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The Hunger Games

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins follows the life of one Katniss Everdeen. Katniss lives in District 12 of the country of Panem, a suggested future North America. It is the 74th year of the Hunger Games which is a way for the Capitol to remain control over it's Districts. A long time ago, District 13 rebelled against the Capitol and many people were killed. The Capitol wanted a way to remind the people of it's Districts that the people of the Capitol were in complete control. The way they did this was to send both a girl and a boy tribute to an arena so that they would fight to their death. Only one tribute could be named winner of the Hunger Games. This year is Katniss's little sister, Prim's, first year to be entered into the drawing. When Prim gets picked as tribute, Katniss volunteers so that her sister does not have to go. Katniss thinks that she has more of a chance than her sister because she is the hunter of the family. Peeta Mellark is picked as the boy tribute. They are both to leave the district right away to start training and preparing for the games. Katniss and Peeta really make an impression on the people of the Capitol when Peeta confesses his love for Katniss the day before the games. This simple gesture may be a saving grace for the hunt ahead. The Hunger games is a truly amazing book. Not only does it really entrap you and make you feel like you are one of the members of the book, but it covers issues that are pushed aside daily in our world. This book would be great to use in a middle school classroom to talk about speculative fiction but also children soldiers around the world.
Out of the Dust

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"Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse is a book about a girl who wants to be a piano player, during the time of the dust bowl and the Great Depression in the 1930's. This book is written in poetry format about Billie Jo, and her farmer family trying to survive after the death of her mother. I would use this book to introduce poetry and for struggling readers and writers. It is a easy read for Young Adolescent.
Speak

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"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson is about a young teenage girl, Melinda that was date raped. Anderson does a great job of entering the character and expressing her feeling. I feel as if this book should be recommended for grades 8-10. This book could really comfort a girl who is currently going through this situation, because girls are raped everyday. Anderson touches on this issue of keeping a secret but also helping young girls find the courage of telling someone. I truly think this book could help girls or friends to find their voice on this serious topic.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor was quite the eye opener. This book is a fiction novel set in Mississippi during the 1930's. The main character Cassie and her brothers, Little Man, Stacey and Christopher-John, all African-American deal with being treated different due to racism. Cassie's family was different from the other black families around. They lived on their own land, their Papa worked off on the RailRoad, and their mother was a school teacher. Big Ma, Cassie's grandmother along with Mr. Morrison tended to the land while the children were at school. Cassie is very different from all of the other black children, she does not accept or understand why she is treated different. Cassie was before her time, her character would have done great things if she were in a different time or setting. The Logan's battle racism at the grocery store, driving down the road, traveling back and forth to Vicksburg, and walking to school. This book shows the trials and tribulations of overcoming racism, and how a community comes to help others within that community.Teaching Connections: would have to be of an older age to be able to accept the language. `I would have my students keep a reading log of each chapter and write down how they feel about what happened. `I would divide my class for pros and cons to discuss the scenes of the story and also whether racism still exists today.`Connecting this book and "The Help" would also help the meaning of racism. I am indifferent about this book, I liked the historical aspect of it, but I did not like the language. The book would be a great lesson enhancement to understanding history of this time. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is very supportive of the importance of acceptance and eliminating discrimination and racism.
The Dark Is Rising: The Dark is Rising Sequence #2

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The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper is a speculative fiction book. The book is about Will Stanton, who is celebrating his birthday. Throughout the book Will finds himself that he is apart of a mysterious magic group and he makes the last member of the "Old Ones". The group teaches him how to use his powers to his advantage to overcome the "Rider". Read and find out how and even if Will is successful in saving the world. I did not enjoy this book. The transitions from scene to scene is hard to follow. I did not make a sudden or even powerful connection with any of the characters. I definitely would not read this book without reading the first one, or at least be introduced to the first series. Susan Cooper does not develop her characters with any personality, or does she transition the scenes. This book is very hard to read and to keep interest it. I would not recommend this book to anyone in any grade. I am still trying to figure out why this book was nominated "Newberry" winner. I would not use this text as a tool in my classroom, because it is so hard and boring. I know that everyone does not like reading the same things, but as a teacher you have to find something intriguing about the book. In this book I could not find the interesting characteristic.
Hitler Youth

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"Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow" by Susan Campbell Bartoletti is a historical non-fiction book about the happenings during World War II. This is the story about how Hitler had the children and youth of Germany influenced under Nazism. The book looks at how the non-Jewish families were effected by Hitler's power. This book contains shocking confessions of this time in History. I think this book can be used in History during the time when the class is studying WWII.
A Long Way Gone

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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is about his life, at the age of 13 and surviving while living each day in violence and warcraft in Sierra Leone. He is trying to get revenge for his family it seems like. It is a very touching story, although heartbreaking. I feel as if Beah told his story as it was actually happening. Sometimes I felt as if I were there. This book provides a good understanding of any war from the eyes of a soldier. I think this book should be recommended for 11-12 grades in either History or English, and even adults.
Monster

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Monster is about Steve Harmon who is on trial for the murder of a man in Steve's community. This book is written as a movie script. The beginning is very vague, because Steve tells his story through his experiences both present and past. This book goes in detail about being in jail and the experiences and emotions that Steve is going through. As you are reading this book you meet different people who give their testimony about what happened when this man was murdered. Walter Dean Myers does an excellent job on describing the real life trial experience. This book gives a great example of everyday stereotyping. I really enjoyed this book. I think that the older adolescent children should read this book, because the life tribulations and trails are so surreal. By reading this book children might would make the right decision on who they pick as friends or have more courage in standing up for themselves.
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