Lit Circle Choices

These are the books we have used so far for Literature Circles. Many are excellent choices to re-read as summer reading prior to middle school. Great books offer opportunity for excellent discussion. Encourage your child(ren) to read a little each day, and ask them to summarize what they have read. Also, I have found that even fifth graders love to experience shared reading. If you read the books too, you may find yourself in some wonderful discussion and debate while valuing their reading choices.

Tuck Everlasting by: Natalie Babbitt21170377

The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing older.

13775353A Year Down Yonder by: Richard Peck

Mary Alice’s childhood summers in Grandma Dowdel’s sleepy Illinois town were packed with enough drama to fill the double bill of any picture show. But now she is fifteen, and faces a whole long year with Grandma, a woman well known for shaking up her neighbors-and everyone else! All Mary Alice can know for certain is this: when trying to predict how life with Grandma might turn out . . . better not. This wry, delightful sequel to the Newbery Honor Book A Long Way from Chicago has already taken its place among the classics of children’s literature.

Bridge to Terabithia by: Katherine Pattersonbridge-to-terabithia

All summer, Jess pushed himself to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, and when the year’s first school-yard race was run, he was going to win.But his victory was stolen by a newcomer, by a girl, one who didn’t even know enough to stay on the girls’ side of the playground. Then, unexpectedly, Jess finds himself sticking up for Leslie, for the girl who breaks rules and wins races. The friendship between the two grows as Jess guides the city girl through the pitfalls of life in their small, rural town, and Leslie draws him into the world of imaginations world of magic and ceremony called Terabithia. Here, Leslie and Jess rule supreme among the oaks and evergreens, safe from the bullies and ridicule of the mundane world. Safe until an unforeseen tragedy forces Jess to reign in Terabithia alone, and both worlds are forever changed.

In this poignant, beautifully rendered novel, Katherine Paterson weaves a powerful story of friendship and courage.

windcatcherWindcatcher by: Avi

Tony can hardly believe it. He’s sailing with the wind, maneuvering through the narrow channels between the offshore islands with amazing skill. And he’sjust learned to sail! But suddenly Tony is confused. Which way had he come? Which way is he headed? And who are the mysterious couple with the high powered motor boat who are to busy searching beneath the water to answer his call for help?

Tony does some searching on his own. What he discovers leads him on a daring hunt for a 200-year-old shipwreck . . . and a dangerous confrontation with treasure hunters who will stop at nothing to keep Tony from learning their secret.

Through my Eyes by: Ruby Bridgesthrough-my-eyes

Bridges tells her own story in remembering 1960, the year when, at the age of six, she walked through a raging crowd of segregationists to integrate a New Orleans school. Her writing is succinct and with her childhood perspective preserved, Bridges recounts the isolation that came from being the only black child in class, the caring of her teacher, her confusion at the angry crowds, the national publicity, portrayals by John Steinbeck and Norman Rockwell, and the courageous people who came forward to support her and change the course of history.

blizzardBlizzard! by: Jim Murphy

Snow began falling over New York City on March 12, 1888. All around town, people struggled along slippery streets and sidewalks — some seeking the warmth of their homes, some to get to work or to care for the less fortunate, and some to experience what they assumed would be the last little snowfall of one of the warmest winters on record. What no one realized was that in a very few hours, the wind and snow would bury the city in nearly 21 inches of snow and bring it to a ferocious standstill.

Buried in Ice by: Owen Beattie and John Geigerburied-in-ice

In 1845, Sir John Franklin and his two ships, Erebus and Terror , sailed from England to begin a search in icy Arctic waters for the fabled Northwest Passage. It was one of the most well-planned, well-supplied, and well-commanded expeditions of all times; yet it ended in disaster. Not one man returned alive. For almost a century and a half, no one could explain their mysterious deaths. In this compelling, contemporary account, anthropologist Beattie and journalist Geiger describe how they solved the 147-year-old mystery. The narrative is interspersed with an imaginative section that relates the story of the expedition from the point of view of 19-year-old Luke, a member of the crew. While the text is exciting, the book’s greatest strength is its superb illustrations: drawings, paintings, and historic and present day photographs are used to enrich each page. Probably the most intriguing photographs are those of the actual exhumation of three sailors whose graves had been discovered in 1857. Because of the cold, the bodies remained frozen and appeared almost exactly as they did at the time of interment. Another fine entry in an excellent series.


my-brother-sam-is-deadMy Brother Sam is Dead by: James and Chris Collier

All his life, Tim Meeker has looked up to his brother Sam. Sam’s smart and brave — and is now a part of the American Revolution. Not everyone in town wants to be a part of the rebellion. Most are supporters of the British — including Tim and Sam’s father. With the war soon raging, Tim know he’ll have to make a choice — between the Revolutionaries and the Redcoats . . . and between his brother and his father.


fever-1793Fever 1793 by: Laurie Halse Anderson

In the foreground of this story is 16-year-old Mattie Cook, whose mother and grandfather own a popular coffee house on High Street. Mattie’s comfortable and interesting life is shattered by the epidemic, as her mother is felled and the girl and her grandfather must flee for their lives. Later, after much hardship and terror, they return to the deserted town to find their former cook, a freed slave, working with the African Free Society, an actual group who undertook to visit and assist the sick and saved many lives. As first frost arrives and the epidemic ends, Mattie’s sufferings have changed her from a willful child to a strong, capable young woman able to manage her family’s business on her own.

a-single-shardA Single Shard by: 

In Ch’ul’po, a potter’s village, Crane-man (so called because of one shriveled leg) raises 10-year-old orphan Tree Ear (named for a mushroom that grows “without benefit of “parent-seed”). Though the pair reside under a bridge, surviving on cast-off rubbish and fallen grains of rice, they believe “stealing and begging… made a man no better than a dog.” From afar, Tree Ear admires the work of the potters until he accidentally destroys a piece by Min, the most talented of the town’s craftsmen, and pays his debt in servitude for nine days. Park convincingly conveys how a community of artists works (chopping wood for a communal kiln, cutting clay to be thrown, etc.) and effectively builds the relationships between characters through their actions (e.g., Tree Ear hides half his lunch each day for Crane-man, and Min’s soft-hearted wife surreptitiously fills the bowl). She charts Tree Ear’s transformation from apprentice to artist and portrays his selflessness during a pilgrimage to Songdo to show Min’s work to the royal court he faithfully continues even after robbers shatter the work and he has only a single shard to show. Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices.

midnightmagicMidnight Magic by: Avi

A nervous king, an exasperatingly playful princess, a diabolical count, an oddly ubiquitous kitchen boy, a magician who doesn’t believe in magic, and a servant who knows far too much for his own good. When this motley crew embarks on a medieval ghost hunt, destiny throws plenty of twists and turns their way.

Fabrizio, meddlesome but loyal servant of Mangus the ex-magician, feels horribly guilty. Though forbidden to do so, he secretly continues to practice sleights of hand and metaphysics. Casting his tarot cards one stormy night, Fabrizio fears he has unleashed terrible powers that will determine his master’s fate. Sure enough, moments later, Mangus and Fabrizio are summoned to the court of the king, who expects Mangus to use his recently outlawed mystical ability to rid his daughter of a ghost that haunts her. The plot is soon thick as oatmeal, with threats of death or promises of reward behind every hidden corner.

under-the-blood-red-sunUnder the Blood Red Sun by: Graham Salisbury

Tomi was born in Hawaii. His grandfather and parents were born in Japan, and came to America to escape poverty. World War II seems far away from Tomi and his friends, who are too busy playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats. But then Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, and the United States declares war on Japan. Japanese men are rounded up, and Tomi’s father and grandfather are arrested. It’s a terrifying time to be Japanese in America. But one thing doesn’t change: the loyalty of Tomi’s buddies, the Rats.


10 responses to “Lit Circle Choices

  1. Lizzie

    My favorite thing that we have done in reading group was the non-fiction projects. It was so fun to do the sharing boards. Our play was fun to be in also. With Katya as the main character, Peter as a “gentleman passinger” and a “man”, and me as the reader it was so FUN! (even though it took a while to clean up. *NOTE if you ever do a play with paper shreadings, BRING A VACCUM TOO!) We got all the extra credit points for creativity for having a “volunteer from the audience” and the trivia game to see who was paying the most attention. (*NOTE “Blizzard” by Jim Murphy is an awesome book about the “Great White Hurricane” in 1888.)

  2. Hannah

    My favorite thing in reading group is the actual reading. The best book I have read in reading group is Fever 1793.

  3. Natasha

    My two favorite reading group books so far were Fever 1793, and the nonfictoin book I read with Marisa which was Anne Frank Beyond the Diary. I liked Fever because it kinda puts you into the past and tells you what it was like to live in Philadelphia when yellow fever was going around (FYI yellow fever killed millions of people, like hundereds every day and probably thousand per week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!………………….NOT GOOD, but what is kinda ironic is that Phillie is now one of the biggest cities in like North America). I liked Anne Frank Beyond the Diary because you get to learn what it was like to be Anne who had to spend like two years inside hiding with her family,( I love my family but not that much;) that was a time when if you were a jewish person male or female you were thought of as an evil person, did you know that the reason Adolf Hitler was prejudiced against jews was because his father was a jewish person and somtimes Adolf’s father would beat him and occasionly his mother too; how terrible would that be. I also liked Anne Frank because you got to learn what it would happen if you were Jewish (you would be taken to a concentration camp and somtimes be put in a gas oven……that is not cool, I mean if you don’t believe me you can ask my reading partner Marisa (well, if you go to our school,that is)

  4. Hey Natasha! Thanks for posting such a thoughtful reflection of what you’ve read during reading group. Those are two of my very favorite books…for the very same reasons you’ve stated. Such devastating history you learned about through the books you chose too. One clarification though, true that many people died during Philidelphia’s Yellow Fever epidemic…but the number wasn’t in the millions. I believe it was closer to 10,000 or so. This is a great site I found that gives a good history of that time of American history, especially as it relates to Laurie Halse Anderson’s: Fever, 1793. Neat to see how much of her research matches up, yet she made obvious changes to create a better “story”. Check out this site: Let us know if you find any surprising information.

  5. Nate

    I bet these were all good books. I got to read Midnight Magic, Windcatcher and Through my Eyes, (as seen above). Just a suggestion, what about the Lightning Thief or Flush for a literature circle choice?

  6. I love the suggestions Nate! I plan to read the Percy Jackson series this summer as I have really enjoyed the viral effect it has had in the room this year. Flush is another great book, too. I will check into buying booksets this summer…thanks for the recommendations!

  7. Natasha

    I know it didn’t kill millions, I was just exaggerating.

  8. Thanks for the posts tonight Natasha! We missed you at school today. I’m really happy for you (about the move). I’m glad you had your facts straight, but when writing about history on a site like this, avoid exaggerating. Many of our readers stop by just to see what we have to say. You don’t want to accidentally pass on misinformation to someone who doesn’t have the same amount of background information as you. I am so glad you and Marisa learned so much from Beyond the Diary. What a sad time in our global history, yet such a brave young girl-truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. katya smith last years student

    I read a single shard last year all of you that are reading it i hope you love its a good book

  10. Katya

    cool i read blizzard a single shard and a year down yonder i liked all of them very much

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