I noticed the book recommendation discussion posted by Carolyn Foote so I thought I'd throw out another challenge---I need novels for gifted readers (grades 4-6; reading levels 7-12+) There are several issues:
1. The books have to be recently released or the kids will have already read them
2. The content needs to be appropriate but the themes can be mature
3. They love read aloud books that contain clues, intrigue or historical connections

We've read some wonderful novels in our book studies in the last three years--- this is from my blog:

We started with Eragon by Christopher Paolini. The book isn't great but was written by a 15 year old ( my point was that if a 15 year old could write a best seller, you could too) --kids loved it and the sequel Eldest. It's become a cult favorite and we are awaiting the 3rd installment, Brisngr in September. We went as a group to see the movie when it came out.

We then read Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett. I love the "daVinci Code" type books for kids---books with clues, intrigue and historical connection. I wrote curriculum for both these books. Kids love Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. It's in the Steampunk genre, according to one of my sons. They also loved the sequel Skybreaker. We did an online book discussion of Airborn, you can find the questions here. Look under the Moodle icon and use baguest as username and password.

Last spring we read The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick which has the historical connection to invention of movies. It is a brilliant book, half of the 580 pages are illustrations but not in a typical format. The illustrations tell the story---like a graphic novel. The problem with this book is that everybody has to have a book---not a good read a loud. I did not write a curriculum for it but easily could have.

I have several others I haven't used yet. Endymoin Spring by Matthew Skelton has the history of books as its back plot. The end is a little weak, but I'm going to use it eventually. I haven't read Valley of Secrets by Charmain Hussey yet--but plan to. It is wrapped up in the rain forest fauna and flora.

My 4th graders read Peter and the Starcatchers last fall. (I thought it was OK, kids loved it) Currently my 4th graders are reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart and they love it, too.

Anybody else have any fabulous suggestions? Thanks in advance, N.

Tags: books, elementary, gifted

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Agree on The Giver...we had great discussions reading Ender's Game a couple of years ago. (got parent permission on that one)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret works well as a read aloud with a document camera. It makes it possible to enjoy without expensive copies for all students!
Last year one of my classes bought/read Hugo Cabret and several other classes read it, we loved it! Each child has to have access to a book since 1/2 the story is told in illustrations. (the document camera is a great idea) I read aloud while they follow along. This Spring the 4th graders read Mysterious Benedict Society--it was a big hit.
This list is phenomenal! Really unique books, QUALITY.

Please find I've made a list of these books for the Classroom 2.0 bookstore that I'll be saying more about in a few weeks (right now in development). A permanent place for members, new members to tap into the collected wisdom here....

If you want to know how it works, you can read info. at www.books4teachers.ning.com
Thanks for putting the book shelf together. If you ever want a "big" list for gifted 4th-YA let me know and I'll send you the list of the books in our classroom library. I got smart after years of spending money out of pocket for classroom books, I decided to have several book fund raisers including "Adopt-a-Book". I made a list of all the books we wanted and parents signed up to purchase them. Some families "adopted" one and some "adopted" many. We put bookplates in the books and now have several hundred popular books/series that the kids can check out.

BTW, if you are a reader here's one I'm getting ready to buy that sounds really intriguing-- The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney

From Amazon: From Publishers Weekly
When New York's 120-plus-year-old mental institution Willard State Hospital was closed down in 1995, New York Museum curator Craig Williams found a forgotten attic filled with suitcases belonging to former inmates. He informed Penney, co-editor of The Snail's Pace Review and a leading advocate of patients rights, who recognized the opportunity to salvage the memory of these institutionalized lives. She invited Stastny, a psychiatrist and documentary filmmaker, to help her curate an exhibit on the find and write this book, which they dedicate to "the Willard suitcase owners, and to all others who have lived and died in mental institutions." What follows are profiles of 10 individual patients whose suitcase contents proved intriguing (there were 427 bags total), referencing their institutional record-including histories and session notes-as well as some on-the-ground research. A typical example is Ethel Smalls, who likely suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her husband's abuse; misdiagnosed and institutionalized against her will, she lived at Willard until her death in 1973. While the individual stories are necessarily sketchy, the cumulative effect is a powerful indictment of healthcare for the mentally ill. 25 color and 63 b&w photographs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

There is a traveling exhibit that mirrors the findings of the book and they have a neat website. I'm a big fan of using primary sources in the classroom, I wonder if this may be insightful for high schoolers. Let me know if you read it.
Nancy,

That book sounds fascinating and I love "people stories". We can record so much but it still takes a book to portrait the human spirit and will for awhile until evolution catches up......my grandfather spent over 30 years in an institution. My mother found him in a half way house rotting away when the govt finally after an inquiry in Canada in the 60s, released en mass, thousands held for years, drugged and kept like animals. He was just an old man then but became my grandfather when he moved to our farm and kept us kids filled with stories (no biological ties but he'll always be my grandfather). But it is a stain on our history, his and so many other stories...

Please, if it is easy to do, send the list along! Only if it is easy. Part of my efforts are along your lines, by sharing books you touch so many lives and to me, that is what human existence is all about. Being more than what you are......

I hope to get to that other thread and make another list! Soon enough I'll make it public for the network and then others can start threads on different book topics and build a better library. But someone has to start the fire....

Cheers,
David.
http://eflclassroom.ning.com
David, Email me at nbosch@aol.com and I'll send the list as an attachment.
More than 50,000 patients were admitted to Willard during its 126-year history, and nearly half of those died there. -Willard Suitcase Exhibit Online

That is a very powerful web site! There are oral excerpts from past employees, written recollections from former patients... distressing in content, but the project is done with a quiet reverence for the lives chronicled, the history project seems important to me... important work I am grateful was done.

What does it mean to be human?

Thanks, Nancy, for the post. Very worthwhile : )
Over the last eight years we have done several projects using primary sources, you might have seen me mention them before.. Guardians of Freedom was the best work I will ever do as a teacher. We also did CSI:Cemetery Scene Investigation in the Spring 2007 and Titanic in the Classroom in the Spring 2008. In my opinion you can't beat these types of projects in the classroom...I think that's why "Suitcases" sounds so intriguing--I hope to start it over the weekend. Let me know if you read it. N.
Guardians of Freedom is an incredible project, Nancy (I haven't looked at the others yet.) I am awed, really, that you and your students did this. And just in time- my father's generation is going fast. Fascinating original research.
I hear from other veterans and their children several times a month. They want to contact "our" veterans because they are sure they were in the "same battle" or on the "same ship" or in the "same POW camp". I read the obituaries everyday, eight years later, to make sure none of "our" vets have died.

It was also such a gift to the veteran's families--many family members and even some wives of 60 years had never heard the stories. Our "reveal" of the book and the website was a reception with over 400 guests. I'll never forget seeing all those 80 year old men and women sitting in our computer lab with students standing behind them guiding them to their "stories".

We were all changed during those months, I still see those kids every once in a while (when they are home from college). They always say "Remember when we studied WWII and interviewed the veterans?". As I said, it was the best thing I will have done as a teacher.

I think the "instructions" are on the website, this would be a very easy project to duplicate, especially for high schoolers studying the time period. Thanks for taking a peek. N.
ddeubel, I posted this request at http://giftededucation.ning and got different responses; you might see if there are some you want to add to your shelf! I posted this after my longer post to you.

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