We finished our first round of book clubs last semester, and we fell in love with Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. This book is everything you could ask for in upper elementary literature. It’s full of relatable, deep characters, intricate plot twists, and social justice. The kids loved it because it wasn’t too hard to read, it kept them on edge, and they just couldn’t wait to turn the next page. I loved it for all of those reasons, but also because of the incredible opportunities for social justice conversations it brought up: the disenfranchisement of prisoners, women, and the homeless, to name a few. Some were central themes throughout the book, and others were just comments made here and there, small sentences that opened the doors to big dialogue.
I created the packet we used as throughout this book club, and consistently revised the questions to tailor them towards what our fifth graders needed. It encourages critical thinking, builds vocabulary, aides comprehension, and paves the way towards those wonderfully challenging conversations I spoke of earlier. The packet is available for download on TeachersPayTeachers for all of our teacher friends.
Here in Ms. Green’s class, we all agree, whether you’re a teacher or not, whether you’re 8 or 88, you should get your hands on a copy of When You Reach Me. Thanks, Rebecca Stead, for helping us fall in love with reading!