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3 Authors to Add to Your Library

The Best Part

LOOKING FOR AUTHORS that kids connect to is a big part of the Library Media Specialist’s mission. But this season will not disappoint. These authors have reached their stride. They make a big impact on learning and are fully in charge of their pen. What does that mean for libraries?

These award-winning authors share stories that are so engaging, it’s easy for readers to connect to the subject matter. These geniuses know how to keep their readers on the page and inside their narratives. As an author, academic, and teaching librarian that has studied the craft of pacing for more than 15 years, there’s good reason to add these books first when you are considering expanding your library. Here’s who I’d rally to the bookshelf and why.

1. Stacy McAnulty

One look at her books and readers may start drooling. Not because they are as dead as a Zombie, but because this title is exciting and fun—and from the cover onward, students are fully engaged and begging to learn more. First up, Brains, It’s Not Just a Zombie Snack.

This text begs for giggles, interactive responses to some pages, and a follow-up Q/A even a week or so after it’s shared: How much does an infant’s brain weigh? An elephant? A blue whale? Students retain their learning thanks to this author’s brilliance—who could ask for a better STEM addition to a K-3, K-6 library.

Then, if we think about curriculum and a study of the planets, McAnulty’s Our Universe series that’s 5 books strong really delivers. It’s FACTS meets FUNNY, so learning is a blast. The list of books includes. Don’t believe me? Enjoy the author reading her first book in this series: Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years.

MacKids Activity Kits: PLUS, thanks to MacKids School and Library, you can download a complete activity kit for each book. What an exciting day for students when they discover they can read one of these funny informative stories and do activities, too.

What’s more is that this author is clearly in charge of her pen. Her books range from sweet to sassy. She hooks picture book aficionados with great topics presented right in her titles: A Small Kindness, Beautiful, and Brave. She reaches leveled readers with her Goldie Blox or Dino Files series. And, she delivers to middle grade devotees the experiences that matter. No matter what, her books pack a punch. They beg to be read.

Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. Genius title. STEM focus. And talk about a great read: Lucy Callahan gets zapped by lightning and turns into a math genius. A full lesson plan may be downloaded today.

Millionaires for the Month. When two boys find a wallet and are confronted with a bizarre challenge, they must decide just how to spend 5 million dollars in 30 days? Wouldn’t every kid beg for this story problem?

The World Ends in April shares the story of Eleanor Dross, who endures her grandfather’s survivalist drills (yes, stockpiles of freeze-dried food and immediate evacuations) only to read that an asteroid is set to strike planet Earth in April. Will she be ready to save her classmates?

The best part? Her newest book, Save the People: Halting Human Extinction, releases this May, 2022, and explores our past extinctions (days of prehistoric sharks, dinosaurs, and other creatures) and identifies current threats to our human survival on planet Earth.

You’ll be over-the moon thrilled and feel all double-lucky reading these great reads.

2. Jason Reynolds

Sometimes, you can get really lucky and find that guy with an uber crazy contagious story about becoming an award-winning author after being a non-reader most of his life. Yes. Truly, that’s his story. He did not find the books he liked to read, so what did he do? He created them. His playground became the page. He explored whitespace and line breaks and grew ever excited by how the flow and sounds of words punched up his ideas. He celebrated words. Explored words like anagrams (CANOE=OCEAN or SCARE=CARES) and wondered about the impact poetry and space and placement could have on his stories. He reimagined whitespace, lifted words, and allowed breath to enter in. His writing craft became a sculpture built out of sounds and rhythm, words and heart. His stories conjure up feelings and imagery so crisp, you feel so present to his characters that he disappears. Suddenly, the magician among other things. Really.

His subjects are as tough,


raw, and so real

that they feel surreal.

Consider how Long Way Down makes a great study for PLOT. The inciting incident is clear. A shooting. The expectation placed on the main character is clear too. Will has 8 elevator floors, just 67 seconds to decide: will he avenge his brother’s death and live by the neighborhood rules–or will he create his own? What I love about using this title is that students descend during the rising action and definitely have heightened awareness for this story’s climax. Opens a lot of discussion.

Its graphic sister novel, Long Way Down, with art by Danica Novgorodoff, provides students with the chance to explore a COMPARE-CONTRAST between two mediums: Graphic Novel and Fiction.


How does art impact a story?

How do so few words on a page—the art of freeverse–give rise to story?

And that’s only one of his books.

Open Ain’t Burned All the Bright and explore art. Watch color and line and thoughts and energy cast out over a series of pages to create a powerful storytelling experience. Yes, he’s that good.

Climb into a super creative, mind-bending book, My Name Is Jason. Mine too. Our Story. Our Way, due out June 28, 2022. One glance inside, and you know-know that Reynolds is a powerhouse influencer for every reader nation-wide today.

When you open the new, recently released Jason Reynolds-Raul the Third project, STUNTBOY, In the Meantime, you shake hands with an awesome way to teach HYPERBOLE to any class. You see, in this story, Stuntboy, aka Portico Reeves, lives in a castle. Not just any castle.

He lives in a castle with fifty (plus) doors, fifty toilets, fifty bathtubs, one hundred windows, a million stairs (at least), and at least two elevators.

All I can say is that whatever Jason has written, buy it, get in your library. He's a genius — and he’s the guy reaching the guy who doesn’t read: the reluctant, the blocked, and the all-around nay-sayer that shirks reading. What do you have to lose with his books to serve up to them?

Working on CHARACTERIZATION in class? Read some of the journal entries from his story, As Brave As You, to students and ask them to discuss what it reveals about his characters: the narrator-writer, and the person being written about. What can they infer from these excerpts? What predictions can be made? And the big question: How does spending the summer at your grandparents while your parents work through their troubles equate to being brave?

Exploring diversity and racial concerns, Stamped is a perfect go-to. It’s even been published as an edition for kids. You just cannot go wrong when selecting a Jason Reynolds’s book. All his books should be a part of every library.

3. Candace Fleming

Good writing is good writing. It’s the gold standard for reaching the most students and holding their attention. When it comes to the craft of good writing, it doesn’t get much better than Ms. Fleming. She’s an Award-Winning Sibert Medalist, and she often collaborates with her husband, Eric Rohmann, an Award-Winning Caldecott Medalist. Read any collaboration, and you will experience the beauty of creativity and what happens when art and words marry and merge into story.

Honeybee might beg for students to think about and discuss how much we depend on honeybees and weigh this against the fact that they live a relatively short life: 28 days.

Giant Squid, written like an unfolding mystery, really reminds us, as readers, how much more we have to discover about these creatures.

My favorite longer picture book experience that’s a perfect read aloud for every classroom or one-book, one-school read: STRONGHEART, Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen. In this story students hear the fictional story based on a real story, and are given both the fictional tale as well as the research overview at the back of the book. This is a dynamic way to work in teachables on ELA, Writing, and Research.

Her depth and range is unbelievable. She’s written The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of the Imperial Russia, and collaborated with M.T. Anderson and other authors to create Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All, playing the role of Katharine of Aragon, wife #1. While students may read Princess books or Royalty stories, the Real Stories are grounded in historical evidence and produced based on how lives were lived. Oftentimes, these are often better than their fictional counterparts.

Anyone only needs to experience Imogene’s Last Stand to witness her artistry. She is so crazy into history and discovery and embeds her own curiosity into her work. In Imogene’s Last Stand, the story opens: “Liddleville, New Hampshire, was small—so small it wasn’t even a speck on the state map. Stille Liddleville was home to a village green, a general store, a three-legged cat, and a little girl named Imogene Tripp” (3). She supports this writing with actual quotes from historical figures: Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Chief Joseph, Eleanor and Teddy Roosevelt, Paul Revere and more.

Students who get pulled into a text become better readers. These authors will pull kids in and keep them there.


Let’s say you’d like to have every 6th grade teacher read Long Way Down for PLOT. But, you also want everyone to give the same pre- and final assessments. You can!

You can easily turn your library into a curriculum connection hub by using Alexandria Library’s OTHER tab. This is such a gift to users and the whole school’s team when there’s an easy way to share common project links.

You can share read alouds, links to shared Google.docs, Google forms, Jamboards, YouTube add-ons, and more, using Alexandria Library’s OTHER Boards. It’s another ideal to share information, books, or even collaborate with colleagues on assessments and lesson plans.

Here’s how:
  1. Go to TITLE → then, click on the OTHER tab.
  2. Then click the ADD button.
  3. Add a link description and then the link.
  4. And you are done.

Once you get started thinking about the books you love and the readings and the assessments that would be helpful for all teachers in the building, beware how much edutainment learning this little tool might add as you discover more ways to connect and collaborate about the many books in the library. Wow, right? Try it out for yourself. If you need help with this activity, register for a personal Alexandria chat or sign up for a OTHER Links Webinar. We’d love to help.

Interested in a DEMO? Click the link and ask. We’d love to have you take a look around.

—Jo Sadler, Alexandria Virtual Librarian

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