Back to School Junior Reads Perfect for World Teacher’s Day

It’s October already! World Teacher’s Day sure comes up fast, doesn’t it? Not only do students have a month of school under their belts, but the homework is beginning to roll in. Book reports and essays are coming due, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. If your child is in grades five to seven, here are a few new fiction books that are great for school projects:

Linked by Gordon Korman

There is a terrible secret buried in the town of Chokecherry. The older townsfolk never speak of it, but the children have heard whispers of a dark, hateful event in the town’s history. But the past is suddenly brought into the light when someone paints a bright red swastika inside the middle school. A short time later, another swastika appears. Then another and another. No one can figure out who’s responsible for the crime or if it’s connected to the events of the past.

The students come up with a project to combat the spread of hate in their school. They will create a paper chain – one link for every Jewish life that was exterminated in the holocaust. That means they will have to produce six million links.

Inspired by the real-life project in Whitwell, Tennessee, where students collected over six million paper clips, Linked is a great book to open discussions around the cycle of hate, how it can divide us, as well as what we can do to repair it.

Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza

Ahmed’s the kind of student who avoids reading at all costs. He’s got much better things to do than wasting his time on some boring books. The same goes for homework. This school year, however, is going to be different. His family just moved to Minnesota and he’s the only student of colour in his class. No one else celebrates EID or follows Muslim traditions. That makes him an easy target for the school bully, who is determined to make Ahmed’s life miserable. However, there are two bright spots amongst the misery – his new friends and his new teacher. They see potential in Ahmed and help empower him to make changes in his life, both socially and academically.

Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year is an in-depth character story about finding new friends and pushing yourself to new limits.

Dawn Raid by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

It’s 1976 in New Zealand. McDonalds has opened it’s first location. Go-go boots are all the rage. TVs only get two channels. Disco dominates the nightclub scene.

But there is something much darker brewing on the streets of New Zealand. Homes are being raided in the early morning hours and police are dragging people away to prison. “Over-stayers” – those who came to work in New Zealand and stayed after their work permits expired – are being arrested all over the country. But the government is only focusing on one specific group of over-stayers – Pacific Islanders like Sofia’s father. They are even being blitzed in the streets, targeted for their skin colour.
When Sofia’s father is taken away to prison, her family turns to the Polynesian Panthers for assistance. Based on the American Black Panthers, they are a social justice movement fighting against racial inequalities. Sofia is determined to make people aware of what’s happening and how the Panthers are helping Pacific Islanders take a stand.

Dawn Raid is a powerful historical fiction story based on author Pauline Vaeluaga Smith’s experiences growing up in New Zealand in the 1970’s.

Staff at the WPL are always happy to help young students find great resources for school projects. Come in and see us at any one of our locations. If you are looking for books for students in grades three to five, check out last month’s post.