Just One Book Top Ten by the AllWrite Dinner Crew

When you get a group of literacy educators together at a table over dinner, what does the conversation turn to? Books! The problem is how fast our “to be read” stack grows when we get together. So. Many. Books. How to help? We each decided to pick just one book (this is really hard!) released in 2015 that we consider a must read. Not necessarily the best book of 2015, just a book that we feel should not be missed. Is your credit card ready? Here we go!


Franki’s Pick:

marilyn's monster

Marilyn’s Monsters written by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Matt Phelan

“This is a fabulous story of a take-charge girl named Marilyn. The story is a happy one and the monsters are totally adorable. This is a book that I need to have in the classroom as I know my kids will read it over and over again. ”


Donalyn’s Pick:

bone gap

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

“If you haven’t read Bone Gap by now, I don’t know what I can do to convince you. I have been singing this book’s praises in posts and presentations since December.

Perhaps, children’s authors Mike Jung and Tanya Lee Stone can persuade you to drop everything and drive to your closest library or bookshop. They love Bone Gap just as much as I do.


When other authors turn into unabashed fans, you know the writing is something special. Yes, Bone Gap has magical realism. Yes, it has mythological allusions. Yes, it has a fantastic cover, but the breathtaking writing is what makes Bone Gap memorable. I read and reread individual sentences and paragraphs multiple times because I was so enthralled by Laura’s word craft and deft plotting. Laura Ruby is a master and it was sheer joy to read her work.”


Jillian’s Pick:

the boy in the black suit

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

“A quietly hopeful book that reaches for the heartstrings and makes the reader want to be and do better. Strikes a powerful balance between grief, community, and hope within its inner city neighborhood setting. Reynolds is an incredible new voice in children’s literature, and I hope he sticks around for a very long time, because he is writing stories about kids in neighborhoods that need stories about kids like them and the people they know and things they go through every day, and this story felt so real and honest, and that is thanks to the writing of Jason Reynolds.”


Katherine’s Pick:


Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

“Newbery Medalist Katherine Applegate is back with a compelling tale of friendship between a boy, Jackson, and his imaginary friend, Crenshaw – a large skateboarding cat. This book will join the other books in my classroom, such as Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan, as books that belong to your heart.”


Chris’s Pick:

fish in a tree - final cover

Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
“This book felt like it should share a shelf with R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. Whereas Auggie faced the challenges of young adulthood with a physical deformity, in Fish In A Tree Ally struggles with understanding her internal challenges. In both we follow these adolescents through struggles with peers and searching for their own strength. I loved it, an absolute 2015 must read.”


Maggie’s Pick:

yard sale

Yard Sale written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

“This year I’ve been building my new son’s future collection of picture books. I put Eve Bunting’s latest book, Yard Sale, in a special place on the shelf. A mosaic of words and pictures, Bunting is joined by 2015 Caldecott Honor Book winner, Lauren Castillo, who paints a visually moving narrative across the pages of the book. Bunting sensitively communicates more than just a story about moving. She writes with honesty and accuracy, simplicity and grace – all of which tell a story about moving, transition, and what makes a home.”


Kate’s Pick:

rad women

Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History…and Our Future! by Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl

“This nonfiction best seller captivates with 26 stories of diverse change agents. Each entry feels fresh, inspiring, and as the title says, radical. I only wish I had this book as a young woman coming up in the 70s and 80s.”


Kristin’s Pick:

how to read a story

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner, illustrated by Mark Siegel
“This how-to book joyfully models strategic reading and hooks readers with beautiful illustrations. A perfect mentor text for children and adults, How to Read a Story is a must-have for every classroom.”


Jenny’s Pick:

circus mirandus

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Circus Mirandus revived my belief in the power of magic — the magic that comes from discovering and living your dreams, and the magic that comes from the special bond between grandparent and grandchild. I hope you read Circus Mirandus, not only to enjoy the amazing story telling, but also to experience the magic firsthand – just make sure you have tissues nearby!”


JoEllen’s Pick:

enchanted air

Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle

“Margarita Engle’s memoir in verse is a gift for all readers and writers. For fans of Brown Girl Dreaming, these pages are also filled with poetic lines and images that will touch the hearts and minds of all readers, and inspire writers. Engle writes about being torn between two lives, two cultures, but made whole connected by stories and by the power of words.”

Books are enchanted.
Books help me travel.
Books help me breathe.
How awesome and nerdy is that?


Happy reading!

From our post AllWrite15 dinner group

Maggie Beattie Roberts, Jenny Seiler, Kristin Ziemke, Jillian Heise, Chris Lehman, Donalyn Miller, Katherine Sokolowski, JoEllen McCarthy, Franki Sibberson, & Kate Roberts

Maggie Beattie Roberts, Jenny Seiler, Kristin Ziemke, Jillian Heise, Chris Lehman, Donalyn Miller, Katherine Sokolowski, JoEllen McCarthy, Franki Sibberson, & Kate Roberts


What is your just one book recommendation so far this year?