Two Books You Should Read to Your Students in 2018 | Mentoring in the Middle

Two Books You Should Read to Your Students in 2018

Boys in the Boat, Refugee, Read Aloud, Books, Fiction, Nonfiction

This is a great time for teachers in the world of literature and narrative nonfiction.  There are so many good books to choose from! 

I have been spending some time recently exploring good nonfiction books, partly because I've always enjoyed biographies, and partly because I like the way they help students get into the world of that particular time period.  And they're being written in ways that make them very accessible, even to more reluctant readers.
Image result for the boys in the boat

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is one such book.  It is a powerful story of a journey that started with hundreds of boys wishing to be part of a crew team.  Within days, weeks, and months, those boys were whittled down to a small group that demonstrated the perseverance necessary to be successful rowers for the University of  Washington. 

At the center of the story is Joe Rantz, whose hard childhood will take your breath away.  His mother died when he was four, his father remarried and his stepmother rejected him in every possible way, eventually sending him to live elsewhere as more children were added to the family.  From a very early age, Joe learned not to count on anyone. 

But, in order to be a successful rower, he had to give that up and depend completely and utterly on his teammates. 
And that was scary.

Image result for refugee by alan gratz
I can't say enough about this book.  My students collected money for refugees after we finished it.  
And every other book Alan Gratz has written has not been on my shelves since!

Refugee is the story of three refugees from three different time periods:  Joseph, fleeing from the Nazis in 1939, Isabel, fleeing from Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1994, and Mahmoud, fleeing Syrian rebel fighters in Aleppo, Syria in 2015.  Each chapter ends in a cliffhanger; the chapters take you from child to child and time period to time period.

Despite harrowing circumstances and in the face of regular rejection, you cheer each of these protagonists on to the very end, where they stories intertwine in an unexpected and beautiful way.  

Both books are thought-provoking and will lead to wonderful discussions with your students!

I have created chapter questions for The Boys in the Boat, which is available on Teacher Pay Teachers.

Enjoy reading!

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