It’s time to make the August recommendations for the 2016 Reading Challenge!
What is the reading challenge?
It’s a fun and simple way to read books this new year. Here are the basics of the challenge:
-You will read one book a month from a specific category (details below)
-You don’t have to read them in the order listed
-At the beginning of each month I will give you many ideas for fantastic books within that category that you just might enjoy
-Throughout the month I will post updates on my Facebook page (if you haven’t started following yet, this would be a great time!), sharing the books I’m reading within that category. You can chime in with what you are reading and get recommendations from other readers.
-At the end of the year we will celebrate our success and share our favorites from 2016 (plus have a pretty awesome giveaway…)!
So, are you in? If you’re not convinced yet, here are the categories:
2016 Reading Challenge
August: Something You Should Have Read in School But Didn’t
September: A Newbery Award Winner (The Best Work of Children’s Literature for that year. HERE.)
October: Something Scary
November: A Fantasy
December: A Book Set in Another Country
You can jump in any time. Just because you’ve missed the previous months’ challenge doesn’t mean you can’t join us now!
August Reading Challenge: A Book You Should Have Read in School (But Didn’t)
I am really excited about this month’s challenge! I don’t know about you, but there is something so comforting about reading children’s and young adult literature. When the world seems to be running out of control or life brings unexpected bumps, I always find myself retreating into the familiar worlds of children’s books.
For August’s challenge, I decided to divide my list of recommendations into three categories: elementary literature, middle school literature, and high school literature. These books are all wonderful selections that typify great literature for that age group. I had a hard time narrowing the list down!
Elementary School Literature
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Because of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I developed an intense fascination with pioneers and the westward expansion that lasted for years. Now reading the series as an adult, I am even more impressed with the beautiful family dynamics and positive attitudes of the parents.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I reread The Chronicles of Narnia every couple of years, and I find new gems each time. Lewis’s gentle use of allegory, his spiritual imagery, and his engaging story-telling make it possible to enjoy the books on many levels, over and over again. If you haven’t read the series, start with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to become acclimated to Lewis’s magical world and characters.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl completely gets children. He incorporates near black-and-white characters that embody evil and goodness (Miss Trunchbull and Miss Honey), plucky children who stand up to injustice, and a bit of magic for good measure. If you want a glimpse into the mind of a child, read any of Dahl’s books!
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary Lennox, a most sour-faced and disagreeable little girl, lives in India until her parents die. Then she is shipped off to the English moors to live with her uncle in a lonely, rambling old house filled with mysteries. The contrary girl gradually softens through the influences of her maid, new friends, and a secret garden. I love seeing Mary’s transformation and being reminded that people can grow and change when given something to love.
Middle School Literature
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Any list of the best books for middle school students simply has to include Anne! I, along with millions of other girls, spent most of my childhood wanting to be Anne of Green Gables. Her adventures, her friendships, and her sparkling personality captivated me. Anne of Green Gables is the first in a series of eight books centered on this classic heroine. If you or your daughter have not read this book, please, pretty please go get it now!
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
This classic is still one of the most popular books among my 7th grade boys! Brian is on a small plane over the Canadian wilderness when the pilot has a heart attack. The plane crashes and the pilot dies, leaving Brian alone in the wild with only a few basic supplies, including a hatchet. He learns to find food, shelter, and protect himself against various animals. Brian’s self-sufficiency and survival skills endear him to young readers. There are also three other books in the series to entice further reading!
The Giver by Lois Lowry
This dystopian novel was written a good 20 years before The Hunger Games, Divergent, and the like popularized the genre. Jonas is a twelve year old boy living in a community where everything is decided for you, including your career. Jonas finds out that he will become The Receiver of his community, the one who holds all of the memories of the past. During this process, he meets The Giver who alone has held the memories for years, and he discovers secrets that cause him to question everything he ever knew. A fantastically gripping book with three sequels. The series will keep you enthralled for weeks.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Written by a sixteen-year-old girl nearly 50 years ago, The Outsiders remains one of my students’ favorite books. I have read it with my classes every year, and students are always captivated by the story of two rival gangs, a family of orphan boys, and Ponyboy’s coming of age.
High School Literature
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
There’s a reason why women have been swooning over this book since its publication over two centuries ago. It’s hard to find a better love story anywhere. Lizzy and Darcy dance around their mutual attraction and admiration for the better part of the book, making for a delightful tension and happy conclusion. If you have read P&P, why not try Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, or Emma?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Another classic that every woman should read, Little Women follows the March family daughters as they grow into women. The love the girls have for each other and for their parents always inspires me. If you haven’t read Little Women yet, do yourself a favor and buy it right now!
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Benedictine monk Brother William and a novice Adso arrive at a Benedictine monastery to solve a mystery. William’s logic and powers of deduction help to uncover an unexpected murderer. Set in the 14th century, the novel provides many twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing until the very end!
My Antonia by Willa Cather
My Antonia is one of my top 5 favorite books. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the Midwest, right on the edge of the prairie, but I simply fall in love with Cather’s description of the Great Plains. Set in the 1800s in a community receiving a sudden influx of immigrants, My Antonia explores the relationship between the narrator and a young immigrant girl named Antonia, as well as their relationship with the land. Through their stories, we come to see the progression of the prairie and of the country.
On My Nightstand
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
How did I get through high school without reading this Steinbeck classic, you ask? I have no idea! I need to fix that–pronto!
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Somehow I also managed to spend four years in high school lit without touching this classic. While I know the plot, I want to actually read the work itself.
What books will you be reading this month? I’d love to hear!
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