I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Best Books of 2021

My list is not extensive by any means, but I need to share out my favorites from 2021 like I have the past seven years. Maybe these aren't my favorites, actually... maybe they're books I believe other people could benefit from if they read them. I read a bit for myself, along with many books I thought my 7th graders would enjoy or books they recommended for me.

     2020 Favorites
     2019 Favorites
     2018 Favorites
     2017 Favorites
     2016 Favorites
     2015 Favorites
     2014 Favorites

Here are the books I would most recommend from my list of 113 books I've read this year... I tried to whittle it down to one or two per genre, but I read some genres more than others! I'm not going to describe them for you - you can check out the complete list with my thoughts for this year here. Another note: One of my goals this year was to read more adult books. At the start of the year it was for self-help, and the second half of my year it was for books I that challenged me.

Biography / Autobiography / Memoir
     Adult - Glennon Doyle's Untamed
     Perfect for my 7th graders - When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohammad (graphic novel)
     Young Adult - Pet by Emezi Alwaeke
     Young Adult - Strange the Dreamer (#1) by Laini Taylor
     Great for 7th graders - A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Graphic Novel
     Both of these are perfect for 7th graders (among others I read this year) 
Chunky by Yehudi Mercado and Dragon Hoops by Gene Leun Yang
Historical Fiction
     Seventh graders (or younger) - Finding Langston (#1) by Lesa Cline-Ransome
     Seventh graders - Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
     Young Adult - Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
     Adult - The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi and The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

How To
     One I think helped me the most - You’re Not Listening: What you’re missing and why it matters by Kate Murphy
     Two others here that helped me through the roughest year of my teaching career:
     I finally read two manga books! Dragon Slayer #1 and #2. Not my favorites, but I tried them!, thanks to students who loaned me the books.

     Seventh graders - The Usual Suspects by Maurice Broadddus
     Adult - Humans by Brandon Stanton
Novels in Verse
     Perfect for seventh grade - The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling Starfish by Lisa Fipps, and Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
     Young Adult - Kent State by Deborah Wiles and Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
     Black Appetite. White Food. by Jamila Lyiscott
Realistic Fiction
     Perfect for seventh graders - Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden, Revenge of the Red Club by Kim Harrington, Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas, What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado, and The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Varga  
     Adult - The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

     Adult - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I'm so glad I'm "back" when it comes to reading. Covid year 2020 threw me for a bit, and now I feel I dedicate myself more to reading each day. Please let me know - in the comments - your absolute favorites for this year!