Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Excitement of Using Middle Grade Novels in the Classroom

Next month I will present once again at the Illinois Reading Council Conference.  The conference is held from March 13-15.  It is always a stellar coming together of teachers, editors, authors and others interested in the reading welfare of children  I am honored to have been part of it for the past four years.

My presentation this year is titled:  Using Middle Grade Books in the Classroom:  A Bridge to Growth, Self-Awareness, and Maturity.

This has been a fun presentation to do, along with my power point.  I have defined middle school kids for this post with some authority, as I taught them for some ten years.

The first bridge I use is Growth.  In what ways do middle grade students grow?  Here are a few examples:

A beginning of the end of childhood
A stronger sense of self
Early romantic fantasies for girls and boys
Kids moving in packs defined by gender
Bullying and being bullied for some boys  (Girls, too.)

Using trade novels to address this partial list of events in a middle schooler's life, is an exceptional aid for teachers of this special and magical time of childhood.

As Stanley Milgrim observed:

Crossing over the line from childhood to adolescence is difficult because the line is not clear and there are inherent risks involved.  It is an emotional leap as well as a physical one, and maintaining a balanced sense of self becomes increasingly difficult.

It is a pleasure to work with teachers of middle school kids at the conference.  It is my hope they will enjoy and profit from my presentation.             

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