BLOGS  >  SEPTEMBER 30, 2022

Your Turn Through the Turnaround


Playing Through the Turnaround by Mylisa Larsen tells the story of eighth grade students who come together and use their voices to protest district budget cuts that threaten to eliminate funding for art programs and clubs that make a difference in their lives. These students begin by trying to talk to their parents and school administration and then move on to addressing the school board. When they realize that no one is listening to them, they stage a powerful theatrical protest at the end of their school arts festival to make their voices heard. 

Playing Through the Turnaround

Mylisa Larsen

Larsen captures the voice of middle school students and engages readers by telling the story from the perspective of six unique, multidimensional characters that each play an essential role in the plot. By alternating through these six perspectives the author showcases how everyone has something they are dealing with beneath the surface such as challenging family dynamics, insecurities, pressure from parents, the impacts of friendships and crushes, and loss. 

This book would be an excellent addition to any middle grade classroom – it leaves readers feeling hopeful and empowered. The story provides an example of a peaceful and thoughtful way to protest injustice. It shows young readers that they have the power to make a difference and that when everyone works together to use their talents to contribute to a cause the outcome can make an even larger impact. It would be a great text to open conversations about the power of using one’s voice, exploring passions, using talents to make a difference, the value of arts education, and how middle school is the perfect time to explore interests. It could also serve as a springboard for researching government and examining how school boards and other local government representatives directly impact the lives of students, the importance of voting, and effective ways to impact change. 

Dress Coded

Carrie Firestone

Another book with a similar message for middle grade students is Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone. This book is well loved by my middle school students and tells the story of a girl who starts a podcast to bring attention to the sexist and biased dress code at her middle school and then works together with her peers to peacefully protest for change.

Anger is a Gift

Marc Oshiro

For students who are ready for young adult texts, Anger is a Gift by Marc Oshiro gives a similar message for older teens. This book tells the story of a high school student who is experiencing extreme regulations and police intimidation at school. After a student is killed by the police, he works with his community and uses his voice to protest the actions of the police.

Amara and the Bats

Emma Reynolds

For younger students, a picture book with a similar message is Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds. This engaging picture book tells the story of Amara who moves to a new town and realizes there are no bats nearby because of deforestation. She then begins to work with her friends to speak out and make a difference. It leaves young readers with hope and confidence that they can make a difference even at their age. 

All of these books can be found on Titlewave®. Titlewave is filled with book recommendations, discussion guides, and more for educators. Grab your free account today to get access to all things books. 

Kasey Short

Director of Studies and Grade 8 English Teacher

Charlotte Country Day School, North Carolina

Kasey Short enjoys sharing her ideas from the classroom and writes frequently for various educational outlets. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a Bachelor of Arts in middle school education with a concentration in English and history. She went on to earn a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Winthrop University. She is currently the Director of Studies and Grade 8 English teacher at Charlotte Country Day School.

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