Activities & Lessons
These stories will probably stick with you the rest of your life—the characters and what they experience are just that unforgettable!
Why is it that some books are easily forgotten, while others continue to haunt us long after the final page has been turned? For me, it usually has to do with a quirky and impossibly loveable character. One Crazy Summer, My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, and Amal Unbound all feature characters who will tug at your heartstrings.
ONE CRAZY SUMMER
Novel by Rita Williams-Garcia
Delphine has been responsible for her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, ever since their mother up and left them seven years ago. One summer, however, the girls are sent from Brooklyn to Oakland to spend a month with their estranged mother Cecile—even though she really doesn’t want them there. To keep them out of her way, Cecile sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers, a revolutionary group of activists fighting for Black justice. The girls start to learn more about their family, their country, and themselves during their one crazy summer.
MY LIFE AS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH
Novel by Ibi Zoboi
Ebony-Grace lives with her grandfather, Jeremiah, in Huntsville, Alabama. Jeremiah was one of the first Black engineers to integrate NASA and has nurtured Ebony-Grace’s love of all things science. One summer, Ebony-Grace in unexpectedly sent to stay with her father in Harlem, New York. Harlem is both terrifying and exciting, and Ebony-Grace finds herself discovering more and more about who she is and what she loves.
Novel by Aisha Said
Twelve-year-old Amal’s dreams of being a teacher are dashed when an impulsive act—throwing a pomegranate at a member of her Pakistani village’s ruling family—results in Amal becoming a servant in an opulent household. Determination, spunk, and a steadfast love for her own family help Amal persevere and ultimately overcome her humiliating circumstances. The story offers a window into the dynamics of power and wealth as seen through the eyes of a girl who is coming of age.
As you read these titles, consider:
- How can unforeseeable events change how you see yourself in relation to others?
- How can adversity foster growth?
Try out one of these activities to further your reading:
- Social Studies Connection: Learn more about the Black Panther Party and the social programs they ran in Oakland, California, and across the country, like those described in One Crazy Summer.
- Check out this interview with author Ibi Zoboi as she discusses how she developed the main character, Ebony-Grace, in My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich.
- Peruse Amal Unbound author Aisha Saeed’s website to find discussion guides, an Urdu picture dictionary, facts about Pakistan, and so much more!
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