Monday, August 31, 2009

What Do I Read Next?: Williams Garcia & Smith

Last week some of you asked for reading suggestions on bullying. Here's a short list of what we recommend. Tell us about your experience with bullies or how you've talked to students and your children about bullying. Please add your recommendations.


Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones. Patrice Williams is the new girl at her Chicago middle school. Patrice is teased by everyone at school because she has a lot of hair. Everyone calls her Puffy. I think many girls will be able to relate to this opening passage:

"Just two more blocks," she whispered to herself as she stood waiting for the light. During the bitterly cold days of winter, the thirteen-year-old had gotten into the habit of counting the blocks until she was safe at home- safe from the freezing cold, wind safe from the nasty comments made by girls who had cut school and were always hanging out in front of the local drugstore, safe from the gang of boys who had all but quit school and who hung out in the broken down playground in front of her building.They all seemed to have something mean to say about her.

Reading this, I could almost feel Patrice's self-esteem slipping away. Having to race home with your head down is an awful feeling. The author focuses more on how the boys mistreat Patrice. Girls everywhere, who are still growing into their bodies must deal with boys who think it's their right to call the girls out of their name. Yet there aren't many YA books that deal with this topic. There is much to be discussed, learned and enjoyed from Standing Against the Wind. Traci L. Smith was awarded the John Steptoe Award for new talent for this book.

Jumped by Rita Williams Garcia. I'm a Williams fan so I was very pleased when I got my hands on her latest work. After reading this, I was compelled to write a review. Warning, I was also long-winded in my examination about this work about girl on girl violence.
Rita Williams-Garcia’s latest book,
Jumped is raw. I suppose I could be eloquent but the truth is, for me, raw best describes the tension and the fear I clung to the entire read. I wrote earlier on my blog that the story of three teens linked through a single event possesses all of the intensity of a “24” episode without cars and building exploding and Jack’s questionable tactics. A better analogy might be the movie “Cloverfield,” the intensity is ratcheted up because Jumped plays out like a movie shot with a single lens camera carried by an anonymous cameraman who records the events as they happen, unscripted and unedited. No commercials. No romantic scenes. No happy endings. See my review here.

Other titles we recommend:

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos. Rico is a light-skinned Cuban who is bullied by Blacks and Latinos. Hijuelos won the Pulitzer Prize for Mambo Kings. This is his first Young adult novel.

The Absolute Diary of A Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. See Ari's review at Reading In Color.

The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake. This title is available for loan. Ms. Flake is hugely popular in our library. I love the cover and many readers identify with the MC. I really enjoy Ms. Flakes' style. I've read her before and this novel delivers an authentic voice and realistic scenarios. Meelaka Madison is a social outcast (she's very dark-skinned) who is desperate to fit in at her middle school. Read more here.

If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko.(Susan) This was my surprise read for the year. The focus is not bullying but the author does a fantastic job showing how kids will tolerate bullying just to fit in.

What books would you recommend to teachers and students on the topic of bullying and violence in schools? Does this list help? Have you read any of these?

What topics or themes would you like us to address next week?

Until next time, happy reading.


Ms. Yingling said...

Standing Against the Wind has been a popular title with my middle school girls. Thanks for the blog-- I hope to visit frequently in the future!

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed Sharon Flake's The Skin I'm In and just checked it out to someone!

The Anti-Defamation League has a great lesson plan on using this book in the classroom. Its one of our alternates for students since it's mostly appealing to girls.

Skin I'm In

Check out the link. It was where I first found out about it.

Anonymous said...

I have to second "Jump". It really describes how little, meaningless situations grow out of control in a very realistic manner.

Doret said...

Thanks Ms. Yinglang - Its good to hear that students are enjoying Standing Against the Wind. And we look forward to your return

Thanks KB for the Skin I'm in link

I loved Jumped. It was very realistic and the author didn't make the reader favor one character over the other.

Susan the post looks great.

Color Online said...

Doret, working with you works for me. We're a good team.

Akilah said...

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher should be added to this list. The main character and one of the featured characters are both black in a predominately white town/school.

Shooter by Walter Dean Myers is also a good one for the effects of bullying.