Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to Get Out of a Reading Rut

A friend and I were discussing online how we had both fallen into a deep reading rut.  She was asking for book suggestions and I was telling her how I had nothing to offer because I had read very little lately and the books I had read were not thrilling me.  I was dragging through short books and returning books to the library unread. 

I turned to another (in-real-life) friend.  She is my go-to book friend.  We have similar taste, and she reads far more and more quickly than I do so she always has a book (or five!) to suggest. This is what she said: "My last rut, I just read a bunch of middle reader books, but it worked."  

I took her words to heart and got a few books from the library.  I started with Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.  After reading that, my friend told me to try Wonder by R. J. Polacio, a book in a similar vein. Both books are the stories of children with physical difficulties who must navigate the social world of school and life and also what it means to be different than what everyone else calls normal.  I love books that are well-crafted stories but also appropriate to discuss and pass on my pre-teens.

What makes this even more fun is that Wonder is being made into movie (April 2017).  A local group of friends got together earlier this month to watch another book-to-movie adaptation and I'm hoping even more of us can watch this one, too, maybe with our kids.

Right now I need books that are easy to begin and continue, even if I can only read in short bursts. These are a few of my other middle grade favorites: 

The Wednesday Wars and its companion (not sequel) Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt take place in the late 60s during the Vietnam era. Each follow a different young boy as he lives through a year of school, friends, and the emotional heartbreak of growing up.  I absolutely loved both of these books, so much that I would list them among my favorite books of all time.  These are not just stories for children. 

A Long Way From Chicago and  A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck are a different sort of book. They each are written more like a series of short stories. Set during the Depression era, A Long Way From Chicago comes first and recounts a string of summers when Joey and his sister, Mary Alice, leave the city to spend the summer with their Grandmother Dowdel who is quite a colorful character. A Year Down Yondera Newbery winner, focuses on Mary Alice, now fifteen.  Joey is grown up, and is sent to spend an entire year by herself with her grandmother. 

Do you read middle grade fiction or do you leave that to your kids?

What are some good ones you (or they) have read lately? 

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