Thanhha Lai

All posts tagged Thanhha Lai

4th and 5th grade book club: Historical fiction

Published November 19, 2014 by Dagmar

One of my favorite times of the week is my time with the 4th and 5th grade book club at my school.  We meet on Wednesdays at 1:20 and have trouble getting them to leave the library before my preschool class comes for their library time at 2pm.  Today, instead of talking about our slate of books we’re reading this fall (more to come on that), we chose the books that we’ll read in January when we read historical fiction books.

HistoEliza's Freedomrical fiction is one of my favorite genres, because I love learning about other times and other cultures.  It wasn’t hard for me to create a great list of 10 books from my library.  I presented these books to my students and had them vote on their top six choices for the book club.  These books will be available to them during the month number the starsof January (and yes, some of them will read all six books).  The choices they were given were:

  • Under a War Torn Sky, by L.M. Elliot (World War II)
  • Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (World War II)
  • My Name is Keoko, by Linda Sue Park (World War II)
  • Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam War)
  • A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata (Vietnam War)
  • Sophia’s War, by Avi (Revolutionary War)
  • My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier (Revolutionary War)
  • The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis (Depression)
  • Eliza’s Freedom Road, by Jerdine Nolen (1850s)
  • Jefferson’s Sons, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (1780s-1790s)

jeffersons sonsmy brother samPlease click on the highlighted books to see books I’ve reviewed.

We talked about why authors often pick times of war or conflict as settings for historical fiction.  Then, the students had a chance to look at each of the books and discuss them before they voted on their top six choices to include in the book club “library”.

And the winners were – in order of preference: Eliza’s Freedom Road (winner), Inside Out and Back Again, Jefferson’s Sons, My Brother Sam is A MillionDead, Number the Stars, A Million Shades of Gray.  In my opinion, they really can’t go wrong with any of these titles.inside

Next month, when my students choose the books they’ll read, I’ll be excited to hear what attracted them to the books they selected and what they thought about the books.  Stay tuned!

Summer reading recommendations

Published June 13, 2013 by Dagmar

My last summer reading list was my own – books that I have been meaning to read but haven’t had the time to read yet.  Here’s a list for kids of books that I’ve loved and students in my library have loved.  Of course, as I was writing it, I remembered all the books I still have to write about that are missing from this list.  Here’s a great start, though.  I hope you enjoy the list.  I’d love to hear your own recommendations.

I’ve listed books by an approximate age group and added links to my blog articles so you can read more about each title and see cover pictures.

Favorite Picture Books

Early readers (K-2nd grade)

  • I love the Mr. Putter and Tabby series, a sweet series by Cynthia Rylant with short chapters.  Click on the link to my blog article.
  • Katie Kazoo, by Nancy Krulik
  • Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne is a suspenseful series great for either read aloud or to read alone.
  • My Weird School and My Weird School Daze by Dan Gutman and Jim Paillot are very funny and full of snarky humor, perfect for this age.  Short chapters work, too.

Favorite chapter books (2nd-tween):

  • Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai a wonderful book in verse about 10 year old girl’s transition from war-time Vietnam to the United States.
  • Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool.  The story of a girl who goes to live in a new town with a friend of her father. There she discovers new friends and a mystery that might tell her more about her father.
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams is an award-winning book about a strong and resourceful 12 year old girl who, along with her sisters, flies to see the mother that abandoned her.
  • Ranger’s Apprentice, by John Flanagan is a fantastic fantasy series about an orphaned boy who is taken on as an apprentice to the elite but mysterious Rangers who work to protect
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio the story of a boy with severe facial disfiguration and his entry into school.

Favorite chapter books for tweens and middle school:

  • Conspiracy 365, by Gabrielle Lord an exciting and suspenseful series about a high school boy who has to solve a mystery in order to save his own life.One for the Murphys, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt was my favorite book of the year.  Realistic fiction about a girl in foster care and her new foster family.
  • Okay for Now, by Gary P. Schmidt, the story of a boy with a difficult home life that finds his way in a new town and discovers a love for the drawings of John Audobon.
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams is an award-winning book about a strong and resourceful 12 year old girl who, along with her sisters, flies to see the mother that abandoned her.
  • One for the Murphys, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  My favorite book of the year.  Realistic fiction about a girl who winds up in foster care, her relationship with her foster family.
  • Ranger’s Apprentice, by John Flanagan is a fantastic fantasy series about an orphaned boy who is taken on as an apprentice to the elite but mysterious Rangers who work to protect
  • Shooting Kabul, by N.H. Senzai

Great non-fiction:

Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai

Published December 5, 2012 by Dagmar

insideoutRecently, there have been a lot of novels written in verse.  I like the format and found a few books that I really enjoyed.  Here is one that I loved.  I thought the diary format and verse helped lighten the difficult issues the main character faces.  Short chapters also make it very attractive to reluctant readers.  One such reader in my library returned it to me, then promptly checked it out again, because she loved it so much.

Synopsis: This semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Ha, a 10 year old girl living with her family in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  Her father is a member of the South Vietnamese navy and is missing in action.  Ha lives alone with her mother and brothers.  Ha longs for the papayas to ripen on her papaya tree and hopes that her father will return from his mission so that her mother can smile.  The family reluctantly leaves South Vietnam with their uncle on a South Vietnamese navy ship.  Conditions are terrible on the ship.  Everyone is hungry until a U.S. Navy ship arrives, providing food and a tow to a refugee camp in Guam.  The family is asked to choose a country where they would like to live.  Ha’s mother chooses the United States.  Sponsored by a family in Alabama, and dependent on the charity of others, Ha deals with being different  struggles learning English.

This book won a Newbery Honor in 2012.