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In this presentation, is a collection of 'Tween Realistic Fiction titles compiled by LIBR 264 students, including selection criteria and selection tools.
Realistic Fiction for “Tweens”Realistic Fiction for “Tweens”
Francis Gonzalez, Stephanie Hawkins, Deborah Takahashi, Michelle Yamamoto
LIBR 264San Jose State University
Do I have to read?
What is Realistic ‘Tween Fiction?
• Realistic Fiction basically means fictional events that are real. • For ‘tweens, realistic fiction can range from dropping one’s
iPhone in the toilet because it was sitting in the back pocket or losing someone special.
• Realistic fiction is also leaves a profound affect on the character, or readers, without actually hurting them, or grounding them for twenty years.
Why do ‘Tweens Need Realistic Fiction?
• Realistic Fiction provides ‘tweens with stories about kids like them, which can validate their experiences as well as expand their horizons . In other words, Realistic fiction is a great form of bibliotherapy for developing ‘tweens
• Since ‘tweens are able to process abstract thought, ‘tweens need materials that will allow them to develop their critical thinking skills by inferring and looking into problems that are more serious and deeper
‘Tween Realistic Fiction Selection Criteria
• Main characters are ‘Tweens• Topics and themes• Titles that appeal to boys and girls• Written by award-winning authors or titles are well reviewed• Writing style• Timeliness (can teens relate to the characters)
‘Tween Realistic Fiction Selection Tools
• Websites (Commonsensemedia.org, Amazon.com, Online catalogs)
• Publisher and wholesaler catalogs (Follet, BWI, Scholastic, Random House, etc.)
• Journals (School Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Horn book Magazine, Voya)
• Lists (Caldecott Winners, Newberry Winners, New York Times Best Sellers)
• ‘Tween Suggestions• Librarian Suggestions• Author visits
Now close your eyes and remember when you were twelve
Remember the good, bad, and the ugly?
Can you relate to any of these situations ?
Bridge to Terabithia
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine PatersonNew York: Scholastic, 1977.
Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade. But a new girl, Leslie Burke, beats all of the boys on the very first day of school. After this rocky start, Jess and Leslie eventually become best friends. They create their own imaginary and magical world, Terabithia, which the King and Queen (Jess and Leslie) enter by swinging on a rope across the creek. One day during a storm while Jess is in Washington D.C., Leslie does not make it safely across. Paterson deals with the death of a child and a friend in a way that is accessible to young people.
CrashWhen John “Crash” Coogan ‘ s grandfather moves in with his family, life takes a turn for the better. Unlike his parents, Crash’s grandfather has time to spend with him, makes delicious meals and truly understands both Crash and his sister. Crash’s life in seven grade is great. He is the star football player, has great fun, and enjoys hanging out with his friends. But his little sister and the funny Quaker boy down the street start cramping his style forcing him to make some decisions about his life and priorities. Mr. Spinelli again spins a tale of life growing up. The poignancy of Crash’s time with his grandfather mixes with the trouble his sister gives him to show the reality of life for the middle school jock.
Crash by Jerry SpinelliNew York: Laurel Leaf, 2004
Dear Mr. Henshaw
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly ClearyNew York : Harper Trophy, 2000
Dear Mr. Henshaw is the story of a boy named Leigh, who writes letters to Boyd Henshaw, a popular author whose book Ways to Amuse a Dog is one of Leigh’s favorites. The entire tale is told primarily from Leigh’s point of view, through letters to Mr. Henshaw and—after a certain point—through journal he keeps. The story develops as Leigh writes to Mr. Henshaw as a requirement for one of his school projects; Mr. Henshaw—to his delight and unlike the other authors to whom his classmates wrote—responds to him directly. Thereafter, Leigh’s letters become more frequent, and the two begin to develop a relationship as pen pals.
Diary of a Wimpy KidDiary of a Wimpy Kid, the hilarious New York Times bestseller, stars sixth grader, Gregory Heffly, whose mom suggests that he begin to keep a diary. At first he’s not too keen on the idea, but eventually caves in (as long as it’s a journal, not a diary). In his “diary,” Greg reflects on the various issues related to middle school life. Everything from where he is on the popularity scale (somewhere around 52nd out of150) to the wresting unit in Phys. Ed. (where it becomes painfully obvious who has begun puberty and who has not) are recorded in his book. Greg’s entries begin at the start of his sixth grade year at school. His best friend is Rowley and their friendship is put to the test when Rowley gets into trouble at school for something Greg did. Eventually Rowley forgives Greg and they go back to “hanging out” (not playing together…because that’s what elementary schoolers call it). More of Greg and Rowley’s journey through puberty are detailed in the next books in the series. A great read, especially for tween boys!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff KinneyNew York: Amulet, 2007
Elvis and Olive: Super Detectives
When Annie and her friend , Natalie look for a new adventure their escapades land them in serious trouble. Creating the E and O Detective Agency, leads the girls to help several neighbors with their mysteries. Unfortunately, the biggest mystery of all may not have the happy ending everyone hopes for. Stephanie Watson weaves a delightful tale of two friends from dramatically different lives who work together to help others not realizing they are growing up in the process. Elvis and Olive provides a look into a realistic neighborhood mixed with a variety of people just living their lives and dealing with every day situations. For Annie and Natalie, the world may never be the same again.
Elvis and Olive: Super Detectives by Stephanie WatsonNew York : Scholastic, 2010
FiregirlMeet Tom. Not only is he one of many students at St. Catherine’s, he’s well-behaved and does what he is told. In fact, he is so quiet that when he sees the cutest girl in class, he goes into super dork mode. However, Tom’s world, and everyone else’s, is turned upside down when a girl named Jessica moves into town. Jessica is different. A year ago, she was involved in a horrible accident that burned her entire body. The entire student body is terrified of her, which creates numerous rumors stories that are outrageous and cruel. The only one who has the courage to see Jessica for who she is is none other then the quiet superhero, Tom. In this story, readers will see how the courage and kindness of one person gives hope to a tormented girl.
Firegirl by Tony AbbottNew York : Little Brown, 2006
Granny Torrelli Makes Soup
Twelve year old Rosie and Bailey, who cannot see, have been friends and next-door neighbors their entire lives, but they certainly don’t always get along. As Rosie makes soup with her Granny Torrelli, they talk about her and Bailey’s current disagreement. As Rosie remembers their friendship over the years, Granny Torrelli knows just what to say and what stories to tell. Creech tells the story in Rosie’s voice in short engaging chapters that ends with a pasta feast made by Rosie, Bailey and Granny Torrelli and helped along by Granny’s stories.
Granny Torrelli makes Soup by Sharon CreechNew York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2003
The Homework MachineWhat kid wouldn’t want a computerized machine to do his homework every night! This comedic story is told from the perspectives several people, most notably, super smart and brainy whiz kid Brenton Damagatchi. He invents a homework machine and soon, other kids from his class… Judy, Kelsey and Sam… are all using it. The machine works like this: kids scan in their worksheets and the computer searches the most reliable websites on the internet and plugs in the information into the worksheet. It uses a sample of the kids’ handwriting to make it look authentic. As the story continues, the homework machine starts to be more trouble than it’s worth, so Brenton and friends decide to get rid it. The fact of the matter is, the machine has become too smart. So smart, in fact, that the kids can no longer even turn it off or delete anything on it. Their solution, to use Brenton’s computerized catapult to dispose of it in the wide and deep Grand Canyon. But, of course, they get caught and in the end, the kids learn it’s just better to do their homework.
The Homework Machine by Dan GutmanNew York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 2006
Jumping the ScratchJamie Riordan’s life has fallen apart the moment he lost his cat, Mister. Not only did he lose his best friend, his dad ran away with the convenience store clerk, leaving him and his mother behind. Not to mention, his favorite aunt had a terrible accident at the factory that left her unable to retain new memories. Life for Jamie is unbearable because everything familiar and normal to him disappeared in an instant including his innocence the night he helped Old Gray with Christmas decorations. However, with the help of his new friend, Audrey, and her ESP, Jamie finds the will to move on by letting go of the past by confessing to Aunt Sapphie the events of that night, thinking she would forget. Well, Aunt Sapphie is not as forgetful as we think she is.
Jumping the Scratch by Sarah WeeksNew York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006
Lanie Holland feels like an outcast in her family. She is an outdoorsy type person who hates being stuck inside while the rest of her family enjoys the comforts in the house. This sense of exclusion causes frustration for Lanie, especailly after her best friend goes on a 6 month trip to an exotic location. Lucky for Lanie, several factors combine to provide her a better understanding of her family, the reasons behind their actions and how she can meet them in the middle ground. Planting, critters and fun all work together to tell a wonderful story of a young girl working to expand her horizons while enjoying the family she loves.
Lanie by Jane KurtWisconsin: Pleasant Company Publications, 2009
Millicent Min, Girl GeniusMillicent Min is not quite like other twelve-year-olds. Not only has she managed to skip four grades, she is on her way to college in a few months. What she thought was going to be an awesome summer, her mother informs her that she needs to work on her social skills (she is a little bit of know-it-all and has no friends her age) by signing her up for Volleyball AND she has to tutor “Stan-turd” (Stanford) Wong. Millicent is not thrilled at all. What’s even worse, her best, best friend in the world, Maddie, her grandmother, is taking off for Europe! However, all of this changes when she meets Emily, who is “normal” girl and actually likes Millicent for who she is. Afraid of losing her new best friend, Millicent decides to not tell Emily she is a genius, which ends up teaching Millicent a good lesson about honesty and true friendship.
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa YeeNew York: Scholastic, 2004
The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
This book tells of the story of Claudia and her young brother Jamie, and their quest to trace the history of a beautiful angel statue--supposedly sculpted by Michelangelo. Determined to run away from home, the two decide to live and hide in the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hiding in the museum, Claudia and Jamie are drawn into a search to discover the origins of the angel statue. Their search leads them to Mrs. Frankweiler, the woman who originally donated the angel statue to the museum. Their relationship with Frankweiler throws the pair into a new adventure, as they learn the secrets behind the mysterious work of art.
The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler byE.L. KonigsburgNew York: Scholastic, 1967
On My HonorJoel promises his father that he and his best friend Tony will ride their bikes only to the State Park. On the long ride there, the always daring Tony stops and wants to swim in the river. The river is dangerous and Joel is reluctant, but finally gives in. To prove he is not afraid, Joel challenges Tony to swim with him to the sand bar. He realizes too late that Tony cannot swim well. He tries and tries to find his friend after he goes under, but he cannot. When he returns alone, Joel is so filled with guilt and fear that he does not immediately tell the truth about what has happened. Bauer describes Joel’s internal struggle and outward actions with clarity, tension and realism that continues to the very last page.
On My Honor by Marion Dane BauerNew York: Clarion Books, 1986.Newbery Honor Book
Picture of Hollis Woods
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Rielly GiffNew York: Dell Yearling, 2002.Newbery Honor Book
Twelve year old Hollis Woods is a gifted artist who never stays in one foster home for long before she runs. Then she spends the summer with the Regans who offer her a home and a family. On the last day of the summer, though, something happens that makes Hollis run again. This time she ends up with Josie, a retired art teacher. Hollis wants to stay with Josie, but to do so she has to keep Social Services from finding out that Josie is growing more and more forgetful. As she tries to escape with Josie, she remembers her summer with the Regans and ends up being able to receive the love that has been extended to her. Giff artfully switches between the past and the present as she draws the reader into Hollis’s world and story.
Porcupine by Meg TillyOntario: Tundra Books, 2007.
For Jacqueline Cooper and her siblings, life takes a dramatic turn after her father goes off to Afghanistan as a peace keeper. Her mom never handles deployments well but the family is getting along okay until the fateful day the military officers show up at the door. Life will never be the same for any member of the family again. Death in the family often brings dramatic changes and the Cooper family is no different. As mom falls into a depression, Jacqueline and her siblings Simon and Tessa are forced to make do as life spirals downward. Finally, mom shows up at school to take Jack, as she is known, Simon and Tessa to visit a great grandmother they have never met. Meg Tilly takes a serious situation dealing with death, depression, family relationships and turns it into a story that tugs at the readers heart strings while also raising their blood pressure. A real life situation that far too many children deal with on a daily basis is handled with tact, understanding and a touch of hilarity thrown in.
Schooled by Gordon KormanNew York: Hyperion, 2007.
When we think of the 1960’s, all that goes through our mind is Woodstock, long hair, tie died shirts, and the Beatles. For Capricorn, Cap, his life is nothing but love, government conspiracies, and no hair cuts. Cap lives in a commune called “Garland” and when his grandmother broke her hip, his life changed forever. Without a proper guardian, Cap could not return to Garland. However, with the helps of his social worker, he has a roof over his head, but has to enroll in middle school. Little does Cap know that this school has an awful tradition of nominating the “King of Losers” to be the class president. Completely clueless when it comes to today’s ‘Tween culture, Cap is nominated by the biggest bully in school and humiliated and embarrassed on a daily basis. Even though this treatment would drive anyone crazy, Cap never loses his cool. Although Cap is different, he manages to win everyone over with his quirkiness and thoughtfulness.
A young Vietnamese girl plants lima bean seeds in a vacant lot near her home in Cleveland. One by one, others in this diverse, yet blighted neighborhood begin to take notice and to grow things in the vacant lot. Over time, the lot blossoms into a community garden, and the neighborhood and the people in it begin to be gradually transformed in the process. Fleischman artfully tells the story from a different individual’s perspective in each chapter. It is a wonderful story of hope that is still based in the reality of the difficulties in a neighborhood that has been largely forgotten and neglected.
Seedfolks by Paul FleischmanNew York: Harper Collins, 1997.
This delightful novel stars a boy named Sam, who at only 12 years old is over six feet tall. He’s given the nick name “Tree” in fourth grade…and it sticks. His story unfolds as he learns to navigate middle school amidst the divorce of his parents. He learns some valuable lessons along the way; about friendship and Family. One turning point in the story is the flood that hits Sam’s town. Finally, with the help of grandpa, others recognize Sam’s height as a gift. During the flood, Sam stands tall and rescues many animals. Although the flood destroys his dad’s house, the family comes together to rebuild it. It’s as if, in some sense, as they rebuilt the house, they also rebuilt the family. Although his parents do not reconcile, Sam is finally at peace with his family and friends. To Stand Tall is to rise up amidst the pain and misfortune oflife…to see the good amidst the bad.
Stand Tall by Joan BauerNew York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002
StargirlMica High used to be so quiet and structured until Stargirl arrived. Not only is she different, she is just plain weird. Not only does she wear crazy outfits, she carries around a rat and randomly busts out her ukulele to sing “Happy Birthday” to random strangers. Leo is absolutely fascinated with Stargirl. In fact, he is so curious about her that he actually takes the time to get to know her and realizes she is actually pretty amazing. Actually, the whole school thinks she is onto something so everyone starts to dye their hair different colors, wear odd clothing, and do away with all conventional ideas. However, just like everything in high school, fads come and go and so does this fascination with Stargirl. Leo is torn between his loyalties to his “clique,” who want nothing to do with Stargirl, and his own feelings for her.
Stargirl by Jerry SpinelliAlfred Knopf, NY, 2000
Williwaw!Boat rides on the ocean, bears in the house and nasty weather all combine to create a fantastic story of life in rural Alaska. September and Ivan Crane must keep the home fires burning while their dad finishes his crabbing season in the Gulf of Alaska. The excitement of being home alone with chores to do, the radio to monitor, and winterizing all pale in comparison to riding the small boat to town across the bay. New friends and fast food await in town and the temptation may be too much.Unfortunately, breaking the rules brings larger consequences than either Ivan or September can imagine. This tale set in Alaska provides the reader with excitement, suspense and a taste of pioneering yet today.
Williwaw! by Tom BodettNew York: Yearling, 2000