fbpx

Middle Grades Partnership Middle School Reading List

145th Street: Short Stories by Walter Dean Myers

A salty, wrenchingly honest collection of stories set on one block of 145th Street. We get to know the oldest resident; the cop on the beat; fine Peaches and her girl, Squeezie; Monkeyman; and Benny, a fighter on the way to a knockout. We meet Angela, who starts having prophetic dreams after her father is killed; Kitty, whose love for Mack pulls him back from the brink; and Big Joe, who wants a bang-up funeral while he’s still around to enjoy it. Some of these stories are private, and some are the ones behind the headlines. In each one, characters jump off the page and pull readers right into the mix on 1-4-5. Goodreads

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. … But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are, and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what?

Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.

Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real. Goodreads

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship, from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way. Goodreads

Blackout: A Novel by Dhonielle Clayton

Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark. Goodreads

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

When Wesley Boone writes a poem for his high school English class, some of his classmate’s clamor to read their poems aloud too. Soon they’re having weekly poetry sessions, and, one by one, the eighteen students are opening up and taking on the risky challenge of self-revelation. Through the poetry they share and narratives in which they reveal their most intimate thoughts about themselves and one another, their words and lives show what lies beneath the skin, behind the eyes, beyond the masquerade. Goodreads

 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. Goodreads

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him: He has his own suitcase full of special things. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!! Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Goodreads

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year-old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood; he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse in this fast and furious middle-grade novel of family and brotherhood.

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family. Goodreads

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Finding Langston is Lesa Cline-Ransome’s superb first novel. The book is about eleven-year-old Langston, a young boy from Alabama who moves with his father to Chicago in 1946 after the death of his mother. The move jars Langston as he is forced to grapple with a new city, a new way of life, and a new school. Nothing is comfortable nor comforting until he walks into a library and finds solace in the words of Langston Hughes, a poet who has his name and knows young Langston’s pain.

Set in the mid-1940s, Cline-Ransome takes the reader into the heart of the Second Great Migration and details some of the conditions that African Americans faced in the South and the North in this post-war period. … In short, Cline-Ransome delivers a story rich in history and human complexity. Kathleen Nganga

Flying Lessons & Other Stories by Ellen Oh

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us. In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books. Goodreads

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing. Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions. Goodreads

Handbook for Boys by Walter Dean Myers

Jimmy and Kevin could really use a guide to life. Their activities almost land them in juvenile detention until Duke employs them in his Harlem barbershop. Duke has rules for everything. But is he offering good advice or just more aggravation? … Walter Dean Myers fashions a complex, layered novel about the rules for success. Handbook for Boys is the book that he wishes he could have read while growing up. It is also the book young people need to read today. Goodreads

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Just before she begins seventh grade, Haley tells the story of the previous school year, when she and five other students from an experimental classroom were brought together. Each has been bullied or teased about their difficulties in school, and several face real challenges at home. Haley is biracial and cared for by her white uncle due to the death of her African American mother and her white father’s incarceration. Esteban, of Dominican heritage, is coping with his father’s detention by ICE and the possible fracturing of his family. It is also a time when Amari learns from his dad that he can no longer play with toy guns because he is a boy of color. This reveals the divide between them and their white classmate, Ashton. “It’s not fair that you’re a boy and Ashton’s a boy, and he can do something you can’t do anymore. That’s not freedom,” Haley says…Woodson delivers a powerful tale of community and mutual growth. The bond they develop is palpable. An extraordinary and timely piece of writing. Kirkus Reviews

Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers

Myers’s (Monster) historical novel pays tribute to the many well-known African Americans on the rise during Harlem’s Renaissance through the eyes of 16-year-old Mark Purvis. …Myers’s humorous coming-of-age story reflects the paradoxically playful yet dangerous atmosphere of the 1920s. At the same time, readers learn about the many contributions African Americans have made to this nation, underscored by the brief bios and photos in the concluding pages. Publishers Weekly

I am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Goodreads

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Rebellions are built on hope. Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards. Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight the complicit silence that exists in our society today. Goodreads

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization, the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin, and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, or even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable novel about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.” Goodreads

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

He wasn’t born with the name Maniac Magee. He came into this world named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, but when his parents died, and his life changed, so did his name. And Maniac Magee became a legend. Even today, kids talk about how fast he could run, about how he hit an inside-the-park “frog” homer; how no knot, no matter how snarled, would stay that way once he began to untie it. But the thing Maniac Magee is best known for is what he did for the kids from the East Side and those from the West Side. Comment from a teacher:  This is by far my favorite book to teach. Scholastic

M.C. Higgins, The Great by Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton goes home again to the hill country, where Sarah’s mountain has belonged to M.C.’s family (“and them to it”) ever since an ancestor fleeing slavery settled there with her infant. Now M.C., thirteen, worries about the spoil pile left from strip mining that seems destined to come sliding down on their house…  Hamilton is at her best here; the soaring but firmly anchored imagery, the slant and music of everyday speech, the rich and engaging characters and warm, tough, wary family relationships, the pervasive awareness of both threat and support connected with the mountain — all mesh beautifully in theme and structure to create a sense of organic belonging. Kirkus Reviews

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. … So, when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy…. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family. Goodreads

Mexican White Boy by Matt De La Pena

Angry with his Caucasian mother and feeling removed from his Hispanic heritage, 16-year-old Danny decides to spend the summer with his father’s relatives in an attempt to re-forge his identity. … Danny’s internal voice occasionally grates, but the earnest emotions portrayed in his imagined letters to his father easily correct for this. Boisterous adult characters serve as outstanding foils for Danny and his friends, especially Senior, Uno’s domineering father, who is given to rodomontade. … De la Peña blends sports and street together in a satisfying search for personal identity. Kirkus Review

One Crazy Summer by Ria Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet, and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp. Goodreads

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson Coretta Scott King Award and John Newbery Medal honor book.

… Jade, a Portland, Ore., high school student with “coal skin and hula-hoop hips.” Jade has won a scholarship to St. Francis, a private school that’s mostly white. She makes friends and does well, but she also feels the school sees her as some kind of project — and she doesn’t like it.

A mentor named Maxine comes into her life with a program called Woman to Woman. Maxine is black too and once lived in her neighborhood, but Jade wonders if Maxine just sees her as someone who needs to be saved.”She’s wondering is success only achievable, can it only happen, [if] she leaves her neighborhood, her family, all the things that she calls home,” NPR Weekend Edition

Pride by Ibi Zoboi National Book Award finalist

Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color…Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons… She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. Goodreads

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life … as only a dog could tell it. Goodreads

Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change by Garth Sundem

Eleven-year-old Tilly saved lives in Thailand by warning people that a tsunami was coming. Fifteen-year-old Malika fought against segregation in her Alabama town. Ten-year-old Jean-Dominic won a battle against pesticides—and the cancer they caused in his body. Six-year-old Ryan raised $800,000 to drill water wells in Africa. And twelve-year-old Haruka invented a new environmentally friendly way to scoop dog poop. With the right role models, any child can be a hero. Thirty true stories profile kids who used their heads, their hearts, their courage, and sometimes their stubbornness to help others and do extraordinary things. As young readers meet these boys and girls from around the world, they may wonder, “What kind of hero lives inside of me?” Publisher description retrieved from Google Books

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson

Eleven-year-old sneakerhead Amara is struggling to feel seen and heard…When Amara gets a family-history assignment, she is finally able to convince her mom to say yes to the trip (to N.Y. City) since it will allow Amara to meet her dad’s side of the family in person. In addition to the school project, her mom gives Amara a secret mission: get her dad and grandpa to spend time alone together to repair old wounds. Harlem proves unlike any place Amara has ever been, and as she explores where her father grew up, she experiences black history on every street. Watson is a master at character development, with New York City and especially Harlem playing central roles. Kirkus Reviews

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli One of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Y.A. Books Of All Time • New York Times Bestseller
From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first. Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

“Spinelli is a poet of the prepubescent… No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion.” The New York Times

 Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper

After 11-year-old Stella and her brother witness, late-night Ku Klux Klan activity, word spreads through their North Carolina town. It’s 1932, and every “Negro family in Bumblebee knew the unwritten rules—they had to take care of their own problems and take care of one another.” Draper (Panic) conveys a rich African American community where life carries on, and knowledge is passed along…While in town, Stella notes the white children’s fine school building and speculates about who might be Klansmen… Stella’s desire to become a writer parallels her father’s determination to vote. In a powerful scene, the entire black community accompanies three registered black voters to the polling location and waits silently, “Ten. Fifteen. Twenty-five minutes,” until the sheriff steps aside. This compelling story brims with courage, compassion, creativity, and resilience. Publishers Weekly

Strange Birds by Celia Perez

A quartet of mismatched girls finds themselves united for unforgettable summer adventures.

Lane DiSanti wants to avoid boredom during her summer at Sabal Palms. Her grandmother, Mrs. DiSanti, wants her to join the Floras, a beauty pageant/girls club Mrs. DiSanti’s family helped found. Instead, Lane forms the Ostentation of Others and Outsiders, her version of the Floras, by leaving secret messages for potential friends to find. …Shifting perspective girl by girl and writing with wry restraint… Pérez doesn’t shy away from acknowledging that the consequences might not be equal for each girl, as they differ in background—Lane presents as white, Aster is Bahamian, and Ofelia and Cat are both Cuban—and socioeconomic status. As their friendship develops, the secrets they hide from their families and each other might grow large enough to tear them apart. Kirkus Reviews

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

One teenager in a skirt. One teenager with a lighter. One moment that changes both of their lives forever. If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight. Goodreads

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak one of Time’s 100 Best Y.A. Books of All Time

It’s 1929. Nazi German. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier and will be busier still. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time. Goodreads

Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

When Viji and her sister, Rukku, whose developmental disability makes her overly trusting and vulnerable to the perils of the world, run away to live on their own, the situation could not be more grim. Life on the streets of the teeming city of Chennai is harsh for girls considered outcasts, but the sisters manage to find shelter on an abandoned bridge. There they befriend Muthi and Arul, two boys in a similar predicament, and the four children bond together and form a family of sorts. Goodreads

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brook

In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy or a man to capture and winning countless decorations. Though they returned as heroes, this African American unit faced tremendous discrimination, even from their own government. The Harlem Hellfighters, as the Germans called them, fought courageously on–and off–the battlefield to make Europe and America safe for democracy. Goodreads

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. Goodreads

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. Goodreads

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn’t have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear, speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family.

But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn’t matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families. Scholastic

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Real life isn’t a fairytale. But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?… an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected. Goodreads

The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
As moving as a sonnet, as eloquently structured as a bell curve, this book poignantly explores the most profound of themes–what it means to be human. The narrator, Mila, is discovered by the Coast Guard on a deserted island, where she has been living with dolphins. The so-called feral child becomes the subject of government study–pried at and poked, taught language and music. Her amazing progress contrasts with that of another “wild child,” Shay, who is being studied by the same team of experts. While Shay remains locked in silence, Mila’s hands can fly over the computer keyboard or the holes of a recorder, and she even tries to explain dolphin language to the eager doctors who become her family. But Mila feels the call of the wild growing stronger…Altogether, a frequently dazzling novel. Publishers Weekly

The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Exceptionally handsome four-color illustrations and vignettes deepen the magic of this mathematically minded fantasy…. Robert is plagued by bad dreams until a mysterious creature called the Number Devil appears to him one night. Robert, who hates everything to do with numbers, thinks it is just another nightmare but, surprisingly, finds himself fascinated by the intricacies of mathematics as taught by the exacting but always enthusiastic Devil. In a series of 12 dreams, Robert (and the reader) are introduced to ever more complex theories. Publishers Weekly

The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake 1999 Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for new authors

Maleeka Madison is a strong student who has had enough of being teased about her “too black” skin and handmade clothes. So, when she starts seventh grade, she decides to adopt a sassier attitude and a tougher circle of friends. The last thing she expects is to get “messed up” with another “freak,” but that’s exactly what happens. After a new teacher, whose face is disfigured from a skin disease, enters her life, will Maleeka be able to learn to love the skin she’s in? Scholastic

Troublemaker by John Cho

It’s 1992 in Glendale, California, and Jordan’s life is coming apart: …. Jordan’s family immigrated nine years earlier, but the bright American future they sacrificed so much for seems questionable. Now people are erupting in protest over the unjust Rodney King verdict and tragic killing of Latasha Harlins by a Korean shop owner… As violence spreads toward Koreatown, he tries to deliver it as protection for Appa, who’s boarding up the store. This ill-conceived plan goes awry, and during the fraught evening, the boys learn about integrity, bias, and more. The realistically middle-grade voice, strong characterization, and well-paced storyline show the growth of a boy who is moving from limited awareness to a mature perspective on his place in his family and the broader community. The novel weaves together large-scale issues of social injustice and interracial barriers with the intimate pain-and joy—of personal relationships. Kirkus Reviews

Wink by Rob Harrell

Seventh grader Ross Maloy wants nothing more than to be an average middle schooler, hanging out with his best friends, Abby and Isaac, avoiding the school bully, and crushing on the popular girl. There’s just one thing keeping Ross from being completely ordinary: the rare form of eye cancer that’s reduced him to the kid with cancer at school. … This isn’t a cancer book built upon a foundation of prayer, hope, and life lessons. The driving force here is Ross’ justifiable anger. Ross is angry at the anonymous kids making hurtful memes about him …. Ross funnels his feelings into learning how to play guitar, hoping to make a splash at the school’s talent show…Not your typical kid-with-cancer book. Kirkus Reviews

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder begins from Auggie’s point of view but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. Goodreads

World in Between by Kenan Trebicevic

The 1992 Serbian invasion and subsequent massacre of Muslims and Catholics in Bosnia comes out of the blue for 11-year-old Kenan.

One day he’s playing soccer with his friends, and the next, they’re treating him like an outsider. His teacher, Mr. Miran, threatens to shoot him in the street. Why? Because Kenan is Muslim. And so begins his story of survival. Escaping Bosnia with his family, after passing through checkpoints with the constant fear of being thrown into internment camps, they land in Vienna as refugees, stripped of all their belongings. Once financially and socially thriving, now they survive on the generosity of strangers shepherded from home to home. Just as Kenan is adapting to Vienna, learning German, and memorizing the trolley routes, his family is brought to small-town Connecticut. While his parents begin minimum-wage jobs, Kenan starts school and learns to deal with language barriers and bullying, all the while keeping up with the progression of the war in Bosnia. The question of whether they can ever return home never once leaves his mind. Based on true events in Trebinčević’s life, this account reflects aspects of the stories of millions of refugees fleeing war. Kirkus Reviews

Scroll to Top