Can you Teach Compassion by Reading a Good Book? | Mentoring in the Middle

Can you Teach Compassion by Reading a Good Book?

There are so many good books out there these days!  So, when a colleague and I learned that we'd received a grant to create a "One Book, One School" program for the beginning of next year, I figured it'd be easy to pick the book!


There are so many good choices out there, but some of them are too familiar to our students (5th and 6th graders) so we nixed those.  We said no to:

Don't get me wrong!  These are all great books and should be introduced to students, if they haven't been already.  But a lot of our students were familiar with these, so we needed to dig deeper.
Although this was a HUGE teacher favorite, we had to say no to this one because it doesn't come out in paperback until January 2017!  {insert sad face here}
Here's what we've come up with so far:
This little known book is about a girl with albinism and it's accompanying blindness.  It wasn't a big deal for her in Seattle, where she'd grown up.  But now her family has moved to Sinkville, South Carolina, and everyone treats her differently here.  On top of that, her mother is struggling with depression.

Sounds like a fun read, right?  It was SOOO good! Alice is an easy character to like; she's well-written and takes on all kinds of issues with a sense of humor and lots of curiosity.
Albie is an only child growing up in New York City, with parents who wish he didn't have such a hard time learning.  His mom thinks reading Captain Underpants is for babies, and his dad thinks he just needs to try harder.  His parents hire a new babysitter, Calista, who's working towards her Master's degree in Art.  She looks at the world differently than he's used to and rapidly becomes the person he feels most comfortable with.  As she teaches him some new ways to view things, he begins to thrive.  Although there are some disappointments in his life, somehow, ultimately you feel good about Albie's prospects.
Wendy Mass writes great novels for upper elementary and middle-school students, and this book is no exception.  Like Melody in Out of My Mind, Mia has synesthesia, the ability to see colors with sounds, shapes, or letters.  She's kept it a secret since she discovered at a young age that no one else saw colors like her, and that they made fun of her for it.

When I bought this book two years ago, it didn't sit on the shelf for more than 30 minutes on any given day.  I kid you not!  It was passed from student to student, until all interested parties had read it.
This book, unfortunately, is going to be a "no."  Not because it's not good, just because 5th and 6th graders aren't the right audience.  The book starts when Tara is 11 and begins her journey into OCD.  I jumped on the fact that Tara was 11, without realizing that it takes her into her teen years and dating, and yeah, not the stuff 10- and 11-year olds need to be thinking about yet.
I haven't read this one but have heard good things about it. I may have to pick it up and read it before we finally decide.

I don't know which one we're going to end up with, since we're all reading away right now.  But I'm curious. What books would you recommend?

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