There’s a great movement among teachers these days to put books in students’ hands that students want to read, not just books that adults admire. It’s the best way to ensure students’ love of reading. I’ve been thrilled to hear about student choice like this happening all over the country.
But I know that it can be hard for teachers to be aware of all the incredible new books out there. Often, stellar novels that would be great for the classroom—and favorites too—are missed.
A group of middle grade and young adult authors are joining me for a massive giveaway to bring discussion-worthy books across genres into the classroom. We’re offering three groups of middle grade books, one of upper middle grade, and one of young adult (five books in each) to teachers and school librarians in the U.S. (sorry to restrict, but this helps with mailing costs). These are books published in 2018 and in 2019 that we all think could have a strong place in future classroom book clubs.
Below, I’ve posted a list of all the books, in order of their groups, with themes we think teachers would find useful, author websites, and, where available, teacher and discussion guides.
But first, here are the giveaway instructions:
1. Choose which group of books would be best for your classroom or school library: middle grade group A, B, or C (for grades 3 through 6), upper middle grade (grades 6 through 8), or young adult (grades 8 through 12). Retweet the post, and tell us which category’s giveaway you’d like to enter.
2. Follow all the authors in your chosen category.
3. Retweet before Monday, November 4, 2019. We’ll be drawing winners for each category on that day.
And now for the books! Be sure to scroll to the end to see the amazing upper MG and YA contributions!
MIDDLE GRADE: GROUP A
Skylark and Wallcreeper (Little Bee Books, October 2018)
Anne O’Brien Carelli, www.anneobriencarelli.com
Themes: Understanding and respecting contributions of elders; persevering under challenging circumstances; and girls can be clever, strong, and brave
Unwritten (Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions, October 2018)
Tara Gilboy, taragilboy.com
Themes: Finding your own identity, sometimes good people do bad things/forgiving yourself and others, controlling your own destiny
The Three Rules of Everyday Magic (Boyds Mills and Kane, September 2018)
Amanda Rawson Hill, amandarawsonhill.com
Themes: Kindness, mental health, music, dementia and multigenerational relationships
If This Were a Story (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, August 2018)
Beth Turley, bethturleybooks.com
Themes: Friendship, bullying, speaking up, grief; there are also elements of magical realism
Spin the Golden Lightbulb (Amberjack Publishing, January 2018)
Jackie Yeager, www.swirlandspark.com
Themes: This is a STEM/ STEAM type book (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) that promotes teamwork, creative problem solving, and pursuing dreams in the face of huge obstacles.
MIDDLE GRADE: GROUP B
Everlasting Nora (Starscape, A Tom Doherty Associates Book, Macmillan Publishers, October 2018)
Marie Cruz, www.cruzwrites.com
Themes: What does home mean to you? Building empathy for how people live in other parts of the world. How does empathy play a role in how we treat each other? What is perseverance?
A discussion guide is in the back of the book.
The Key of Lost Things (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 2019)
Sean Easley, www.seaneasley.com
Themes: Listen to others. Everyone is just as valuable as you. Asking for help is not weakness. Don’t lose yourself while trying to be what others want you to be.
The Cryptid Catcher (Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR), August 2018)
Lija Fisher, www.lijafisher.com
Themes: Friendship, learning to trust yourself, protecting our natural world
The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter (Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin Young Readers, March 2019)
Diane Magras, www.dianemagras.com
Themes: Determining your own identity, challenging expectations of birth and gender, standing up to those in power, living with the consequences of mistakes, seeking ways to heal, forgiveness, and gender equality
Teachers Guide and Discussion Questions
A Swirl of Ocean (Knopf Books for Young Readers, August 2019)
Melissa Sarno, melissasarno.com
Themes: Choosing family, discovering connections to the natural world, learning to let others in, accepting that friendships and families change.
MIDDLE GRADE: GROUP C
Where the Watermelons Grow (Harper Collins, July 2018)
Cindy Baldwin, cindybaldwinbooks.com
Themes: Tolerance/acceptance of differences, resilience, community, and disability
The Serpent’s Secret (Scholastic, February 2018)
Sayantani Dasgupta, www.sayantanidasgupta.com/writer
Themes: Bengali/Indian folktales, string theory/astronomy/space, immigration and immigrant identities, prejudice and discrimination, oppression, parent-child relationships, girl power
The Battle of Junk Mountain (Running Press Kids, April 2018)
Lauren Abbey Greenberg, laurenabbeygreenberg.com
Themes: Dealing with change as we grow up and get older; intergenerational relationships; how our attachments to things, places, and even people can sometimes affect our well-being; showing empathy towards mental illness
The Fang of Bonfire Crossing (Henry Holt for Young Readers, February 2019)
Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester, www.bradmcbooks.com
Themes: Teamwork, friendship, justice versus revenge, family
The Spinner of Dreams (Harper Collins, August 2018)
K.A. Reynolds, www.kareynoldsbooks.com
Themes: Mental health, courage, empathy, and identity
UPPER MIDDLE GRADE
Tiny Infinities (Chronicle, May 2018)
J.H. Diehl, www.jhdiehl.com
Themes: Family: How a young teen finds resilience to cope with family trauma (a parent with mental illness, parents separating, a child with challenging developmental delays); Friendship: How the good friends we make – and sometimes the most unexpected friends we make – can help us to grow up; STEM: Math concepts of Pi and infinity, and the science of fireflies; Sports: Competitive swimming, and, more generally, the learning experience of participating on a team.
Up for Air (Amulet Books/Abrams, May 2019)
Laurie Morrison, lauriemorrisonwrites.com
Themes: Honoring your unique intelligence and strength, developing self-esteem that’s not tied to external validation, managing the emotional and physical changes of puberty, the social pressures of having older friends
Good Enough (Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends, February 2019)
Jen Petro-Roy, jenpetroroy.com
Themes: Self-esteem, body image, mental health, self discovery
Teachers Guide and Discussion Questions
The Prophet Calls
(Yellow Jacket/S&S, November 2018)
Melanie Sumrow, www.melaniesumrow.com
Themes: Figuring out who you are and what you believe, female empowerment, toxic masculinity
The Woods (September, 2019)
Rachel Toalson, www.racheltoalson.com
Themes: Family, loss, grief, escape
What the Woods Keep (Imprint (Macmillan), September 2018)
Katya de Becerra, katyabecerra.blogspot.com
Themes and Discussion Guide
Sanctuary (Simon Pulse, July 2018)
Caryn Lix, www.carynlix.com
Themes: Personal identity, corporate power in the world, prejudice, thinking for yourself
Nothing But Sky (Flux, March 2018)
Amy Trueblood, amytruebloodauthor.com
Themes: History, found family, chasing your dreams, risk vs. reward.
Classroom Discussion Questions
Paper Girl (Entangled Teen, December 2018)
Cindy Wilson, www.cindyrwilson.wordpress.com
Themes: Inner strength and courage and overcoming fears. The book talks heavily about anxiety as the MC is agoraphobic. Also, homelessness and substance abuse.
The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig (Hyperion, October 2018)
Don Zolidis, www.donzolidis.com
Themes: 1. Break-ups, 2. Learning how to see people for who they are, 3. Family struggles, 4. Funny animal stories
Thanks for participating in this giveaway, and good luck!
Wow! Great giveaway. I’m a middle school librarian and would love MG Group B. Will boost this on our twitter feed. @librarymiddle
Thank you so much for entering!
MG – group A. What a wonderful collection, I would love to share with my 4th and 5th graders❤️
Thank you for entering! And for the form by which I’m keeping track of all this, what’s your Twitter handle? Many thanks!
I would absolutely love for my students to have the YA collection! Myself, I’m obsessed with Drest…and everything Scottish! What’s the chance that Drest’s story continues in a YA story in the future?! 😃
Thanks so much for entering! And thanks too for your kind words.
We’ll see if Drest ever has more adventures in print. It’s up to my publisher, but I certainly have ways in the back of my mind for her to grow (and funny you’d mention it, but there’s certainly a version that could border on YA…). For now, though, I’m working on something else (but it takes place in Scotland, so no worries about my leaving *that* obsession any time soon!). I hope readers enjoy the new characters. I’m having a lot of fun with them.
Would love mg c for our student led book club I just started. Kids love to read if you allow them the choice of what to read.
Amazing choices!! I would choose group B to boost our amazing girls stories and because they are diverse. We are reading around the world in library this year!! Thank you for doing giveaways!
This is amazing! Thank you for the opportunity to bring wonderful new reads to our students. Honestly, any of the middle grade choices would make my readers happy. I will select group A as I don’t have any of those titles in our library yet. Thank you again!
Would love MG group C! @mswteaches on Twitter
GREAT idea/effort, Diane 😀 Sharing!
Aww, thanks. But it ended yesterday! This post went out too late since it was such a short giveaway. Yet I hope people will still enjoy reading about the books.