My new middle-grade novel, The Lost Year, which is inspired by some of my own family history, is out now. This is my most teachable book yet, giving 5th-8th grade readers a sense of Ukrainian history that ties to current events. It also introduces students to the Holodomor, or man-made famine of 1932-33 that killed millions in Ukraine. As a journalist, I also fashioned this story to help educators teach kids about media literacy and disinformation. In addition, the book helps middle-grade readers grapple with the fallout of the covid pandemic. Finally, it even includes a writing lesson.
The Lost Year will appeal to fans of Alan Gratz and Ruta Sepetys, as well as readers who like survival stories and mysteries. Readers get to race the 13-year-old protagonist to solve a historical mystery, which The New York Times Book Review wrote “kept me on the edge of my seat.”
A fabulous The Lost Year Educators’ Guide by the teachers of Room 228 with additional guidance from Ukrainian historian Dr. Daria Mattingly of Cambridge University. It gives you all the background you need to teach this book as well as writing exercises, including my own favorite in which students, like Matthew, become “Keepers of a Story.”
For a quick video intro for educators click here.
Nowhere Boy is also a great classroom or even whole school read for grades 5th-8th. It’s a story that provides both windows and mirrors, as well as an opportunity to explore history (including the Syrian War and World War II), geography and immigration and the Refugee Crisis. Nowhere Boy is also a powerful text to use when teaching empathy and compassion in middle and upper grades.
For Nowhere Boy, there is an amazing chapter-by-chapter educators’ guide. It’s written by Kirsten Cappy and Louise El Yaafouri, who have extensive experience in the fields of teaching and refugee children’s literature. The Nowhere Boy book trailer is also a great visual way to introduce your students to the real places and people behind the book.
Looking for resources to help teach my other books? All of them have free teachers’ guides that you can download to the left.
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