We have just returned from break and we’re jumping right into new books. The eighth graders are beginning The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I love the descriptions, the figurative language and the symbolism of music throughout this short novel. I divided the seventh graders into two groups. One group is reading The Devil’s Arithmetic. It is the story of a young girl attending a present day Passover Seder; she is transported back in time to Poland during WWII where she experiences a Nazi concentration camp and realizes the importance of knowing about and remembering the past. The other group of seventh graders is reading The Misfits, a well-known book for middle schoolers that deals with important topics such as name calling, bullying, stereotyping, and fitting in. Grade 6 students have just begun Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. In each chapter the reader is introduced to a new character as the story of a vacant lot turned into a community garden builds.