Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The best book I've read this year

The best two books I've read in the past several months were both historical fiction: first The Radetsky March, Joseph Roth's amazingly astringent 1932 novel about the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire, recommended to me by a friend who's spending the year in Vienna; and now The Lions of Little Rock, a 2013 YA novel by Kristin Levine, recommended by my 10-year-old daughter.

My daughter had been trying to get me to read this book for weeks. Yesterday's snow day gave me a chance to start it--and once I started, I couldn't stop. The Lions of Little Rock, about the school integration struggle in Little Rock in the late 1950s, is maybe even better than the Roth. I was floored by its apparently effortless depth and wisdom. It's about a 7th grader, and it's packaged like a book for tweens, but everyone should read it.  It's a more gripping book than Warriors Don't Cry, and it's both better and less morally questionable than To Kill a Mockingbird. If my ninth grade students could get over their reluctance to read books aimed at younger children, I think they'd love it.

Again I am amazed at the quality of the YA books produced in our time. We are living in a golden age of children's literature, and we should thank our lucky stars.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed LIONS. Thanks for posting about it! Best, Kristin Levine

  2. I have heard good things about Lions and since my dad grew up at that time not far from Little Rock I will have to give it a go.
    The reason I am here is really because I read your comments in reaction to the research of John Hattie and I have to tell you that it is refreshing to find other educators that question educational research enough to be able to determine the validity. Having read more than enough ed research to date I am discouraged with the poor research put out and most of it in line with personal agendas. Please keep blogging and I look forward to catching up with the rest of your blog over the next few weeks.