#WomenReadWomen2019 Award-Winning Books Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Reading Themes Warrior Women and Social Justice

[Monday Reading] Fearless Young Women in Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Fight for freedom and equality.



Fats here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

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Several weeks ago, I borrowed a few middle grade novels that I thought would go well with our theme on Warrior Women. These books focus on social justice and feature mighty and fearless young girls who would fight for freedom and equality.

mr0325aBetty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz

“In Detroit in 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. Speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in Betty’s congregation to stand up for their rights despite widespread racial prejudice…”

Ilyasah Shabazz is the third daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. She is an educator, activist, advocacy worker, motivational speaker, and author of several award-winning publications. Betty Before X tells the story of a young Betty Shabazz, two decades before she met Malcolm X. Most of the characters in this book were based on real people and some of the social situations were based on historical facts. Betty and her friend Suesetta decided to join the Housewives’ League, an organization that supported black-owned businesses. Betty Before X is a coming-of-age story of a young girl who yearned for her mother’s love and also discovered her potential to help her community.

mr0325bAll the Stars Denied by Guadalupe García McCall

“In the heart of the Great Depression, Rancho Las Moras, like everywhere else in Texas, is gripped by the drought of the Dust Bowl, and resentment is building among white farmers against Mexican Americans. All around town, signs go up proclaiming “No Dogs or Mexicans” and “No Mexicans Allowed.” When Estrella organizes a protest agains the treatment of tejanos in their town of Monteseco, Texas, her whole family becomes a target of “repatriation” efforts to send Mexicans “back to Mexico”—whethery they were ever Mexican citizens or not…”

When I picked up this book, I did not realize that this was a companion to the young adult novel, Shame the Stars. García McCall brought to light the mass deportation of Mexican American citizens during one of the bleakest moments in U.S. history. It was heartbreaking to read about the fate of fifteen-year-old Estrella, her mother, and her baby brother who were taken across the border after the law enforcement in Monteseco raided and burned down their home. History repeating itself is a terrifying notion. All the Stars Denied is an important book and it is still relevant today.

mr0325cRevolution by Deborah Wiles

“It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer… Things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool—where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs…”

Revolution is the second book in the Sixties trilogy by Deborah Wiles. I knew this but completely forgot when I finally started reading the book. The first book is entitled Countdown and the third is Anthem. The main topic of Revolution was about African Americans registering to vote. When Sunny encountered the mysterious colored boy with high-top sneakers in the community pool, her life changed forever. The story is told in the alternating perspectives of Sunny, Ray, and Sunny’s stepbrother Gillette. This book is over 500 pages long, thanks to the hundreds of documentary features scattered throughout the book. The layout was fantastic, the images were powerful, and Deborah Wiles’s writing was compelling.

For additional information, check out these 21 Free Resources for Teaching Social Justice in the Classroom, courtesy of WeAreTeachers.

#WomenReadWomen2019 (United States)

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] Fearless Young Women in Middle Grade Historical Fiction

  1. Awesome post! 🙂 Loooove it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah Sammis

    Nice selection of books. My weekly update

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindabaie

    I know about the Deborah Wiles’ books & have read Countdown, but not the other two. Nor have I even heard of Betty Before X & All The Stars Denied, will put them on the list, Fats. I am reading Killers of The Flower Moon (& the beginning of the FBI) now & it tells of the terrible prejudice against the Osage people in Oklahoma. What our history tells us has been & seems to be increasing again against those “other” is frightening. Thanks for sharing these books!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These all look fantastic. I am adding them all to my reading list! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved Betty Before X! We learn so much about her, but also about the black community at the time.I’ve loved all of by Deborah Wiles Sixties books so far and am REALLY looking forward to Anthem!
    All the Stars Denied is on my to read list, but alas, not in my local library.
    BTW, thanks for the teaching social justice link.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m definitely adding Shame the Stars (book #1 of the series) to my list — hoping I can get my hands on this one by the fall. What a timely story. Thanks for sharing, Fats!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t read a lot of middle grades books but these sound good. See what I read this month (plus there’s a giveaway) at Girl Who Reads


  8. crbrunelle

    Betty Before X and All the Stars Denied were two I really enjoyed. Did you also read X? It was really good too.


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