Here are three middle grade novels that are perfect to teach compassion and lead to disucssions on empathy. I had to update this post because I read the most wonderful book, it had to be mentioned. Please read Wonder this year, you will be glad you did.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
It is rare that I cry while reading a book, but I did as I read Wonder. It is rare that I am so moved by a book that by the time I am finished I resolve to be a better person. In most of my reading I am delighted, charmed, informed, and entertained. But Wonder moved me. August, the main character was born with a facial deformity, a one in a million chance, but he got it. He elicits gasps of shock from strangers when their eyes take in his physical appearance for the first time. When we meet Auggie, he is starting school for the first time, not just school, middle school. The story is told from Auggie’s point of view, as well as his sister, and classmates at school. The characters are written with such sharp and strong voice, you are enveloped and rooting for Auggie from the first page. You feel his pain deeply and triumph in his joys with exuberance. This is a must read for every adult, every teacher of 4th grade and up needs to share this book with their students. I loved this book from start to finish, it is brilliant.
To Order on Amazon, click here: Wonder (Only 6.99! Get it)
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The One and Only Ivan tells the story of a Gorilla kept in the Tacoma Mall as a tourist attraction. Told from the perspective of the animals, this books tackles issues of animal cruelty in the most perfect way. It is honest, but heart warming. It was moving and made you feel horribly sad and wonderfully happy all at the same time. This book shows children that all life has value, it is our responsibility is to care for others and animals and make the world a better place where we can. If you are an adult that loves animals, please read it, you won’t regret it. A modern day Charlotte’s Web.
To Order on Amazon, click here: The One and Only Ivan (Only 6 Bucks!)
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Gaff
Absolutely Almost is about Albie, a boy who is almost always striving and missing the mark. Albie is 10 and lives in New York City. Spelling tests are hard, reading is harder, and he is aware of every worry his parents try to hide. Albie is at a new school, and absolutely does not need a baby-sitter; then arrives Callista , to hang out with him after school. Callista and Ablie form a special bond. She serves as a catalyst to show Albie his hidden talents. Although this book is a middle grade novel, it was a superb read. The writing was tender and relevant; it reminded me of a modern, less silly, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. If you are a teacher looking for a book to teach show compassion, dealing with bullying, and learning to stand up for yourself, this is a good pick. If you have a young person in your life that likes realistic fiction, this is a great book. I loved that it was realistic, not preachy, and relatable, without inappropriate content. Jaff is a fantastic writer; she captures emotions and struggles from a young person’s perspective with ease.
To Order this book on Amazon, click here: Absolutely Almost (Cheap as well!)