Fact is, our school is ordering a class set of books for each grade level, so I've been scurrying around trying to decide on the best novel to read and share with my 8th-graders. I want something that gives me plenty to teach.... characterization, plot development, word choice, and theme while giving the students a good story to enjoy.
I may have found it with Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl.
Written from a teenage boy's perspective, this story weaves its message through a plot that focuses on peer pressure and the need teeangers feel to fit in and conform with their peers. Stargirl, the other main character, is a free spirit, who is more concerned with how others feel rather than what they think. Yet as the characters wade into their relationships with each other and with their classmates, they find that remaining true to themselves is more challenging than they imagined.
The story made me smile... and cry, of course. Don't they all? Yet I think it will soon become the new class set of novels for my 8th-grade classroom. Its theme of being yourself (and being happy with who you are) is one that I hope my students will embrace as they continue their journey into adulthood.
Although I can picture numerous activities to go along with the book, it only took me a couple of hours to read it. So, if you measure time by the seconds rather than the hours, you can probably squeeze this one in!