3 Good Books You'll Want for your 5th-8th Graders

If you've been teaching in upper elementary or middle school, you recognize names like Sharon Draper and Lynda Mullaly Hunt, maybe even Joseph Bruchac.  If not, you still should try to get your hands on pretty much everything they've written for these grade levels.

Over the next few days, I'll post reviews of these three books, all of which have an important place in upper elementary or middle school classrooms.  
Stella's little brother, JoJo, wakes her up one night because he sees a fire.  As they creep out of their house and look across the lake, they see grown men in white gowns with hoods, burning a cross.  The reappearance of the Ku Klux Klan in their tiny town of Bumblebee, North Carolina, sets a lot of nerves on edge.

Stella knows the rules about her mostly peaceful but segregated town in 1932.  Some places she can go, others she can't.  Her people live on one side of the town, white people live on the other side.  Her people put up with regular oppression, often accepting bad treatment to keep peace and to provide their children with a better future.

When violence hits her side of town, the resilience and love of her family and community shines in expected and unexpected ways.  The pastor at her local church calls people to action.  He wants the men to register to vote.  Most are too fearful to follow his lead, but Stella's father decides the time is right.

Told through Stella's wondering eyes, this is a heartfelt story of the love and dedication of a community supporting and helping each other, especially during times of great hardship.  Students today will struggle to believe that this was life less than 100 years ago.  For that reason, this book needs to be read!

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