Middle Grade Books

Novels for 9-12 year olds

Middle Grade Book Clubs

The purpose of Book Clubs in my 5th grade Ethnic Studies classroom is to guide students through deeper explorations of social justice through literature. When choosing texts, I ask myself, How does this book allow students to critically engage with the world they are inheriting and inspire them to create positive change in their communities? I carefully research every text and choose authors who represent their marginalized perspectives.


Books explore themes of immigration, racism, injustice, diverse ways of knowing, joy, forced removal, civil rights, enslavement and resistance. The curriculum also intentionally centers the experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Color as we work towards radical wellness by prioritizing the populations that have been historically de-prioritized. My book list in its entirety teaches historical truths that still require resolution AND resilience, resistance, cultural wealth and joy.

Guidelines for a successful book club:

  • Book clubs are student led (typically 4-5 students per book club).

  • Students choose the texts they want to read and are paired with others wanting to read that text.

  • The club is community centered. Students come up with their own discussion questions and run their own 10 minute daily meetings.

  • Students read/listen 20 pages per day (100 pages a week).

  • We spend about 3 months studying each Unit which works out to each student choosing and reading about 3-4 books in each unit.

  • I read a novel aloud and model strategies students can choose to employ during their book clubs.

  • Book club books enhance the learning that students receive from my Ethnic Studies instruction.

  • After book club meetings, I often choose a book club to share out an interesting strategy, quote or discussion they had with the rest of the class.

  • Students become deeply engaged in what they read and build stronger background knowledge, empathy and authentic learning around marginalized perspectives.