Could you help me find five six - eight grade books that are a resource for teaching social studies content.
While not a historical text, I have seen teachers use the Hunger Games trilogy to teach concepts important to socials studies. Having the students read the books then compare and contrast the book with actual historical events, or simply exploring the idea of rebellion and government can be very powerful.
My son is in sixth grade and they are currently reading a book about the Holocaust from a non-Jewish perspective, which I thought was quite a gutsy move for his teacher. The title of the novel is Someone Named Eva. My son has always been a good reader, but rarely does he voluntarily talk about texts he is assigned to read in school. This one, however, he comes home talking about every night. Granted, this is not an eigth grade assignment, but I think it is still appropriate.
Staying with the Holocaust theme, another choice you might offer is the graphic novel Maus by acclaimed author Art Speigelman. In this twist, mice (the Jews) are terrorized by cats (Nazis). While this may sound simplistic or even offensive, Speigelman conveys all the horror and terror of the Nazi regime. As I'm sure you know, graphic novels are quite popular, especially with young teenaged boys.
Here are some middle school level books that are good for teaching social studies. These three are novels about topics that would be good to use in reading circles, whole class, or student selected parallel reading:
Tough Times by Milton Meltzer, topic Great Depression
Dawn and Dusk by Alice Mead. This book is about Iran/Iraq conflict from the perspective of a child living in Iran.
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen is a good story that teaches about economics. It is about a boy who starts his own business. Kids love Gary Paulsen.
A good resource for finding books for specific topics you are teaching can be found on the National Council for the Social Studies web site. Each year the council publishes a list of books by topic and level that it recommends for classroom use. Also try searching the documents on enotes for a plethora of information.