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Great Summer Reads with Carol Jago: Friends and Family Matter, Grades 6-8

Carol Jago Blogs 11

Though we may sometimes have differences of opinion with our friends or family members, they are often the ones we rely on to see us through difficult times.

Dear Readers,

One of the things I loved most about these three books is how friends in the stories talk with one another. Kekla Magoon, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Nicola Yoon write dialogue that will make you feel like you are right there in the room (or playing field) where it happens.

Happy reading!



Novel by Kekla Magoon

When two Indiana brothers meet their cool but somewhat shady neighbor Styx Malone, dull days become interesting very quickly. While Kekla Magoon introduces serious issues at the core of this story, it is rollicking fun at every turn. If you are a fan of Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee, I think you will like this book even more. Unforgettable characters; delightful storytelling!


Novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Maximiliano Cordoba lives in the fictional nation of Santa Maria where his father builds bridges, both real and metaphorical. When the story opens, Max is keen to play soccer, but his team requires a birth certificate, a document that disappeared along with his mother. Discovering the truth about the Cordoba family’s role in harboring refugees leads Max to and through enchanted worlds and will keep you turning pages.


Novel by Nicola Yoon

Natasha’s family is facing deportation when she meets Daniel, a poet and a dreamer. Natasha, on the other hand, is more pragmatic, believing in science and facts. She only has hours left to spend in the country. Where can this new relationship possibly lead?

As you read these titles, consider:

  • How do friends and family impact our decisions?
  • Why is it important to consider the thoughts of others?
  • How do changes, large and small, affect us?
  • How should we handle conflicts with those closest to us?

Try out one of these activities to further your reading:

  • After you finish The Season of Styx Malone, read this review of the novel. Do you agree with the critics?
  • Social Studies Connection: Experience the incredible story of a fearless kid from Syria who left her home country for a better life, just like the “hidden ones” in Mañanaland. Read Bana Alabed’s story and check out the linked video.
  • Check out the discussion questions and extension activities in this guide for The Sun Is Also a Star. Plus—if you haven’t already—check out the film version of the book!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

Note: HMH is not responsible for the content of third-party websites.

Photo of Carol Jago provided by ©Andrew Collings

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