There are a substantial number of 4th-6th grade students who aren’t interested in books with magic, time travel, unicorns, mermaids, fairies, or dragons; they want to read books that include angst, confusing dilemnas, tragic family circumstances, kids facing big life challenges, and equally big disappointments. They want books that elicit strong emotions, and allow them to experience intense scenarios they may never encounter in their real lives, in a safe way: on the pages of a book.
With suggestions from one of the online librarian groups I am a member of, I printed and laminated small covers of the books in the school library that make eyes water and hearts ache. I placed a book rack under the bulletin board with all the available books, to make picking one up to read just-that-much easier.
These are stories that demonstrate the importance of empathy, perseverence, overcoming adversity, and deal with tough topics–often more than one–such as disfigurement (Wonder, Firegirl, The War that Saved My Life), cancer (Ida B, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes), neglectful/absent/abusive/alcoholic parents (Rain, Reign, True…Sort of, Because of Winn-Dixie), disabilities of all sorts (So B. It), orphans and foster children trying to find their place in a world that seems not to care about them (Echo, Counting by Sevens, Pictures of Hollis Woods, Missing May), financial hardship (Faith, Hope and Ivy June, Out of the Dust), families that are separated by death, distance and grief (A Dog Called Homeless, Walk Two Moons, Our Only May Amelia, Chasing Redbird, The Boy on the Porch), friendships that are strained or severed (The Thing About Jellyfish, Breadcrumbs, When You Reach Me), mistreated animals (One and Only Ivan, Flawed Dogs, The Underneath, Shiloh), and lots of dogs that die. Lots and lots of dogs that die (Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, Love That Dog, Marley and Me, Sounder).
Are there any popular books in your library that belong on this bulletin board too? Leave me a comment!
And pass the tissues, please.