Mamatoga Book Club: Saratoga Reads! Junior Companion Book List

Happy Sunday Mamatoga Book Clubbers! For this edition of the Book Club I want to discuss a great family feature of the Saratoga Reads program, the Junior Companion Book List. Each year the Saratoga Reads Junior Advisory Group compiles a list of Junior Companion Books to complement themes of the year’s winning book for adults. This allows readers of all ages to participate in this community-wide project that is working toward building a stronger sense of community through reading. I love the idea of reading my own book while my kids explore the same themes in books of their own, letting us have our own family book club! Saratoga Reads will also offer special programs for young readers based on this year's complementary junior discussion book, Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman. The nonfiction book tells the story of a railroad construction foreman who survived for 11 years after a 13-pound iron rod shot through his brain in a rock-blasting accident in 1848. Scientists and doctors were baffled by Gage's miraculous recovery and by the severe personality changes he experienced, making the case a textbook study of brain science.

Phineas Gage will serve as the basis for two special evening discussions at the Saratoga Springs Public Library on Thursday, Feb. 2nd and Thursday, Feb. 9th. Designed for kids in grades 4-6, the sessions will be led by student mentors from Skidmore College and Saratoga Springs High School under the direction of Skidmore Professor of English Catherine Golden.

For more titles, check out this list of books chosen by Saratoga Reads!, Saratoga City School Librarians and Saratoga Springs Public Library Librarians.

Medical Research: For Middle Grade Readers

  • Guinea Pig Scientists: Bold Self Experimenters in Science & Medicine, Dendy
  • Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science, Fleischman
  • We Have Conquered Pain: The Discovery of Anesthesia, Fradin
  • The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing, Jurmain
  • Wounded Brains: True Survival Stories, Markle
  • Medical Marvels, Nichols
  • Doctors Did What?!: The Weird History of Medicine, Platt

Scientists at Work: For Younger Readers

  • Stone Girl, Bone Girl, Ahholt
  • The Fossil Girl: Mary Anning’s Dinosaur Discovery, Brighton
  • Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein, Brown
  • Snowflake Bentley, Martin
  • Greg’s Microscope, Selsam

For Middle Grade Readers

  • The Dragon in the Cliff: A Novel Based on the Life of Mary Anning, Cole
  • Seabird in the Forest: The Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet, Dunning
  • Case Closed?: Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science, Hughes
  • Extreme Scientists, Jackson
  • The Mysterious Universe, Jackson
  • Hidden Worlds: Looking through a Scientist’s Microscope, Kramer
  • Giants of Science Series, Krull
  • The Manatee Scientists, Lourie
  • The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery, Markle
  • The Tarantula Scientist, Montgomery

Investigative Reporting:

For Middle Readers

  • Muckrakers, Bausum

Civil Rights Era: For Younger Readers

  • White Water, Bandy
  • White Socks Only, Coleman
  • Boycott Blues, Pinkney
  • Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Dow, Pinkney
  • The School Is Not White!, Rappaport
  • If a Bus Could Talk, Ringgold
  • Riding to Washington, Swain

For Middle Grade Readers

  • Freedom Riders, Swain
  • A Thousand Never Evers, Burg
  • Birmingham Sunday, Brimner
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Freedman Freedom Walkers, Curtis
  • Marching for Freedom, Partridge
  • The Civil Rights Movement for Kids, Turck