The four nonfiction informational texts - Here We Are, Strong is the New Pretty, Girl Rising, and In the Company of Women would be great in any middle school classroom. But today, I want to focus on the fiction novels.
Amina's Voice would be perfect in my former fifth grade classroom, but is also terrific in my current middle school class. Amina's parents were born in Pakistan, but she and her brother were born in America. Her family is Muslim. The book focuses on home and school. At school she's dealing with possibly losing her best friend to another girl, one she considered her enemy. At home her uncle is coming to visit from Pakistan. In either environment - home or school - Amina is learning to speak up and use her voice. I highly recommend this book.
And then there is My Lady Jane. I'm not a huge romantic book person, particularly when it looks like a romance/ historical fiction. I'll be honest, I put off reading this one for quite some time. Man, I was missing out. Once I began reading this 500 page novel, I couldn't put it down. Here we have King Edward, just fifteen, dying of affliction. Forced to find an heir, he marries his dear cousin Jane off to Gifford, hoping she will produce a male heir who can take the throne. These three YA authors have taken the true story of Lady Jane Grey, but then completely turned it on its head. See, while all that I've written is historically accurate, the authors decided Jane needed more of a story than a nine day reign which ended with her beheading. In their story, Gifford is an Eðian, meaning he is magical and can transform into a horse. In this world, the Eðians are persecuted by the Verities, non-magical folks.
I loved this book for many reasons. I throughly enjoyed the humor, the bits of romance, the history, but most of all I loved the character of Jane. She's strong willed, loves to read, and kind hearted. An absolutely phenomneal YA novel that I'd love for all of my students to read.
Next up, I have Nathan Hale's One Trick Pony and Lillian Rivera's The Education of Margot Sanchez. What are you reading?