As I have previously stated in an earlier post, I am reviewing the recommended reads for year 6 at the school that I work in. It has been an absolute joy to discover these gems and to be challenged in my own reading.
Just in case you haven’t read the previous post, the Facebook challenge refers to two walls outside the classrooms, that were dedicated to the books recommended for their age group. They can attach a picture of their own face to the book cover they have just read. Now that you, I am going to jump straight in!
The Smell Of Other Peoples Houses – Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
In one word: Searing
Out of all the books I have read this one is my favourite. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book and even the blurb didn’t give much away. All you are given are the names of four teenagers and the briefest descriptions of their circumstances. However, as you go through this story, the depth and scope of this book is incredible. These are teenagers are dealing with real world issues of abuse, pregnancy and dysfunctional and toxic familial relations. What is incredible about this book is how Bonnie-Sure Hitchcock weaves their stories together against the backdrop of Alaska during the 1970’s in such a short novel. If you want a story that will stay with you long after you have put it down, this one is for you.
Wonder – R. J. Palacio
In one word: heartfelt.
I am so glad I read the book before I watched the film. The film was good but the the book was so much deeper. There is a wealth of perspectives that bring August (the main character born with facial deformities) to life. I certainly shed a tear several times while reading this book as it portrays real moments of struggle, joy, fear and love. If you want a story that pulls on your heart strings and reminds you of the best in humanity, Wonder will bring that and more.
The House With Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson
In a word: Touching
It is not easy to grow up in a house that can pick itself up and move at will and Marinka’s life is populated not with the living but with the dead. This is a story about self-discovery and Marinka leads the course of this story, as her desire to have human connection has unforeseen consequences. You watch Marinka wrestle with who she is, her future and discovers what is truly precious in the world. It is a coming of age story that wonderfully encompasses the worlds of reality and the supernatural.
Holes – Louis Sachar
In one word: Fun
I thoroughly enjoyed following the up and downs of Stanley Yelnats. Born in to an unlucky family, his own troubles seem to confirm this as he is wrongly convicted of theft and sent to a youth correctional facility in the desert. Day after day he digs holes, but in this simple action he turns his, his friend Zero and his family’s fortunes around. Sachar expertly interweaves the legend of Kissin’ Kate Barlow, a famous outlaw with the family history of the Yelnats. This story brings a diverse set of characters and provides an insight into the criminal justice system, as well as, reminding us that the past has an effect on the present and the future.
Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfield
In one word: Understated
First published in the 1930’s, it is certainly a product of its time. I say this only because at points it felt like it was a window into the past. It shows very clearly what London was like back then but also what life was like for the three P’s, Pauline, Petrova and Posy as they grow as adopted daughters of a man called Gum who has gone away to explore. They define themselves in a world that didn’t offer that much for girls in way of careers. It goes without saying the the language is formal but still has a special message for girls who are growing up today. This is a book that reminds you that dreams are worth having.
During this pause in life, it has brought to mind the books that have changed me and the lessons I have learnt from them. What books left a mark on your imagination as a child? Is it worth re-visting them now? I hope that you are discovering books that you would not have had the chance to explore before.