Google+ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Awesome Novels for 9-12 year olds

The Lil Divas have been reading lots of GREAT BOOKS
We knew we just had to share them with you. 
These were books that they couldn't put down
Books that pulled them in and begged for just one more page
In other words, books that we have no doubt your 9-12 year old reader 
will enjoy just as much as we did! 

This book is the 2013 Newberry Medal winner and with good reason. Wow, did it tug at our heartstrings! Ivan is so endearing you almost forget you are reading a book about a silverback gorilla. You simply can't help but fall in love with this unassuming hero. Tears were shed as we read this book but it was worth it. They were the kind of tears you shed when you are invested in the characters and the story feels real to you - so real that you can't help but cry when they struggle and triumph. If you haven't already read this one - don't miss it! My suggestion - read it together so you can share the experience. 
I am a big fan of YA fiction like The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. There's just something about a good post-apocalyptic storyline that draws me in. The City of Ember does not disappoint if you're looking for a similar type of read. The lights of Ember (a forgotten underground city/civilization) are dimming and Lina and Doon are worried about their diminishing resources. I don't want to spoil the book (or those that come after) so I won't give away the plot except to say that of course Lina and Doon must save the day. The journey they embark on will keep your readers turning the pages and be ready to get your hands on the rest of the series. You'll definitely want to find out what happens next! Also, there was a movie made of the story that you might want to check out AFTER you read the book of course. 

Rules was a 2007 Newberry Honor Book about 12yr. old Catherine and her 8yr. old autistic younger brother, David. It was a moving book about friendship, family and being different. It also offers a peek into a topic that most children won't know much about unless personally touched by autism in some way. It was open and honest and explored so many of the natural feelings that children face. The characters will definitely stay with you long after the last page has been read. 
If I'm being honest, this one I ordered for MYSELF to read. So, I decided that we should read it together. It's the story of Melody, a girl who can neither walk nor talk. Melody is a genius trapped in her own body due to cerebral palsy. She is a powerful character - I loved her! This is certainly the type of book that opens up dialogue and discussion about people with special needs. If only we had such clear insight into the minds of all those we meet. 

Yes, it's yet another dystopian novel but this one has some magical elements. What caught my attention and prompted me to buy the book was the tagline claiming it was a cross between Hunger Games and Harry Potter. How could I not pick it up? The basic storyline involves twins who are pit against each other when one is deemed wanted and the other is an unwanted.  The "unwanteds" are purged from society and face extinction upon arrival at the Death Farm. They are actually secreted away to a magical place called Artime where they are free and encouraged to be creative. In turn, the docile "wanteds" are kept within the society because they are rule followers. Of course, a battle between the two ensue. This was not our favorite read and be forewarned - it was a bit long, but it was enjoyable to read together. We'll definitely be reading the next book in the series. 

I adored Stargirl for being true to herself. She stands out amongst every other student at Mica Area HS. She is friendly, mysterious, self-confident and and does things her way regardless of what is considered popular. The story is told from the perspective of Leo - the boy she likes. We are faced with his struggle to fit in and be popular and his feelings for Stargirl. You can't help but both understand and loathe him because of how he treats Stargirl. It leaves lots of room for great discussion. One thing to beware of -this book does have some more mature themes (brief kiss, dating references, etc) as the characters are in high school but nothing inappropriate. 
This is such an enchanting story. Winnie Foster's life is boring and unexciting. Everyday is the same with her overprotective family. She longs to be free then she comes across the Tuck family. The Tucks drank from a magical spring and never age. They are rather stuck in time. While most of us think that we'd like not aging the story shows that life is indeed a cycle and it should move accordingly.  “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.” The decision Winnie has to make (to drink or not to drink) is one we all feel like we make with her. Once you read the book, be sure to watch the movie!

This was one I read myself and was so blown away that I re-read it with the Lil Divas! I will start by saying that this book had me in tears. I LOVED Auggie! He is one of those characters that we are likely to never forget. This book truly grabs hold of you and won't let go. Auggie has a facial deformity so he has been homeschooled all his life but heads to public school for the first time in 5th grade. He is taunted and some people are just horribly cruel and heartless BUT he also makes the most wonderful friends. If you don't read any other books from this list - read this one! 
This is a perfect sci-fi book for young readers not ready to delve into older/longer sci-fi fiction. Katie is unlike other children so she is an outcast among her peers. She is extremely intelligent (gifted), has silver eyes and paranormal powers as a result of her mom drinking a strange liquid when pregnant. Katie uncovers there are other children just like her whose mothers also drank the strange liquid. Tired of feeling alone, she sets out to find the others that are like her. The story reinforces the lesson that we are all special.  Through Katie we see that we should be accepting of each other's differences because they are what make us unique. 

If you enjoy stories with fairy tale elements this is one you won't want to miss. Ophelia discovers a boy locked in a museum by the Snow Queen for 300 years. He has been waiting for her. It's up to her to join the fight against evil to save the world only she doesn't even believe in magic.  The story's very well done. There were a few points where it dragged but overall, it was intriguing, well written and the characters are definitely endearing. 
I love mysteries and it's not easy to find a good one in children's literature. Serafina and the Black Cloak was suspenseful, creepy and the kind of read that pulls you in and won't let go until you've (sadly) reached the last page.Children are disappearing at the Biltmore Estate and Serafina is sure that the black cloaked man she spotted is to blame. The book had wonderful twists & turns and was just dark enough to keep you on the edge of your seat but wanting to turn the pages to see what happens next. Serafina is definitely a character we hope to see more of in the future. 

This was a beautiful story about friendship, growing up, life & death, family and more. Annie has cancer and is at an art camp via the Make-A-Wish foundation when she befriends Peter.   Peter is a loner while Annie is all about living life to the fullest. They make the perfect pair! This story gave us so much to talk about and we ALL enjoyed it. Annie grabbed hold of me - she's the kind of friend we all want for our children. 

Do you have any great "must read" books to share with us? 
We'd love to hear about them!  

Happy Reading,
Bern & The Little Divas

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Best Amazon Teacher Supply Deals

I love shopping on Amazon. They have amazing deals, I can shop in my pjs at whatever time of day I want and as a prime member I get all my goodies delivered to my door in just 2 days (sometimes even faster!).

Scotch Thermal Laminator  - This little laminator is awesome! Amazon throws some amazing deals on it so be sure to scope it out before you buy. I scored mine for $17, have had it for a few years now and use it A LOT. You know teachers LOVE to laminate everything so we can re-use it. It's still ticking with absolutely no issues. I highly recommend this laminator to have at home or school.

Apache 100 Pack Clear Universal Thermal Laminating Pouches  - With all the laminating teachers do we need inexpensive pouches that work. Don't be fooled because these are not "name" brand pouches - they WORK and cost so much less!

Mr. Sketch Scented Markers - This is one of those purchases that's just for FUN. I love using Mr. Sketch markers when working on charts or going around the room and checking my students' work. They smell so fun! The students love it and get such a kick out of trying to guess which scent I will use. Amazon usually has these for the lowest prices out of all the stores/retailers.

Expo Dry Erase Markers - Using colors while I'm teaching helps keep my students' attention and let's me have a little fun with my visuals. I set aside "Teacher Only" dry erase markers and my students know not to use them. You can catch some back to school sales for these but if your colors run dry or you find yourself needing more - Amazon usually has them at a reasonable price when compared to office supply stores.

Sharpie Fine-Tip Permanent Markers - Sharpies! Am I the only one with a sincere love & addiction to all the colors?!  I have tons of sharpies, yet I'm always grabbing a new color. I use them for everything - posters, charts, labeling, etc. Unless you score a super sale at Office Depot or Staples (usually only on 1 marker at a time) during Back to School sales Amazon sells the big packs for the best deal you can get your hands on.

Standard Pocket Charts - Are you ready for this? Amazon has tons of pocket charts in all different colors and sizes and they are usually cheaper than you can snag them for in Teacher Supply Stores! Pocket charts can be pricey BUT they are also a teacher must have because they are so versatile in the classroom. Check out all the pocket charts Amazon has to offer before buying anywhere else - you'll most likely save if you're not in a hurry to purchase.

PaperPro Prodigy One-Finger Stapler  - I can't tell you how many staplers I have gone through because I have gone for what's on sale. They just don't last or hold up to stapling on bulletin boards, walls, etc. A GOOD stapler is an investment that teachers need to make! This one is AMAZING - so easy to use yet durable. I like the fun red one because I like to add a fun pop of color to my supplies when I can.

Swingline Desktop Hole Punch - I honestly don't know what I'd do without my desktop hole punch. I use it ALL the time for teaching and Girl Scouts. I've had this hole punch for years and it's still going strong. Amazon's price beats all the local office supply stores.


School Smart Electric Standard Pencil Sharpener  - We have this pencil sharpener at home and it's awesome. It's a compact size, works super fast and really sharpens well.  It is only good for standard width pencils though so I couldn't use it in my classroom.  I also have to admit it's not the quietest sharpener but it works so fast that it's not disruptive. After countless sharpeners that simply did a poor job of sharpening our pencils or broke easily I am happy to have finally found a winner.

  X-Acto School Heavy-Duty Electric Sharpener  - This is the pencil sharpener I have in my classroom. As a kindergarten Teacher we start the year off with wide pencils. Most standard sized pencil sharpeners don't account for those pencils. This one has a handy dial made for different sized pencils - perfect for the classroom! Amazon usually has it for cheap - I got mine for less than $25.

Bostitch Magnetic Staple Remover  - I can't tell you how many nails I've broken over the years removing staples from walls or bulletin boards. This staple remover is my FAVE and I hide (ok, maybe hoard is a better word) it so that it doesn't get "lost". You'll thank me for this one!

Paper Mate Assorted Color Pens  - Gone are the days of correcting student papers in red - get colorful! I might have a thing for colorful writing tools but these making writing notes, correcting student work, etc so much more fun.

These are just a few of my teacher "must-haves".  I hope the list is helpful to you.  
What are some of your teacher "must-haves"

Here's to scoring some great deals as you shop for your teacher supplies.