By Walter Dean Myers
Because of what they've written in their alternative newspaper, The Cruiser, four eighth-grade friends are given an assignment rather than suspension. Classmates at the DaVinci Academy, a school for talented and gifted students, Zander, LaShonda, Kambui, and Bobbi are to be peacekeepers during a Civil War unit and prevent another war from breaking out. They use their newspaper to raise awareness and eventually ease tensions between the opposing factions, a group of white athletes who call themselves Sons of the Confederacy and a large population of African-American students and others who don't want to associate themselves with racist sentiments. Adding to the tension is the threat of expulsion if the friends can't prevent the fighting; their grades have been slipping and the administration is beginning to doubt their dedication to such a prestigious and competitive school. In the end the group prevails, but an assignment asks them to consider what would have happened if there had been no Civil War, and the students are reminded of the complexity of the situation, then and now.
One Crazy Summer
By Rita Williams Garcia
In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
By William Kamkwamba
When 14-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought in 2001, everyone's crops began to fail. His family didn't have enough money for food, let alone school, so William spent his days in the library. He came across a book on windmills and figured out how to build a windmill that could bring electricity to his village. Everyone thought he was crazy but William persevered and managed to create a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps. Several years later he figured out how to use the windmill for irrigation purposes.
By Kwame Alexander
Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall
This biography profiles the life of Bass Reeves, a former slave who was recruited as a deputy United States Marshal in the area that was to become Oklahoma.
Brown Girl Dreaming
By Jacqueline Woodson
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
By Karen English
Gavin wants to make a good impression at Carver Elementary, where no one knows he excels at soccer and skateboarding, but an annoying big sister, a bully, and his great aunt's Pomeranian are not helping.