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I teach 8th grade literature. I want to expose the children to literature that they...

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teachlit | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 18, 2009 at 5:54 PM via web

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I teach 8th grade literature. I want to expose the children to literature that they can relate to.

Any recommendations would be appreciated. 

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tpisano | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 12:36 PM (Answer #2)

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Where do you teach? I am currently teaching in an urban environment in NYC and I am planning a unit using The Freedom Writers Diary. I know they will relate to it because it shows how students who nobody believed in overcame.

I am also writing a unit on Lord of the Flies. This book can be broken down into good vs. evil. They deal with situations of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, etc. on a daily basis.

What have you already taught? What do you think they are into?

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 12:36 PM (Answer #3)

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I've had pretty good luck with two books.  One of them is "The Lottery Rose" by Irene Hunt.  Copyright 1976 by Pacer Books for Young Adults/Berkley Books, New York.  ISBN 0-425-10153-3.  This book was very useful with studnets who have experienced some "difficulties" in their lives.  I was apprehensive about using the book; suprisingly, it was one of their favorites.  The other, which might be hard to get, is "My Brother Stealing Second"  by Jim Naughton.  It is farily easy reading and deals with some complicated ethical questions (do you tell the truth in a small town if it will cost your father his livelihood and most of the damage was done years ago?).

I think your students would enjoy both of these, especially since they're "off the beaten track."

The positive comments reflect student opinion, not mine, although I heartily concur :)

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eabettencourt | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 12:36 PM (Answer #4)

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The Giver by Lois Lowry - amazing!!! I teach high school, but my students still list it as one of their all time favorites from when they read it in middle school.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 2:24 PM (Answer #5)

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It's old but it still has an appeal: The Outsiders. I think "Stargirl" would be good too; at least my 8th graders liked it when I taught middle school.

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rshaffer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 3:48 PM (Answer #6)

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I have great success teaching Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven.  This book is short and is an easy read for students.  It also generates good discussion that students can relate to.

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litchick2011 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 5:31 PM (Answer #7)

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli has always been a favorite of mine, and eventhough the reading level is quite basic, you could do a great deal with themes of individuality and feelings of being an outcast.  A friend of mine who teaches 7th and 8th grade (mostly at - risk students) loves the book Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson, though I have never read it myself.

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Jen Sambdman | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 20, 2009 at 8:36 PM (Answer #8)

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The Outsiders - like linda-allen said - is a classic to teach. I think A Day No Pigs Would Die is another good 8th grade book. I teach 9-12 Basic English and teach it to my 9th graders and they like it. Holes is also a good one as well.

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kristen32 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 29, 2009 at 7:51 PM (Answer #9)

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Teachers around the country have found the following Young Adult Literature texts to be  effective for a middle school library.  The issues at hand in the novels are realities for many students, therefore, allowing them to draw a connection to the text they are reading.

  1. Speak, Anderson
  2. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Taylor
  3. The Giver, Lois Lowry
  4. Inexcusable, Lynch
  5. Kids on Strike!, Bartoletti
  6. Fallen Angels, Myers
  7. Make Lemonade, Wolff
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kristen32 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 29, 2009 at 8:01 PM (Answer #10)

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By pre-reading these novels, you will be able to better understand if the material is appropriate for your current classroom.  From experience, I know that each year student's needs change and the issues they face vary.  Incorporating novels allows educators to choose topics that will benefit and satisfy their students social and individual needs. Sparking discussion is a truly effective instrument in getting to know your students and helping them learn to enjoy literature. 

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kristen32 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 29, 2009 at 8:07 PM (Answer #11)

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The Giver by Lois Lowry - amazing!!! I teach high school, but my students still list it as one of their all time favorites from when they read it in middle school.

This is an unbelievable novel.  Even those students who find reading literature difficult or boring can be sold on this book. The numerous themes allow educators to use their creativity to find cross-curriculum activites to satify the state's content standards while also satifying the needs of their students. This novel is about a "utopia", or an imaginary world.  When engaging middle schoolers in developing/discussing their own personal "utopia", anything is possible.... 

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cleisure | Middle School Teacher | eNoter

Posted March 6, 2011 at 9:33 AM (Answer #12)

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I work in a middle school in which the students are very reluctant to read.  Around the second six weeks, I begin a novel study using the book "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton. The finale of the novel study is a viewing of the movie and a comparison of the two forms.  With most novels, it is difficult at best for students to form questions as they read, but this is a very easy task for them as they read this novel. Not only do my students LOVE this novel, several actually purchase it and the movie after the study is completed!

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 6, 2011 at 9:53 AM (Answer #13)

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I would recommend Where the Red Fern Grows.  I remember using it with very low level freshman readers, and even these reluctant readers where drawn into this story about a boy and his beloved dogs. 

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted June 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM (Answer #14)

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It's so wonderful to see someone trying to hard to connect to his/her students!  How about Speak and The Lovely Bones?  Now, I'll admit that these have a general "female" feel to them, but they can serve as such wonderful springboards to many contemporary subjects such as bullying and first love, ... not to mention the tragedy of rape & murder found in the latter novel.

Noelle Thompson

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