40 Books

First, let’s take a look at the reading side of things.  Some smart person whose name I forgot once said that the best way to learn is just to read.  Another smart person, a famous author named Mark Twain, once said, “Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.”

I want you to start this year by thinking about how many books you read last school year.  Whether you read a ton of books or hardly any at all, it doesn’t matter.

This year we’re going to read 40 books!

Why 40?  When you include all the breaks we have – Thanksgiving, Winter Break, and Spring Break – there are just about 40 weeks in the school year.

What books should you read?  That’s up to you.  I will help you pick books that excite and interest you, but I won’t force you to read anything you don’t want to read.

There are just a few simple rules:

  1. All of the books you read need to be 6th grade level (or above) to be recorded on your chart.  Hop on Pop is a great book, but it doesn’t count.
  2. To encourage you to try out different types of books, I’m asking you to read books from a variety of genres too.  Every time you read a book, we check it off the list.
  3. So you don’t get discouraged from reading longer books, because there are some long books like the Harry Potters, The Golden Compass, East, and The Book Thief that are fantastic stories, if you read a book that is 350 pages or more – it counts as 2.  If you read a book that is 600 pages or more – it counts as 3.

Below is a chart showing the different books you can read this year:

Forty Books
Poetry Anthology  x 4 Select a collection of poems.  They can be grouped by themes or by the same poet.  Personally, I love anything by Shel Silverstein or Jack Perlutsky, and the “Poetry for Young People” series is fantastic.  There are also a whole bunch of novels, like Yellow Star, Home of the Brave, and Heartbeat that are written as big long poems, and those are kind of fun to read because they’re so different.
Traditional Literature x 3 Traditional literature would be any folklore, folktales, tall tales, fairy tales, fables, legends, or myths.  There’s a whole section of the library dedicated to traditional lit.
Realistic Fiction x 5 Realistic fiction is a made up story that could actually have happened.  The conflict is usually some real life problems that the characters have to deal with.  Jordan Sonnenblick, Wendy Mass, and Gary Paulsen write some of the best realistic fiction today.
Historical Fiction x 2 Historical fiction is a realistic story that’s set in the past.  It could be during the Civil War, WWII, the Great Depression, or any period of history before the 1980s.  The Wednesday Wars, Number the Stars, and Elijah of Buxton are all great historical stories.
Fantasy x 4 A lot of Fantasy books are longer, so I gave you a few more in this category.  Any time you’re dealing with other worlds that are filled with magic, wizards, and/or mythological creatures – that’s a fantasy book.  The Artemis Fowl series, the Septimus Heap books, all the Rick Riordan books, and the Narnia books are all good fantasy selections.
Science Fiction or SciFi x 2 Science Fiction stories usually deal with the future.  Sometimes there are spaceships, aliens, robots, or futuristic technology.  Some scifi stories, like The Hunger Games trilogy, are very serious.  Other times, like The True Meaning of Smekday, they’re comedy.  The Shadow Children series is another great scifi pick.
Mystery x 2 Mystery books will cover any story where someone is trying to solve a crime or uncover a secret.  Mystery books usually have a law enforcement person or a reporter as the main character, but not always.  Since we don’t have a category for horror, we can also throw those into mystery too.  Alex Rider, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, 39 Clues, and Chasing Vermeer (and its sequels) are all good mysteries.  Anything by Mary Downing Hahn or Neil Gaiman will probably count as good horror.
Informational  x 4 Informational books don’t tell a story, they just give you loads of… well… information about a topic.  Pick anything that interests you and take a little time to read up on it.
Biography, Autobiography, or Memoir x 2 These books tell someone’s life story (or at least a part of their life).  A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is one of the most popular to read, but choose a book about anyone that interests you to fulfill this category.
South or Central America x 1 These last few categories are my way of broadening your horizons and helping you see the world around you.  Emily Dickenson, a famous poet, once wrote that a book is the best way to travel the world.  I think she was right.  Pick a book set in a South or Central American country.  It can be fiction or non-fiction, it can be realistic, historical, or even a mystery.  The setting is what’s important here.
Africa x 1 Pick any book set (at least mostly) in an African country.
Far East x 1 Choose a book that’s set in Japan, China, Vietnam, Korea, or any other country in the far east.
Middle East or Central Asia x 1 Read a book set in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or any other Middle Eastern nation.  Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Tibet all make up Central Asia.
Western Europe x 1 England, France, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, or Scandinavia would be good choices here.  Select any book set in a Western European country.
Eastern Europe x 1 Eastern Europe is entirely different from Western Europe in terms of language, culture, food, and history.  Pick a book set in Russia, Germany, Poland, or any other country in Eastern Europe.
A Classic  x 1 Books are considered classics for a reason.  They’ve withstood the test of time.  Some of them have been around 500 years and are still some of the most popular stories in the world.  Try out one classic and I bet you’ll be back for more.
Your Choice x 5 The last five books are totally up to you.  Pick any book you want, as long as it’s at your reading level.

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