What We’re Reading

One of the tenets of our education program at BCNY is to foster a love of reading, even during summer vacation!

SUMMER READING

Every Junior going to our sleepaway camp in Harriman State Park will choose a book on the list below to take on his weeklong trip to the wilderness!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Recommended Reading Level: 6th Grade

Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, is determined to take his future into his own hands. Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny chronicles of the adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

 

 

American Born Chinese
by Gene Luen Yang
Recommended Reading Level: 7th Grade

A multi-narrative graphic novel about a teenage boy named Jin Wang who struggles to find and accept his cultural identity. Intertwined with Jin’s story are those of other characters who also do not fit into their surroundings.

 

El Deafo
by Cece Bell
Recommended Reading Level: 5th Grade

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.

 

 

Ghost
by Jason Reynolds
Recommended Reading Level: 5th – 7th Grade

Ghost, a naturally talented runner and troublemaker, is recruited for an elite middle school track team. He must stay on track, literally and figuratively, to reach his full potential.

 

 

Us, in Progress: Short Stories About Young Latinos
by Lulu Delacre

An illustrated collection of twelve short stories that look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States. Experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.

 

 

Save Me a Seat
by Gita Varadarajan
Recommended Reading Level: 5th – 6th Grade

Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL. Joe and Ravi don’t think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.

 

 

The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander
Recommended Reading Level: 5th – 7th Grade

In this fast and furious novel of family and brotherhood, Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for their entire family.

 

 

Sag Harbor
by Colson Whitehead
Recommended Reading Level: 9th Grade & Up

The year is 1985. Benji Cooper is one of the only black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. But every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own. Although he’s just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates the rest of the year, he thinks that maybe this summer things will be different. If all goes according to plan, that is.

 

 

Sports Camp
by Rich Wallace
Recommended Reading Level: 5th – 6th Grade

Riley feels like the smallest kid at sports camp. In fact, he is. He just turned eleven in April, but most kids here are twelve, and a few are even thirteen—and gigantic. It’s hard enough for a shrimp like Riley to fit in. He just doesn’t want to be the weak link as his bunk competes for the Camp Olympia Trophy in the final mile-long swim race across Lake Surprise. He doesn’t count on being followed by the shadow of Big Joe, the giant vicious snapping turtle of camp lore. Wasn’t that supposed to be a legend?

 

 

Hello, Universe
by Erin Entrada Kelly
Recommended Reading Level: 5th – 7th Grade

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. A prank traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well and this disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms

 

 

Nerd Camp
by Elissa Brent Weissman
Recommended Reading Level: 6th – 7th Grade

Ten-year-old Gabe has just been accepted to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment. That means he’ll be spending six weeks at sleepaway camp, writing poetry and perfecting logic proofs. SCGE has been a summer home of some legendary middle-school smarty-pants but it also has a reputation for being, well, a nerd camp. Gabe isn’t a nerd. Is he?

 

 

Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel
by Steve Cotler
Recommended Reading Level: 5th – 6th Grade

Cheesie and Georgie are back, and this time they’re off to the greatest summer camp in Maine. With plenty of lists, drawings, and made-up words, Cheesie tells the story of the best worst summer ever.

 

 

Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Recommended Reading Level: 5th – 6th Grade

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life…until now.

 

 

Hatchet (Brian’s Saga Series)
by Gary Paulsen
Recommended Reading Level: 5th Grade

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild. Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

 


 

SPRING PICKS

 

EXPLORER PICK
Michael Recycle
by Ellie Bethel

Michael Recycle tells the adventures of a young superhero whose power allows him to teach people about recycling. After cleaning up a town, the people declare: “To Michael Recycle! The green-caped crusader, our super-green hero, the planet’s new savior!”

 

EXPLORER PICK
The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge
by Joanna Cole

Global warming is a hot topic that will affect the younger generation more than anyone. So why not turn to the teacher kids love most, Ms. Frizzle! Only the Friz can boil all the hoopla down to the scientific facts in a fun and informative way so kids can understand the crisis –and how they can help solve it.

 

JUNIOR PICK
Hoot
by Carl Hiaasen

The new kid at a Florida middle school, Roy and joins an effort to stop construction of a pancake house which would destroy a colony of burrowing owls who live on the site. Behind its lighthearted and often joking facade the book is a window into the rapid destruction of Florida wildlife in order to make room for civilization and pancake houses.

 

JUNIOR PICK
Operation Redwood
by S. Terrell French

Four kids take on big business to save a forest full of giant redwood trees. This book is an adventure filled with creative ideas, spunky ambition, and a love of the environment with main character Julian Carter-Li.

 

TEEN PICK
Firestorm (The Caretaker Trilogy #1)
by David Klass

In the first book of the Caretaker Trilogy, Seventeen-year-old Jack’s life has always been normal–except that his parents have encouraged him to blend in and not try too hard. But then he learns that he is from 1000 years in the future, when the earth is an ecological wasteland. His true parents are among the Caretakers, who live in that future, and he has been sent back to the present, to the Turning Point, the last opportunity to stop the environmental disasters that the Dark Army has set in play in order to ruin the world.

 

TEEN PICK
StarTalk Young Readers Edition
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

An eye-opening journey for anyone curious about the complexities of our universe. Featuring vivid photography, thought-provoking sidebars and enlightening facts, StarTalk reimagines science’s most challenging topics–from how the brain works to the physics of comic book superheroes–in a relatable, humorous way that will attract curious young readers.

 

STAFF PICK
Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen
by Anna Lappé and Bryant Terry

Combining a straight-to-the-point exposé about organic foods, the how-to’s of creating an affordable, easy-to use organic kitchen and an inviting recipe section, Grub brings organics home to city dwellers.

 

STAFF PICK
Big Green Cookbook
by Jackie Newgent, RDN

“Going green” has spread to the kitchen! Big Green Cookbook is the first comprehensive, climate-conscious cookbook, ideal for both culinary novices and experienced cooks. Food and health expert Jackie Newgent reveals simple, practical, and sometimes even money-saving solutions for choosing and preparing food in planet-pleasing ways. It has never been easier to create everyday meals that maximize flavor while minimizing your environmental impact.

 


 

WINTER PICKS

 

EXPLORER PICK
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
by Doreen Rappaport

This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

EXPLORER PICK
A Weed Is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver
by Aliki

A beautifully illustrated story of the life of the man, born a slave, who became a scientist and devoted his entire life to helping the South improve its agriculture.

 

JUNIOR PICK
Black Pioneers of Science and Invention
by Louis Haber

An account of the lives of fourteen gifted innovators who have played important roles in scientific and industrial progress. The achievements of Benjamin Banneker, Granville T. Woods, George Washington Carver, and others have made jobs easier, saved countless lives, and in many cases, altered the course of history.

 

JUNIOR PICK
Who Was Frederick Douglass?
by April Jones Prince

Born into slavery in Maryland in 1818, Frederick Douglass was determined to gain freedom–and once he realized that knowledge was power, he secretly learned to read and write to give himself an advantage.

 

TEEN PICK
Vernon Can Read!
by Vernon E. Jordan, Jr

A story that encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of black life during the civil rights revolution. As a student in Atlanta, Vernon Jordan had a summer job driving a white banker around town. During the man’s afternoon naps, Jordan passed the time reading books, a fact that astounded his boss. Vernon can read! the man exclaimed to his relatives. Nearly 50 years later, Vernon Jordan, long-time civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders, and one of the most charismatic figures in America, has written this book about his life and times.

 

TEEN PICK
Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High
by Melba Pattillo Beals

An innocent teenager. An unexpected hero. In 1957, Melba Pattillo turned sixteen. That was also the year she became a warrior on the front lines of a civil rights firestorm. Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, Melba was one of nine teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School.

 


 

FALL PICKS

 

 

EXPLORER PICK
Dragons Love Tacos 2
by Adam Rubin

A hilarious sequel to the bestselling book Dragons Love Tacos about adventure, time travel, and, of course, tacos!

 

STAFF PICK
Between The World And Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The author’s letter to his teenaged son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being black in the United States.

 

CLUBHOUSE DIRECTOR PICK
Solving Disproportionality and Achieving Equity: A Leader′s Guide to Using Data to Change Hearts and Minds
by Dr. Eddie Fergus

How to uncover the root causes of disproportionate rate of suspensions, gifted program enrollment, or special education referrals for students of color and rally your staff to face the challenges head on.

 

PARENT PICK
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
by Amanda Ripley

The book follows three case studies from the schools in Finland, South Korea and Poland and analyses their education systems.