It’s Monday and here’s what I’m reading – July 16th.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts
The Kid Lit Challenge is hosted by Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy

Today’s host for Nonfiction Monday is Diane at  Practically Paradise

I finally got my hands on two YA novels which others have been raving about, and discovered what all the fuss has been about.  First, Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s One for the Murphys.

12 year old Carley Connors survives a traumatic experience only to find herself in a foster home with her mother seriously injured and, perhaps, out of her life.  The Murphys, especially Mrs. Murphy, seem too good to be true, and the tough-as-nails Carley is deeply suspicious of their sympathy and good intentions.  Her irresponsible, fun loving mother had raised Carley to be a rule-breaking spitfire, but something in her longs for the normality and loving comfort of a real home and a real family.  The Murphys and their kind acceptance begin to change Carley’s views about herself, her mother and the world at large.  Soon, she finds herself yearning to belong to the Murphy family – but first, she must come to terms with her relationship with her mother and the truth about the events of the night that  put both Carley and her mother in the hospital, fighting for their lives.
Carley is a fabulous character – strong willed yet vulnerable, she is funny, wise and insightful. Hunt’s secondary characters are equally well developed, and I know that my sixth graders will love this story and not want to put it down until they discover how it is resolved.  Over at The Nerdy Book Club, Joan Young has conducted a wonderful interview with the author, which I encourage everyone to check out!

The One and Only Ivan is another book I waited for with great anticipation … and I was not disappointed.
 Here is a beautifully created trailer for Katherine Applegate’s  unusual story:

 This is one of those titles I will have to have several copies of in my classroom – and I have put it on the top of my list of book-talks for our first day of school.  Just an amazing book!

In my nonfiction pile I was happy to finally get to Cynthia Levinson’s We’ve Got a Job: The Birmingham Children’s March – the inspiring story of the children of Birmingham, Alabama, who decide to stand up and march in for civil rights.


In the author’s note, Levinson writes:

…I was a teenager in 1963, Living in Ohio. Although I read newspaper articles about the marches, hoses, and dogs, it wasn’t until I was an adult, writing about music in the civil rights period for Cobblestone magazine, that I learned the heart of the story: all of the protesters assaulted and jailed that May were children.    

 How could I not have known? I had even taught America history to junior-high and high-school students! My ignorance embarrassed me. Many people, I realized, needed to know how a Children’s march changed American history.  So I set out to learn what happened.

Told from the “then and now” perspective of three students who participated in the march –  Audrey Faye Hendricks (9), Washington Booker (14), James Stewart (15), and Arnetta Streeter (16) – this is an eye-opening account of their courage in facing the infamous segregationist Bull Connor and his posse of brutal law enforcement officers.   Levinson’s website has marvelous activities for students and resources for teachers to extend research and learning about this important era in our nation’s journey to civil rights for all its citizens.
Here is the author explaining how she went about researching for We’ve Got A Job:

Here are two of the people involved speaking about growing up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama

And here are the same  people describing what it was like once the segregated laws were rescinded:

Recently, I had read a post about literacy cafes on one of my favorite teacher-YA book blogger  sites Kid Lit Frenzy.  Alyson had written about introducing the Harlem Renaissance through a literacy cafe, and her descriptions and photographs immediately inspired me to start thinking of ways I could bring this fantastic experience to my students as well.  I think the civil rights era would be one such theme to explore with my students through a literacy cafe.  There have been a number of wonderful new fiction titles ( The Mighty Miss Malone, and The Lions of Little Rock for instance) as well as nonfiction photo essay titles (Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration )  which I could combine with “old favorites” (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and The Watsons Go To Birmingham) to create a cafe similar in spirit to Alyson’s.  I know that We’ve Got A Job will definitely be included in this…I can’t wait to start planning!


7 thoughts on “It’s Monday and here’s what I’m reading – July 16th.

  1. I am so excited you found time to read your first two books. I just finished One for the Murphys as an adult I loved the story as a parent I cried many times for Carly. The One and Only Ivan stands alone in my book still is one of my favorite 2012 books. As always I enjoy knowing what you are reading, adding more books to my pile.

  2. LOVE Ivan and I cannot wait to read Murphy's (I bought it- I just have to read it). Also, thank you for all of the information along with We've Got a Job- I am definitely going to share it with my civics teachers at my school. Happy reading this week! 🙂

  3. I'm picking up One for the Murphy's tomorrow at the library. I'm glad it's living up to the hype! Ivan is a special book, and I agree that your students will love it! We've Got a Job sounds like a fascinating perspective on that time . . . I adored Lions of Little Rock. Thanks for sharing!Lorna – Not For Lunch

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