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Thank you to all for the suggestions.  They were very helpful.

Original post:

Our Middle School is undergoing a major Language Arts curriculum revision,
and teachers are looking for suggestions for novels.  Does anyone have any
title suggesions for the following themes:

Personal growth/journey
Coming of Age

Any title suggestions appropriate for Middle School will be appreciated.

Please note that some reviewers feel that Mikaelsen writing in _Touching
Spirit Bear_ is flawed when dealing with the Tlingit culture.  Here's a
snip of the review at
All of this having been said, Touching Spirit Bear is fatally flawed by
Mikaelsen's inexcusable playing around with Tlingit culture, cosmology
and ritual; and his abysmal lack of understanding of traditional
banishment. It is obvious that what he doesn't know, he invents. Edwin,
the Tlingit elder, instructs Cole to: jump into the icy cold water and
stay there as long as possible; pick up a heavy rock (called the
"ancestor rock") and carry it to the top of a hill; push the rock (now
called the "anger rock") back down the hill; watch for animals and dance
around the fire to impersonate the animal he sees (called the "bear
dance," "bird dance," "mouse dance," etc.); announce what he's learned
about the characteristics of that animal from his dance; and finally,
carve that animal on his own personal "totem pole."

Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen, is an excellent novel that deals
with the issues of survival and personal growth. It is extremely popular
with my middle school students.  The sequel, Ghost of Spirit Bear, is
now available, and is also very good.


 I would like to suggest Peak by Roland Smith. It fits in with the coming of
age theme, I think, and also has elements of danger that relate to survival.
Plus itís a great read.


Our 8th graders read Touching Spirit Bear (survival) and loved it.


"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins is, in my opinion, one of the best
works of fiction in quite some time.  It's also a perfect fit for the
survival theme.  I think it's listed as Young Adult, but I feel it is
appropriate (definitely for 7th and 8th grade).


At the lower end of a RL spectrum, you might investigate Gary Paulsen's
MR. TUCKET, which is the 1st of 4 in a series, I think.  Our 5th graders
really enjoyed the books.


Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings


A good suggestion for all those themes is "Touching Spirit Bear" by Ben
Mikaelsen. Also, our 8th grade reads "Iqbal" by Francesco D'Adamo and
"Yellow Star" by Jennifer Roy.


Our 8th grade reads The Secret Life of Bees.
Our 6th grade reads The Wanderer by Sharon Creech.


I would suggest just about anything by Will Hobbs and the "Brian" series by
Gary Paulsen. Girls and Boys both enjoy these. It will definitely keep the
boys going with the story.


I personally like Dogsong by Gary Paulsen as a survivor story.


Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is good for Personal growth/journey
(younger middle school--maybe 6th grade)  Walk Two Moons is good too!


A very popular book at my middle school for survival is Unwind by Neal


Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury--Survival
Down the Long Hills--Louis L'Amour--Survival


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan


Robin Metaj
Great Oak Middle School
Oxford, CT

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