Say Yes to Life

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Madeleine L’Engle, an author of books for children as well as books for adults, once said, “A children’s book must be … a book that says yes to life.” I think this is a profound statement.

I’ve been working off and on for quite a while on a book. It is aimed at middle-grade readers and I want it to be a book that impacts for good.

I was dismayed last year  while I was browsing the covers of some books that had been put out on display for middle schoolers. Now, I don’t mean we have to stay away from every hard subject of life, but one book there was definitely not one that this age group of young teens should be reading. And it wasn’t just the topic, suicide, but it was other things I found as I flipped through the pages; things I don’t even want to write here.

I see no reason kids need to have gutter language and sexual innuendo paraded and applauded. They get enough of that on TV and in the locker room and behind the teacher’s back. Why can’t novels be something uplifting and something to produce better thoughts?

Here are some of my favorite books for middle-grade students:

  • The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  • Loser by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Okay for Now by Gary D.Schmidt
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • Gone From These Woods by Donny Bailey Seagraves
  • I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Treviño

What are your thoughts on reading material for middle school?

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