It's been a very dark autumn, and not just because of the days getting shorter. The news seems to be filled with stories that promote hate. Raising middle graders in a world where it is okay to give speeches and make social media comments that would make people uncomfortable in a polite conversation can be challenging. Here are two books from other challenging time periods your middle grader can read to see love in action.
In Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmdt, the main character Doug is growing up in America during the time of the Vietnam War. Doug moves to a new town and is immediately stereotyped as a "bad boy" based on his poor family and long hair. When his brother is accused of robbing some of the local stores, people's attitudes towards him get even worse. But Doug's good nature shines through and as people get to know the real Doug, the reader witnesses kindness in action. Told from the first person point of view of Doug, Okay for Now can help a middle grader understand that age old phrase, "You can't judge a book by its cover."
In The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, the main character Marlee has to challenge the racist feelings of others and decide to take action. Set in 1958, before desegregation, Marlee finds out that her best friend has been posing as white when she is really black. Marlee decides that skin doesn't matter and works to make sure that she keeps her friendship, even when others would use violence to prevent it. Told from Marless's point of view, this book shows how even a shy young girl can stand up for others.
Do you have a favorite book that promotes kindness? Please share your recommendation in the comments.