Inspirational Stories for 8th graders
October 6, 2008 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone suggest inspirational readings for 8th graders?

Hello All,

I need some suggestions on books, essays, short stories you've read that really moved you or opened your eyes. Topics I am looking for are race/biracial (passing), privilege, class, gender issues, identity. Basically writings on personal adversities and hardships. Short stories and essays are ideal. I am asking because I am doing a social justice class through literature for seventh and eighth graders. Thanks for you help!
posted by kaozity to Education (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack was the first thing that came to mind.
Some excerpts from Racism Without Racists might be effective too.
posted by piedmont at 12:35 PM on October 6, 2008

Well, its value as literature is debatable, but the Chicken Soup series is easily digestible and can lead to discussion. My 12yo daughter likes the ones written for teens.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:37 PM on October 6, 2008

Whoops. I guess I missed the heart of the question, feel free to disregard my answer if it isn't what you're after.
posted by piedmont at 12:42 PM on October 6, 2008

Kate Bornstein's Gender Workbook has a ton of good resources for exploring gender identity and beginning trans issues.

A lot of the resources in threads like this one may also have some age-appropriate stuff.

I'd recommend Julia Alvarez, and particularly How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents for coming-of-age stories about race identity. You can pull excerpts out of there, too.
posted by lunit at 1:09 PM on October 6, 2008

Check out O. Henry.

Lots of great short stories.

I'm thinking The Gift of the Magi and The Cop and the Anthem may fit your criteria.

Good luck.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:12 PM on October 6, 2008

I think I recommend this every time there's a "what should a 13-16 year old read to learn something" question... Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
posted by phunniemee at 1:33 PM on October 6, 2008

American Born Chinese. It might be a tiny bit too mature for 13 - 14 year olds, but it is really great. In fact, it is so good that it is the only graphic novel ever to be a finalist for the National Book Award. I cannot recommend this book enough. I have lent it too a lot of my friends and they all love it.
posted by MiggySawdust at 1:35 PM on October 6, 2008

"Jonathan Linvingston, Seagull"

If I remember correctly the language should be at just the right aptitude (pretty easy). It's a book, but a very fast and easy read.
posted by oddman at 1:47 PM on October 6, 2008

Anne Frank's diary?
posted by lullaby at 2:24 PM on October 6, 2008

The Power of One
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:39 PM on October 6, 2008

Not exactly inspirational, but Harrison Bergeron should be part of this class.
posted by Daily Alice at 4:45 PM on October 6, 2008

A fine book dealing with the ethics of capitalism in an understandable way is "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn. The wikipedia page gives a good summary. And as a source of personal stories of hardship, "Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People", a book of mostly depression-era songs compiled by Woody Guthrie can't be beat both in terms of providing direct accounts of personal difficulties and in terms of providing a huge amount of easy-to-understand short narratives. That and Woody Guthrie's folksy introductions to the chapters and songs make Sarah Palin look like the proverbial Philadelphia lawyer.
posted by caminovereda at 6:00 PM on October 6, 2008

to kill a mockingbird. do i have to add the 'duh'?
posted by docmccoy at 6:40 PM on October 6, 2008

Lots of good stuff in Poetry 180, the wonderful compilation put together by Billy Collins. It includes Sherman Alexie's "At Navajo Monoment Valley Tribal School (From the Photograph by Skeet Mcauley)", Shoshauna Sky's "Bringing My Son to the Police Station to be Fingerprinted", Naomi Shihab Nye's "For Mohammed Zeid, Age 15," and Tom Wayman's "Did I Miss Anything?", which probably doesn't speak directly to your topics of social justice, but is an absolutely terrific poem.
posted by kristi at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2008

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