Reading books for middle schoolers has certainly brought some good books my way. One good read is a book of short stories that all have a central theme: walking home from school. A 2019 publication by author Jason Reynolds, Look Both Ways, locates its stories in a ten block area where the same kids from the same school pass the same crossing guard every school day. Interestingly enough, a metaphor or motif reoccurs in several children’s stories or conversations: a school bus falling from the sky. It made me think of the Magic School Bus series covers, for often the Magic School Bus is up in the clouds.
The problems and issues these middle schoolers face daily are the same any middle schoolers face: self-esteem issues, bullying, divorcing parents, anxiety issues, weight problems, being shamed for receiving free lunches, and the list goes on. Some stories are “wickedly funny,” especially the dialog. Others tug at the heartstrings and even generate misty eyes. All are very readable, and the book is definitely a good fit for middle schoolers, for they can pick up and put down the book, celebrating each story individually, yet take away a sense of community of youngsters just like themselves.