3 Reasons You Need The Brooklyn Nine in Your Classroom | Mentoring in the Middle

3 Reasons You Need The Brooklyn Nine in Your Classroom

If you're an upper elementary or middle school teacher, you've most likely heard of Alan Gratz, the author of Refugee, Grenade, Project 1065, Prisoner B-3087, and Code of Honor, among others.  Gratz's books are filled with energy and action and he does an excellent job of showing point of view so that you understand the dilemma the character is in.  
I wish I had read this one sooner because I can think of a couple of kids this past year who would have really enjoyed it.  

The book introduces us to Felix Schneider, "the fastest boy in New York" who, in 1845, came to U. S. to live with his uncle and aunt.  He works as a runner, running fabric to his uncle who cuts it and then running it to the families that will sew it.  All the while, he's saving money to bring the rest of his family from Germany to join him in Brooklyn.

One of his guilty pleasures is sneaking away to watch the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, one of the first organized baseball teams in Brooklyn.  His love of baseball and a tragedy cause him to cut up his good shoes, using the leather to make a baseball.

And then we jump to Louis, Felix's son, fighting in the Civil War.  He carries that lucky baseball everywhere he goes because his father gave it to him, asking him to bring the ball back in one piece.  Which means he needs to come home.  But then he runs into a Confederate soldier, blinded when his rifle exploded.  And that fateful meeting leaves him with a baseball bat made in Louisville.

On and on the story goes, with each character making an important decision that affects the actions of the next generation.  

We meet Louis's son Arnold at the turn of the century, Walter on Coney Island, Frankie, running the numbers in 1926, her daughter Kat who plays for the Grand Rapids Chicks in 1945, Jimmy, the year the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, Michael, pitching a Little League game, and finally Snider, in 2002.  
Do you have kids who struggle with longer books?  This book contains 9 short stories about 9 generations. All in one family with a great love of baseball.
Got any students who love watching or playing baseball?  They will learn so much about its history!
  Did you know that Abner Doubleday had nothing to do with baseball, even though he's credited with its creation?  That the early Dodgers were called the Brooklyn Bridegrooms because 8 of their players got married the same year?   Did you know the Dodgers were the Brooklyn Robins from 1914 to 1931?  
     In addition to learning the history of baseball, students will learn American history.  What was it like to be on the battlefield during the Civil War?  Why did families feel the need to change their name? How often did students need to practice air raid drills?  And what did Sputnik have to do with that?

I hope you'll consider this book for your upper elementary and middle school students!

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