TASL Book Chat

Written by Jennifer Boren and Julie Dahlhauser

It may be the end of the school year, but this is the perfect time to start thinking ahead. What books do you want to share with your students and teachers next year? Read on to get some great ideas on how to use these books in your library or classroom!


Jennifer Boren, librarian at Bailey Station Elementary in Collierville, TN, loves to share new books and recommends The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli.  Jennifer says, “The Book Hog is the perfect read aloud for introductory library lessons at the beginning of the school year. The book is about the special role librarians play in fostering a love of reading and books, whether you are a striving or thriving reader.” Hog is obsessed with books, but sadly he is unable to read them by himself. Lucky for Hog, he finds a kind librarian who invites him to stay for story time, and little by little he begins to learn to read. Jennifer recommends reading this book to grades K-2 during one of their first visits to the library.


If you want an active story time that will get your students involved with physical response, Jennifer suggests reading Adam Rubin’s latest book, High Five. She recommends partnering the students before beginning the interactive read aloud. After a warm up with Sensei, students compete in the High Five World Championship, where they proudly display new high five techniques. High-Fivers are awarded a huge trophy at the end of the book and will be inspired to go on and create their own unique high five technique. This book is kinesthetic learning at its best and Jennifer recommends it for grades K-2. For more unique high five techniques, check out this video.


Julie Dahlhauser, Assistant Director for Hatchie River Regional Library in Jackson, recently raved about Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram to her daughter and son-in-law. Darius Kellner is the son of an Iranian mother and German father, a Trekkie and a connoisseur of exotic tea. He likes soccer but doesn’t know how to play. Julie knew her daughter and son-in-law would fall in love with this new young adult novel because her daughter loves tea and her son-in-law, who is Iranian, also happens to love Star Trek and Real Madrid.


When Darius’s family goes back to Iran for a his first visit to the country, he thinks he might become more than a Fractional Persian. The grandparents constantly show their deep love of the family; Iranian culture, especially the delicious food, is celebrated. “I was one tiny pulsar in a swirling, luminous galaxy of Iranians, held together by the gravity of thousands of years of culture and heritage.” Darius finds a true friend.

Darius the Great is Not Okay has appeared on lists of LGBTQ+ titles, but that aspect of the book is so subtle it’s probably just sort of a Q. Julie had no doubt her daughter would be inspired by the book, but she was surprised to find that lots of other people love it too. Sometimes when a specific story is told with heart and humor, it becomes universal.


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