September 2017 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Broaden Your Horizons, #ReadMoreBooks

If you have been a reader of mine for a while, you know that I am extremely passionate about reading. I spent a large part of my summer reading middle grade and young adult literature so that when Nash and Emmie (my 8 and 9-year-old) asked me for book recommendations, I would be ready.  What I didn't expect was to read so many insightful books that helped me to "walk a mile" is someone else's shoes.  These books sparked an idea for me.  I thought about how I learned new perspective and empathy all while sitting on my front porch.  Reading truly takes you places.  I reached out to Ashley from Teach Create Motivate with my idea and we came up with this t-shirt design.  I believe in this message so much and I know so many of you do too!  Click on the shirt to head to her store.  I can't wait to hear what color you like best! They will only be available for a few days so order now!

I have compiled a list of ten wonderful Middle Grade or Young Adult books that I think ALL teachers should read.  I say "teachers" because I want you to be prepared to recommend these books to your students based on their interests!
(This post does include affiliate links)

1. Wonder- if you haven't read it yet, WHAT are you waiting for?  The writing is exceptional and the lesson takes the message of kindness to a whole different level.  Being kind isn't always comfortable or easy. Wonder provides insight into how a child with disfigurements handles his first experience at a public school with his peers.  The point of view alternates between several different characters to offer additional insight. 

2.  Out of My Mind this is a tough but necessary read.  The story is told through the eyes of a child with extreme intelligence, but also a debilitating condition known as Cerebral Palsy. Melody is unable to talk to her parents, educators, or peers so not many truly understand how smart she is.  I think students will appreciate seeing the world through Melody's eyes. 

3. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook- All Rise struck a chord with me.  There are not many books out there that identify with students who have incarcerated parents.  I loved that both Perry and his mother are good people trying to make the best of their situations.  I also love the message of "Second Chances" that is interwoven throughout the entire text. Fair warning- this book is very lengthy, but definitely worth it!

4. Fish in a Tree  I have seen this book around for a long time, but never stopped to read it.  Boy, was that a mistake! For teachers- this is a MUST.  We all have students who struggle with reading and Lynda Hunt speaks directly to us in this one.  Ally is a bright, but troubled little girl.  Read to find out how with the help of her loving teacher, she learns to make her situation a little brighter. 

5. Rain Reign  Now we have gotten to debatably my favorite read of the summer. Ann Martin is a BRILLIANT writer who tells teh story of a young girl with autism.  Rose lives alone with her father, but has an uncle close by who advocates for her.  The story is told through Rose's point of view and helps the reader to see what the day in a life of a child with autism might be like.  Be warned- this is a definite tear jerker!

6. The War that Saved My Life  If you want to know how much I like this book, you should see the countdown I have going for the release of the sequal!  This historical fiction centers around the life of Ada, a young girl with a club foot who is abused emotionally and physically.  Not for the faint of heart, Bradley keeps you interested as you hope and wish for Ada's situation to improve.  

7. Number the Stars Have you ever wondered how you would act during World War 2?  Would you hide your Jewish neighbors or be to frighten by the Nazi soldiers?  Number the Stars forces you to face those questions. This is such a popular classic that many of us read this as students ourselves.  The suspenseful writing will have readers begging for more time with their books! 

8. Esperanza Rising Esperanza begins her life as a daughter to a wealthy rancher in Mexico.  After devastating circumstances lead to her needing to leave Mexico, we follow her as she immigrates to the United States for safety reasons. Esperanza must adjust to a new language, culture, social setting, and new life style all at once.  

9. The Hate U Give Relevant, relevant, relevant.  This young adult book is incredibly eye-opening and gut-wrenching.  Starr is an African American teenage girl who lives in a poor neighborhood but goes to private school.  Starr's unusual circumstances allow the readers to see the challenges she faces and her internal struggles. This is definitely a middle school read as there is some sexual content.  

10.  The Giver  The Giver has always been my favorite book, but I hadn't read it in twenty years.  I loved having a new perspective this go around and appreciate this work on a whole new level. It made me think a lot about the freedoms we have in the United States and how with those wonderful freedoms, sometimes we experience pain.  

Phew! That was a lot of reading this summer! I hope you enjoyed following along with me on Instagram (queenof1stjungle). 

Several of these books are included in Brooke and my Storybook STEM Novels growing bundle.  We have five of the ten books completed and are working to finish the rest! You can check these units out by clicking on the picture below. 


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