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 Cool Reads for Hot Summer Days
Challenger Middle School 2015 Suggested Summer Reading
Some titles may not be appropriate for all readers, so please choose your books with care.
Non-Fiction Titles
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen. Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at "pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be here," Maya has never been popular. But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. The real-life results are hilarious, painful, and filled with unexpected surprises. (from publisher description)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. This autobiography, expressed in verse by master storyteller and author, Jacqueline Woodson. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Woodson's eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Touching and powerful. National Book Award Winner. (from publisher description)
Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport. In a stirring chronicle, Doreen Rappaport brings to light the courage of countless Jews who organized to sabotage the Nazis and help other Jews during the Holocaust. Rappaport introduces readers to various individuals, discussing their efforts to help Jews during the Holocaust and the reasons for their rebellion. She also highlights many events, such as Kristallnacht and the battle for Warsaw, and includes brief biographical sketches and archival photographs. (from publisher description)
The Family Romanov : Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming. This historical depiction of Russia’s last tzar, Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, and their five children, pulls the reader in with a glimpse of royal life, comparisons with the lives of the peasants who lived poverty, and the conflict that ended in revolution. It reads like a novel, setting the stage for a dramatic collapse and tragic ending. Fleming skillfully weaves primary sources into the descriptions and dialogs, making the story truly memorable.
A Maze Me: Poems for Girls by Naomi Shihab Nye. First love, friendship, school, family, community, having a crush, loving your mother and hating your mother, sense of self, body image, hopes and dreams . . . these seventy-two poems will speak to girls of all ages. An honest, insightful, inspirational, and amazing collection. (from publisher description)
Curiosity: An Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission and the People Who Made It Happen by Rod Pyle. Meet the team of scientists behind the most recent mission to Mars, in which the unmanned rover Curiosity, the advanced space machine sent to another planet, collected an array of fascinating information about the Red Planet. The author brings readers a behind-the-scenes look at the scientists who developed the rover, the challenges and successes of the mission, and the Curiosity itself. (from Science Books and Films review)
Non-Fiction Titles
Ascendance Trilogy (The False Prince, The Runaway King and The Shadow Throne) by Jennifer Nielsen. This series starts in a faraway kingdom wracked with turmoil, full of treachery, deception and perilous situations The stakes are high, the action is constant, and the themes of danger and deceit keep the reader flying through the pages.
City of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire #1) by Miriam Forster. What a beautiful, exotic story! It starts out as a fantasy and morphs into a murder mystery. Nisha lives in the exotic City of Dolls, a community that provides sanctuary for abandoned girls.  She has a few friends, a secret crush, and a group of cats with whom she can communicate. This book could appeal to those who like Erin Hunter’s Warriors series and those who have an affinity for Agatha Christie.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he also tells his story in rap. It’s a fast and furious novel of family and brotherhood. 2015 Newbery Medal Winner, 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner. (from publisher description)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin. Not everyone understands Rose's obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different —not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father. When a storm hits their rural town, her dog goes missing. Now she must find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. This powerful story is brilliantly told from Rose's point of view. (from publisher description)
The Greenglass House by Kate Milford.  Milo, whose family owns an old, run-down inn in an icy coastal town, is ready to his winter break. The family’s inn hardly ever has guests in the dead of winter, but suddenly, guest after guest shows up. All of the guests have a mysterious story regarding the old house that relates to why they are there. They get snowed in, and items from the rooms start disappearing. This clever mystery has a plot twist toward the end that will make you want to go back and read the whole thing again. Immediately.
The Night Gardener by  Jonathan Auxier. Are you ready for something truly original and creepy? Fourteen-year-old Molly and her younger brother Kip find work at a strange English manor that has an enormous tree growing next to the house. The tree has a life of its own, they find out, granting wishes in return for parts of the wisher’s soul. The truly spooky night gardener collects the tears and sweat from these unfortunate souls, feeding the tree and scaring the daylight out of the characters in the book and the reader.
Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis. Benji and Red couldn't be more different. But their fates are entwined. A chance meeting leads the boys to discover that they have something in common. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real?  In a tale brimming with intrigue and adventure, Curtis crafts a novel that will break your heart—and expand it, too. (from publisher description)
Atlantia by Allie Condie. Rio has always dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio's hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, unexpectedly strands Rio Below. She is alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio's true self. Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother's death, her own destiny, and the corrupted system between land and sea. (from publisher description)
The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow.This book will appeal to those who loved The Fault in Our Stars. Fifteen-year-old Francis, a leukemia patient, falls in love with feisty teen Amber as they undergo cancer treatments, but their relationship is put to the test when one of them enters remission while the other's condition worsens. Their narrative is infused with tenderness, pain, and many moments of levity. (Publisher description and Publisher‘s Weekly book review from
Don’t forget to participate in the Pikes Peak Library District’s Teen Summer Reading Program!
You can register online at starting in June.
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Recommended Reads 


All Challenger Reads



Washed up on an island in the Pacific with his dog Stella, Michael struggles to survive on his own. He can't find food. He can't find water. But just when things are at their worst, Michael realizes that he and Stella are not alone.

His fellow castaway, Kensuke, has lived on the island since the bombing of his native Nagasaki. Kensuke keeps his distance at first, but slowly, he lets the boy into his world. The two teach and learn from each other until, inevitably, they must talk about escape.




When eleven-year-old Annie first started lying to her social worker, she had been taught by an expert: Gran. "If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it with excellence," Gran would say. That was when Gran was feeling talkative, and not brooding for days in her room — like she did after telling Annie and her little brother, Rew, the one thing they know about their father: that he was killed in a fight with an angry man who was sent away. Annie tells stories, too, as she and Rew laze under the birches and oaks of Zebra Forest — stories about their father the pirate, or pilot, or secret agent. But then something shocking happens to unravel all their stories: a rattling at the back door, an escapee from the prison holding them hostage in their own home, four lives that will never be the same.




Challenger's first nonfiction ACR! When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family's life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William's windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land. Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy's brilliant idea can light up the world. Based on the adult novel of the same title.

While reading the ACR, students visted activity station at the CLIC where they got hands-on expereience with motors, radio waves, circuits, windmills, and Malawi food.



Pay It Forward is a moving, uplifting novel about Trevor McKinney, a twelve-year-old boy in a small California town who accepts his teacher’s challenge to earn extra credit by coming up with a plan to change the world.

Trevor’s idea is simple: do a good deed for three people, and instead of asking them to return the favor, ask them to “pay it forward” to three others who need help. He envisions a vast movement of kindness and goodwill spreading across the world, and in this “quiet, steady masterpiece with an incandescent ending” (Kirkus Reviews), Trevor’s actions change his community forever.




Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he managed to get kicked out of every school in Rhode Island, and actually burned the last one down to the ground. 

Only one place will take him now, and that's a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists: poet Lucille, theater director Randolph, dancer Cordelia, and dreamy Destiny. The only one who doesn't fit the Applewhite mold is E.D.—a smart, sensible girl who immediately clashes with the defiant Jake.

Jake thinks surviving this new school will be a breeze . . . but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?




Berlin 1942 
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. 
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.

Students are learning about the Holocaust, genocide, and prejudice in conjunction with their reading of this book.




Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it's just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does. 
Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird-her name is Rebecca-could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to met her, he's terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca wil only see his autism and not who Jason really is. 
By acclaimed writer Nora Raleigh Baskin, this is the breathtaking depiction of an autistic boy's struggles-and a story for anyone who has ever worried about fitting in.




Steven has a totally normal life (well, almost).

He plays drums in the All-City Jazz Band (whose members call him the Peasant), has a crush on the hottest girl in school (who doesn't even know he's alive), and is constantly annoyed by his younger brother, Jeffrey (who is cuter than cute - which is also pretty annoying). But when Jeffrey gets sick, Steven's world is turned upside down, and he is forced to deal with his brother's illness, his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece, his homework, the band, girls, and Dangerous Pie (yes, you'll have to read the book to find out what that is ).

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This page includes links for special projects, website evaluation lessons, and links to primary sources.