Activities & Lessons

Great Summer Reads with Carol Jago: Never Give Up, Grades 6–8

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Though the characters in these stories face challenges and obstacles, they never stop trying to do the right thing.

Dear Readers,

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.

Happy reading!



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.


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.


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:

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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