Independent Reading on Independence Day (or Any Day)

Happy Fourth of July! To celebrate Independence Day, we’ve put together a list of Independent Reading books for middle grades, which, incidentally, make great summer reading. And since summer is in full swing, take the opportunity this holiday weekend to enjoy the liberating power of reading!

Middle Grades


Teacher Appreciation Week 2016: A Gif List

Since Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6) is officially a weekday-type celebration, we present to you the Five Days of Teacher Week. We turn five gifs into traditional gifts that should be  given to teachers during the first week of May.

On the fifth day of Teacher Week, my students gave to me…

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We Must Remember

Important subjects are often the hardest to teach, and if history and stories teach us anything, it’s to remember, and to be better in the present and the future. April and May are two important months– first, April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, and May 4th-5th is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

To help teach about the Holocaust and genocides of past and present, we’ve put together a book list for students of all ages. If you’ve taught this subject before, and have advice to share with the Adams and educator community, please let us know.

Ages 5 to 8


The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Peter McCarty, is a beautiful story written from the personified perspective of a horse chestnut tree. The tree grows and watches a young girl in hiding write in her diary by the window. As Gottesfeld does not mention the war taking place, or the horrifying history unfolding, the story is powerful, and a great introduction to the Holocaust, and Anne Frank, to children unfamiliar with the history.


I Will Come Back for You by Marisabina Russo is based on the experiences of the author’s own family. Set during WWII, this book tells the story of how a Jewish Italian family survives the war by going into hiding. Through beautiful imagery, the book is a great introduction to children not familiar with the horrors of WWII.

Ages 7 to 10


The Harmonica by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Ron Mazellan was inspired by the true story of a Holocaust survivor. When a young boy is separated from his parents, a harmonica gifted to him by his father, is both his tool for strength and hope, as well as survival.


Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic is the published personal diary of the author. Zlata started writing in her diary as a 10 year-old in 1991 in former Yugoslavia, at the beginning of the Bosnian War. As the book is told through daily diary entries, we read about the war through the eyes of an innocent. 

Ages 12 and Up


The Book Thief by Markus Zusac may be told from the perspective of death, but don’t let that scare you away from this great read which focuses more on the chilling events of World War II than the narrator’s identity. The Book Thief follows the story of Liesel, a nine-year old girl living with foster parents in Germany. Although set during WWII, Liesel leads an ordinary life, going to school and making friends in the neighborhood, when her life is disrupted by a Jewish man, Max, living in hiding in her family’s basement. Max and Liesel soon develop a friendship because of their shared love for words, and although Max cannot safely leave the confines of the cold and dark basement, Liesel and Max forget the terrors of the outside world through stories. Throughout the story, Liesel grows up, and learns what it means to be a part of a family, a citizen, a writer, and a book-lover.


The Journal of Jesse Smoke: A Cherokee Boy, The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac tells the story of Jesse Smoke as he and fellow Cherokees are forced West by the U.S. government in what is known today as “The Trail of Tears”. Although Jesse’s story is filled with sadness, it is also filled with pride and respect for his people’s customs. This is an important read today as it provides insight into a historical event in American history that is often hidden.

Ages 15 and Up


Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick is based on the true story of Arn Chorn Pond who survived the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. This story tells of the personal decisions Arn made–whether it be working hours in the rice paddies or pretending to play an instrument– to survive. From child of war to activist, Arn’s story is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.


Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian is a historical fiction that follows the journey of Vahan Kendarian. Vahan is living a charmed life as the youngest son of the most influential Armenian families in Turkey, when everything changes in 1915. Over the course of three years, Vahan learns the true meaning of grief and survival. Although a sad subject matter, this story beautifully displays the strength of the human spirit during a period of darkness.

Spring into Reading

Spring break is a great opportunity to pick up that book you have been meaning to for months. It’s also a great opportunity for educators to suggest books to their students, not as mandatory reading, but as recommended reading geared towards that specific student.

It’s sometimes a daunting task to pick a book for a student. Will they like it? What if they dislike it so much that it puts them off reading? Though understandable concerns, whether the child likes or dislikes a book will make for a great discussion after the break. Plus, talking about a book is just as wonderful as reading one. Read on for picks from Middle Reader Novels, Beloved Classics, Movie Tie-Ins, and YA Fantasy

Middle Reader Novels

Based on a true story, “Between Two Worlds” by Katherine Kirkpatrick is a novel of Arctic exploration told from a young Inuit point of view. Author of the “Indian in the Cupboard” series, Lynne Reid Banks, tells a story informed by her own experiences of leaving WWII England for Canada in “Uprooted”.

New Editions of Beloved Classics

Series are great when you find a story and characters you love, and they’ve always been a great way to keep kids reading. L.M. Montgomery kept young readers happy with nine “Anne of Green Gables” novels, starting in 1908. Those books have a refreshed look with lovely new cut paper cover designs. Perennial favorite Sherlock Holmes also gets a handy repackaging with an edition that collects the timeless novel-length stories.

Books and the Big Screen

This year’s blockbusters draw on both literature and nonfiction. Nathaniel Philbrick’s “In the Heart of the Sea,” which reexamines the real-life disaster that inspired “Moby Dick,” is now not only adapted into a feature film, but is also available in a new edition for young readers.

Young Adult Fantasy

No waiting: If you get hooked on a series by starting with the paperback, the next book is already available in hardcover!

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Classroom Books

With all the customs and celebrations surrounding the lunar new year for students to either share or learn, it’s a great time of year to bring more Chinese culture into your classroom. Here are some great fiction and nonfiction books with Chinese characters and subjects.

Newbery-Honor winning writer Laurence Yep’s “The Star Maker” is about a boy’s Chinese New Year adventure; Grace Lin’s “Starry River of the Sky” recalls her 2011 Newbery Honor winner “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon;” Gene Luen Yang, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, revitalizes a long-lost Asian comic book hero of the Golden Age in “The Shadow Hero.” And be sure not to miss middle reader books “The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong,” “The Year of the Book,” and nonfiction titles “A Girl Named Faithful Plum” and “China: Land of Dragons and Empires.”

And if your school has a Chinese language program, Adams Book Co. also provides textbooks and workbooks including the popular “Integrated Chinese” series from Cheng & Tsui.

Ideas for Saving on Books this Summer – the 2013 edition!

Summer is officially here and so is book-ordering season. As you settle into summer and hopefully get some rest and relaxation, we’re in gear to guide you through your ordering for the upcoming school year. We know negotiating budgets and complicated purchasing probably isn’t at the top of your list of ways to enjoy your summer. As such, we’ve compiled a list of ways to offset costs and save you time so you can spend it on enjoying the sun (with sunscreen, of course) Read on for the full list

Prepare Your Students for the ACT

The ACT is growing into the most preferred entrance exam by colleges and universities across the country. Adams Book Company has compiled a list of preparation manuals, practice tests books, and flashcards for your classroom. FREE shipping with use of code ACT36.*

Testing Prep Manuals and Practice Tests


ACT Subject Workbooks and Guides