Monday, July 18, 2016

Outrun the Moon

Screenshot from
Hello, Bode Book Reviewers!

I know it's summer, and I know that some of you are reading (maybe not this...but something!) Don't forget that you are free to post here over the summer if you'd like! :) I've been doing some reading, and I'd love to share some of the awesome books that I've read so far!

Today I'd love to talk about Outrun the Moon by Stacy Lee. Set in the early 1900s in San Fransisco, California, Outrun the Moon is about 15 year-old Mercy Wong. Mercy has grown up in the boisterous and beautiful China Town, but she wants to do more than marry and work in Chinatown forever. She aspires to go to a fancy school for girls and someday run her own business.

However, her story begins in April of 1906-- when an event was about to shake the world of San Fransisco very literally. She must cope with the aftermath-- and continue to struggle with the stereotypes and difficulties of being Chinese in world that focuses more on her looks than her abilities.

Lee does a fantastic job describing Mercy's life through vivid imagery and dialogue. I love the way that the book taught me about a point of view and a historical event that I don't know a lot about. She does a great job showing the events of the story rather than telling us what happens. I did struggle a little bit with the beginning of the book-- it's a little slow and focuses primarily on character development rather than action. If you stick through it, however, the climax and end of the story make it worth the journey!

I'd give Outrun the Moon a 4/5 stars.

Why Summer Reading Matters

At the end of last school year, my reading students made this amazing video about the benefits of reading over the summer. It's a pretty great watch!

Though the video is a little silly, the condition that it discusses-- the "Summer Slide"-- is a real problem all over the country. Many students leave for the summer excited about the long break that they will get from school. A long break from school, however, is also a long break from learning. Imagine if you wanted to play basketball in high school and college, but you just stopped playing and practicing for two to three months every year! Would you make it?

Let your inner reading spirit soar! :)

What happens if I don't read over the summer?

According to research, "by the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills over the summer are an average of 2 years behind their peers." This means that each summer that you ditch your books, your ability as a reader suffers. You'll struggle with new concepts in class, and you'll have to work twice as hard to catch up.

I'm busy over the summer, and I am traveling a lot. How the heck am I supposed to fit in reading time?

Just because your teacher asks you to read over the summer doesn't mean that they are expecting you to spend ALL of your time reading! Even your reading teachers are probably not picking up a book every single day. Even reading 4-6 books over the entire course of the summer can help you keep on track!

Reading also doesn't mean reading ONLY chapter books. Reading books aloud to younger siblings is a great way to help you and your siblings practice good reading habits over the summer. Audiobooks, Podcasts, and other audio-reading is also a great alternative to reading books on paper. Reading news articles on subjects that you love is also a great way to practice reading. Catch up on how great the Royals are doing by reading a few newspaper articles about them!

But my teacher isn't here to help me find a book-- what should I do?

Though you can always just go and explore for great reads, there are also ways for you to find help
when looking for just the right book. If you have access to a local library, a librarian would be happy to help you find an amazing book according to interests and reading level. Local libraries generally have great reading programs in place, too, where you can win prizes and read with other readers your age. Feel free to check in with your friends, too. They may have read some awesome books that you haven't yet!

Here's one of our local libraries-- located conviniently near
the mall!   Image from the St. Joseph News Press
Are you worried about finding a book that's within your lexile/difficulty range? If you're on your own, the 5-Finger rule is generally a good trick when looking for a good book that's not too hard. Follow these steps from
  1.  Find a book that looks interesting.
  2. Open the book to a random page in the first chapter (watch out for those spoilers!)
  3. Read the whole page, and put up a finger for each word that you don't know. 
  4. If you have fewer than five fingers, the book should be in the right reading level. 
Don't let the 5-Finger rule scare you away from trying a harder book, though. Sometimes books have words that you may not know that aren't too hard; they're just a part of the story! Books like the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games all have book-specific vocabulary that you can figure out using context clues!

Take some risks, and always check out more than you can possibly finish from your library-- it's still ok to abandon books! I always check out around five books and end up only reading about two of them, and that's totally fine! Enjoy a summer full of play and reading!

Sources for more information:
Brighthub Education
The National Summer Reading Association
Scholastic Parents