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Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen is a story that deals with a teenage main character in isolation, and also presents issues with which he is dealing in his regular life. Among these issues there are the topics of alcoholism, bad choice in marriage, aloof parenting, and the challenges of identity and self-appreciation.
This being said, the story would appeal more to a teenage audience perhaps in 8th or 9th grade since that is the developmental stage in the life of teenagers where puberty sets in, unleashing all sorts of realities and producing insecurities in developing children.
Hence, Touching Spirit Bear could be a great cathartic story for teenagers to vicariously live through the main character's diatribes and understand that life is not always fair, and that there are ways to cope with it.
Actually, it depends on the maturity of the class but I think this book could appeal to audiences from 5th-8th grade. It deals with real world issues to which even 5th graders can relate. I have read this book with 5th and 6th grade classes and it has resulted in some important revelations and conversations.
It would definetly be appropriate for grade 8 and up. There is some mature content that I think can only be fully understood by young people who are entering that stage of their lives. Reading the book itself may be ok with younger students but to do a novel study properly the concepts that should be explored are better suited for an older group.
It would be appropriate for grades 6-8. I teach it with 8th grade and it is a very popular novel with this age level. It does have mature content but the reading level of the novel is quite easy. I think 9th graders on up would really need a more difficult reading level so I can't recommend it for 9-12. I think ideally it would be suited to 7th grade based on the reading level and the interest in the content.
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