Activities & Lessons
Though the characters in these stories face challenges and obstacles, they never stop trying to do the right thing.
As the days of summer draw to a close and the demands of a new school year approach, treat yourself to one of these books by Meg Medina, Melba Portillo Beals, or Sharon Draper. Seeing how others have met with and triumphed over adversity could help put the challenges of fall 2020 into perspective.
MERCI SUÀREZ CHANGES GEARS
Novel by Meg Medina
Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, Meg Medina’s coming-of-age story features a feisty and utterly charming protagonist, a Cuban-American girl who sees clearly what is before her. Though her family drives her crazy at every turn, she also knows that it's from family that she derives her strength. The picture of multi-generational home life will resonate for many young readers, as will Merci’s quirky sense of humor.
MARCH FORWARD, GIRL: FROM YOUNG WARRIOR TO LITTLE ROCK NINE
Autobiography by Melba Pattillo Beals
Long before Melba became one of the Little Rock Nine, she questioned why her world was segregated. She never truly felt safe, being told to watch what she said and where she went. She longed for true freedom, and at a young age, began to fight for it. Since then, she has never stopped.
OUT OF MY MIND
Novel by Sharon Draper
Melody is the smartest person in her class—she has a photographic memory, which means she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. But because he has cerebral palsy, no one knows how smart she really is! You see, Melody can’t walk or talk or write. She is confined to her wheelchair, and that makes her teachers and classmates underestimate her abilities. Melody has to make everyone see how gifted she really is…but how?!
As you read these titles, consider:
- How does one push forward in the face of adversity?
- What can we learn by reading about the experiences of characters who face tremendous challenges?
Try out one of these activities to further your reading:
- Check out this guide with discussion questions and activities for Merci Suárez Changes Gears.
- Social Studies Connection: Melba Pattillo Beals was a member of the Little Rock Nine. Check out the National Museum of African History & Culture’s webpage on the Little Rock Nine to learn more about this courageous group of students and the challenges they faced as symbols of desegregation. You might also check out this Teaching Tolerance page on the Little Rock Nine.
- Check out these discussion questions and activities from author Sharon Draper’s website for Out of My Mind. What was unique about reading this story?
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
Nikki La Londe
Director of Services Content Development, HMH
Podcast: How to Cultivate a Love of Reading in Students with Russell Souders in TX on Teachers in America