Virginia Reader's Choice: Suggestions for Middle School Readers
Last week I had the pleasure of witnessing an innovative use for a web cam—book discussion! Spotsylvania school librarians at Chancellor, Freedom, Post Oak, Spotsylvania and Thornburg Middle Schools combined forces, and their own excitement, to virtually bring students together in a way that otherwise would require buses and permission slips. The event, “Cookies and Conversation,” allowed students to discuss books with participants at other schools while eating cookies in the comfort of their home library.
The books on the agenda were the middle school reading list for this year’s Virginia Reader’s Choice (http://www.vsra.org/VRCindex.html.) This annual list, sponsored by the Virginia Reading Association, is used throughout the state and culminates in April when participating schools vote on their favorites. Statewide winners are announced in May. The titles for the older students are frequently well-written books that don’t have wide readership. Sometimes because of unusual subject matter and sometimes because the cover is awful!
“The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had” by Kristin Levine falls in the bad cover category. When Harry “Dit” Simmons’ hears a new kid is coming to town, he can’t wait to meet him. Only one problem, “he” turns out to be a she! Dit is bitterly disappointed by gender differences, but the rest of the town focuses on her color. Somehow the two become friends and Dit starts to question things he’s always accepted. Like why blacks and whites can’t go to school together and how they can be treated as if there were different laws for both. The students enjoyed this wonderful story of two brave teens and recalled some unlikely friendships of their own.
The 8th grade students really enjoyed “Shooting the Moon” by Frances O’Roark Dowell.