2012 Teacher's Choices-Advanced Readers (Grade 6-8)

View all Recommendations by Age > Recommendations for Age 9-12 book lists; This list was last updated on 8/1/2013
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Since 1989,  the International Reading Association started the Teachers' Choices project  that will encourage young people to read. These are books that kids will enjoy—and that contribute to learning across the curriculum. Teachers and parents will  find exceptional for curriculum use or reading aloud uses. 

For more book recommendations, please check out New York Times® Best Sellers, Children's Book Recommendations or the complete list of Featured Book Lists and Award Winners

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Saving Zasha
In post-WWII Russia, one boy dares to save an entire race of outlawed dogs -- the German shepherd!

World War II has just ended when thirteen-year-old Mikhail finds a dying man and his German shepherd, Zasha, in the woods. It's dangerous -- some say traitorous -- to own a German dog after Germany attacked Russia, so Mikhail must keep Zasha a secret to keep her alive.
But Mikhail's rival, Katia, is determined to find the dog she is sure he's hiding. At the same time, a soldier named Dimitri is breeding a new Russian dog at a nearby farm. So many dogs were lost in combat, to starvation, and in the slaughter of German dogs that the country is in dire need of every kind of dog.
Dimitri, too, has suspicions of Zasha's existance, and would like nothing more than to add her to his breeding program. He'll have to compete with the armed dog thieves who are also on her trail.
Mikhail's inspiring journey to save his best friend, the last German shepherd in Russia, forces him to face some of life's hardest lessons about war, hate, forgiveness, hope, love, and man's best friend.
release date: Oct 25, 2011
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Saga of the Sioux

This new adaptation of Dee Brown's multi-million copy bestseller, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, is filled with photographs and maps to bring alive the tragic saga of Native Americans for middle grade readers. Focusing on the Sioux nation as representative of the entire Native American story, this meticulously researched account allows the great chiefs and warriors to speak for themselves about what happened to the Sioux from 1860 to the Massacre of Wounded Knee in 1891. This dramatic story is essential reading for every student of U.S. history.

release date: Aug 09, 2011
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Requiem
Paul B. Janeczko's stirring new collection of poems goes inside the walls of the notorious camp to portray the indomitable spirit of those incarcerated there.

Hitler hailed Terezín (Theresienstadt) as a haven for artistic Jews, when in reality the Czech concentration camp was little more than a way station to the gas chambers. In his second book inspired by devastating history, acclaimed poet Paul B. Janeczko gives voice to this heartrending creative community: its dignity, resilience, and commitment to art and music in the face of great brutality. The many memorable characters he conjures include a child who performs in the camp's now famed production of Brundibár, a man who lectures on bedbugs, and a boy known as "Professor," who keeps a notebook hidden in his shoe. Accented with dramatic illustrations by prisoners, found after WW II, Janeczko's spare and powerful poems convey Terezín's tragic legacy on an intimate, profoundly moving scale.
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Okay for Now
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.” In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.

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Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again is a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award! Inspired by the author's childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.

Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America.

This moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it "enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny."

An author's note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà's story. This paperback edition also includes an interview with the author, an activity you can do with your family, tips on writing poetry, and discussion questions.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

release date: May 10, 2011
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Hidden

When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too.

Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth―that is, if they're willing to reveal to each other the stories that they've hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.

release date: Sep 27, 2011
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Heart and Soul

Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul is the winner of numerous awards, including the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five starred reviews.

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it's about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.

Told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator, this inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

release date: Jul 05, 2011
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Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students

Named to the International Reading Association's 2012 Teachers' Choice book list

Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students is a complete and comprehensive guide to all things grammar from Grammar Girl, a.k.a. Mignon Fogarty, whose popular podcasts have been downloaded over twenty million times and whose first book, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, was a New York Times bestseller.

For beginners to more advanced students, this guide covers it all: the parts of speech, sentences, and punctuation are all explained clearly and concisely with the warmth, wit, and accessibility Grammar Girl is known for. Pop quizzes are scattered throughout to reinforce the explanations, as well as Grammar Girl's trademark Quick and Dirty Tips―easy and fun memory tricks to help with those challenging rules.

Complete with a writing style chapter and a guide to the different kinds of writing―everything from school papers to letter writing to e-mails―this guide is sure to become the one-stop, essential book on every student's desk.

by: Avi
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City of Orphans
Plot twists, big accusations, and plenty of shifty, crooked characters fill the pages of this harrowing adventure from Newbery Medalist Avi.

The streets of 1893 New York are crowded and filthy. For thirteen-year-old newsboy Maks Geless, they are also dangerous. Bruno, leader of the awful Plug Ugly Gang, has set his sights on Maks and orders his boys to track him down. Suddenly Maks finds himself on the run, doing all he can to evade the gang, with only his new friend Willa by his side. And that's just the start of Mak's troubles. His sister, Emma, has been arrested and imprisoned for stealing a watch from the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks knows she didn't do it—but will he be able to prove it in time?
This is a riveting, quickly paced adventure set against a backdrop alive with the sights and sounds of tenement New York.
release date: Jan 19, 2012
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Alexander Hamilton
Award-winning biographer Jean Fritz brings one of America's favorite Founding Fathers to life!

Most people know that Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, and that his face is on the ten-dollar bill. But he was much more than that, and here acclaimed biographer Jean Fritz explores all facets of his life. Born in the West Indies, Hamilton arrived in New York as an outsider. He fought in the Revolution and became Washington's most valuable aide-de-camp. He was there for the writing of the Constitution and became the first Secretary of the Treasury. Fritz's talent for bringing historical figures to life shines as she shares her fascination with this man of action who was honorable, ambitious, and fiercely loyal to his adopted country.
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