Tag Archives: fiction

All This Gushy Valentine Stuff Got You Thinking About Writing a Romance Novel?

Romance Elements

5 Elements Sigh-Worthy Romance Novel Must Have by novelist Jody Hedlund


What’s in a Genre: The Form and Formula of Cinderella Inc. By


Top 20 words used in Harlequin Romance Titles

Friday Weird Science: The evolutionary psychology of the romance novel by Scicurious

And then…

chicklitBy Freida McFadden


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Kate Messner Lesson on Building Fantasy Worlds

Why is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy so compelling? How about The Matrix or Harry Potter? What makes these disparate worlds come alive are clear, consistent rules for how people, societies — and even the laws of physics — function in these fictional universes. Author Kate Messner offers a few tricks for you, too, to create a world worth exploring in your own words.”

Full Lesson: How to Build a Fictional World by Kate Messner
Via Open Culture: How to Build a Fictional World

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All Fiction Books Should Have Maps

Wizard of Oz

The Princess Bride

Winnie the Pooh

“If I ruled the world, or at least a publishing company, all books would contain as much supplementary information as possible. Nonfiction, fiction—doesn’t matter. Every work would have an appendix filled with diagrams, background information, digressions and anecdata. And of course, maps. Lots and lots of maps.”

Read more and see more maps at The Maps We Wandered Into As Kids by Victoria Johnson

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Fiction Makes You a Better Human: The Scientific Proof

In the recent NY Times Article, Your Brain on Fiction, author Annie Murphy Paul puts neuroscience behind something that teachers and librarians already know: that reading fiction stimulates the brain and makes you a more well rounded and just plain better human.

“The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life…Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.”

Caught Reading By Jayel Aheram

Studies on the effects of identifying with characters in a novel suggest that fiction not only enriches our lives, it makes us more effective social beings as well.

“…we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers….individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.”

Aren’t we constantly looking for books to read to our students that illustrate some concept we want them to understand, from values and history to mathematical concepts? As readers too, we instinctively understand that the novels we have read are part of us; part of our life experience.

Teaching With Emotion by woodleywonderworks

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National Book Awards Young People’s Literature Winner

Click to go to HarperCollins book page


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Recommended for Grades 4 through 8

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize given to writers by writers and administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

This book has two things going for it before the content is even considered. Despite our best efforts, kids do still judge a book by its cover and I  love this one by Zdeno Basic and Manuel Sumberac. Secondly, the narrative poetry format has gone over very well with many readers in my library in books like Song of the Sparrow and novels by Sonja Sones and  Ellen Hopkins. Although my students prefer realistic fiction set in contemporary North America, reviews like the one quoted below have convinced me to order this book, read it and promote it in my library.

Inside Out and Back Again is an outstanding read.  There were no longeurs, no places where Hà’s narration felt affected, no stilted dialogue.  The prose/poetry felt natural, as if it were the means of expression for a confused, scared immigrant girl trying to make sense of the new culture around her and her place within it. ~ Vaguely Borgesian

The reviews speak of an authenticity that is explained in the author’s biography. Thanhha Lai has drawn from her own experience to write this novel.

On April 30, 1975, North Vietnam (the Communist side) won the war, and my family and I (living in Saigon, South Vietnam) scrambled onto a navy ship and ended up in Montgomery, Alabama.  Why?  Believe me, we didn’t know about Alabama to choose it.  But to enter the United States, refugees had to have a sponsor. The man who had the nerve to take on all of us (10 in all) lived in Alabama.

As is so often the case as selection by reviews gets pushed to the back of the priority list behind the moment-to-moment tasks of running the library, I find myself embarrassingly behind the 8-ball on this one. There is an abundance of positive reviews for this book which you will find easily with a search. Here are a few more:

Outside of a Dog
School Library Journal
Reader reviews on Goodreads

I also found a couple of book trailers that I’ve found can be very effective with promoting books to our oh-so visual students. I’ve embedded one below and the other can be found here.

Look inside the book at Amazon

I’m curious: Do you already have this book and if so, what do your students think of it? If not, will you buy this book based on these reviews? Why or why not?

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Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators, Poetry