Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back to School Books

This year, I have resolved to step away from the fancy border. Instead of buying beautiful classroom supplies or trying to make everything match, I'm buying more books...

...and not just any books. I live in an area with few bookstores, so my book purchases tend to focus on the ones that kids can't pick up at a big box store. I'm also trying to enlarge my graphic novel collection. So here are the books that I've bought in the last two weeks, or am planning to buy!

Fairy Tale Comics

I read a local library copy of this last year, so I was thrilled to find a copy of it in a comics bookstore at the beach. I just love to buy books in the real world, and a comics bookstore that has a selection of children's graphic novels is about the best thing ever.

I think that this book will take the title of the First Read-Aloud of the Year. Projected on the whiteboard, it will be the perfect tool for showing students how to interact with a graphic novel. Plus the short story format will be perfect for short reading sessions throughout the day...I think I'll call on kids to choose which story to read next from the Table of Contents.

Ubiquitous and Dark Emperor by Joyce Sidman

I discovered these at a local store called Ollie's. Of course after my husband and I went out to dinner for our anniversary I wanted to go and browse for books. Now Ollie's may not look like a place to discover books (it is a store of overstocks), but they have a surprisingly nice selection.

These books include beautiful poems alongside illustrations and informational text. They will be perfect additions to my poetry collections. I think that I'll make a poster of "Night-Spider's Advice" from Dark Emperor because the poem is such a neat example of how a reader can extract double meanings from a poem.  But I also plan to read the poems aloud in the first weeks of school...again, letting kids choose which poems to hear.

Amulet #6 by Kazu Kibuishi

Last year we bought the Amulet series for my youngest son for his birthday. As you may remember, he went through a period as an acquisitional reader, when he just wanted to collect books but didn't really read them. Well, luckily the Bad Kitty series changed that, and he started to take off as a reader. I found Amulet as a next step for him.

The Amulet books were too good to keep at home, and while the kids know that most of their books usually end up in a classroom, I just couldn't appropriate a birthday present! Deep in the bowels of the Scholastic book clubs I found the whole set for bonus points, and they were worth every single one. I don't think I've ever had a series of books that found such a diverse group of readers. In fact, one of the most constantly asked questions was, "Who has Amulet #___?" (Runners-up were "Where is the tape?" and "Has anyone seen my coffee?")

"I'll see you on August 26," one of the most devoted Amulet fans said last year. "We'll be in school then, right? I'll come to your classroom so I can borrow the new book."

Hmm, I think I'd better get two copies of this one.

Zita the Spacegirl, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Like Amulet, Zita the Spacegirl has found a wide audience. I had it all year round and it was in pretty much constant demand. It has appeal for both girls and boys, which I really like. For some reason I didn't order the second and third in the series last year.

Over the summer I ordered the third (by mistake, instead of the second!) and took it on vacation. I thought that my youngest son had already read the first--but he hadn't! He went on and read the third, but hasn't really forgiven me for the mistake. Oh well.

I'm hoping to redeem myself by buying the second in the Zita series as well as Ben Hatke's new book, Julia's House for Lost Creatures. (You can see some gorgeous artwork from the book in this post at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.)

In the long run, these books will be much better purchases than any kind of fancy border or cool organizational tool. What books are on your list for the start of the year?


  1. I love these suggestions! I don't have any of these and I'll bet my students and my own sons would love Amulet. I don't have a copy of it in my classroom but I've seen kids get it from the library. Fairy Tale Comics will def be on my to-buy list. Thanks.

  2. I've heard great things about Zita! It's the next book that I want to add to our classroom library! :) Have a wonderful start to your new yr!