1.) What grades/age groups do you work with?
I work in a small, k-12 school. I teach English in the upper school, and I run a book club for elementary and middle school students.
2.) What are some of your favorite middle grade books?
The BFG, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Doll Bones, A Snicker of Magic, Goodbye Stranger, P.S. Be Eleven, and I am currently reading and loving both The Akata Witch and Rules for Stealing Stars.
3.) What genres/topics do kids seem to ask for the most?
I think fantasy is the most popular genre, but we definitely have kids who gravitate towards contemporary.
4.) What book titles are the most popular right now?
Our students recently read and loved Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy, by Anne Ursu. A few students are also really into the Emily Windsnap series, by Liz Kessler.
5.) What do kids seem to like the least or what do kids complain about when it comes to books?
Students often express frustration when they feel confused by a text. That can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they don't understand what is literally happening in the story. Sometimes the plot structure is complex or the vocabulary is unfamiliar. In those moments, I try first to validate their confusion ("Yes, there are a lot of characters to keep track of here." Or "Yes, it was tricky when that flashback happened."). Then I try to help them learn strategies to overcome their confusion. Chris Tovani has an amazing book about this called I Read it, but I Don’t Get it. The strategies hopefully benefit students in their later reading lives as well.
6.) What gets kids excited about reading?
My students love getting lost in the world of a story. They love a mystery to solve or a secret to uncover. And I love to see them empathize and become invested in the wellbeing of the characters. They also relish the freedom that comes with the ability to read on their own. For students at that age, reading is very much an act of independence, exploration, and maturity.