#MGGetsReal - National Council of Teachers of English
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Authors Collaborating to Get Books About Real Topics in the Hands of Kids

This post is by NCTE member Kathleen Burkinshaw. 

BurkinshawGroupImageBanner“Real kids have real problems. And they benefit from meeting characters with similar dilemmas. #MGGetsReal focuses on a few middle grade novels that can help readers navigate life’s struggles.” (Source: http://mggetsreal.blogspot.com/)

There has been a lot of buzz lately about putting real issues in middle grade fiction. There have been some fantastic posts such as “Middle Grade Books Take on Mature Topics.” Even though the middle grade age range can be from 8-12, it doesn’t exclude them from facing complicated issues or knowing someone who is.  Aside from that they can gain perspective and be empathetic to another person’s point of view, someone’s disability, or culture. It doesn’t matter if the middle grade novel takes place in an earlier time period, the issues remain relevant, as you’ll see in the descriptions below.

For example, in THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, my main character, Yuriko gives readers a view of how the Japanese children experienced WWII in their homes. She can show them that the enemy is not so different from themselves.

In Joyce Moyer Hostetter’s, COMFORT, Ann’s father returns from WWII tormented by his battlefield memories.  Ann and her family must figure out how to cope with the changes they all are facing as a result of the war.

Similarly, with Kerry O’Malley Cerra’s, JUST A DROP OF WATER, two boys, Jake and Sam, are best friends.  Sam is Muslim, Jake is not.  Immediately after September 11th, they each must deal with tension, anger, and confusion in their own way, but find hope when they learn to deal with it together.

In Shannon Hitchcock’s, RUBY LEE & ME, Sarah Beth is white and Ruby Lee is black.  Sarah Beth considers Ruby Lee her friend. Sarah Beth’s sister has been hospitalized after an accident. Shortly after that, school integration begins in her town and racism shows up where she least expected it.

In Shannon Weirsbitzky’s, WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER, Delia wants to save as many memories as she can for a man, who is like a Grandfather to her, after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

#MGGetsReal‘s intention for the middle graders who read our books, is to not only find common ground or understanding, but also hope.  An important gateway for our books to be read by middle grade readers is through the valuable teachers and librarians at their schools.   We are grateful that you introduce books with complicated issues to your students, whether it is to enhance your lesson plans or widen your students’ view of the world around them.

We also know that there are numerous, wonderfully written middle grade novels that also deal with challenging issues.  #MGGetsReal has compiled a list (which we continue to update) with other authors and their novels that also do this. This list can be found on our website.

As the founding authors of #MGGetsReal we hope that you will recommend or continue to recommend our books.  Throughout the month of August #MGGetsReal will be tweeting, reviewing, and posting about our books. In addition, #MGGetsReal is sponsoring a giveaway.  On August 31st a winner will be chosen to receive the five books showcased above.

We invite you to watch our trailer and visit us on Facebook

Burkinshaw, Kathleen1kbKathleen Burkinshaw resides in Charlotte, NC. She’s a wife, mom to a daughter in college (dreading the reality of being an empty nester-most of the time), and owns a dog who is a kitchen ninja.