Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day of Tears

It's the first week of school and I'm celebrating with a week of Middle Grade reviews.

Day of Tears is essential historical fiction. This account of the biggest slave auction in history is written in the voices of all the parties involved. Julius Lester is able to take the subject of slavery and make it simple and understandable for middle school readers, while still being reverent.

Lester's writing choices were engrossing. During the slave auction, the names, duties, and prices of slaves were listed. Truthfully, I would usually skim through a list, but this had me riveted with tears in my eyes. He also takes the narrative into the future to have characters look back on the consequences of events. Student writers could learn so much about craft from Day of Tears; I will definitely include it in future units on historical fiction. Sometimes students struggle to engage with this genre, but I would be confident recommending this book to any middle schooler.

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