Sunday, August 21, 2011

5 Back to School Middle Grade Read Alouds

Since participating in the recent 10 for 10 Picture Book Event hosted by Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community and Enjoy and Embrace Learning, I have been thinking my favorite read aloud chapter books.
Very soon many of my teachers will be looking for middle grade (ages 8-12) classroom read alouds to start the year, and I have a few old favorites and some new reads at the ready to recommend:

Silverwing by Oppel 
What it's about: Young Bat, Shade, goes on an epic adventure after being separated from his clan during migration.
What I love: Shade is the most likable bat character you will ever meet. Shade is a thinker who questions the status quo. That and being on the small side, make him not fit in well with his clan mates. But after he gets lost in a storm, fitting in doesn't matter so much anymore, it's all about survival. 
Great adventure and cheering for the underdog, ahem, underbat.

The World According to Humphrey by Birney
What it's about: Humphrey, the class pet hamster of room 26, goes home each weekend with students, and is somehow able to solve everyone's problems.
What I love: This story is told from the point of view of Humphrey who takes it to heart when Ms. Mac says, "You can learn a lot about life by observing another species." Humphrey pays close attention to everyone, including the janitor, and figures out ways that he, little hamster that he is, can solve everyone's problems. So much humor and hamster fun! There are even jokes and puzzles in the back of the book.

Out of My Mind by Draper
What it's about: No one knows it, but 11 year old Melody is the smartest kid in her school; with severe CP she can't talk, write or walk.
What I love: This is the ultimate book about finding your voice and not judging someone by looks alone. I can't recommend this book enough for building community and creating empathy within a classroom.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Angleberger
What it's about: Dwight is not the classmate students usually turn to for advice, but the paper Yoda puppet on his finger seems to be able to predict the future.
What I love: This book is quirky and profound at the same time. Fans of Diary of a Wimpy kid will love it. Be prepared to have everyone making origami yodas: 

When Life Gives You O.J. by Perl
What it's about:  Zelly Fried wants a dog so badly, she is willing to care for a plastic jug is if it were a real dog just to prove it.
What I love: Kids will be mortified (in a good way) that Zelly actually agrees to drag around an orange juice jug on a leash in public and even pick up pretend poop. There is such wonderful self-discovery in this book, as Zelly says, "I guess sometimes you don't know things about yourself until you do." 

Are you planning a classroom read aloud for this fall?
I would love to hear your ideas and recommendations!


  1. Oh wow, these are all interesting titles. I am unfamiliar with most of them. The great thing though about Book Talk Tuesday is that I get introduced to books I would not otherwise have known. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love that you did a middle grades list too. I keep telling myself that even though my boys are little, I should keep up on the great authors/books for middle grades so I won't be in the dark when they get to that age... if there were only more hours in my day... but thanks for the suggestions. I'm going to try and check out a few of those :)