10 Books You Don't Want to Miss: 2023-2024 Elementary Virginia Readers' Choice

It's been a while since I've written anything here, but I've missed blogging quite a bit. My kids have gotten older now, and I'm able to steal a little more time away. 
The 2023-2024 Elementary Virginia Readers' Choice selections contain so many you don't want to miss!

I have spent my summer reading some good summer reads, but I have also taken the chance to read the Elementary Virginia Readers' Choice selections. The committee does a great job choosing a variety of books that will engage students in reading enjoyment. These books are meant for students in grades 3-5 to enjoy, but many other age groups can read and enjoy them. As read-alouds or independent reading selections, the goal is for students to be exposed to new literature and learn to love reading. Find out more about Virginia Readers' Choice by clicking here.

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This year I am splitting the books into several categories since they seem to fit those well. 

Graphic Novels

The committee has chosen two graphic novels for the elementary Virginia Readers' Choice selections. Both have strong female characters who want to achieve something worthwhile.

Twins by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright

My husband is a twin who is very different from his twin. They have never been competitive, but they definitely have different personalities. In the book Twins, Mareeen and Francine learn how to navigate sixth grade and want to do it on their own. They each want to have their own identities but keep secrets from each other. When they both run for student council, fights ensue, and they have to come to terms with changing friendships, as well as new ways of helping each other out. Fifth graders will love having a little glimpse into what could happen in the middle school setting.

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte

12-year old CiCi has just moved with her family from Taiwan to the United States. The culture of the US is so different from her culture, and she learns to navigate life in the United States. More than anything, she misses her A-ma (grandmother) and wants her to come and visit. BUT, there isn't money for such a visit. CiCi enters a cooking contest to raise money for a plane ticket for her A-ma's visit. CiCi learns more about friendship, American culture, and preteen life as she cooks her favorite foods in the contest. Measuring Up is sure to win hearts of young chefs and preteens everywhere!

Picture Books

Mimic Makers:  Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature 

Kristen Nordstrom taught me a lot of about how inventors use nature to create so many unique concepts. All around us we can see how nature does amazing things. Nordstrom shows the readers how inventors used problem-solving techniques for new inventions through nature. From trains to picture hangers, these inventors used nature to inspire some unique problem-solving ideas. Mimic Makers makes a great addition to any classroom library and STEM lesson.

Nicky and Vera:  A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Saved

Peter Sis always delivers such great books, and this book is no different. Sis tells the story of a young Englishman, Nicholas Winton, and his endeavors to help young children during the Holocaust. The story chronicles the life of young Vera who lived outside of Prague during World War II. Winton would work with families to bring young Jewish children out of Nazi cities and into foster care in London for safety. Though he never spoke of this heroic feat, Vera, one of the children, kept a diary of her experience. The reader draws upon the experiences from both perspectives to hear a beautiful story. Nicky and Vera dives deep into the world of war and how families made the best for their families.

For the Younger Crowd

These selections are perfect for those students in 3rd grade who still enjoy shorter books with pictures. They are quick reads and will help build confidence for younger readers.

Too Small Tola by Atinuke

Tola is young and small, but she has the spunk it takes to do whatever she needs to do! This collection of three stories about Tola, who lives in Lagos, Nigeria shows the reader that being small isn't always bad! Each story shows how young Tola uses her problem-solving skills and determination to prove that she isn't too small all the time. The illustrations let us see into her world a little more and gives the reader a picture of what her home is like. From carrying groceries, to getting water, to helping others, Tola proves that she isn't Too Small Tola!

Planet Omar:  Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian

I love series books, just like so many of our students! This book is the first in a series, so once the kids are hooked, they will ask for more of the same! Young Omar has just moved to a new place, and he isn't sure how things are going to work out. His runaway imagination sometimes gets him into trouble when he least expects it. Finding a new friend makes everything easier for him, and he learns to cope with the ups and downs of a new home and school. Planet Omar makes a perfect read for all of those young boys and girls who need a little pick-me-up, as it is highly relatable for so many children.

The One Thing You'd Save by Linda Sue Park

Written in the sijo line structure (a traditional Korean poetry type), this book will make you think! The teacher has posed the question, "Imagine that your home is on fire. You're allowed to save one thing. Your family and pets are safe, so don't worry about them." Each student in the class presents their one thing to save to their classmates. The students really put some thought into their items, going beyond what we think they would save. Sentimental value definitely wins in many cases, and the reasons are beautiful. Though the book is a quick and easy read, it will have you thinking about the One Thing You'd Save.

For the Older Crowd

Since the range of students reading these books are grades 3-5, these chapter books will appeal more to the older students in grades 4-5. They contain more pages and a little heavier content. They also make great read-alouds for any age group.

New From Here by Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang has a way of writing that brings people right into the story. The story chronicles the life of Knox Wei-Evans during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. American born, the family lives in Hong Kong. As life begins to change due to a "new virus", the family decides to move his mother and siblings to California to escape the virus. The entire family misses their dad and life in Hong Kong, but everyone works together to help make things better. As things begin to look more bleak, even for America, the children work together to try to get money for a plane ticket to get their father home. While reading New From Here, life just before the pandemic kept coming to my mind - that initial fear of the unknown and the way we lived. The story makes it easy to help children understand differences with not only culture, but learning styles. 

Braver by Suzanne Selfors and Walker Ranson

Lola Budge isn't your ordinary wombat! She loves to talk and ask questions, while the rest of her family and neighbors prefer silence. One evening, she leaves her burrow to find out what is out in the world but returns to her entire neighborhood, including her family, being taken away by the Tassie Devils. Her only message is to go to Dore and find her uncle, where the queen will help them. This begins a long journey, where she meets many interesting characters who become her friends. What can a small wombat, swamp rat, baby penguin, and one-winged crow do to help get Lola's family back safely? This story becomes the perfect read-aloud for anyone! Animal tales are always so fun, and children of all ages will enjoy the story, as Lola and her new friends must be Braver than they have ever been before!

Stuck by Jennifer Swender

Moving around isn't easy for anyone, but Austin, a 4th grader, has figured it out. Unable to read or write, he has to find his way through another new school. Though he tries to avoid making friends, Bertie instantly befriends him and helps him out. Not only that, but this new school makes him feel welcome and not like an outsider, especially at the end of the school year. He learns to navigate life at school and home in a way where no one will find out. Once he and Bertie work towards being a Safety at the school, he knows that he has found his "home". Stuck is the perfect book for any student, especially to help others understand those with differences in learning and life.

The 2023-2024 Elementary Virginia Readers' Choice list has a lot to offer for many students. With this much variety, everyone is bound to find at least one book they will love! Check them out and see which one you like the best!
The 2023-2024 Elementary Virginia Readers' Choice selections contain so many you don't want to miss!

How to Use Games to Encourage Learning Phonic Decoding Skills

Using games in small groups can help reinforce skills our students have learned.

As a reading interventionist, I have the ability to do things differently than classroom teachers. I spend my days rotating small groups in and out of my room or within the learners' classrooms. Throughout the week, we focus on various skills, especially phonics skills. 

My Reading Crew friends and I have teamed up again to bring you freebies and advice for the upcoming school year! 

Teaching Word Choice with The Big Snow

What a week we have had here in Virginia! After several years of very little snow, we finally have had some snow the kids can play in. Describing those snow events helps us all better understand what happens, and the authors of The Big Snow use great word choice in the book to help the readers better understand and picture what happens when a big snow does come to the woods.
Authors use words to help readers create a picture. Use books to help students see how word choice matters.

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Virginia Readers' Choice Picture Books for 2020-2021

Picture books are great for reading aloud and helpful for teaching various skills and strategies. These picture books will make lessons more exciting!

I'm over at Virginia is for Teachers with the 2020-2021 Virginia Readers' Choice picture books with some easy ways to use them in your classroom! Pop on over by clicking here or on the picture above! See you there!