liberation and the aftermath of the tragedy. The study of the Holocaust is a multi-disciplinary one, integrating world history, geography, American history, and civics. Through this in-depth, semester-long study of the Holocaust, high school students will gain an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice and indifference, the potential for government-supported terror, and they will get glimpses of kindness and humanity in the worst of times.|
Two Unforgettable Auto-Biographies
One for Your Teen to Read and One for You to Read
Book Recommendation For Teens
For the last 12 years, the most checked out teen book in the Walden III School Library has been A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. It is one of only a few teen books that has to be replaced every year due to extensive check outs. What draws teens to the book? It is a compelling, autobiographical story of one of the most severe cases of child abuse that took place in California in the 1970’s. David Pelzer grew up with a weak, alcoholic father and a mentally, unstable mother. His mother routinely beat and starved David and confined him to their dark, damp basement. The story is one that hooks the reader in with the opening sentence. I tell students, “Don’t start this at night because you won’t be able to put it down.”
Book Recommendation for Adults
Along the same lines is the adult book, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Since reading The Child Called It, twelve years ago, I haven’t been as captivated by an autobiography. It is a memoir of Jeannette Wall’s growing up in a dysfunctional, eccentric, and creative family. Her father, an alcoholic, and her mother ,who prefers painting and writing, over the responsibility of taking care of her four children drag the children out of their beds late at night to move to another state and run down house when the creditors and law come frequently knocking at their door. It gets even worse when they move back to West Virginia and live in a shack with a leaking roof and no indoor plumbing in a holler. Like the book, The Child Called It, this book grabs the reader from the first page. I couldn’t put it down when I started it and finished it the same day. It would be a great book for a book club read.
Both books are unforgettable stories about triumph over adversity. These are compelling stories that you and your teen will want to talk about. Teens are drawn to these types of books and this gives you as a parent an opportunity to connect and communicate with your teen about an important social issue. I recommend A Child Called It for both teen and adult readers and The Glass Castle to adult readers. But as I said before, “Don’t start either of these books at night. You won’t be able to put them down.”