Click on an image to read the CCBC annotation for the title. Check earlier posts below for discussion prompts and resources! And, Read! On Wisconsin!
Check out our posters for this year’s Read On Wisconsin reading program! Please feel free to download these posters for printing and sharing in your library as well as for use in social media, websites, and other media! Find downloadables below.
Thanks to Badgers Give Back, the University of Wisconsin Athletics and the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams we have two excellent reading ambassadors in our posters: Michala Johnson from the UW Women’s Basketball team and Wisconsin high school basketball stand-out, Zak Showalter of the UW Men’s Basketball team. Of course, Michala and Zak are enjoying two of our fabulous Read On Wisconsin titles in the posters.
Multi-award winner Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2014) and Jason Chin’s Gravity (Roaring Brook Press, 2014). Fitting books for basketball players, don’t you think?!
A big thank you to Anna Lewis, director of MERIT, and photographer, John Sable, generously photographed and designed the posters.
The murder of African American teenager Tariq Johnson and its aftermath is experienced through the voices of witnesses, family members, and his best friend, Tyrell. Two facts are clear: A white man got out of his car and shot Tariq. The police have let that man go free. The rest is conflicting perceptions: Had Tariq just robbed a neighborhood store? (The store owner says no, but his voice is lost in the rush to assume the worst.) Did Tariq have a gun or a Snickers bar in his hand? (Even the two teens from the neighborhood standing close to him disagree.) Meanwhile, as the story hits the news, much of the attention from the media focuses not on the murder but on questions about whether Tariq was a member of the Kings, a neighborhood gang. Tariq and his best friends from childhood all swore they’d never join. Two already have; Junior is even in prison. Tyrell thought Tariq and he were staying strong; now he’s not so sure. But he is sure that Tariq’s death will make it much harder for him to not be drawn or forced into that life. Meanwhile Jennica, who did CPR on Tariq, and whose boyfriend Noodle is in the gang, is desperate to escape her current life. Kekla Magoon’s fearless, tragic, poignant novel examines racism, poverty, violence, and how mightily all of these can trap youth by limiting their options — real and perceived. Not every question is answered outright, but Magoon provides evidence for readers to decide for themselves while adding her voice to the urgent call to acknowledge and address racism and violence. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Find teaching guides and ideas and more at Teaching.Books.net.
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
Find out more about these titles! Click on the book cover to read the annotation! Check out resources from TeachingBooks.net for links to teaching guides, videos, author interviews and more for all of the titles below! And, now, check out the posts below for discussion prompts, annotations, and prompts for each title.
Here are some the reasons that our High School Literacy Advisory Committee chose The Milk of Birds as a ROW selection. … the story draws you in with its appealing writing and sympathetic characters; the author offers believable school struggles; characters’ reactions felt realistic and authentic; learned a lot about the refugee experience and Darfur but book never felt didactic.
Read the CCBC annotation:
Nawra is a fourteen-year-old Muslim girl living in a refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan. Through a nonprofit called Save the Girls, she is paired with K.C., a Richmond, Virginia, teen, to exchange monthly letters. A novel that moves back and forth between the two girls chronicles their correspondence and their lives. In the camp, where living conditions are awful, Nawra cares for her silent and barely functional mother, who has been traumatized by what she and Nawra have gone through—events that are gradually revealed. Eventually Nawra tells K.C. that she’s pregnant—she was raped on their journey. Later she almost dies giving birth. K.C. is initially furious her mother signed her up for the correspondence program and doesn’t write Nawra for the first four months. She struggles in school with undiagnosed learning disabilities and faces constant pressure from her mom to try harder, while her dad seems uninterested. Sylvia Whitman’s novel is effective and compelling on multiple fronts. Both girls try to understand each other’s culture without judgment. But the truth is their experiences are vastly different. Once K.C. begins exchanging letters with Nawra in earnest, a genuine friendship develops, and she goes from reluctant correspondent to a teenager deeply moved. The pain of Nawra’s story is intense, but her voice is engaging and vivid, and the back-and-forth of the narrative provides respite from the horrors she sometimes describes. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start discussion with these questions:
Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub. Delacorte Press, 2013.
Three weeks after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, the Capulets and Montagues’ unstable truce has Verona on edge. A masked swordsman is attacking Montagues and Capulets alike, while the statue of Juliet erected at her grave site has been scrawled with the word “Harlot.” Juliet’s cousin Rosaline feels no loyalty to either side, since the Capulets have shown her little kindness since the death of her father and its accompanying financial ruin years before. When her Uncle Capulet agrees to Prince Escalus’s peace plan to unite Rosaline and the Montague Benvolio in marriage, Rosaline refuses to cooperate. Not only does she find Benvolio arrogant, her heart has secretly belonged to Escalus since she was a child. But Escalus blackmails Rosaline, giving her no choice but to agree. Rosaline then conspires with her betrothed: If the two of them can figure out who is stirring up trouble between the families, they won’t have to marry. To Rosaline’s surprise, she finds unexpected pleasure in Benvolio’s company as they investigate. And then it turns out Escalus’s heart is not as cold and calculating as she feared. Author Melinda Taub has spun a delightful new story on the foundations of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Her narrative sparkles with rich language, dialogue, plotting and wit. There is mystery, romance, treachery, and murder, not to mention a ferocious race against time. And there is Rosaline: smart, strong, feisty, and certain to follow her heart. A terrific authors’s note outlines where Taub took liberties with characters whose backgrounds and fates were left unexplored (or presumed differently) in Romeo & Juliet. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Liar by Justine Larbalestier. U.S. edition: Bloomsbury, 2009.
Seventeen-year-old Micah has always felt her identity is ambiguous: she is mixed race (Black/white), she is a girl who can pass for a boy, she is a scholarship kid in a wealthy private school, she is a city girl who spends summers running free in the country. She even has a secret boyfriend, Zach—they never acknowledge one another during the school day. Justine Larbalestier’s structurally and psychologically complex story is told through vignettes “Before” and “After” Zach’s mysterious death in which Micah reveals more about their relationship, and about her personal and family history. But Micah also makes it clear she is a liar, so everything she says is suspect. As Micah’s narrative progresses, she exposes more and more of her lies but also—perhaps—more of her truth. Micah’s becomes a story of the fantastic when she explains the “family illness” she inherited. But is Micah really what she claims to be, or is the family illness really insanity? Micah is appealing and sympathetic and the desire to believe her is strong even as her story constantly changes in this astonishing novel in which the ground is forever shifting beneath readers’ feet. As the implications of Micah’s lying become increasingly disturbing, the richness of Larbalestier’s storytelling is more fully revealed in a story that demands discussion once the final page has been turned. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2009.
Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval is looking forward to a summer tending the ponies in his private school’s stables. But Marcelo’s dad wants him to spend the summer working at his law firm, and to attend public school in the fall. For autistic Marcelo, the idea of moving beyond the safety and security of familiarity and routine is scary, but he and his dad work out a compromise: Marcelo will work at the law firm and then decide for himself where he’ll go to school in the fall. “Marcelo is afraid,” he tells his mother. “I know,” she tells him. “That’s the point.” Francisco X. Stork’s debut novel is an astonishing look inside the mind of a teen with autism. Marcelo is a blend of acute awareness and naïveté, stating truths with frankness even as he struggles to understand the motivations behind much of what he sees. As he navigates new relationships and routines, Marcelo discovers that good and bad, right and wrong, can get muddied and complicated. Nothing illustrates this more than when he discovers his father’s firm is defending a company that was negligent, leading to the serious injury of a young girl. Marcelo’s growth is marked by his ability to move more assuredly through a world that is complicated for everyone, all the while remaining true to the voice inside himself. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
After much hard work and diligence from the Read On Wisconsin Literacy Advisory Committee and the CCBC librarians, the Read On Wisconsin book selections are now complete for the 2015-2016 year.
Please check out the NEW 2015-2016 Read On Wisconsin Books here or on the Books page of the website. And, spread the word!
The already tense atmosphere in Matt Foster’s house only tightened after his older brother, T. J., was killed in Iraq. Matt moves through the world like a clenched fist, ready to explode. His dad often does explode, with words, and sometimes physically. He also refuses to talk about T. J. or let Matt see any of T. J.’s things. Then T. J.’s footlockers arrive, and immediately disappear behind the closed door of T. J.’s old room. Matt secretly begins looking for his brother among the items inside. T. J. had made a real effort to connect with Matt on his last visit, and the brother Matt glimpsed then is echoed in some of what he finds. But there’s a surprise, too—a huge one. Correspondence and photos hint at T. J. having been in love with Celia, a fellow soldier, and the two of them having a child together. Celia’s letters are postmarked from Madison, Wisconsin, and Matt heads off on an illicit road trip—Pennsylvania to Madison—in hopes of meeting her and discovering more about T. J. What he finds when he arrives is wholly unexpected, and at first unsettling. But T. J. is there after all, in the memories of people who loved him deeply and understand how much Matt, too, loves and misses the older brother he was just starting to know as a man. E. M. Kokie’s intense and deeply moving debut novel is set in 2007 and rooted in wonderfully developed characters and the relationships among them. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center.
Connect with Wisconsin author, E.M. Kokie on Twitter: @EMKokie!
1. Identify points of acceptance for different characters in the book. What factors contribute to these changes?
2. What makes it difficult for Matt to trust people? How does he work through these issues? How do pressures from others along with a sense of urgency contribute to Matt’s challenges?
3. What are the multiple meanings of this title? How do these meanings relate to the plot?
Author Mitali Perkins and Middleton High School student, Ali Khan, shared thoughts on race, humor and her book, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013), during an interview in March 2015. Mitali’s addition of humor to discussions of race in her book has positively impacted Ali’s life and his approach to communicating ideas about culture and politics. This is an excerpt from that interview.
In March 2015, Ali Khan, a senior at Middleton High School, interviewed author Mitali Perkins about her book, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices (Candlewick, 2013). As part of a book trailer project with Simpson Street Free Press, Madison Public Library, and Read On Wisconsin, Ali created a book trailer of Open Mic. Mitali’s approach to adding humor to discussions of race strongly resonated with Ali. Fortunately, we were able to bring Mitali and Ali together on Skype to share thoughts on the book, racial identity, and humor. Check back soon to see excerpts from the interview! In the meantime, enjoy Ali’s book trailer for Mitali Perkin’s Open Mic.
Teenage Seth drowns in the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest only to awaken, feeble and dehydrated, in the long abandoned house of his British childhood. Trying to make sense of the inexplicable world in which he’s found himself—the entire town appears lifeless—Seth struggles to find the basic necessities he needs to survive. He meets teenage Regine and young Tomasz on one of his scrounging forays, and they warn him about the Driver, a menacing individual who seems intent on hunting all three of them down. They also begin to explain the world in which Seth has found himself, and he mightily resists what they tell him. As more and more proof presents itself, Seth is forced to revisit painful moments from his long-ago childhood, and recent events that sent him walking into the ocean intent on dying. If he believes Regine and Tomasz, then much of Seth’s life is a lie. If he rejects what they tell him, then they are the lie, and he’s come to care too much about them to believe that, either. Masterful rather than manipulative, the ambiguity of Patrick Ness’s wholly original and compelling novel gives readers a richly developed array of possibilities but leaves the meaning-making up to them when it comes to divining the situational truth of Seth’s story. But some truths exist at every point along the continuum of possibilities laid out or waiting to be imagined: Meaningful relationships matter, and a life is so much more than can be measured or felt at any single moment in time. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
1. How does the author explore the idea expressed by the title, that life is “more than this,” throughout the story? What about the importance of memory and of human connection? What are examples of details and scenes through which you see these ideas developed separately and in relation to one another?
2. Which world do you believe is real? What evidence do you have to support your idea? Do you think it is important to determine which world is “real”?
The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc., 2013.
I See the Promised Land: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Arthur Flowers. Illustrated by Manu Chitrakar. Designed by Guglielmo Rossi. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2013.
Having read one or both of these books…
1. How do the visual elements of the text impact your understanding of the story? What are some of the other choices the authors and illustrators made to emotionally engage readers? How do these elements work together?
2. Cite evidence of people in these books taking action for a cause greater rather than for themselves. What compels them to do this? How do those actions impact us today?
3. What did you learn about the time periods and people involved in these stories that you didn’t know before reading these books?