Smooth spines of summer reading

This is the week where I make the decisions about novels for next year’s Boomerang language arts program. Which ones will go from public to personal library? Which ones will accompany me to lounge chairs at the YMCA pool?

Because my reading for the last four years has been dominated by academic tomes of theology, I’m not nearly as current on fiction for junior and senior high. As I headed out the door to the library, I asked my college-bound daughter to add a few titles to the ones I’d already jotted down. She did more than throw out suggestions. She grabbed her keys, hopped in her car, and followed me there! We stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the young adult section while she pulled out titles and exclaimed, “Oh Mom, remember this one?” and “You should definitely pick this one. It’s one of my favorites.”

My stack grew. Titles like The Education of Little Tree and The House on Mango Street sat stacked on one shelf. I balanced three books, The Scarlet Pimpernel, And Then There Were None, and The Diary of Anne Frank, in my arms while tipping my head sideways to read the titles of the sequels to The Shakespeare Stealer (a favorite with Boomerangers this year). I added these to my already bulging list of books at home: The Shadow Spinner, Little Women, Jane Eyre, The Giver, Julie of the Wolves, Tom Sawyer and Call of the Wild/White Fang (the Jack London book that holds two great stories).

I’ll have the list narrowed to the selections for the fall by Friday. If you want to weigh in before I finalize the Boomerang list, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.

The Boomerang is designed for kids between 7th and 9th grade (give or take a year depending on your child’s interests and abilities). It is a monthly subscription that offers you a digital download which features dictation passages, grammar and stylistic discussion of the passages and a group of “think piece” questions that help your child delve deeply into the content of the novel using freewriting. In addition to the Boomerang, we offer a Companion discussion group that meets three of four weeks every month to discuss the current novel selection. Last year’s Boomerang crew blew me away with their enthusiasm, attention to detail and critical insights. Makes me look forward to a whole new crop of books and deep discussions with the 2007-2008 Boomerangers. 🙂

The unruly gaggle of books lies on the floor next to me with their spines pointing upward. Eenie, meenie, miney, mo… Which book stays, which book goes…?

10 Responses to “Smooth spines of summer reading”

  1. Jennifer Hansen says:

    In addition to your already bulging bookbag, you might consider adding an Avi book or two. I can recommend (how do I underline or italicize?) The Man Who Was Poe, Perloo the Bold, and Beyond the Western Sea.

    Thanks for giving the heads-up about Slingshot for the fall since we were leaning this way for the FIRST TIME EVER!!! I like your new idea very much. Would you recommend that the classes be taken concurrently? We really need both aspects. We were looking into taking composition at the local junior college under the concurrent education option. This new offering may satifsy our needs, freeing up time/funds for concurrent classes of other interests.

    Thank you so much!!

  2. Julie Bogart says:

    They are sequential and will cover the entire fall (literature/writing class for six weeks and advanced comp for eight weeks). Yes, you could do both.

    Jon teaches composition and lit to college freshmen (has been doing it as an adjunct professor for as long as we’ve been married – over twenty years) so he’ll do a great job prepraing your kids.


  3. Julie Bogart says:

    Oh and thanks for the book recommendations. I saw Avi on a book list I looked at but have not read any of his (?) books. I’ll now go check them out! 🙂

    And so you know. All the Slingshots of previous years (which focus on short stories and poetry) will be available as back issues so these may still be used in anyone’s homeschool, if they are so inclined.

  4. Susan in La says:

    Another book recommendation: We read Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson this summer. It is very well written – vivid language, literary allusions, exciting. My 12 and 14 yo dss especially enjoyed it.

  5. Jennifer Hansen says:

    I’d really love to have a montly literature (or movie)/discussion/writing option for the high school age that is similar in price to the old Slingshot model. Do you have anything like that planned to follow the 14 weeks you mentioned above?

  6. Lindsay says:


    I’m so disappointed about your plans for Slingshot. It was slow going, but my “writing-phobic” son is finally enjoying the on-line discussion at Boomerang and the summer movie discussion. He is a bright kid, and ready to move on to “older” literature, but I don’t think ready to leave the discussion format for a more intensive writing course.

    Slingshot back issues are a good idea, but wouldn’t include the invaluable discussion. Also, I think it would be good for him to be discussing with older kids.

    How about “re-cycling” a previous year of Slingshot, with a discussion forum? Actually, I’m sure the forum can be nearly as time-consuming for you as the planning of a new year, but it’s a thought.

  7. Julie Bogart says:

    Lindsay, you are right about the time commitment of the Slingshot and Boomerang discussion forums. My husband wants very much to interact over literature with students and your feedback means a lot to us.

    We are discussing the possibility of doing book discussions for Slingshotters three times during the year (rather than monthly). I will make a big announcement over the weekend. Thanks for letting me know what you want! I wish more people would. The participation in the Slingshot discussion group undulated during the year and the feedback we got was that writing instruction was wanted. We are trying to keep alive both ways of interacting over literature. 🙂


  8. Lindsay says:

    Julie — Thanks for listening.

  9. Cindy Kelly says:

    Hi Julie-

    I sent you an email, but then saw this…. here are some books my boys (16 and 13) and I have enjoyed.. Hope I’m not too late….

    Lillies of the Field by William Barrett
    this book is small and an easy read, but has depth and great characters.
    Good movie to go along with it, too.

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    My Civil War kid liked this one. I think this book is excellent for discussion, but think you would need to have an interest in the times.

    Killer Angels by Michael Sharra
    (ditto to above)

    Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth

    Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams
    This book is zany… very unexpected and wild! I would love a discussion by teens on this!

    The Cay by Theodore Taylor (great for jr high)

    Animal Farm by George Orwell

    Also Jack London short stories are great.

    hope this helps- looking forward to the upper classman class next fall- that sounds really good.

    Take care,

  10. Cindy Kelly says:

    Oh.. and meant to add… any interest from Jon or your families in a Star Wars Literary discussion? My boys are reading the ‘original’ novels- the first written by George Lucus himself. Right now not all the dozens of offshoots.

    They like the writing and style- good discussion about the movies- how they books were having being written *after*-

    just an idea…. 🙂