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Candor by Pam Bachorz. Egmont, 2009

Once-troubled teens become model citizens in Candor. “Respectful space in every place!” is a guiding principle that every young couple embraces. Everyone conforms, and teenager Oscar Banks, the mayor’s son, knows why: Music plays everywhere in Candor, and his father embeds subliminal messages in the songs. Not long after his father established Candor, Oscar figured out how to counteract the messages with personal recordings of his own. For him, conformity is all an act. Occasionally—and for a hefty fee—Oscar helps other kids, newcomers who still have a sense of self, escape the town and a future of mindless belonging. But a new girl in Candor poses a dilemma for Oscar. Nia is a free-spirited artist with an edginess Oscar admires. If he tells her the truth about Candor, he knows she’ll want to leave. Can he manipulate the messages she hears so that she seems to fit in even as the things that make her unique and appealing to him remain? Pam Bachorz’s provocative novel examines how both Oscar and his father are caught up in a web of power and control, one in which fear, anxiety, and even good intentions can lead to selfish, frightening ends. Bachorz’s inspiration for Candor was the planned community of Celebration, Florida. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic Press, 2012

Teenage Blue doesn’t have psychic powers but amplifies the signal for her mother and other psychics who live with them. All of them have foretold that if she kisses her true love, he will die. Blue avoids boys until she meets Adam, a student at Aglionby, the elite prep school in her hometown of Henrietta, Virginia. Adam isn’t like other Aglionby boys—he’s local, and he’s poor. Attracted to Adam, Blue is also drawn into his circle of friends and the quest of their leader, a boy named Gansey, to locate the ley line in Henrietta that might lead him to the tomb of a Welsh king. Blue has heard of Gansey: It was the name of a boy whose spirit she saw in her one psychic encounter, on St. Mark’s Eve—a vision that means he’s fated to die in the coming year. Against the backdrop of this tense, richly developed supernatural mystery, Maggie Stiefvater weaves a riveting and often poignant story of friendships and families, love and betrayal, money and identity, exploring the themes through the lives of refreshingly complex characters. The elements that draw the four boys together—and also threaten to divide them—become more and more apparent as Gansey’s search continues, his passion for the quest matched only by his desire and determination to keep his friends close and safe. And Blue’s own struggle—to assert her independence at home, to deal with her fate—is amplified as she becomes part of their tight-knit group. With several surprising revelations, Stiefvater’s immensely satisfying story will leave readers eager for the sequel.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamine Alire Sáenz. Simon & Schuster, 2012

Fifteen-year-old Ari is a loner. So he’s surprised when he becomes friends with smart, open-hearted Dante. They spend most of their free time together during the summer of 1987 in El Paso where they live. In the fall, Dante heads off to Chicago where his father is doing a visiting professorship. It’s in a letter to Ari that Dante reveals he’s gay, and Ari takes it in stride for the most part, even letting Dante kiss him once on a visit home. Reunited during the summer of 1988, the two hang out when they aren’t working. Meanwhile, Ari finds himself growing more and more angry at the silence in his family surrounding his older brother, Bernardo, who’s been in prison since Ari was four. Ari’s learned to swallow all his questions, so powerful is the unspoken message that the topic is forbidden. Then Dante is beaten up after a group of boys catch him kissing another boy. Enraged, Ari tracks one of the boys down and breaks his nose—all of the frustration and anger he feels coming out in the powerful punch. It’s a wake-up call for Ari’s parents, who make an effort to talk—about Bernardo and why he went to prison, and about Ari himself, encouraging him to stop hiding the truth about his feelings for Dante. That scene may be the only false note in a novel distinguished by gorgeous writing and extraordinary characterizations as it illuminates the friendship between the two teens—one who discovers he’s gay, one who knows it—from working-class and upper-middle-class Mexican American families.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Watch Wisconsin student-made book trailers for Aristotle and Dante!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Simpson Street Free Press, Madison/HS/2013-14)

Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices edited by Mitali Perkins. Candlewick Press, 2013

Ten authors for young adults explore the intersection of culture and identity in a variety of styles and tones, from humorous to loving to conversational to let’s-face-the-truth matter of factness. That range is highlighted by notable pieces from Gene Luen Yang, G. Neri, Francisco X. Stork, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, and prefaced by Mitali Perkins’s introduction, in which she recommends humor as the ideal tool for negotiating potentially tense conversations about “growing up between cultures.” Some of these selections are funny while others take a different approach, but all offer welcome entrée into a subject zone often approached with caution.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Watch Wisconsin student-made book trailers for Open Mic!

Open Mic (Simpson Street Free Press, Madison/High School/2014-15)

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This Saturday, May 6, 2016, the Read On Wisconsin (ROW) Literacy Advisory Committee (LAC) members will meet to select the monthly titles for the upcoming Read On Wisconsin year. This is an exciting time for us here at Read On Wisconsin! After months of reading books from a preliminary list compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s librarians along with suggestions from the LAC, the ROW LAC comes together to discuss the books; select the ones they feel will resonate with teachers, librarians, and children and teens across Wisconsin; and then, create questions and prompts to encourage everyone to discuss and engage with the ROW books and each other. Take a peak below at what the day looks like from our busy LAC from May 9th, 2015 meeting! And, check back soon for the 2017-2018 ROW books!

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. Harper Teen / HarperCollins, 2015

Mikey, his sister Mel(inda), and their friends Henna and Jared, are about to graduate high school. Mel has anorexia and Mikey lives with severe anxiety and OCD, neither fitting the image their high-aspiring politician mother wants their family to project. Henna’s parents plan on taking her to the Central African Republic to do missionary work, despite the war there. Jared feels the weight of being an only child on the verge of leaving his single-parent father. Jared is also a god. Well, technically a quarter-god. And there is the delicious twist in this emotionally rich story about facing a time of transition and uncertainty: The otherworldly is real. When indie kids (it’s always the indie kids) in the foursome’s small community begin disappearing, it isn’t the first time. In the past the culprits were vampires and soul-sucking ghosts; now it’s aliens. Mikey and his friends aren’t indie kids (despite Henna’s name) but are aware of the danger, which plays out in hilarious chapter openings chronicling the indie kids’ efforts to combat the threat, making for a merry satire on countless young adult novels. But the heart of this novel is the reality of change—in relationships, in circumstances, in what we understand; imperfect families; and the sustaining power of friendship. As a narrator, Mikey is real and complex, and a little bit heartbreaking. As a work of fiction, Ness’s book is funny and tender and true, and a little bit dazzling. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is satire? How is this novel satire? What are the targets of the author’s satire? What is the author critiquing in our culture?
  2. How is this save-the-world story told from a unique perspective?
  3. What does the title mean?

Find curated resources for The Rest of Us Just Live Here at TeachingBooks.net!

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At every age level, the books this month are excellent read alouds or books to share with a group. Simple sounds and science fill the Babies, Toddlers, and Preschooler books, Hurry Home, Hedgehog! and Water is Water— by Wisconsin author, Miranda Paul!

 

 

 

 

 

The primary titles, It’s Only Stanley and When Otis Courted Mama, have amazingly imaginative and instructive language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mysteries, family and community are at the heart of the Intermediate titles, Finders Keepers and Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle School title, Cinder, is a clever take on a sci-fi version of classic fairy tale, Cinderella — entertaining while raising interesting questions.

Finally, high school title, Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a witty commentary on young adult fiction, asking what is life like for the kids stuck at the same school as the overly heroic or tragic or magical characters in some recent ya novels.

 

Click on an image to learn more about the book! Or, search below for resources and discussion questions for the titles as May approaches.

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Between Cultures: April ROW Books Explore Immigrant and Refugee Experiences

March 25th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School | April - (Comments Off on Between Cultures: April ROW Books Explore Immigrant and Refugee Experiences)

Refugee, immigrants, migrants: these have become every day terms in recent months, as major news stories, in political arenas, and across social media. How do we talk to children and teens about the immigrant and refugee experience?  Fortuitously and incidentally, many of the Read On Wisconsin April 2017 titles, chosen last May, explore lives caught between cultures and countries. This might be the perfect time to share these titles with children, teens, parents, other teachers and librarians and school and public administration. Click on the link below to learn more about the book and for Wisconsin teacher- and librarian-created discussion questions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore more titles on related subjects with bibliographies from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), including

50 Books about Peace and Social Justice, Civic Engagement Selected K-5 Books for Reflecting on One’s Place in the World, 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know

Learn more about —  Refugees and migrants: “The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations.” — including international terminology, policies and programs at The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Find more resources for these titles at TeachingBooks.net

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Between and Within Cultures: April 2017 High School

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | April - (Comments Off on Between and Within Cultures: April 2017 High School)

Both Margarita Engle and Naila in Written in the Stars find themselves living between two cultures. What struggles do they face in finding a place where they feel they fit?

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle. Atheneum, 2015

Margarita Engle’s mother was Cuban, her father American. Introverted Margarita felt socially awkward here in the United States but something eased for her when she visited her mother’s family in Cuba. She loved her relatives, the land, the ways of being, the very air when they would visit in the 1950s. Then came the 1960s, with the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the travel ban that cut them off from the place and the people she and her mother cherished. There were comments at school, tension at home, visits from the government, and no word on how their loved ones faired. Engle’s family continued to travel, but not to the place she most longed to go. A memoir in poems that takes Engle through age 14 ends with one in which she writes, “Someday, surely I’ll be free / to return to the island of all my childhood / dreams.” Her eventual return in 1991 and recent political changes are discussed in a brief author’s note in a volume that also includes a Cold War timeline. Grounded in Engle’s specific experience, the sense of loss, of feeling an outsider, of longing, will resonate with many tween and teen readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Engle chose to write her memoir in poetic form?
  2. As the U.S. and Cuba begin to interact politically again, many Cuban Americans will have a chance to return to their homeland. Do you think many will?
  3. Which of Engle’s memories stand out the most to you?

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2015

When Pakistani American Naila’s parents find out she has a boyfriend they see it not only as a huge betrayal of trust but also worry how far from their culture and control she is moving. It doesn’t matter that Saif is Pakistani, too. Genuinely afraid for Naila, her parents take her to visit family in Pakistan the summer before she starts college. Naila doesn’t understand until it’s too late why they keep postponing their return: They’re arranging a marriage for her. After a failed escape attempt, Naila is drugged by her uncle and forced to marry Amin. He is a kind and patient young man who feels trapped in his own way by tradition. But when Amin’s mother threatens to send depressed Naila back to her family, Amin rapes Naila to consummate the marriage. It’s a short, powerful scene that underscores the warped way conservative tradition has shaped his perspective: He thinks he has no choice. Aisha Saeed reveals complexities of characters, situations, and culture in a riveting and moving debut novel. Naila has immense strength and Saif is not her savior but her ally in self-determination when he and his father finally help her get away. An insightful and powerful author’s note provides personal, cultural, and global perspectives on the distinction between arranged marriages in which a young woman has a choice, and forced marriages that still take place in many countries, including our own.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Naila’s parents want the best for her. Naila wants to please her parents. Why can’t they find a middle ground?
  2. Before you read this novel, what did you know about arranged marriages? Naila’s experience is terrible, but the author has a happy and successful arranged marriage which she discusses in the author’s note. How did your understanding of arranged marriages change after reading Naila’s story? After reading the author’s note.
  3. Written in the Stars shows a diversity of experiences within Muslim culture. In what different ways do we see Muslim culture portrayed in this novel?

Find more resources for Enchanted Air and Written in the Stars from TeachingBooks.net!

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Propensity for Poetry?: April 2017

March 15th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School | April - (Comments Off on Propensity for Poetry?: April 2017)

Plenty of poetry for National Poetry Month! Here at Read On Wisconsin, our fabulous Literacy Advisory Committee chose a variety of poetry books including novels and memoirs in verse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, on the list of book suggestions this month are picture books, chapter books, and young adult fiction. Many of the books, chosen last May, explore lives caught between cultures and countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers, try these lively titles for making, baking, building or construction themes in story or circle time. The amazing Bulldozer’s Big Day offers excellent early literacy opportunities with machine sounds and word play.

 

 

 

 

 

Find curated resources for all of these titles at TeachingBooks.net!

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Take a Peak at ROW March 2017 Titles

February 21st, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School | March - (Comments Off on Take a Peak at ROW March 2017 Titles)

Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers: Family! Books about family from a newly living-in grandparent to adjusting to new siblings to all types of families! Also, language and math concepts in this month’s books for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What could art and insects possibly have to do with one another? In the March 2017 Primary books, both are presented in ways that ask young readers to think differently about the subject. Creative and engaging, these titles are winners!

 

 

 

Intermediate titles in March embrace sports buzz! Learn about the origin of the “fast break” and the coach who introduced it to the game in John Coy’s Game Changer . Find out whether a love of baseball can bring a grieving family together in Wendy Wan-Long Shang’s The Way Home Looks Now.

 

 

 

March Middle School titles offer riveting nonfiction about a group of student resistors during WWII and historical fiction set in Berlin during the Cold War. These books will start some conversation on how governments challenge and control people’s freedoms and possible responses.

 

 

 

 

An engrossing look at U.S. government deception of the American public throughout our involvement in Vietnam, and Daniel Ellsberg’s efforts to make that deception—chronicled in the Pentagon Papers—public.

Part political thriller, part American primer, Sheinkin’s account be-comes even more riveting as it follows the release of the story in the Times, a court injunction to stop publication of additional stories in that paper, and Ells-berg, hiding from federal authorities, getting additional copies into the hands of one major paper after another.

 

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March 2017 High School

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | March - (Comments Off on March 2017 High School)

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steven Sheinkin. Roaring Brook Press, 2015

An engrossing look at U.S. government deception of the American public throughout our involvement in Vietnam, and Daniel Ellsberg’s efforts to make that deception—chronicled in the Pentagon Papers—public. Ellsberg, a veteran and Harvard Ph.D., worked at the Pentagon, and later for the State Department in Vietnam, gradually changing his views on U.S. involvement there, especially as he realized how much was being kept from the public. U.S. fears of Communism post World War II, and the refusal of one president after another to “lose” a war, were among the barriers to rational decision-making. But at a new position for a California-based think tank, Ellsberg ended up with access to a single copy of the Pentagon Papers, which he eventually decided to photocopy. No politician would touch what he begged them to make public, so he went to the New York Times. Part political thriller, part American primer, Sheinkin’s account becomes even more riveting as it follows the release of the story in the Times, a court injunction to stop publication of additional stories in that paper, and Ells-berg, hiding from federal authorities, getting additional copies into the hands of one major paper after another. Ellsberg’s patriotism is never in doubt in Sheinkin’s account, but neither is the patriotism of soldiers serving in the war who, like Vietnamese civilians and our military allies there, were also at the mercy of the decisions being made. Detailed source notes round out this masterful account that includes occasional black-and-white photos.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How are we affected today by the decisions our political leaders make?
  2. Was Daniel Ellsberg right or wrong to release the Pentagon Papers? What role did his experiences in the war affect his eventual decisions?
  3. Who should decide what secrets the government gets to keep? Should all government information eventually become public?
  4. Steve Sheinkin has tells us about history in a much different way than a history textbook. How is it different and how does Sheinkin hold the reader’s interest in such a complicated story?

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net!

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Community, Knowledge, Friends, Nature, Family! Themes of Love in February Titles

February 1st, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | High School | February - (Comments Off on Community, Knowledge, Friends, Nature, Family! Themes of Love in February Titles)

This month, Read On Wisconsin titles offer a wide range of subjects, characters, genres, and languages across our age-level groups. Books for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers include bilingual titles, Maya’s Blanket / La Manta de Maya and Squirrel Round and Round: A Bilingual Book of Seasons, in Spanish and Chinese for International Mother Language Day on February 21st.  Primary titles, New Shoes and Trapped!, while very different stories, illustrate how creative problem solving can help others. For Intermediate readers, Stella by Starlight and The Book Itch offer stories imbued with a love of words, family and community. Family, friends, and fate interweave around Valentine’s Day in the Middle School title, Goodbye Stranger. And, Printz Award-winning, Bone Gap, is a Midwestern fairy tale about strength, understanding, and kindness. 

Find descriptions, discussion questions or literacy activities, and resources for each title below by clicking on the book cover image. Find descriptions, discussion questions or literacy activities, and resources for each title below by clicking on the book cover image.

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Midwestern Fairy Tale: February 2017 High School

January 25th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | February - (Comments Off on Midwestern Fairy Tale: February 2017 High School)

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2015

Teenage Finn is the only person in Bone Gap who believes Roza, a young woman relatively new to town, was abducted. Finn is sure Roza was a prisoner in the car he saw her riding in, but he can’t describe the driver. Everyone else thinks he made up the story and was in love with Roza. In truth, Finn’s older brother Sean is the one in love with Roza, and Finn feels increasingly frustrated by Sean’s distant behavior and seeming lack of concern: Sean clearly assumes Roza left Bone Gap—and him—of her own accord. When the point of view of this exquisitely written novel switches to Roza, who is, indeed, being held prisoner, the story takes on the overtones of a thriller, one that slips into the realm of magical realism as Roza’s storyline develops. Defying all boundaries, Laura Ruby moves assuredly back and forth between small town life in Bone Gap, where Finn is marked by loss that precedes the present events and finds unexpected friendship and solace in a developing relationship with classmate Petey, and Roza’s ever-more-complex history and situation. Roza is strikingly beautiful. Petey is often seen as remarkable for her lack of beauty. Neither woman can be defined by her appearance—one of the story’s many points. Themes of small town life, family, loss, love, evil, beauty, sexuality, power and its abuse all resound in a story that can be read, among many ways, as a feminist fairy tale. (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is the connection between the characters’ emotions and the magical events in the story?
  2. Discuss the difference between Finn’s and Sean’s reactions to Roza’s disappearance.
  3. Is beauty always a good thing? How does Finn’s condition affect his ability to find beauty?
  4. What parallels can you find between Roza and Persephone from the Greek myth?

Find teaching guides and other resources for Bone Gap at TeachingBooks.net and book discussion guide from Balzer + Bray.

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Timely and Resonant: January 2017 High School

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | January - (Comments Off on Timely and Resonant: January 2017 High School)

all american boysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2015

Coretta Scott King Book Awards, Author Honor, 2016

Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature, 2016

Authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely put the issues of police bias and violence against Blacks and white privilege front and center in this novel that alternates between the voices of high school students Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins. African American Rashad is brutalized by a white police officer who makes a snap judgment of a scene and assumes Rashad was harassing a white woman and stealing at a neighborhood store where he’d gone to buy potato chips. Quinn, who is white, shows up as handcuffed Rashad is being pummeled by the cop on the sidewalk outside. The officer is his best friend’s older brother, a man who has been like a father to Quinn since his own dad died in Afghanistan. In the aftermath of the beating, hospitalized Rashad deals with pain and fear, and his family with fear and anger and tension, especially between Rashad’s older brother, Spoony, and their ex-cop dad. As the story goes viral, Quinn is feeling pressure to support Paul but can’t stop thinking that what Paul did to Rashad is wrong. He begins to realize that saying nothing—he slipped away from the scene before he was noticed—is also wrong. Silence, he realizes, is part of the privilege of being white, and it’s part of the problem of racism, something too few are willing to acknowledge, including school administrators and some teachers in the aftermath. Rashad and Quinn and their classmates are singular, vivid characters—kids you feel you might meet in the halls of just about any school in a novel that is both nuanced and bold as it explores harsh realities and emotional complexities surrounding race in America. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why did the authors write this book together? Does it make a difference that one author is Black and one is White?
  2. Both Quinn and Rasheed feel powerless in their situations. What do they do to gain control of their lives again? Who influences each of them most?
  3. In this novel, characters need to decide how they are going to react to Rasheed’s beating. At what point is doing nothing actually choosing a side?

Find more resources for All American Boys at TeachingBooks.net.

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