Books in the Middle School curriculum addressing racial justice

We checked in with three Waynflete middle school teachers recently to discuss some of their favorite books on the subject of racial justice…

Alyssa Goodrich: “I love teaching The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas because this novel meets eighth graders right where they are developmentally: keenly aware of injustice in the world around them and eager to become active and courageous citizens. This novel offers a nuanced and compassionate example of our society’s most urgent and complex issues related to the fight for racial justice. By providing students with highly engaging and relevant stories such as The Hate U Give, and by giving them opportunities to discuss their questions and ideas, we can nourish their enthusiasm for reading while also fostering their social, intellectual, and civic voices.”

Cassie Pruyn: “In English 6, we are enjoying reading and discussing Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor. This novel focuses on the Logans, an African American family living in Mississippi at the height of the Great Depression and the Jim Crow era. With love, intelligence, and integrity, the family supports one another as they struggle to resist a deeply dangerous and unjust world. Students have been learning about the novel’s historical context, analyzing its literary elements, and connecting its themes to the present day.”

Nat Silverson: “For the summer reading this year, the seventh graders read Francisco Jimenez’s The Circuit, a collection of short stories about the lives of a family of migrant workers from Mexico.  To me, this collection is evidence of why reading remains the most effective way to feel empathy for one another as human beings.  It is impossible to read these clear, simple, but layered stories and not feel the hope and loneliness of Francisco and his struggling but determined family.  I love seeing the students’ eyes go wide when we unpack the symbolism in “Inside Out,” one of the stories in the collection. It is as if they are seeing for the first time that a layer exists to the books they read that they’ve never noticed before but has been there the entire time.”