As I was going through my box of books trying to figure out what to read next, I realized I had three books from the Bluford series by Paul Langan, Anne Schraff, and other writers. Now that I’ve read them, I can’t wait to share them with my students in the fall.
These books will provide my students with both windows that open to different worlds and mirrors that reflect their own issues. I live and teach in a rural area in the Midwest with little racial diversity. The setting of Bluford High School gives a glimpse of urban city life on the West Coast. The halls of Bluford High are filled with students and teachers from a variety of backgrounds, but my students will be able to relate to the issues they face: sick grandparents, family drama, school bullies, new schools.
Lost and Found (Scholastic/Townshend Press 2002) by Anne Schraff
Darcy Wills is a good student, but shy. Her shyness comes across as stuck-up to her classmates. Then when her biology teacher makes seemingly diabolical partner assignments for their next project, Darcy must confront her own negative attitudes and decide if she can open up to people she once thought beneath her. Is it possible these new friends can help her with keeping her family together?
The Bully (Scholastic/Townshend Press 2002) by Paul Langan
Darrell Mercer dreads starting at Bluford High as a new freshman student. After leaving behind his friends in Philadelphia, Darrell has no one to protect him from the newest bully that is tormenting him. Darrell must decide if he will keep living in fear or find a way to fight back. I love that Darrell’s English teacher gives him a copy of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet to help him figure things out. Inspired by Brian’s changes through the story, Darrell starts making decisions to change his story: befriending another lonely student, joining the wrestling team, and finally standing up to the bully.
Blood Is Thicker (Scholastic/Townshend Press 2004) by Paul Langan & DM Blackwell
Hakeem Randall (who I first met in Lost and Found) feels his life is falling apart. He just learned his father has cancer. His family can’t afford to stay in their house, so they are moving in with his dad’s brother–in Detroit. Now Hakeem has to share a room with his angry cousin Savon. Just what is Savon up to? Hakeem is determined to get to the bottom of it even if doing so might tear their families apart. Oh yeah, he is distracted by the beautiful next door neighbor even has he misses Darcy.