Stargirl starts on the first day of eleventh grade for our narrator, Leo Borlock. The buzz around the school is, “Did you see the new girl?” Stargirl goes to school for the first time as a tenth grader. Up till then, she had been home schooled. Due to Stargirl’s unusual behavior including carrying her pet rat to school, singing while playing the ukulele at lunch, wearing strange clothing, and so on, most students peg her as an outcast even though she is extremely friendly to everyone. Leo develops a crush on Stargirl. He even follows her one day after school just to see where she is headed. He discovers that she is delivering a congratulations card to a stranger.
After attending a football game in which Stargirl runs across the football field playfully cheering and stirring up the crowd, she is asked to join the cheer leading squad. Students began to like her. At this point, students love Stargirl’s upbeat, quirky actions. People begin attending the football games, not to watch the game, but to see Stargirl’s playful antics including cheering for the opposing team. By Thanksgiving, Stargirl is the most popular person at the school.Continue Reading
In I Survived the Battle of D-Day, 1944, eleven-year old Paul lived a carefree life until the Nazis invaded his town in Normandy, France. Soon, his father and best friend Gerard were sent to work camps in Germany. Paul sees his favorite teacher, Mr. Leon, get shot and killed right before his eyes. Food and money are scarce. Nazi soldiers are everywhere and life is difficult.
Ghost Boys begins with the death of twelve-year-old Jerome Rogers and slowly unfolds through a series of flashbacks. Jerome lives in an improvised neighborhood in Chicago. His walk to school is dangerous including going past drug dealers. Jerome is bullied for being a good student.
One day a new kid comes to school, Carlos Rodríguez. Jerome knows right away that he is going to be a target for bullies. Jerome decides to help Carlos by showing him how to grab his lunch then eat it in the upstairs restroom. Unfortunately, the bullies find the two and begin beating on Carlos. Jerome draws the attention of the bullies away from Carlos. When he does, Carlos pulls out a gun. The bullies back down and leave. Carlos tells Jerome the gun is just a toy made from plastic. He carried it to school because he was afraid.Continue Reading
In How to Eat Fried Worms, Billy makes a bet with his friend Alan that he can eat 15 worms, one each day, for fifteen days. Tom plans to be Billy’s second, or witness. Joe is going to be Alan’s second. Joe and Alan plan all sorts of schemes to win the bet. In one funny part of the story, Billy pretends that eating the worm has made him crazy. He goes around flapping his arms like a chicken. Students will love reading this hilarious book.
FREE Teaching Ideas for How to Eat Fried Worms
Activity #1 Pom-Pom Worms
While reading How to Eat Fried Worms, students made worms from pipe cleaners, pom-poms, and wiggly eyes. Every year after I know the novels I plan to teach, I love browsing the pages of Oriental Trading to see what cute, easy projects they provide. Their craft kits are very reasonable priced. Here is a link if you would like to check out this company.Continue Reading
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson is an exceptional book about six students who are placed in an experimental class during their 5th/6th grade years. The teacher decides that the last hour of each Friday will be ‘talk time.’ She takes them to an empty classroom and leaves the six alone. Slowly the students open up and talk about their troubles.
Authorities take Esteban’s father and move him to Florida where he will be deported. Continue Reading
Thirteen year-old Capricorn “Cap” Anderson lives at Garland, a farm that had once been commune in the 1960’s, with his grandmother Rain. Rain falls and breaks her hip. With no phone to call 9-1-1, Cap drives Rain into the city an hour away. Police arrest Cap for driving without a license and quickly ‘unarrest’ him when they realize how naive Cap is. He doesn’t know he is supposed to have a license in order to drive.
Rain’s broken hip prevents her from returning to Garland for a couple of months. This means Cap must live with the social worker and go to public school for the first time in his life. The students at Claverage (nicknamed C Average by the students) Middle School immediately see Cap as a loser because of his tie-dyed clothing, beads, and long hair. Since it is the custom to pick the lowest person on the social ladder as class president in eighth grade, Cap is elected to the position.Continue Reading