A Summer Reading List for 2013

summer readingHi Folks,

I have two items today:  my summer book reading list and a fun book-related event coming up soon.

First, the latter– The Ann Arbor Book Festival Crawl will take place on Thursday, June 20th, in the evening. This is a fun opportunity to cruise around to different book-related spaces, shop for books, and hear authors. The Crawl stops at Nicola’s Books at the Westgate Mall at 8 p.m. For more information, check The Observer or contact Nicola’s Books.

Secondly, here is the long awaited summer book list. I think it has something for everyone. Enjoy, and let me know about your favorite summer read:

  • Touching Spirit Bear, Ben Mikaelsen

A 15-year-old, juvenile delinquent boy is banished to an Alaskan Island where he must face the legendary Spirit Bear. This novel features many Native American beliefs and carries a strong message about dealing with anger.   Middle School but good for anyone.

  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Tim Angleberger

If you liked Diary of A Wimpy Kid, you will probably like this novel. Older Elementary.

  • Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, Stephan Pastis

Again, if you liked Diary of A Wimpy Kid, you will probably like this novel. Older Elementary

  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Kate DiCamilo. Older Elementary.
  • Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, by Richard Paul Evans

This is an exciting sci-fi action thriller. Give it a try!

  • Z For Zachariah, Robert C. Obrien

This is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic novel told through the eyes of a teenage girl. I highly recommend this novel. Young Adult

  • Forensic Science, DK Eyewitness Books

This one is for one student in particular. You know who you are.

Middle School to Young Adult

  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

This is another post-apocalyptic novel. It is action-packed and suspenseful. Young Adult

  • The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson

“In the futuristic Brazilian metropolis Palmares Tres, artist June Costa joins the bold new Summer King, Enki, to stage explosive, dramatic projects that the city will never forget. The pair adds fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech, and June falls deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.”  Young Adult, NPR list.

  • Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

“Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus — she’s a defiantly weird poor girl (a redhead, no less!) from a broken family, he’s a solidly middle-class son of a veteran and his Korean wife (no here). They bond over X-Men comics and punk mix tapes…”  Young Adult, NPR List

  • Drama, Raina Telgemeier

“Drama is a lovely, gentle meditation on life, love and drama, both personal and theatrical, that will worm its way into the heart of any theater geek (or former theater geek). Seventh-grader Callie loves Broadway musicals with a passion, but she can’t sing — so she devotes herself to running tech…”    Middle School to High School, NPR List

  • The Universe versus Alex Woods, Gavan Extance

“Teenage British science nerd Alex (his mother calls him Lex, and yes, he is bald) was hit by a meteorite as a kid; it punched through the bathroom ceiling and whacked him in the head, leaving him with severe epilepsy.” Middle School to High School NPR List

  • Divergent, Veronica Roth

Didn’t get enough of the Hunger Games? Try this trilogy out. The final episode is expected in October.

  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Magic and the search for meaning….this is magical realism at it’s best. Middle School to Adult.

  • Out of My Mind, Sharon Draper

This is the survival story of a girl with a severe handicap. Young Adult.

  • Lawn Boy, Gary Paulsen

“One day I was 12 years old and broke. Then Grandma gave me Grandpa’s old riding lawnmower. I set out to mow some lawns. More people wanted me to mow their lawns. And more and more. . . . One client was Arnold the stockbroker, who offered to teach me about “the beauty of capitalism. Supply and Demand. Diversify labor. Distribute the wealth.” “Wealth?” I said. “It’s groovy…”   Older Elementary through Middle School.

Books Your Mom Or Dad Might Have Read When They Were Younger

  • Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes

This is an American Revolution novel revolving around a teenager in Boston. It’s a classic.  Middle School to High School

  • My Antonia, Willa Cather

“My Ántonia, first published 1918, is considered one of the greatest novels by American writer Willa Cather. It is the final book of her “prairie trilogy” of novels, the companion volumes being O Pioneers! and The Song of the Lark.”  Wikipedia

  • The Pearl, John Steinbeck

“The Pearl is a novella by American author John Steinbeck, published in 1947. It is the story of a pearl diver, Kino, and explores man’s nature as well as greed and evil.”  Wikipedia

  • Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

“Brave New World is a novel written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Set in London of AD 2540, the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological …” Wikipedia


In Praise of Visual Memory

child Head.Children Learn to think

We complain quite a bit about our ability to remember. With this in mind, it is astonishing to reflect on how powerful our memory really is. Let’s consider visual memory. In one recent study, people were shown 2,500 different images, then later asked to identify the original images when placed beside very similar images. For example, they may have seen an image of a backpack. then had to identify which of two similar backpacks they saw. The survey participants correctly picked out  88% of the original images. (Brady, Konkle, Alvarez, and Oliva (2008))

That is amazing.

We are amazing.

Have any questions about human memory? Let me know.


Cool Science Project Using A Milk Jug and Water

According to Stephen Hawking, around 450 B.C. the Greek thinker  Empedocles made the first step towards the discovery of air.  Empedocles observed people using an odd ladle-like device. The device was round like a ball, but had holes in the bottom and a straw-like neck at the top. If the device was dunked in water, the ball portion would fill with water. More importantly, he noted that if the opening on the neck was clamped shut, then dunked in water, no water entered through the holes in the bottom of the device.

This was a fairly stunning observation. Empedocles guessed that there must be an invisible mass trapped in the device that prevented water from entering. This invisible mass was later to be identified as air.

To better understand this concept, you can try duplicating Empedocles experiment yourself. Take an empty gallon milk jug with the cap firmly in place. Cut a small hole near the top of the jug, make sure it is no bigger than the tip of your finger. Now cut or poke holes in the bottom of the jug.  Then, while firmly holding your thumb over the hole near the top of the jug, dunk the jug in a sink or bowl of water.  What happens?

Let me know how your experiment fares. Do you agree with Empedocles?

Family with Troubled Teen

This week’s blog is for teenagers in trouble with the law and for their parents. Perhaps your trouble started with skipping classes, or even whole days of school, perhaps you found yourself using drugs frequently, perhaps you liked to set things on fire or steal from stores, family and friends. Whatever led you into trouble probably also meant that your grades plummeted and you faced academic discipline of some sort, even suspension or expulsion.

There are a number of therapeutic, non-traditional programs that provide excellent help in these situations. The programs are called wilderness treatment schools.  Students heal self-esteem and develop self-confidence through wilderness therapy which includes wilderness education and completion of adventure-oriented challenges.

Although these programs tend to be pricey, they are very very effective. I know of three families who proclaim that their son or daughter made a radical turn-around as a result of a wilderness treatment school.

You can find a comprehensive list of programs across the country at http://www.school-placement.com/wildernesslist.html .   The program I have heard most recent praise from is Second Nature .

Please write back to me to share your questions and  comments!