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Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Reading Workbooks  >  Middle School
Literature Circles  -  Literature Circles Novel Selection
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Literature Circles Novel Selection
Multi-Cultural Award-Winning Literature

Directions: Please carefully read the descriptions of the literature selections below. There are three categories -- select the appropriate category for your learning needs. On the handout provided, number your choices (CHOOSE TOP FIVE ONLY) in the spaces available with a one (1) being the novel you most wish to read. I will do my best to accommodate one of your top three (3) choices. If you have read any of the selections listed, indicate that you have done so by writing "READ" in the space provided. Please do not mark on this handout.

"Challenging" Reading Level RL:6+

Let the Circle Be Unbroken -- written by the award-winning author Mildred D. Taylor
Cassie Logan and her family will never forget 1935. It is the time of the Great Depression, and young Cassie is about to learn the hard truths of what it means to be black. A friend, T.J., is condemned by an all-white jury. Neighbors are destroyed by wealthy, greedy landowners. A pretty cousin, Suzella, is humiliated for the crime of trying to pass as white. And old hatreds and new conflicts erupt to strain the close Logan family circle. But the bonds of love, understanding and spirited courage prove stronger than the ugliest prejudice -- and Cassie looks to the future with pride, self-respect, and a new fire to survive.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry -- A Newbery Medal Winner written by Mildred D. Taylor
Why is the land so important to Cassie’s family? It takes the events of one turbulent year -- the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she is black -- to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family’s lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride. No matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away.

The Education of Little Tree -- An Abby Award -Winner written by Forrest Carter
This is highly acclaimed book , one it is claimed that can be read again and again. It is the story of Little Tree, a young Cherokee boy growing up in the 1930s who is raised by his grandparents. Some of it is sad, some charming, some funny and unbelievable. This is definitely worth reading! 216 pages.

Farewell to Manzanar -- Written by Jeanne Wakatsuki and James D. Houston
Jeanne Wakatsuki was 7 years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called "The Jive Bombers" who would play any popular song except the nation’s #1 hit: "Don’t Fence Me In." Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese American family’s attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention ... and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States. 145 pages.

"Somewhat Challenging" Reading Level RL:5 - 5.7

Island of The Blue Dolphin -- A Newbery Award-winner written by Scott O’Dell
In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind. This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of The Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. 184 pages.

...And now Miguel -- A Newbery Medal winner written by Joseph Krumgold
When you act like an adult but get treated like a child, what else can you do but keep your wishes secret and pray that they’ll come true? This is the story of 12-year-old Miguel Chavez, who yearns in his heart to go with the men of his family on a long and hard sheep drive to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains -- until his prayer is finally answered, with a disturbing and dangerous exchange. 245 pages

Journey of the Sparrows -- Written by Fran Leeper Buss
Nailed into a crate in the back of a truck, 15-year-old Maria; her older sister, Julia; their little brother, Oscar; and a boy named Tomas’ endure a cruel journey across the U.S. border and then north to Chicago. There they struggle to find work -- cleaning, sewing, washing dishes -- always careful to remain "invisible" so the authorities won’t arrest and deport them. Despite the family’s ordeals, hope and love can be found -- in Maria’s budding romance with Tomas’, in the help given by a kindly midwife and priest, and most of all, in the stories Maria tells to lift the family’s spirits, of a little sparrow who brings a rainbow. 155 pages.

The House of Sixty Fathers -- A Newbery Honor book written by Meindert DeJong
Tien Pao is all alone in enemy territory. Only a few days before, his family had escaped from the Japanese army, fleeing downriver by boat. Then came the terrible rainstorm. Tien Pao was fast asleep in the little sampan when the boat broke loose from its moorings and drifted right back to the Japanese soldiers. With only his lucky pig for company, Tien Pao must begin a long and dangerous journey in search of his home and family. 189 pages.

Sing Down the Moon -- A Newbery Honor book written by Scott O’Dell
One lovely spring day, 14-year-old Bright Morning and her friend Running Bird take their sheep to pasture. The sky is clear blue against the red buttes of Canyon de Chelly, and the fields and orchards of the Navajos promise a rich harvest. Bright Morning is happy as she gazes across the beautiful valley that is the home of her tribe. Happy until the barking of the Black Dog disturbs her and she turns. It is then that she sees the Spanish slavers riding straight toward her. 137 pages.

Julie of the Wolves -- A Newbery Medal Winner written by Jean Craighead George
Miyax rebels against a home situation she finds intolerable. She runs away toward San Francisco, toward her pen pal, who calls her Julie. But soon Miyax is lost in the Alaskan wilderness, without food, without even a compass. Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Arctic wolves, and she comes to love them as though they were brothers. With their help, and drawing on her father’s training, she struggles day to day to survive. In the process, she is forced to rethink her past, and to define for herself the traditional riches of Eskimo life: intelligence, fearlessness, and love. 169 pages.

The Sign of the Beaver -- A Newbery Honor book written by Elizabeth George Speare
Until the day his father returns to their cabin in the Maine wilderness, 12-year-old Matt must try to survive on his own. Although Matt is brave, he’s not prepared for an attack by swarming bees, and he’s astonished when he’s rescued by an Indian chief and his grandson, Attean. As the boys come to know each other, Attean learns to speak English while Matt becomes a skilled hunter. Though many months have passed, there’s no sign of Matt’s family. Then Attean asks Matt to join the Beaver tribe and move north. Should Matt abandon his hopes of ever seeing his family again and move on to a new life. 135 pages.

"Less Challenging" Reading Level RL:4-

Run Away Home -- written by Patricia C. McKissack
It’s 1888 in Alabama, and Sarah Jane has witnessed an escape. An Apache boy has jumped off a train headed for an Indian reservation -- and a life he doesn’t want. Sarah Jane hopes he’ll run far away. After all, people deserve to be free. But instead, she finds him hiding in her barn, dying of swamp fever. Sarah Jane and her mother work hard to nurse the boy back to life. And Sarah Jane realizes they’ll have to turn him over to authorities. But how can a family send away a boy who just wants his freedom -- a boy who has run away ... home? 160 pages.

The Middle of Somewhere -- A Story of South Africa written by Sheila Gordon
All over Rebecca’s village everyone is talking about the bulldozers. She and her friends wonder if the government will really send bulldozers to destroy their homes and make way for a new whites-only town. The government says they must move and promises a new modern village, but Rebecca’s parents and her granny say this is their home and they will never leave. One day Rebecca sets out for school only to learn her best friend’s family has moved away in the middle of the night. The villagers who are left must take a brave stand, and Rebecca’s family may soon be torn apart. Soon Rebecca and her family and friends find help from a surprising source -- and learn that the eyes of the entire world are on their tiny village. 151 pages.

Journey to Jo’burg -- A Children’s Book Award-winner written by Beverley Naidoo
Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village 13-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Tiro, call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn’t until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country, and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them. 80 pages.



Literature Circles Novel Selection
Multi-Cultural Award-winning Literature

Directions: Please number your top 5 choices in the space provided. Number one (1) is considered your top choice.

"Challenging" Reading Level

_____ Let the Circle be Unbroken

_____ Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

_____ The Education of Little Tree

_____ Farewell to Manzanar

"Somewhat Challenging" Reading Level

_____ Island of The Blue Dolphin

_____ ...And now Miguel

_____ Journey of the Sparrows

_____ The House of Sixty Fathers

_____ Sing Down the Moon

_____ Julie of the Wolves

_____ The Sign of the Beaver

"Less Challenging" Reading Level

_____ Run Away Home

_____ The Middle of Somewhere

_____ Journey to Jo’burg


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