Top Ten Book I Shamelessly Toss at Students Because They Need to Read Them

Facebook (1).png
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I swear I cannot get the simplest of prompts without spending an agonizing amount of time overthinking them.  I have decided to take this into the direction of students for a few reasons: 1) I don't have kids 2) I have nieces and nephews but the dynamics are different ('cause I live on a different continent then they do) 3) if I make this list about books I would throw at students then I start to include books that start conversation rather than books for just the squishy feels. #irealizenooneasked #Iamstillexplaining

Brace yourself.  This is going to be teachery.  

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: October 25th 2010
Rating: Full review of Before I Fall

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.
But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.” 

However fluffy and entertaining this novel might seem on the surface ("Groundhog day meets Mean Girls") at it's core it is a book about the choices that we make every day. The small choices that we almost don't notice.  The big ones that put a lump in our throats, and everything in between.  This books says to the reader: you become these choices.  You have to live with these choices.  Pay attention. Also, this is just a good read in general.


The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: February 28th 2017
Rating: Full review of The Hate U Give

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

I am not even going to justify this on.  This book needs to be in every library and every classroom.  Specifically, in the United States but the underlying issues that it deals with are not a purely us phemomenom (look at what happened in Poland this weekend for example).  We need to give students texts that help them to ask the difficult questions.  The world doesn't need a future with people who can only follow instructions, it doesn't even need people who can solve problems.  The world needs people who can identify that there is a problem and them work to change it. #gettingoffeducationalsoapbox 

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
by Katie Smith Milway

Goodreads | Amazon 
Series: no
Published: February 1st 2008
Rating: it snowballs

"Kojo and his mother live in a village in the Ashanti region of Ghana. None of the twenty families in the village have very much money. But they do have a good idea."

This is actually a picture book.  Why not? At what point do we just give up the fight and accept that our books will have no more pictures?  I put this book in the classroom when we were doing a unit on Change and the discussions that it prompted about micro-finance, personal responsibility, and sustainability are not to be believed.

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser

The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens
by Brooke Hauser


Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: September 20th 2011
Rating: energizing

“She thinks that charm is a form of intelligence, and she respects the intelligence.”

I work in an international school in China.  Students come from 56 different countries and most are not native English speakers.  This is a book about a school in New York City for students who have lives in the United States for less than four years and who, when they enter the school, have failed a basic English proficiency exam. The author followed eight main students through one school year.  It is great to read with my students because there is so much in it they relate to before they have to start unpacking the more difficult ideas such as refugees and homeless which they don't have the same personal connection to.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

by R.J. Palacio

Goodreads | Amazon  | Audible
Series: Wonder #1
Published: February 14th 2012
Rating: Full review of Wonder

“Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.”

I know that there has been some fallout over the film version of the book.  Or of the media campaign following the book.  I haven't seen any of it (because I live in China) so I can't comment.  It seems kind of inevitable. This isn't the sort of book that is going to be made into a movie without being watered down.  But moving on from that...

I read Wonder aloud to my class last year. I teach a grade seven learning support class.  I push in for most of the day but every other day I have a self contained class with five kids with higher learning needs during a language block.   This is a book that moved a group of 12 year old boys, who think that they don't like to read, to tears. There is nothing trite in that.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak 


Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: March 14th 2006
Rating:a small story really

“Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.” 

This is a book that in an accessible way tackles the notion of shared guilt, loss, and redemption.  And yet it manages to do it in a way that doesn't crush us under the weight of all that.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate 

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate 

Goodreads Amazon Audible
Series: no
Published: January 17th 2012
Rating: Review of The One and Only Ivan

“I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do.” 

One of the awesome things about this book is that you can get different things out of it deppending upon your age and reading level.  Which means that this is a great book to give to a class of kids with huge disparities in reading and also that it would be a great book to reread as you grow older.  I would love to talk to people about this book in twenty years and see what kind of aha moments they have had.


Outlaw by Stephen Davies 

by Stephen Davies 


Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: May 5th 2011

"Just one more thing, Knight." The headmaster gazed over his spectacles, small eyes shining in his flabby face. "How the devil did you climb a sheer wall more than twice your height?"

I am including this one because I helped a student find it a few weeks ago.  Keep in mind this is a dig the heels in non reader, but we have an independent reading program so we had to get him started with something.  It took about an hour of sorting through books to get him this one.  "This is the best book I have ever read in my life!" He wants to talk to me about it almost every day. Every reader has their book that sparks them off.  This one was his.

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson 

The Language Inside
by Holly Thompson 


Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: May 14th 2013
Rating: just what we needed

“lonely is when the language outside
isn't the language inside
and words are made of just 26 letters” 

This is a novel in verse about a white American girl who has lived her whole like in Japan suddenly moving to the US.  You have no idea how hard my students relate to this.

Have you read any of these? What would you add to my list? I'm curious to know.  What would you like or have liked a teacher to reccommend for you to read? 


Mini Reviews of the Mediocre

Mini Reviews of the Mediocre
Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi

by Lauren Gibaldi

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: June 14th 2016
Rating: on a journey
Times read: 1
Recommended by: @ericsmithrocks on twitter

“I look at him, and he leans forward, touching my arm. "I think it's up to you, to be who you want.” 

Maude is a senior in high school and because of a photography assignment is spending her spring break with her best friend's college trying to find information about her dead birth mother. There were a lot of things that I liked about this book. There was a kind of effortless diversity that needs to happen more often.  I like that the evolving nature of friendship was explored.  I didn't need the love interest, but he didn't bother me.  I needed more about the adoption angle.  There are all kinds of feelings and issues to be subtly explored. Maybe they were, and because I am not adopted and have not adopted, I am not sensitized to them. It ended up being okay, and I had higher expectations than that.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato 

Guitar Notes
by Mary Amato 

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: no
Published: July 24th 2012
Rating: should have been middle grade
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Goodreads

“Maybe it explains the reason why one person likes another. It's because their souls both thrum at the same frequency.”

Two high school students with nothing in common start to communicate through notes left in a share music rehearsal room at school. Although this book is about 11th graders, it feels like a Middle-grade novel rather than a YA.  The writing, themes, language, and content all are appropriate for younger readers.  In fact, if you switched up Tripp and Lyla's ages to 12 or 13 there would have to be no other changes to make it a Middle Grade. The music part of the book was very well done. My favorite part of this book was the fact that both characters manage to become genuine friends without there being a romance.  This should happen more often.

Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

Wesley James Ruined My Life
by Jennifer Honeybourn

Goodreads Amazon
Series: no
Published: July 18th 2017
Rating: rolled my eyes
Times read: 1
Recommended by: twitter

"King Henry VIII won’t shut up. Not the real King Henry VIII, obviously. That would be crazy, given the dude’s been dead for five hundred years. This King Henry is really Alan Rickles, retired weatherman/local dinner theater actor."

This book irritated me.  Something happened years ago, and Quinn Hardwick’s life changed for the worse.  She blames a boy who was, like ten at the time.  He comes back into her life, and she proceeds to be a heinous bitch. And then they fall in Love. Maybe I just don't hold grudges correctly? The writing was decent, so I am going to try out her next book.  It might just be this trope that does not work for me rather than there being something wrong with the book.

The Opposite of Ordinary by Jessica Sorensen 

The Opposite of Ordinary
by Jessica Sorensen 

Goodreads Amazon 
Series:The Heartbreaker Society #1
Published: October 16th 2016
Rating: Side-eyeing the stupid
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Amazon

"I confessed my confusion to Queeny because, bitch or not, she was my best friend."

The plot what a both too simple and cartoonish and too complicated and over the top. I think if you like things like Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl this might be more up to your ally. A mean girl gets dumped by her mean girlfriends because of a rumor, and they start to try to ruin her life. I would like to say that she changes and learns something but she really doesn't seem to.  She just switches groups. There is also so much cyber bullying (and just general bullying) in this book, and no one freakin' tells an adult. I really can't stand when books give this message to readers especially when the target audience is young readers. Displeased. A much better former mean girl story would be Before I Fall.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith

Goodreads Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: January 2nd 2012
Rating: cute
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Goodreads

“It's not the changes that will break your heart; it's that tug of familiarity.” 

This the story of a girl who is reluctantly flying from the US to the UK to reluctantly attend her father's wedding. Along the way, she meets a guy, and things seem to change. It is one of the very few books that pulls off instalove.  There I said it.  And while t was able to pull it off, the concept of the story happening in a 24 hour period rushed everything else.  I felt as if this should have been Part One of a book. I wanted more development from it. Maybe an epilogue?  Despite my nit-picking, this is actually my favorite Jennifer E. Smith book.

Interference by Kay Honeyman

by Kay Honeyman 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: September 27th 2016
Rating: how to manipulate
Times read: 1
Recommended by: goodreads

“You're so busy trying to prove what you do know, you ignore everything you don't.” 

I have been absolute trash for this trope for the last year.  I am both horribly repelled by politics and completely fascinated. In this book, Kate Hamilton is the daughter of a Senator whose family has retreated to Texas in the wake of a scandal. It was readable enough, but Kate is manipulative as all hell, there is more drama than a teen soap opera, and all your sense of reality needs to be suspended. I read it vaguely enjoyed it and had trouble remembering a thing that happened. If you want a book where the main character is related to a powerful politician check out The Right Side of Wrong.


Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders

Facebook Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders.png
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Yet again I overthought the prompt: "Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders (Leaders of what? That's your decision. Who could lead a country, an army, a book club, a classroom, etc. Or maybe characters that would be trendsetters?)" 

Frankly, my country could do with some help in the leadership department. So, I started think about characters that give me hope for the next generation.  You know, characters that I want to be real and old enough to be running for office so that I could vote for them. Actually, you know what? I want to vote for them together. Think of them as a YA dream team.

Also, in completely related news: if you are American it is Election Day.  Go and vote, man  Please.  Confused about the issues? Need to call your senator? Celeste at It's Time to Fight basically has everything covered. 

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister

Dear Martin
by Nic Stone

Goodreads | Amazon Audible
Series: no
Published: October 17th 2017
Rating: Full review of Dear Martin
Times read: 1
Recommended by: The whole internet but I think that Goodreads' algorithm steered me to it first.

“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

Justyce has drive.  There is no power on earth that is going to push him off his course once it has been set.  He is learning to let his new group of friends influence him a bit in terms of policy especially in areas where they have stronger areas of knowledge.  In this group of leaders he is the leader.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo 

Desi Lee

I Believe in a Thing Called Love
by Maurene Goo 

Goodreads Amazon 
Series: No, but I wouldn't mind one
Published: May 30th 2017
Number of times read: 1
Rating: Full review of I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Times read: 1
Recommended by: I saw it first on twitter

“I believed, and still believe, that you can build your dreams brick by brick. That you can accomplish anything with persistence.” 

You know you want her on your side. Desi is a details person. She is going to know the policy inside out and back again.  She is going to be the person who not only has a comprehensive plan to solve a problem that is being debated about she will have written a 408 page (not including footnotes) book about it. .

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Janna Yusuf

Saints and Misfits
by S.K. Ali

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: June 13th 2017
Rating: beautiful
Times read: 1
Recommended By: twitter generally

"I can't imagine what it means to love everyone. But I'm just going to start right here, by loving a bit more of myself. And maybe then the rest will follow."

I feel like Janna would be a good press secretary or communication director. Something like that. She is good at absorbing larger ideas and condensing them down.  She also has experience since she does something similar for her uncle who is an iman (Is "iman" capitalized? Google doesn't think so but google doesn't know everything. It is a nonspecific noun so I say no.) Janna does more listening and observing than talking which makes her a more powerful communicator.  

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon

Goodreads | Amazon  | Audible
Series: no
Published: May 30th 2017
Rating: Full review of When Dimple Met Rishi
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Goodreads, again

“This is our life. We get to decide the rules. We get to say what goes and what stays, what matters and what doesn’t.” 

Dimple is the tech branch of the group.  She has been ensuring that their tech policy is relevant and forward thinging and ensuring that their twitter presence is sensible.  Everyone is counting on her.  She keeps taking Simon's phone away from him and is strangely close with Gansey.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Hermione Granger

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J.K. Rowling

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: (Harry Potter #4)
Published: July 8th 2000)
Rating:  Triwizards good
Times read: lost count
Recommended by: basically the whole world until I gave in and read them

“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

Hermione's complete and total refusal to accept injustice was my favorite thing about her. Someone has to organize the meetings, make the signs, take notes, enchant the coins, curse the squealers, and knit hats. Totally trying to pass as a muggle and sort of doing a terrible job at it.  Ron keeps sending owls and she has been avoiding having this whole conversation with Gansey. She also is okay with letting others have the limelight. She and Desi are besties.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: February 28th 2017
Rating: Full review of The Hate U Give
Times read: 1
Recommended  by: Goodreads

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

Someone has to make the hard choices, tell the hard truths, weather the uncomfortable storms.  That seems to be Starr's lot in life.  Her lot also includes being fabulous and and knowing what it what so it all balances out, I guess.  She has come to far to suffer fools or bullshit anymore. It saves the group a lot of time. She is Simon are basically thick as thieves. I am not sure what that really means but in my head they exchange books, argue, and look out for one another.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda   by Becky Albertalli

Simon Spier

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda  
by Becky Albertalli

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Would that it were
Published: April 7th 2015
Rating: Full review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Times read: 3
Recommended by: Gillian at Writer of Wrongs

“White shouldn't be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn't even be a default.” 

Politics can get you down. It is easy to start thinking that the world is a terrible place and that there is no way that we can change it no matter how hard we try.  Simon brings optimism and energy to the group. He can take situations that feel as if they could only be negative and use them to make himself stronger. Also he would be fun at the meetings and bring classic oreos. Which he and Starr would fight about.  Which Gansey would break up by offering  mint oreos which both of them would be disgusted by.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe 

Adam Blake

A List of Cages
by Robin Roe 

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: no
Published: January 10th 2017
Rating: Full review of A List of Cages
Times read: 1
Recommended by: Cait at Paperfury

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.” 

Adam is a natural leader with an unassumed kindness which he isn't ashamed to show to people in front of others.  This is the opposite of toxic masculinity.  We need ore if it in the world. In my head he becomes very good friends with Janna because he listens just as intently as she does. 

The Raven Boys  by Maggie Stiefvater

Richard Campbell Gansey III

The Raven Boys
by Maggie Stiefvater

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: (The Raven Cycle #1)
Published: September 18th 2012
Rating: ermehgerd, so good
Times read: 2
Recommended by: Gillian at Writer of Wrongs

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.” 

World domination doesn't fund itself people. Gansey is single minded, goal driven, but also has his heart in the right place. And it doesn't hurt to have enough charm that you can knit together groups of people who don't necessarily seem to belong together. *cough this group *cough He will have to get used to being mocked constantly by pretty much all of them, though. He and Dimple have a secret hand shake that started out as her sort of teasing him but has become their thing.

Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani

Meena and River

Same Sun Here
by Silas House and Neela Vaswani

Goodreads | Amazon Audible
Series: no
Published: February 14th 2012
Rating: Full review of Same Sun Here
Times read: 3
Recommended by: Goodreads

“That's what it means to be an American. To be free to love who and what you want, and to keep a lot in your heart at once.” 

Meena and River are both interns.  They are just so excited to be working with the others that they are more of a hinderence than a help.  Meena follows Dimple around like a puppy because she 100% wants to be her when she grows up.  River tries very hard to be cool around Justyce and just ends up being very awkward which is okay because Justyce is a good guy and remember what is it like to be 12. They mostly file papers in the very exacting filing sysytem that Desi and Hermione have devised.

Can someone please write this for me? I will pay hundreds of Yuan!!! HUNREDS! Also, if you want like a woking retreat I will let you stay in my guest room provided that you get youself to Beijing and prove that you are not creepy.  Legit offer.  I really want this. Ummm... Also, tell me about your thoughts because not everthing is about me even though it totally is. 


Legit offer!