Usually I love subbing. I post funny or sweet things that happen on twitter with the hashtag #ilovesubbing. The last few weeks I haven’t been able to do this. I have not faced such disrespect in a classroom as I have on this particular job. So, instead this is what I ended up tweeting in frustration:
So, I’m counting down – 9 more days. But I got to thinking, there have been a few, very few, good moments in between all the stressful hours.
Like the eighth grade girl who came up and presented me with a bracelet she’d made me out of purple thread. I had her tie it on for me and I’m still wearing it.
And there’s the sixth grade girl who has given me a bunch of hugs. I needed every one of them.
And the seventh grade boy who shared some banana chips with me. He also talked to me about how he takes medicine to help him focus and how he can go for days without eating. The boy who sits next to him is almost totally mute. I do my best to give him attention so he doesn’t fade away into the middle school dust.
There is a website where you can watch live video feed from cities all over. I watched some from New Orleans the other day. People wondering up and down Bourbon Street in the last day of Carnival celebrations. They all dress crazy and act like they are having a grand time, but it looks so empty. Then, I stand by my door in between classes and watch the kids wander up and down. Both of these are loud groups of people. The difference is that when the warning bell rings, the middle schoolers make a run for it. The people on Bourbon Street wander aimlessly until the sun comes up or they pass out – whichever comes first. They never hear the warning bell.
“I just wanted to know what it felt like to be someone you look at.” – Ove, from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Last year I was witness to a modern day middle school dance. I use the term dance loosely. It was more like a sweaty, sugar high, hormone fest. I never attended a dance until the Prom my senior year, unless you count square dancing in fourth grade.
However, some things don’t change. We all want to know what it feels like to be the one someone else wants to look at. To be someone that a special someone else wants to be with.
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?