The Styling Librarian

In my opinion, books are the best accessory.

Styling Librarian: New Year Reflection plus Top 30+ FAVORITE BOOKS

litldebbieReadingEnd of the year reflection and favorite book lists… I’ve loved the books I’ve had the chance to enjoy this year. I adored the opportunities to interview favorite author and illustrator heroes. I appreciated consistency and embraced memes when choosing what to write on the blog this year. I found that some of my first blog posts from the prior year drew people to my blog about Pete the Cat and Realistic Fiction books that Pulled at my Heart. I loved becoming more organized and creating pages to organize my author interviews, Hong Kong life reflection posts, and reading recommendation lists.

TreatTuesdaythirstdayThere are things that I’ve become a little tired of… need something different… I know when I’m going to burn out soon. One thing is selecting books and writing posts for four memes per week (IMWAYR, Treat Tuesday, ThirstDay, and Saturday Book Share). That’s commitment, proud of how I managed to celebrate books so consistently for a while, but now, I’d prefer to refocus on creating favorite booklists and have energy for other posts again, like reflecting more on technology teaching resources or even writing about style once in a while again… goodness knows I’m surrounded by it here in Hong Kong!

Saturday Book Share

bookdebbieI hope to also continue to interview fantastic authors and illustrators in the coming year. Does anyone have a recommendation? I have a few people I’m working with presently but hope to celebrate other creative writers and illustrators as well.

I do enjoy writing the Hong Kong life update posts but sometimes I find I’m forcing myself to experience life so that I can snap a shot of something outside my regular day… which isn’t a bad thing, but once in a while I think I’m going to ease up on those posts as well. Especially if I notice I’m staying up too late to write them!

profilesattitudesI’m excited to pursue a new focus on writing up my favorite IB/PYP (International Baccalaureatte/Primary Years Programme) book lists for both Profile and Attitude lists. This is something I think will hopefully help many PYP educators and be useful for my own colleagues as well.

I never tire of reading… sure, I go through slumps, but honestly, when I do need to ease back on reading, I plug in an audiobook to focus on and read Entertainment Weekly and light fluff until I’m dying to read another book. Honestly never fails to get me reading again… plus visiting a new library somewhere in Hong Kong is quite a fun, invigorating experience… I don’t do that enough!

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
The Styling Librarian has
completed her goal of reading 500 books in 2013!

I was proud to realize that I’ve read over 550 books in 2013. That’s including adult novels, picture books, early chapter books, poetry, non-fiction, early readers, graphic novels, YA novels, middle grade novels, loads of audiobooks, and many more…
What were my favorites? Really hard question. My students often tell me I have way too many favorite books… here’s what stood out the most in 2013 for me:

Picture Books:

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig – This is a book I wish I could share with every class at my school and then really I wish I could afford to purchase and deliver this gorgeous book to every other school around Hong Kong as well… It has that powerful message that I don’t tire of sharing: one person can make a difference. I always am sharing this book and thinking ‘what if?’ during the reading… My favorite student reaction was: “Mrs. Alvarez, this book is like a metaphor, the boy is like a seed that needed water to grow and bloom into feeling like an important person…”

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino – I really enjoyed sharing this book with numerous classes. It was one of those books with unexpected world awareness discussions from how we raise our hand differently in Hong Kong to flag down a taxi to what in the world man hole covers are (sure, we rip up our sidewalks and streets when we work on the pipes!) We also enjoyed talking about what happens when we allow our curiousity to carry us to a new place and experience life away from the screen, being unplugged. Powerful message.

Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell – I also connected my students to Matthew Cordell’s brilliance with his beautiful book about what happens when a little girl gives up on her busy, plugged in family and goes outside and experiences life… and how she helped her family look up from those screens… some favorite discussions came from this lovely book.

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers– I felt like such a
naughty/awesome librarian when introducing this book to my students via the book trailer! No way to explain further presently.

Ten Things I Love About You by Daniel Kirk – I really enjoyed reading this book with my Year 1 and Year 2 students, especially enjoyed writing a poster for each class of things ‘I loved about them in the library/book care tips’ right before I had to go away for surgery for six weeks… knew that they had me hanging around in their classes still while I was recovering… Can’t say how much I appreciate my friend Tanja for recommending this book treasure to me… and sharing her lesson insights as well!

Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candice Fleming – I don’t know how many times I’ve thought about this book over the months since I purchased it for the library… but boy it has some fantastic connections to so many learning opportunities, from creativity, to faith, to hope, to persistence… so many more than that, love it!

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman – Um, I think I recommended this book to every teacher and colleague I met for a long while… plus parents too. I read it with many classes and had it as the beginning to my focus on friendship books. Absolute favorite.

Penguin on Vacation and Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon – adored sharing these books with students… they LOVED it and begged for a reread immediately at the end.

ACK there are around 50 other books I’d like to add in here… never ends with picture books! – Having anxiety over this category and novels because I am not listing other fantastic titles… but I’ve shared them before both in this blog and on Goodreads… breathe, breathe…

Wordless Picture Books: What a year!!

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle – I had teachers and parents come around the corner to check if everything was ok when I read this book to my library students… huge laughter and comments on how creative Molly Idle is…

Fossil by Bill Thomson – Can’t get enough of creative Bill Tomson. This book is wordless but takes a while to read with students… there are many, “wait but…” and “go back a page please!!” moments!

Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner – Honestly, I adore every picture book David creates, but I loved Mr. Wuffles because of the immediate reaction my son had with the book, rereading, discussing, peeking closer at the pictures… instant fan.

Bluebird by Bob Staake – Wow to the power that this book holds within the pages. I shared it with many stunned students. My absolute favorite sharing sessions were with my Year 6 students who gave me the biggest, roundest eyes as they realized what was happening…

Fiction Books:

The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson – Powerful story that is deeply embedded in research and characters simultaneously, Deborah Hopkinson is brilliant at combining historical fiction and fantastic characters…

Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine – Such a touching story. Really loved how the character helped himself and others out of a very tough situation without being perfect in his actions…

Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher – Another historical fiction! I adore Susan Fletcher’s books. This one really stood out since I grew up with Venetian glass and loved the character…

Numbed! by David Lubar – Any time I can read a book that integrates math fun within, fantastic. Combine David Lubar’s humor and math? Perfection.

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz – Here’s a book that threw me unexpectedly, really didn’t expect it to stick with me for so many months after reading it…

Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry – Fantastic story with the perfect character development, twists and turns and fascinating historical fiction elements powerfully woven throughout.

Flora and Ulysses by Kate diCamillo – What can I say? This book has disappeared from the library. I can only hope it will make its way back home to other eager readers… fantastic, holy bagumba I loved this book.

Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder – I know this book isn’t quite out yet but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND preordering it… what a get-lost-in-the-world-Laurel-creates fantasy/historical fiction book!!

Non-Fiction Picture Books:

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart – Just LOVED loved sharing this book with my classes. There were perfect tie-in situations with research on ecosystems and habitats, how one action impacts others, and it was all about CHOCOLATE! Who can beat that? I actually walked through a botanical garden in Hong Kong this past weekend and came to a halt at a cacao tree! Yes a real, living tree! So excited, I took a video and pictures… shall share in a future Hong Kong update.

The Mystery of Darwin’s Frog by Marty Crump – Weird book, has stuck with me and my students love the illustrations and random facts that popped out with reading this book.

Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst – Fascinating, fantastic, fabulous format and humor mingled throughout. Excellent non-fiction book…

YA Books:

This was a fantastic year of YA book experiences for me… has been a while since my heart clunked to the floor, tears dripped from my eyes, and I laughed aloud while reading in many places that were a bit too quiet…

Eleanor and Park AND Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Both unforgettable, both special, both worth every minute reading, both highly recommended.

The Summer of Letting Go AND The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner – I adore Gae’s work. I appreciate her energy. I absolutely loved both of these books. The Summer of Letting Go isn’t available quite yet- (have you pre-ordered it?), so go for it, read The Pull of Gravity and hope for the movie adaptation to be created soon as well!

Professional Books:

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller – I’m slowly making my way through this delicious, beautiful, inspiring, knowledgeable, fantastic book.

Book Love by Penny Kittle – Still thinking about this book months after completion, so many ideas to apply to teaching and whole school activities…

Adult Books (kind of, could be high YA):

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner – Wow. Wow. Wow. LOVED the twists and turns this book took me through.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – At the same time that I adored reading this book, it totally creeped me out and made me sad I couldn’t share it with young students, ever. Powerful book, well deserved accolades!

You thought I forgot poetry, didn’t you? Well, that’s nearly impossible… I adored numerous poetry books but here are the stand-out books for me:

I Haiku You by Betsy E. Snyder – cutest book trailer, ever.

Follow, Follow by Marilyn Singer – Just like Mirror, Mirror, I couldn’t get enough of these poems or illustrations!

Forest has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater – brilliant poetry book, many teachers grabbed it from my hands as soon as I opened the pages and shared a glimpse of a poem…

Ack! No early readers, early chapter books, picture book biographies, or graphic novels! Well, please know that I’ve read loads and loved them, just needing to stop while I’m ahead sharing these lists… Probably will share new lists soon… I’m presently contemplating all the picture book biographies that are based on people outside of the US. There are so many other fantastic books I’ve enjoyed, hard to limit myself! No book trailers shared! There’s a first… If you want book trailers, you can always look up the title in the search bar on my blog, I’ve probably posted one in a previous blog post, if the trailer is available! I do keep a reading log through Goodreads and pop the books I read into various categories so that I can go back and search what I’ve read before, etc. I love it! Need more great book ideas? I was thrilled to watch the announcements for the NerdyBookClub 2013 Book Awards, had fun nominating and voting on these books… Visit here:


Want more book ideas and reviews? – Yes, I’m quite brief, but a prolific reader!  Please visit me at Goodreads: Also, please consider following this blog through email updates – (do so to the right of this blog post), my Facebook page, comment, or meet up with me on Twitter. I appreciate all of the support, makes my day! Honored by all the wonderful followers.

FTC Required Disclosure: This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Additionally this site is a Powells Books affiliate, and purchases made through the linked book covers may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
© 2013 by Debbie Alvarez of The Styling Librarian. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @stylinlibrarian or at my Styling Librarian Page on Facebook.

2 comments on “Styling Librarian: New Year Reflection plus Top 30+ FAVORITE BOOKS

  1. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
    January 1, 2014

    I am excited to check out so many of the books on your list…and I am truly honored that you included my first book! Much gratitude, and Happy 2014! – Amy

    • The Styling Librarian
      January 1, 2014

      Thank you for the beautiful book creation! 🙂 There’s an amazing amount of books out there…

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2013 by in Blog, Book Recommendations, Book Review, Books, Genre Focus, Hong Kong, School Librarian Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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