It's a spooky time to be a wicked reader in middle grades. There are so many spooktacular topics out there that we are just goozing with excitement over. There are also some ghoulish, wicked ways to take a story that you read and create something fang-tastic. 

Are you looking to excite your students into creating something eerie? Something magical that will have them enter your room at their own risk? 


In Edison Beaker and the Creature Seeker (Book1: The Night Door) your students will follow the graphic novel pages into the Underwhere (yes, you read that right), into the darkness. 

In this hilarious graphic novel, Edison Beaker is about to find out what services the family business, Beaker Creature Control, really offers. (Hint: forget about rat and roach removal . . . think monster hunting!)

Edison Beaker and his young sister Tesla are staying with their Uncle Earl, manager of the family pest control company, when an alarm sounds and he has no choice but to drag them along on a service call.

They should have listened when he warned them to "stay in the van."

Monster-sized mayhem ensues when the kids chase their escaped hamster into a mysterious warehouse--and suddenly they are the ones being chased when all sorts of creepy creatures scurry, slink, and stomp through a secret Night Door.

The first of two new middle-school graphic novels that introduce a funny, smart, likable, reluctant hero and his wisecracking younger sister whose adventures are sure to appeal to readers of Lunch LadyHilo, and Caveboy Dave

Have your students paint the town dead with this ghoulish writing activity. After students read Edison Beaker, have them create their own spooky scene or story with these blank graphic novel sheets. 

The picture will take you to the free download on TPT. 

October 29 – Two Points of Interest – Halloween themed Creative Instagram Picture
October 30 – The O.W.L – Why reading is better than candy
October 31 – Bookfoolery – Review + Blog Picture
November 1 – Polish & Paperbacks – Inspired by the Book: Nail Art
November 2 – Books 4 your kids – Creative Instagram Picture

October 29 – Lacey Does Lit – Inspired by the Book: Decorate a pumpkin
October 30 – Bookish Friends and Feline Fancies – Creative Instagram Picture
October 31 – The Bookish Chick – Matching Halloween Monsters to YA + MG Books
November 1 –  BookCrushin – Pairing Books with Candies + Spooky Playlist
November 2 – Reading is Better with Cupcakes – Yummy treats to eat while reading

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
October 29 – Always in the Middle – Review
October 30 – Hapa Bookworm – Creative Instagram Picture + Inspired by the book: Playlist
October 31 – Four Violet Reviews – Creative Craft Project
November 1 – The Boy Reader – Classroom students re-enact book scenes
November 2 – Fables & Wren – Creative Instagram Picture

Kit Kat
October 29 – Iwanicki Adventures in Teaching – Creative Instagram Picture
October 30 – Teachers Who Read – Classroom Writing Activity
October 31 – A Little Bit Biscardi – Halloween themed Creative Instagram Picture
November 1 – Looking Glass Reads – ‘Gimme a break’: 5 times the characters needed to take a break and share a Kitkat bar
November 2 – Brunette Biblio – Replacing the main characters with the Sanderson Sisters (Hocus Pocus)

October 29 – 4th Grade Unicorns – Creative Instagram Picture
October 30 – Trissina Loves Books – Halloween themed content + Scary Autofill Question
October 31 – The Pages In-Between – Book + Candy Pairing with Spooky Kid Costumes
November 1 – A Bella Fairytale – Creative Instagram Picture + Inspired by the book: Dog Costumes
November 2 – Bridget and the Books – Bridget’s Halloween Celebrations

13 Ghouslishly Good Books

Can't wait for fall weather? If you're like me, you are itching to cozy up under a warm blanket, with a cup of coffee, and the perfect book. As I write this it's 80 degrees and we're under a Tornado Watch-hardly sweater weather. But if you're ready for an edge-of-your-seat thriller or a terrifying physiological thriller these books are sure to get you ready for the Halloween season.

Creep factor scale: 
1 ghost = A family-friendly haunted hay ride
2 ghosts = The hairs on the back of your neck stand up
3 ghosts = You're home alone and someone knocks on your door
4 ghosts = My three-year-old insists there's a man sitting on his bed (there isn't)
5 ghosts = Pull the blankets over your head, close your eyes, and scream

Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489

Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work it may work the same or in different ways. 

Be Prepared
By: Vera Brosgol  
Release Date: 4/24/18

For fans of: Awkward, Brave

First Line: 


The book: 

My review: An excellent graphic novel of Vera experiencing what it means to find friendship, enemies, and herself. Definitely a GN that should be in all middle grade classrooms.

Aliza Werner review: Love this autobiographical graphic novel of young Vera going to Russian camp. I was excited to have my 3rd graders grab it, but there a few parts that take this one up to a true middle grade read (name calling: "tit head", older campers caught making out, period-stained undies flying from the flagpole). Many kids will relate to the challenges of friendships and navigating new situations.

Goodreads description: 

A gripping and hilarious middle-grade summer camp memoir from the author of Anya's Ghost.

All Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there's one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she's found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the "cool girl" drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Cece Bell, and Victoria Jamieson, Vera Brosgol's Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship.

The author: Vera is an author/illustrator who has published some fantastic stories thus far. You can find more about her here: https://www.verabee.com/

Read it for + Teaching Points: 
Acceptance. Friendship. Fitting in. 

You could have students create their own graphic novel strip where they describe a scene from their own life where friendship was hard, or where they encountered being the "new kid" and were nervous. 

Invisible Emmie (
companion Positively Izzy)
By: Terri Libenson
Release Date: 5/2/2017

For fans of: Drama, Real Friends 

First Line: 

Invisible Emmie                               Positively Izzy

The book: 

Goodreads summary: This is the story of two totally different girls—quiet, shy, artistic Emmie and popular, outgoing, athletic Katie—and how their lives unexpectedly intersect one day when an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands.

The books are written in dual mediums. Chapter book/words AND graphic novel style illustrations. I LOVE sharing this type of story with my readers because as 5th graders, this is exactly how they want to write! What better way to share that than with a story that will hit home to them in a lot of ways, too. 

The author:
 Terri Libenson 

Read it for +Teaching Points: 
Heart. Shyness. Acceptance. Friendship. Understanding. 

Again, use it in the same context as Be Prepared. Students will gravitate towards these books to use as mirrors. Find those students who you can recommend these too, might just help them feel connected and accepted if they are feeling otherwise. 


Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing for the free review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

To be completely honest, I don’t love fantasy. I struggle with the genre and it can be a big reading gap for me. However, when fantasy is well done, such as the Harry Potter series, I'm alllllll over it! The Train to Impossible Places was giving me all the Harry Potter vibes right away and I was immediately hooked and couldn't put it down.

This book is about Suzy, an eleven-year-old girl that wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the Impossible Postal Express; a troll-operated delivery service that runs everywhere from ocean-bottomed shipwrecks to Trollville, to space. The catch is the train has stopped in her living room. Yes, her living room!

Suzy loves science and all things logical, and a train in her living room just doesn’t make sense. However, it is there and she is confident that she is not dreaming.

I book-talked this book for a recent First Chapter Friday and my kids were scrambling over themselves to get to it first! Every teacher loves when that happens!

One of my fifth graders read it first and here’s what she had to say:

“I really love this book because it’s a mystery book and I would say it’s one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read.”

That’s some pretty high praise! 

I recently discovered that Impossible Places is the first book in a trilogy and I am so excited to read the next installments! 

Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489

Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work it may work the same or in different ways. 

Where the Watermelon Grows
By: Cindy Baldwin 
Release Date: 7/3/18

For fans of: The Thing About Jellyfish, A Snicker of Magic, Out of my Mind

First Line: On summer nights, the moon reaches right in through my window and paints itself across the ceiling in swirls and gleams of silver. 

The book: 

Della’s family is far from “normal” but what family isn’t? Della’s mother struggles with a mental illness and Della can’t help but carry guilt for thinking her illness is her fault. This is an amazing story of community, love, family, friendship, and understanding. Della is empowering as a young girl. I can’t wait to share with students next year.

The author: This is Cindy's debut novel! I was blown away when I read it this summer! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16027248.Cindy_Baldwin

Read it for + Teaching Points: 
Acceptance. Empathy. Courage. Love. Family. 

For writing in the classroom: Research mental health and then how they can show empathy towards others who are struggling, i.e. depression, anxiety, adhd, etc.


The Science of Breakable Things
By: Tae Keller
Release Date: 5/6/18

For fans of: Fish in a Tree, Mockingbird, Rules 

First Line: Mr. Neely just wrote our first lab book assignment on the board in his scrunched-up, scratchy handwriting and he's all excited about this scientific process stuff.  

The book: 

I have never read a story that portrays depression, and it was so perfectly portrayed. Depression affects so many, either in obvious ways or silent ways, and I think it’s imperative for kids to start being aware of these issues. Natalie’s story was one that I can absolutely relate to, and so much of her adolescent life is familiar in myself, but also my students. I love the science connection. I will definitely be book talking to my students and sharing as much as I can. I already have a few students in mind of who are or have experienced this during this school year.
“Living is not being afraid of the answer.”

The author: Tae is amazing. Her website has an awesome newsletter you can subscribe too! I can't wait to see what else she puts out into the world. http://www.taekeller.com/

Read it for +Teaching Points: 
Adventure. Standing up for what you believe in. Compassion. Understanding. Family.

Again, mental awareness. I would also discuss friendships and using signposts. 


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