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Summer reads

by: SUBMITTED - The Oregon Battle of the Books, which is sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries, recommends books for different reading levels every year. The 2013 titles are pictured above and listed in the sidebar.

Middle school students encouraged to keep summer reading log


No one will be telling Rosemont Ridge students what to read this summer, but librarian Shelly Buchanan is certainly interested in getting them to read.

"Summer is a huge gap of time for kids ... in terms of staying physically fit with their brain," she said.

In her first year as librarian at Rosemont Ridge Middle School, Buchanan is starting a summer reading program that she hopes becomes a tradition. While she researched how other libraries run their reading programs, she decided not to include a specific list of books that the kids should read.

"It's not school. We tell them what to read in school, and I wanted this to be student choice," she said.

Over the summer, she is challenging students to read just four books. She wanted to make it "as easy for as many kids as possible. ... Maybe this is an entry gate for those kids who want to be readers."

Of course she has told the book lovers that they are more than welcome to staple extra pages to their book log with a list of all the titles they've read over the summer.

Each sheet, which can be downloaded from Buchanan's blog, simply asks students to list the title, author and number of Coyote "howls" as a rating of the book. Parents are also asked to sign the sheet before they turn it in at the beginning of the school year.

During the second or third week of school, there will be an ice cream party for the students who turn in their summer reading log.

To get students started, Buchanan passed out an Oregon Battle of the Books bookmark listing the 2013 choices because she figured those books would be readily available at local libraries. She also has reading lists from other sources listed on her blog.

Buchanan stays in tune with middle reader fiction and said some popular genres right now are steampunk, science fiction, dystopian, paranormal romance and reworked fairy tales.

Some series to note are: Erin Hunter's "Warrior" adventure series about a house cat; the dystopian "Divergent" trilogy by Veronica Roth; anything by Rick Riordan, who wrote "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief;" and the "Artemis Fowl" fantasy series by Eoin Colfer.

"A lot of the kids are going back to Orson Scott Card," who wrote "Ender's Game" in the 80s, added Buchanan.

As might be expected, after the release of the "Hunger Games" the series was checked out all the time. This summer, Buchanan is working on a reader's advisory list, which would make suggestions for readers who liked the "Hunger Games."

"I want to maximize that thrill and get them into other books," she said.

Buchanan is looking forward to the data that she can collect from the students' reading logs this fall. For starters, she plans on displaying some of it around the library with posters illustrating data on the students' favorite authors, most popular reads of the summer and hot releases.

Secondly, she can look for trends and then order those books for the library. In fact, if students read a good book over the summer, she suggests filling out a form on the blog to request a book for the Rosemont Ridge library.

"I want them to feel like they have a voice in the library," she said.

Buchanan, who has also been an English teacher, is passionate about reading at any age. "There is so much power in reading for all of us. The younger we can discover that the better everyone is," she said.

And parents can certainly find a lot of enjoyment in middle level books right now, she added, saying that many of her friends read the same books as their children.

"There is a huge adult readership of young adult novels. It's an exploding level," she said.

Some other reading lists can be found at:

Oregon Battle of the Books

6th-8th grade selections:

"Al Capone Does My Shirts" by Gennifer Choldenko

"Also Known as Harper" by Ann Haywood Leal

"Artemis Fowl" by Eoin Colfer

"Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading" by Tommy Greenwald

"Claudette Colvin, Twice Toward Justice" by Phillip Hoose

"Fever Crumb" by Philip Reeve

"The Girl Who Could Fly" by Victoria Forester

"Incarceron" by Catherine Fisher

"The Lab" by Jack Heath

"The Red Umbrella" by Christina Gonzalez

"Seedfolks" by Paul Fleischman

"A Tale Dark and Grimm" by Adam Gidwitz

"Tangerine" by Edward Bloor

"Three Days" by Donna Jo Napoli

"Under the Blood Red Sun" by Graham Salisbury

"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle

Some other reading lists can be found at:

- Young Adult Library Services Association: ala.org/yalsa/booklists/bbya

- Guys Read: guysread.com

- Multnomah County Library Recommends: multcolib.org/kids/booklists/6-8.html

- Read Kiddo Read: readkiddoread.com/great-advanced-reads

- Young Adult Library Services Association: ala.org/yalsa/booklists/bbya