Historical Characters

I am very passionate about reading, history, and teaching.  I am always looking for ways to incorporate stories, books, & novels into my guidance lessons.  Middle school students seem to be a struggle for me.  It is hard to find stories that are on their level, that intrigue their junior high minds, and truly impact them.

It finally occurred to me that historical fiction and nonfiction have great stories to tell about important people that impacted our current way of life.

Here are some great books you can use with your middle school students that teach perseverance, character, endurance, and strength.  You can use these books during lunch bunch, group counseling, or classroom guidance lessons.

From Barnes and Noble:
"An epidemic of fever sweeps through the streets of 1793 Philadelphia in this novel from Laurie Halse Anderson where "the plot rages like the epidemic itself" (The New York Times Book Review).
During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.
Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic."

How can you use this book?
What was the problem and how does it relate to current issues?
What fears did Mattie Cook have?  What fears do you have?
How did Mattie problem solve?  How can you problem solve when things are out of your control?
What is perseverance?  How do you exhibit perseverance in your current life?

From Barnes and Noble:

"As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.
Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.
In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be brave and courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis."

Oh MY, oh MY, where to begin.

This novel has so many educational opportunities for counselors.  There are numerous packets available on Pinterest.  The biggest discussion in this book has to revolve around making a stand.  Understanding that the right thing is often unpopular.

The connections about present day are endless with this novel.  Students need to engage in discussions about when they feel pressured to join in with a group, to bully, and to make wrong decisions because that is what others are doing.  The novel, Number the Stars, offers an opportunity for students to make connections about doing what is right, even when you are standing alone.

From Barnes & Noble:

"All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she's in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASPĂ‘ Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she's willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one's self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately it's not what you do but who you are that's most important."

Check out Barnes and Noble for other historical fiction novels for middle school students!