I created a Power Point giving students the basic information about each title. Each slide shows the cover of the book, the description, a link to the book trailer, the reading level, whether or not we have an e-Book copy of the title, and the genre that it belongs to.
This year, I decided to pull the themes from each book and ask students deeper thinking questions about each theme. The first book we looked at was Almost Home by Joan Bauer.
|When twelve-year-old Sugar's grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar's mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. With the help of a rescue dog, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own grace and good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can't control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds. |
(Summary from Goodreads.com)
The obvious theme for this title is homelessness. Because this year we are using the 17 Global Goals (World's Largest Lesson), to focus our research and media lessons, this becomes a wonderful opportunity to discuss things like poverty, clean water, sanitation, and hunger. We even ventured into moral and ethical territory by discussing whether or not we would be willing to steal food if we were adults and our children were hungry and we had no money to purchase food.
I see my students 30 minutes once every 6 school days. We talked about this theme and posed great questions and quandaries for them to think through, collaborate on, and share with the class. The fact that we got through 1 of the 12 titles is fine for me. I would much rather have a deeper, more relevant, problem-solving discussion about one book than to skim through a number of the MHL titles during a class period.
Nearly every student has been engaged and interested in the conversation. Students have shared about their own lives and made connections to each other. We learned about homelessness in different countries through the vast diversity within our school. It feels as though they understand the reality of homelessness, and want to take action. This is part of what we will do this year - create a plan of action and allow kids to become empowered and make a difference.