Posted in Books & Reading, Library collections, Middle School Reads, Read Like a Girl, Teaching and Learning, YA Literature

5 inspirational books for girls in Middle School

I am often asked to recommend “must read” books for girls of certain ages. Common questions include: “Can you provide a list of books all Middle School students should read?” and “What are the books all students should read before the finish high school?”

Such questions always bother me because reading tastes are so individual and varied that different students will connect with different books. Research tells us that students will read and enjoy reading when they are connected to the books that match their needs and interests (Susan La Marca, 2006).

That being said, the following five books are among my own favourite and I think they are highly inspirational reads for Middle School girls:

Fiction

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirlcover

This story is about being true to yourself. When Stargirl arrives at Mica High she stands out because she is different from everyone else. Rather than be shunned however, her beautiful smile and heart charm her classmates and she is loved by all.

And then they turn on her. Urged to become ‘normal’ to maintain her popularity, the danger is that Stargirl will give up everything that makes her unique.

Wonder

Wonder

This is a story about kindness, true friendship, and acceptance.

August Pullman, born with a facial deformity that makes him very difficult to look at, is about to face school for the first time and enter 5th grade. Being the new kid is hard – being the new kid when your appearance is so different to everyone else takes courage.

This book has been loved the world over and the Choose Kind Movement was inspired by one of its most memorable quotes:

“WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING

RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”

R.J. Palacio, Wonder

The war that saved my life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The war that saved my life

This is a story of determination and rising up in the face of adversity.

Set in London during World War 2, this is the story of Ada who was born with a clubfoot and is shunned by her neglectful and sometimes abusive mother and kept locked in her one-room apartment. When the children of London start to be evacuated to the country because of the peril of bombing raids, Ada wastes no time and escapes onto the trains. When she arrives in a country village, Ada is fostered by Susan Smith and so begins her road to recovery and finding her own identity. However, lurking in the background is the threat of the mother who she escaped.

Non-Fiction

Good night stories for rebel girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Goodnight stories for rebel girls

This is a book of pure inspiration for all girls. Containing 100 stories about extraordinary women from the past and the present and their remarkable achievements.

This video provides some background information from the authors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, about why they put together this book. Anyone who is concerned about gender equality and the obstacles facing our daughters should watch this video:

Find your tribe

Find your tribe

This book is a guide for teenage girls. It provides all sorts of advice about surviving high school and the adolescent years. In particular, Rebecca’s advice about choosing to hang out with good friends and about being a good friend is so important for girls who often find themselves in toxic relationships that cause a lot of angst.

Stargirl

 

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Posted in Books & Reading, literacy, Read Like a Girl, Reading, Teaching and Learning, YA Literature

Help Girls Read

Help Girls Read

Help girls succeed by igniting a love to read

The importance of reading

Educators and parents alike know that reading literature can be transformative.  Research supports this assertion and validates the importance of story reading to brain development and academic success (Haven, 2007; and Krashen, 2011).

Australian teenage girls’ reading is on the decline

Disturbingly, research conducted last year in Australia found that among Australians aged 14+, “the proportion of men and women reading books has decreased in recent years, most noticeably among women. In 2010, 64.7% of Australian women 14+ read a novel in any given three months, a figure which has since fallen to 60.9%. Similarly, fewer women are reading non-fiction books than they used to, slipping from 39.2% to 34.2% between 2010 and 2015” (Roy Morgan Research, 2016).

Let’s do something about this

As a Teacher-Librarian in a girls’ school, this research is of concern to me and I wanted to do something that would make a difference to the girls in our community. A key strategy for making this difference is to focus on reading and literature promotion.

After collaborating with other passionate colleagues in the teaching and book worlds, the Read Like a Girl movement was established.

Read Like a Girl is a community partnership for the literacy advancement of girls and is a combined endeavour led by Mt Alvernia College and St Rita’s College.  Riverbend Books is a community partner in this project.  This project encapsulates a calendar of reading events aimed at instilling a foundation and love of reading in the college communities and more broadly among girls everywhere.

What we hope to do

We hope that through our calendar of events, we will give the girls in our communities the opportunity to:

  • Attend book events
  • Meet authors
  • Purchase books
  • Participate in conversations about literature, reading, and storytelling
  • Network with other girls, women, and people who value reading and academic success
  • Develop their knowledge of the vast world of books and the opportunities literacy creates

What you can do

You can support this endeavour in practical ways by:

  • Attending our events (starting with the International Women’s Day Breakfast)
  • Spreading our vision by following us on social media (#RLaG) and sharing our advocacy with your own networks
  • Purchasing books for the girls in your life
  • Speaking positively about reading
  • Providing time and space for the girls in your life to read
  • Model reading – visit a bookstore, put your feet up and enjoy a great read

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References

Haven, K. F. (2007). We’ve reached the research results. In Story proof: The science behind the startling power of story (pp. 89-122). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Krashen, S. (2011). Free voluntary reading. Denver: Libraries Unlimited.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Books & Reading, Library collections, Teaching and Learning, YA Literature

Book Review: It’s about love by Steven Camden

It's about love (1)

I have to say that based on the title and the cover,  I would have never read this book.  However, the girls in my student book club convinced me to read it and I really have to thank them – it’s great.  This book oozes menace and tension and from the beginning, the reader is gripped by the fear of what has happened in the past and what that will bring to play in the present.

This is a coming of age story that is difficult to label.  The reader is warned about this complexity of plot and theme in chapter 1 when, Luke the protagonist of the novel, debates the central premise of his favourite movie with a girl in his film class.

“It’s a love story, you know …..

No it’s not”

“Course it is,” she says, “Not a conventional one, but it’s a story about love.”

The fact that she’s even seen it make me like her, but it’s not a love story.

It’s about revenge,” I say. (p.11)

The characterisation of Luke, the protagonist, is a strength of the novel.  As a reader, you really like him but are often puzzled and devastated by his inability to articulate his feelings and his poor reactions to people and situations.  Steven Camden has mastered the ability to bring the gritty reality of the tough neighborhoods of Bearwood, Birmingham where Luke lives into focus. Luke is a “fish out of water” when he starts at film school on the other side of town.  At home, the return of his brother from prison is the catalyst for family and neighborhood tensions that will climax on the night of Luke’s 17th birthday.The author also uses an interesting structural device in this novel by interspersing the story with fragments of hand-written notes describing snippets of memories, thoughts and dreams.  Additionally, he also uses small inserts that read like film directions or play scripts. Together with countless references to modern films, this structural device compliments the central motif of film study.

The author also uses an interesting structural device in this novel by interspersing the story with fragments of hand-written notes describing snippets of memories, thoughts and dreams.  Additionally, he also uses small inserts that read like film directions or play scripts. Together with countless references to modern films, this structural device compliments the central motif of film study.

I highly recommend this book for YA readers who love gritty reality, love stories, character books and movies.

One last thing …. This book is full of great quotes, here are three of my favourites:

“Because nobody’s one thing, Lukey.  You make a person one thing and you’ll miss out on everything else that they are.  That they could be. And they’ll always let you down.”

 

“I repeat the words in my head. Whoever’s writing this script is giving all the best lines to everyone else.”

 

“You are what people think you are.  You make a reputation, then it makes you.”