Th1rteen R3asons Why: A Novel

Bibliographic Information: Asher, J. (2011). Th1rteen r3asons why: A novel. New York, NY: Razorbill.

Brief Annotation: Clay comes home to find a package at his front door. Inside, he is shocked to discover a series of tapes recorded by Hannah, his former crush, who has recently committed suicide. Clay spends the rest of the day and late into the night listening to Hannah’s tapes on a journey to discover the thirteen reasons why she killed herself.

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 7th and up

Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy contemporary realistic fiction; readers who enjoy stories about people struggling with mental illness; readers who feel victimized at school.

Rating/Response: 2; I hated this book. I gave it one point for keeping readers engaged. Asher obviously knows how to write a page-turner. However, I found several parts of the text to be completely lacking in believability, I felt no connection to the characters, and I think Hannah is a dreadful example for teenagers. Creating a set of vicious tapes meant to take down everyone who hurt you from beyond the grave requires both passion and energy. I realize that everyone experiences depression differently, but in my experience, when one is depressed, one generally lacks both passion and energy. Additionally, Hannah’s suicide felt less like a desperate longing to escape than a petty way of getting back at everyone who’s ever hurt her. I also find it completely unbelievable that if, as is stated in the text, Hannah was both showing drastic changes in attitude and behavior and actively sought help that NO adults would have come to her aid (including Mr. Porter, a MANDATED REPORTER). If Hannah had been hiding her depression convincingly or was undergoing treatment that was not successful, I would have been better able to believe this story. As it stands, I was frustrated and angry with both the characters and the author. I understand the reasons this book has been challenged, and although I am a big supporter of freedom of speech, I think this book is best suited to a high school audience. I would not recommend it for 7th and 8th graders.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Oy vey. “What resources do we have available for people who are struggling with depression or considering suicide?”



Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

Title: Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

Bibliographic Information: Park, B (1992). Junie b. jones and the stupid smelly bus. New York: Random House Childrens Books.

Annotation: Junie is so scared to ride the bus on her first day of Kindergarten after she hears many scary rumors about what goes on there from her friends. So, instead of going on the bus after school is over, she decides to hide in her teacher’s closet. A janitor finds Junie., and she explains to her mother why she did it and what exactly she did.

Genre: Realistic Fiction – Comedy/Humor

Grade level: 2nd-5th Grade

Readers who will like this book: Readers who are looking for a fun and entertaining read will enjoy this book. Also, readers who enjoy reading about brave and outgoing characters will love the Junie B. series.

Personal response/rating: I rate this book a 5, because it is such a fun and entertaining read. Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus is the first book of this fun series. For this series I think it would be best for the students to read with an adult. Therefore the adult can explain what it is going on and correct some of the language Junie B. Jones uses. I can see where some parents would be concerned about their child reading this series. The series should not be banned. The language, grammar, and the decisions Junie B. Jones uses is what makes the series worthy and entertaining.

Question I would ask before the reading: Were you nervous to ride the school bus on your first day of school?


In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen

Sendak, M. (1970). In the Kitchen. New York, Ny: Harper and Row

Mickey wakes up from a noise then ends up floating. As he is floating all of his clothes end up disappearing and he appears in the surreal world called “Night Kitchen”

Children’s literature


Readers who like stories that end up in surreal worlds; Readers who like baking.

Rate: 3; I thought the book was interesting. I do not understand why the boy had to be naked majority of the book. I totally understand why it would be banned. 

Question: What is your favorite nighttime snack?


Where the Wild Things Are

Bibliographic Information: Sendak, M. (1963). Where the Wild Things Are. United States: Harper and Row

Short Annotation: Max was sent to his room after showing bad behavior in his house. When he was in his room, it turned into a jungle. In this jungle, he met a bunch of different creatures, known as the wild things. They made him the king of the jungle. When it was time for him to go home, they did not want him to leave, even though he wanted to.

Genre: Nonfiction.

Grade Level: Third grade.

Audience: Students would like this book.

Personal rating and response: I give this book a rating of seven. I think how this book showed how imagination can play a great part in a young child’s life but can also serve as a life lesson.

Question: Do you use your bedroom as an imaginative place?


The Giving Tree

Bibliographic: Silverstein, S. (1964). The giving tree. New York: Harper & Row.

Short annotation: This is the story of a tree and a boy. Every time the boy asked for something, the tree would give it to him, but this often caused some strange and exciting situations.

The genre: Picture book, Fiction

Grade level: Kindergarten to Second grade

Readers who like this book:  A few readers who would like this novel are children and parents who are looking for a good bedtime story.

Personal response and rating: I would give this book a 4; I liked that no matter what the boy asked the tree for, it helped him, but I didn’t like that the boy took advantage of the tree.

Question: What do think it would be like to be a tree?


And Tango Makes Three

Richardson, J., & Parnell, P. (2005). And tango makes three. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers.

This book tells the true story of a unique penguin couple at the Central Park Zoo who hatch, raise, and nurture a unique baby penguin of their own!

Genre: Nonfiction

Grade: 1st-4th

Readers who will like this book: Children who like animals, children who have “nontraditional” families, children who like true stories.

Response and rating: 5, This book is truly amazing. I love the fact that it is a nonfiction story about a gay couple essentially written in a form that children can understand and relate to. Many critics of the book say that it is poorly written and lacks any real beauty and flow, but I disagree. I think that the simplistic writing allows for more reader interpretation of the book’s message. After all, I think that because it is nonfiction, readers will take many different messages from the book. I think that more appreciation needs to be placed on the authors’ desire to share the story rather than on how perfect the writing is.

Reading Strategy: Venn Diagram (Tompkins pgs.144-147)

Lately in my fieldwork, I have seen my host teacher use Venn Diagrams quite regularly. This strategy involves students first brainstorming a list of the similarities and differences between two things, and then writing the list into a Venn Diagram in the appropriate spaces. For And Tango Makes Three, I think it would be great to create a Venn Diagram with students that compares their own family to Tango’s family. The goal of this strategy would be to help students realize that all families are loving, supportive, and wonderful.

A Venn Diagram would be appropriate for this book because, one, it can span across a large age range. The complexity of what is included in the diagram could be easily adjusted based on this. Second, it would be a great way to help students relate the possibly unfamiliar concept reflected in the story to their own lives in a positive light!


Daddy’s Roommate

Title: Daddy’s Roommate

Bibliography: Willhoite, Michael. (1991). Daddy’s Roommate. New York: Alyson Books.

Short Annotation: This story is about a boy who’s parents divorce. It continues on with the arrival of the narrator’s dad’s “new friend” who is also male. This new concept is explained to the child as “just one more kind of love”.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 1-3

Readers who will like this book: Children who have a not-so-stereotypical family dynamic, or even do and should learn about other dynamics.

Personal response and rating: Personally, I thought this book was a great at explaining that gender doesn’t influence compatibility and shows the possibility of loving what you’re unsure is okay to love. Although this is a banned book, I think it would be a good one to have in the classroom. Rating: 3.

Question: Can anyone come up with a way to define love? What does it mean to be in love? What types of things do you love?


It’s So Amazing

Harris, R. H., & Emberley, M. (1999). It’s so amazing!: a book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies, and families. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press.

This book is about everything from how a baby is made to the make-up of different families. We follow Bird and Bee to find the answers about common questions kids have about sex.

Genre: Frequently Banned Book, Concept Book, Picturebook

Grades: 3rd- 12th

Audience: Students, Parents, Teachers

I would give this book a five. I loved it. This book is thorough and talks about many sensitive topics in unique and fun ways. Though I can certainly see why this book is frequently banned, I think this is a great book for parents and health educators to use to explain to students about these topics.

How do you think babies come to be?



The Lorax

Title: The Lorax

Bibliographic information: Seuss, D. (1971). The Lorax. New York: Random House

Brief annotation: A young boy visits the “once-ler” to learn about the Lorax and why he disappeared. The Once-ler tells of when he first saw the Truffula trees. He cut them down and began to knit Thneeds out of the Truffula. By cutting down the tree, he caused the Lorax to appear since he speaks for the trees that have no tongue. The Once-ler didn’t listen to the Lorax so the Lorax disappeared.

Genre: Fiction, picture book

Grade Level: Pre-k -1st grade

Readers who will like this: Children who have read other Dr. Seuss books will enjoy this book.

Rating: 4 – I really enjoy Dr. Seuss books and I think that the illustrations and bright colors would be appealing for children.

Question: Do you think that cutting down trees is good or bad? why?


Harry Potter

1. Harry Potter
2. Rowling, J.K. (1997). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Inc.
3. This is the story of a boy wizard, who as a baby defeated the greatest evil wizard. He is infamous in the wizard world, but not in the human world. He is a miserable boy until age 11, when he starts attending Hogwarts, where he has many dangerous adventures.
4. Banned Book, Fantasy, Series
5. Grade 4 or Grade 5
6. Readers who like fantasy, magic, series, dangerous adventures, and stories about finding friends will like this.
7. 3; This book was well written and I see why people like it. I don’t like that the series is so long and the movie missed many details.
8. Have you seen the Harry Potter movie?
Reading Strategy: Character quotes would be a good strategy to use with the first book in this series to build the characters. Readers would be able to see how the characters change throughout the rest of the series.