Vote Now For Global Read Aloud Choices 2020 #GRA20

In the quiet time of our self-imposed social distancing and quarantine, I have marveled at all of the love, the resources, and the care that is going around the world.  Once again, even when some of our leaders cannot figure out what to do, we, the people, step up. We care, we love, we connect.

Every year, I see the incredible power of the Global Read Aloud as children around the world listen to the same books read aloud, create connections, and shrink the world through the bonds that stretch far, passing walls and borders on their way.  Every year I am not sure that we can find books and creators as amazing as the year prior and yet here we are; another set of incredible work to choose from,

There are a few things that mark a Global Read Aloud choice:

  • It is a well-written book, that also works as a read aloud, that will garner worldwide conversations, developing empathy, understanding, and deeper compassion for others.
  • The length is manageable for 6 weeks of reading aloud – this is a huge part and this is often where many amazing books don’t make the cut.
  • It has not been used before in the project.
  • It is widely accessible to people around the world.
  • It tries to focus on own voices authors as well, and a mix between US-based and global authors.

Voting will start today and run a week.  I am hoping to make the announcement of the chosen books and creators in the first week of April.

I can’t wait to see what gets chosen!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home – if possible.  Sending love.

Vote now for Global Read Aloud 2019 Books #GRA19

I can’t believe that it is the 10th time I get to put out the call to vote for books.  That this little project has been around for that long.  That this year will be the tenth time, millions of kids around the world get to read a book aloud together.

Every year I am not sure that we can find books and creators as amazing as the year prior and yet here we are; another set of incredible work to choose from,

There are a few things that mark a Global Read Aloud choice:

  • It is a well-written book, that also works as a read aloud, that will garner worldwide conversations, developing empathy, understanding, and deeper compassion for others.
  • The length is manageable for 6 weeks of read aloud – this is a huge part and this is often where many amazing books don’t make the cut.
  • It has not been used before in the project.
  • It is widely accessible to people around the world.
  • I try to focus on own voices authors as well.

Voting will start today and run a week.  I am hoping to make the announcement of the chosen books and creators the first week of April.

I know there are books that I have missed, there always is, I try to read as many as I can, I also try to find as many as I can that would be great picks. I hope you love the ones in the running, I know I do.

Time to Vote for Global Read Aloud YA Choice #GRA18

And now for our final category; the young adult read aloud.  With it’s grittier topics and writing, these books are perpetual crowdpleasers and conversation starters.  As always, all of these are worthy, but there can only be one chosen.  Voting is below on the form and it ends on March 28th.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

When Wesley Boone writes a poem for his high school English class, some of his classmates clamor to read their poems aloud too. Soon they’re having weekly poetry sessions and, one by one, the eighteen students are opening up and taking on the risky challenge of self-revelation. There’s Lupe Alvarin, desperate to have a baby so she will feel loved. Raynard Patterson, hiding a secret behind his silence. Porscha Johnson, needing an outlet for her anger after her mother OD’s. Through the poetry they share and narratives in which they reveal their most intimate thoughts about themselves and one another, their words and lives show what lies beneath the skin, behind the eyes, beyond the masquerade.

Moxie: A Novel by Jenifer Mathieu

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with an administration at her high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Time to Vote for Global Read Aloud Middle Grade Read 2018 #GRA18

The middle-grade category is always one of the most read, most voted, and also most active during the GRA, so I am thrilled to reveal this year’s finalists.  As always, I have tried to think of a broad theme for people all over the world to read and enjoy these books.  I hope you like the finalists.  Please cast your vote on the form below, voting closes March 20th.

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

In the tradition of modern-day classics like Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and Lois Lowry’s The Giver comes a deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts.

And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been.

But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder

A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this spare and beautifully told novel about last chances and new opportunities.

For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—when Marin lands in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her.

Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy Earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

Obe Devlin has problems. His family’s farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy has abandoned him. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn’t like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the nearby creek, in the last wild patch left, picking up trash and looking for animal tracks.

One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags… No one has seen a creature like this before. The animal–Marvin Gardens–becomes Obe’s best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.

Time to Vote for Early Readers Global Read Aloud Choice #GRA18

Since the GRA started, the category for early readers has only grown stronger and this year is no different.  With some stellar selection to choose from, I know we will have another incredible read aloud experience.  Here are the contenders for this year.  Please vote on the form at the bottom, voting ends March 20th.

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

“I bought the milk,” said my father. “I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: t h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.”

“Hullo,” I said to myself. “That’s not something you see every day. And then something odd happened.”

Elliot Eisner isn’t exactly excited about starting at a brand-new school in a brand-new town; he’d much rather stay at home and read a book. But things take an unexpected turn when he finds out his weird new teacher, Professor Fauna, has planned a field trip for Elliot’s very first day. Along with a new friend–brave, outspoken Uchenna Devereaux–Elliot gets caught up in a secret group of adventurers, The Unicorn Rescue Society, whose goal is to protect and defend the world’s mythical creatures. Together with Professor Fauna, Elliot and Uchenna must help rescue a Jersey Devil from a duo of conniving, greedy billionaires, the Schmoke Brothers.

Beatrice does her best thinking upside down.

Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!

Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?

Dyamonde Daniel may be new in town, but that doesn’t stop her from making a place for herself in a jiffy. With her can-do attitude and awesome brain power she takes the whole neighborhood by storm. The only thing puzzling her is the other new kid in her class. He’s grouchy – but Dyamonde’s determined to get to the bottom of his attitude and make a friend.

Ken is an EngiNerd: one of a super-smart group of friends—all nerds—who have been close since kindergarten.

They may be brainiacs, but they’re just like everyone else: they fight with one another, watch too much TV, eat Chinese food, and hate walking their dogs. Well, maybe not just like everyone because Ken’s best friend Dan has been building robots. He then secretly sent one to each of the EngiNerds, never letting them know he’s the mastermind.

At first Ken is awed and delighted: what kid hasn’t dreamed of having a robot all their own? Someone who can be their friend, clean their room, walk the dog, answer homework questions…how amazing is that?

But be careful what you wish for: Dan’s robot, Greeeg, may look innocent, but his ravenous consumption of food—comestibles—turns him into a butt-blasting bot. And once the other robots ‘come alive’ it’s up to the motley crew of EngiNerds to not only save the day, but save the planet!

Time to Vote for Global Read Aloud Picture Book Author/Illustrator Choice #GRA18

For weeks I have wanted to start the voting and yet I wanted to make sure that the choices felt right.  They do, and so now it begins; the official voting for picture book author/illustrator study.  As a reminder, to be a contender, each finalist must have at least 6 picture books published by the time the Global Read Aloud begins on October 2nd, as well as have books that have a more universal theme, which are easily accessible in many countries.  I do so hope you like the choices…

Choice 1:  A combination of Julie Flett and Monique Gray Smith.

Inspired by their incredible board book My Heart Fills with Happiness, I couldn’t imagine a more dynamic duo of Indigenous authors for the Global Read Aloud.

Choice 2:  Christian Robinson

Christian Robinson’s artwork stands out in whichever book it is used.  What a fantastic choice he would be.

Choice 3: Pat Zietlow Miller

This Wisconsin Native has been wowing me for years with her versatility and her uncanny storytelling ability.

Choice 4:  Josh Funk

One of the most prolific picture book authors I know, Josh’s books garner a great response from all ages.

Choice 5:  Dan Santat

I always think that Dan Santat’s latest book is his best one, and then he writes another one.  Why not make him the choice for all of us?

Voting has now closed – stay tuned for results in April!

Vote for Picture Book Author Study for Global Read Aloud 2017 #GRA17

It’s starting to be that time again; voting for the Global Read Aloud 2017, and as always, I start with the picture book author study.  The chosen author/illustrator will have six of their books featured over the six weeks of the project with thousands of children reading them and connecting through them.

We are lucky to be surrounded by such incredible talent when it comes to the world of picture books and picking the right one will be no small task.  So place your vote for the preliminary round, you have until Friday, March 10th.  All of these contenders would be an incredible choice.