Review (Plus): New Books for Reluctant Readers

One of my struggles as an English teacher is turning my students into lifelong readers. One of the most important tasks is finding the perfect book and placing it in the hands of a reluctant reader; they may roll their eyes at me, but I insistent they read 25 pages of the book I have loaned them. Some of my most reluctant readers are given a graphic novel, because 25 pages of a graphic novel means the reader can find themselves 1/3 into the book. It is a devious-but effect–trick to use in the classroom: the reader is hooked and reluctant to quick because, let’s face it, 25 pages in to a graphic novel you know the character, the setting and the plot! Penguin Random House recently sent me two graphic novels; I am excited to let you know my thoughts and then get them in to the hands of my students because they both were awesome.

The first was Edison Beaker Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso. Mr. Cammuso has a way of hooking his middle grade readers by giving them real kids with real problems in his action-packed graphic novels. His newest endeavor is about Edison Beaker and his quest to learn the family business–extermination. Not of bugs, but of the things that go bump in the night! It has a few twists and turns, but the best part is that it leaves you hanging! I love it. The middle school student who lands this one will instantly ask, when is the next one coming Ms. G?

The second graphic novel was Caveboy Dave by Aaron Reynolds and Phil McAndrew. In this 2nd in the series, I found Dave is just as funny in his commentary as the last one. I enjoyed the first one in this series and found it appealed to all my students, which surprised me as I thought it would tend to lend itself more to the boys. Dave lives in Bleccchh. (This alone makes the boys laugh because they immediately assume it reads BELCH!) Dave struggles with his community and their ways of life, but overcomes them as he loves his family, friends and way of life. In this new adventure, Not So Faboo, we learn the Shaman of the community has gone MIA, as panic ensues, Dave reassures everyone it will be okay; he will be found. For fear of life without a leader in Bleccchh, the community votes to place Dave in charge–AT AGE 12!  Dave quickly learns about politics and that pleasing everyone is a thankless job, but someone has to do it…

In the classroom:

Reluctant readers need to be encouraged, they need to be challenged, and sometimes they even need to be forced to read. This year I instituted the 20 minutes mandatory daily reading in to my lesson plans. I force students to put down electronic devices and read. This challenge is becoming more present in the classroom as most schools, if you are like mine, have issued laptops or iPads to every student. It is difficult to make the kid who resents reading put down the device, sit silently, and read. I model this every day, but I love to read. (I wish I didn’t have to teach and could just read every day!) However, for them the challenge is real.

I suggest reward based reading. I have a bulletin board where kids can put their “glows and grows” for reading. They have to tell something glowing about the book and some way they can “grow” from reading the book. Both of these graphic novels present a moral dilemma for both protagonists. It doesn’t matter what they read, as long as they are reading.

Edison Beaker Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso (Viking Books for Young Readers | 9780425291924 | October 2, 2018)

Caveboy Dave: Not So Faboo by Aaron Reynolds and Phil McAndrew (Viking Books for Young Readers | 9780451475480 | October 23, 2018)

America Grelinger

America Grelinger doesn’t mind if you call her Ms. America. It makes her head swell and she loves the title. America is a former English teacher and has a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, now retired to raise two crazy little boys who think the funniest thing on the planet is to burp and toot… which is why she reads. Because it’s cheaper than counseling. Amy and her husband live with those two crazy little boys in Derby, Kansas.