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Thought-provoking books for eighth and ninth graders
Eighth and ninth graders are at an important transitional period. As eighth-graders prepare to enter high school and ninth-graders get accustomed to a more challenging curriculum, better comprehension skills are of the utmost importance. How well do they understand concepts? How good are they at following directions? Do they have a strong grasp of the language arts? How well can they understand their own emotions or other people and the world? If you want your child to not only excel at school but also experience greater personal growth, your eighth or ninth grader should be reading as much as they can, from acclaimed classics to modern works in niche genres. Your child can start with these beautifully woven tales below to become a better learner for a brighter future! The Outsiders | S.E. Hinton No one ever said life was easy, but Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers and true friends who would do anything for him. He knows only trouble comes from the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far. The Prince and the Pauper | Mark Twain Tom Canty, a poor beggar boy, and Edward, the Prince of Wales, are shocked when they come across each other and find that they look exactly alike! After deciding to temporarily switch identities, the two boys live in each other’s shoes, experiencing vastly different class cultures in this humorous and exciting tale. Will they be able to switch back, and what will they have learned? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy | Douglas Adams Seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect. As a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ford has been posing as an out-of-work actor for the last fifteen years. Together, this dynamic pair begins a journey through space aided by a galaxy full of fellow travelers. Lord of the Flies | William Golding This timeless tale explores the question about the inherent nature of human beings. A group of young British boys find themselves stranded on an island, where they decide to organize into groups and create a system of rules in order to survive. However, the boys discover that peace is hard to maintain, and their government descends into anarchy under the clashing leaderships of Ralph and Jack. Animal Farm | George Orwell This allegory retells the early stages of the Soviet Union through the lives of farm animals that decide to revolt against their human farmer. The animals are tired of being treated poorly and wish to create a better world for themselves in which they are free and equal. They unite under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, but soon learn that power can corrupt even the best of intentions. To Kill a Mockingbird | Harper Lee In the last years of the Great Depression, the lives of a well-to-do white family in Alabama are forever disrupted when the father, Atticus, becomes the lawyer representing Tom Robinson, a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. The children, Scout and Jem, begin to see the world through new lenses as they deal with racial slurs, harassment, and threats by the townspeople they have known all their lives. - These timeless classics are often found on school reading lists for a reason! They introduce thought-provoking themes about society and human nature that will open your child’s eyes as they enter the final stage of adolescence. Depending on your child’s reading level or the speed at which they consume novels, you may also want to consider our previous book list! There are so many excellent books out there that reading can be an endless adventure. To get the most out of all our recommendations, enroll your child in our State Standard-aligned JEI Reading & Writing program, now available temporarily through JEI Remote Learning! This program ensures that your child not only reads the books but also understands the themes, appreciates the symbolism, and digests the plots. It is best paired with our JEI English program so your child can take what they read and apply it to high school-level essays. Start today by finding a center near you and scheduling a diagnostic test!
Brilliant books for fourth and fifth graders
If your child is in the fourth or fifth grade, then middle school is right around the corner! That means they will encounter many new things, which can be a bit intimidating. How can you help your child feel comfortable and shine in no time? Encourage your child to take a break from digital screens to crack open a book and dive into a new adventure! While they explore new worlds and time periods, they can improve comprehension and social skills to excel in more challenging classes and befriend new classmates. All of this can then boost their confidence to try new things, like extracurriculars! From heartwarming to fantastical, here are the best books for fourth and fifth graders to read for fun and middle school preparation: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes | Eleanor Coerr Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic—the star of her school’s running team. Then, the dizzy spells start. Soon gravely ill with leukemia, the atom bomb disease, Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery. Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes, recalling a Japanese legend that holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Matilda | Roald Dahl Matilda is a sweet, exceptional young girl, but her parents think she’s just a nuisance. She expects school to be different, but there, she has to face Miss Trunchbull, a kid-hating terror of a headmistress. When Matilda is attacked by Miss Trunchbull, she suddenly discovers she has a remarkable power with which to fight back. It’ll take a superhuman genius to give Miss Trunchbull what she deserves, and Matilda may be just the one to do it! A Wrinkle in Time | Madeleine L’Engle Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, this is the story of the adventures of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe through space and time. They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract (wrinkle in time) problem. Will they be able to find him in this science-fiction adventure? Island of the Blue Dolphins | Scott O’Dell Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Here, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe | C.S. Lewis Air raids during World War II compel four siblings to be sent away to a professor’s house, where they discover a wardrobe that is a passageway into Narnia. A once peaceful world inhabited by Fauns, Dwarves, Giants, and Talking Beasts, Narnia has been frozen into perpetual winter by the fiendish White Witch, who rules over it. Soon, all of the children become embroiled in an adventure that includes themes of betrayal, forgiveness, death, and rebirth. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler | E.L. Konigsburg Claudia Kincaid decides to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with her brother, Jamie. There, they find themselves caught up in the mystery of a statue that the museum purchased. Is it an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and worth millions? This mystery leads Claudia to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself. - From magical lands to realistic experiences, these stories can teach your child a lot about being kind to others, believing in themselves, and thinking creatively. These well-written classics will improve your child’s vocabulary, comprehension, and writing skills! Tackle the list above, and if your child wants more—or they already read the six books—feel free to move on ahead to the next level. They can also refer to the previous level if they want quick reads or have some difficulty with these ones. As long as your child is reading, they are learning, improving, and growing! No matter where they are in their reading level, JEI Learning Center can help them advance through our JEI Reading & Writing program, now available through JEI Remote Learning! Even when they’re stuck at home, they can log on to discuss and answer questions about their latest reads with our expertly trained instructors. There is nothing better than implementing what they’ve learned from these books to complete our weekly workbooks. Contact your local center today to enroll your child and boost their reading skills with our State Standard-aligned JEI Reading & Writing program!
Must-have skill for children #9: journaling
Children can have a hard time putting their thoughts to words, and this can get even trickier as they experience new things as a teenager. However, there is a great method for building up their communication skills and helping them understand themselves. That method is journaling daily, which can contribute to your child’s academic and personal growth! The benefits make it more than just a hobby—it’s a lifelong skill your child must-have. Journaling isn’t to be confused with a diary, which is more about documenting days and specific events. A journal is about exploring thoughts, ideas, emotions. Both can be great for your child to keep, but journaling daily can specifically boost your child’s life in two major ways: Greater Performance and Results Director Julia of the JEI Learning Center in Livingston says, “Clear writing is clear thinking, so the better they can express themselves, the better they can share their ideas, opinions, and arguments. Good writing skills leave a lasting impact on children’s self-learning, school performance, and career.” A couple of experiments have proven just that. "The University of Toronto asked students to reflect on their past, discover what motivates them, and envision the future through writing. As a result, the number of dropouts at the school went down while the number of goals students reached went up. In another experiment, senior engineers who had been laid off formed an expressive writing group, which was tasked with writing about their feelings on losing their job and looking for a new one in a journal. They wrote 20 minutes daily for five days. After three months, more than 26% of the writing group and less than 5% of the control group engineers who did not journal were employed full-time. After eight months, the numbers increased to more than 52% and less than 19% respectively. These experiments prove that expressive writing can improve the quality of life and likelihood of success! Therefore, your child should organize their thoughts and visualize a course of action through the daily practice of journaling. Improved Mental and Physical Health Journaling daily is also a way to relieve stress. Because the senior engineers in the previous experiment did this, they gained clarity and applied to jobs more effectively. It is important to give your child some quiet time to write so they can understand and validate their feelings. Then, your child can grow and move on from negative feelings as well as take notice of and appreciate positive ones. Better mental health also results in better physical health. Psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker asked patients to write for 20 minutes for three days about their stress. Four months later, 47% of them saw health improvements as opposed to only 24% of those in the control group, who wrote about their day like a diary. Pennebaker saw that journaling helped reduce and manage stress, which then helped the physical body heal faster and work better. School can be a very stressful time for your child, which can result in lethargy, digestive problems, headaches, and other ailments. An outlet like a journal can help them stay mentally and physically healthy by keeping them company and soothing them everyday! — Now that you are aware of the benefits, you can try to encourage journaling by adding it to your child’s daily routine. They can write “morning pages,” meaning that one of the first things they do in their day is write out all their thoughts, or they can keep a journal by their bed as part of their nighttime routine. Buy your kid some fun notebooks and pens to up their excitement! Also, assure them that this is their private journal, so no one else will read their entries. Prompts are a great way to start the thinking process, so your child can try these: 1). What is one area of your life that you would like to improve in? 2). Why is personal growth so important to you? 3). What is one way you have grown over the past year, and how did you accomplish this? 4). What are 10 things that make you happy, and how can you experience these moments more frequently? 5). Imagine that you are talking to your younger self. What recent accomplishment would make your younger self the most proud? Introspection is incredibly important for success, so start your child on this path of self-discovery as early as possible. Encourage your child to use their journaling skill daily so they can learn about themselves and fly toward a brighter future. For even greater results and for more goal orientation, pair journaling daily with creating a vision board, then watch your child shine! To further improve your child’s journaling experience, they can practice writing vividly through our Common Core-aligned JEI Reading & Writing and JEI English programs. Contact your local JEI Learning Center today to learn more!