About HRLR

What’s This Site All About, Anyway?

First and foremost this site is about children's book recommentations. As I read them, I post them. My main criterion is classroom friendliness, that is, whether or not I think this book will work in the classroom with independent readers.

I'll categorize them by grade levels, but the truth is I lean heavily toward middle elementary grades. I love picture books and young adult novels, and I will recommend them, but as a child's independent reading strengthens in grades 2 - 5, the emphasis shifts from reading instruction to reading motivation. It's no longer about learning to read, it's about wanting to read.

Once teachers ensure kids aren't illiterate, they need to ensure they aren't alliterate, and getting the best books into their hands is the biggest step.

Books I'll Recommend

Books are classroom friendly when students want to read without being told to read. These are books that quickly become ragged from numerous readers. These are the books that get passed around without getting checked back into the class library, so when you ask Sarah if she has a book, she says, "No, I gave it to John, but I know Paul and Melissa wanted to read it too. Check with them."

Books that allow readers to get lost for a while, to forget whatever troubles or stresses they may face, are books I’ll recommend. If a child is wielding a sword next to Captain Jack or nervously exploring a cave that's a bit too dark or laughing out loud, there’s a good chance the book will make it into Help Readers Love Reading.

I'm a reading teacher who's constantly relying on my students’ opinions. I've run student mock-Newbery committees for sixth to eighth graders, middle grade literature clubs for third through fifth graders, and mock-Caldecott committees for 4K to fourth grade. I think I have a pretty good sense of what kids will like, but I'm not scared to admit when I'm wrong.

After all, even if the most well-intentioned adult loves a book, kids won't read it unless they love it.

Can You Give Me A Little More?

There are other criteria that come into play. Here's a couple:

1. Familiar stories. Stories children can easily imagine themselves into or with characters that could be seated next to them.

2. Series books. Not all of them, of course, but quality books with sequels have built in motivation.

3. Funny books. If a book makes a kid laugh out loud, other kids will want to know what's going on. The reader gets attention. The book gets attention.

4. Other books by the same author. If kids like Andrew Clements' school stories, well guess what? He's got plenty others. How many kids read Gary Paulsen and think, "Well, that was fine, but one survival story is enough, thank you very much." Right. Not many.

5. The "You Gotta Hear This!" factor. Any book that gets kids up off their seat to tell you what they just read has it. It could be newly learned information or a shocking revelation or the funniest thing that ever happened.

Other Reviews I'll Post

My goal is to give visitors a big ole' list of books to draw from to encourage their readers to read. I try to keep up with what's new in children’s literature and the read books that are generating some buzz.

One exception is the annual ALA awards.  I do try to read and post some thoughts on all the books awarded Newbery, Caldecott, and Geisel medals in January, both positive and negative.

If you have any questions, leave a comment or contact me. Thanks for visiting Help Readers Love Reading.

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