21. The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake
Retell: Every day students tease Maleeka Madison. Whether it be her good grades, her homemade clothes or her dark skin, it seems like the world is against Maleeka. She does others’ homework in exchange for friendship. That is until Miss Saunders, a new teacher from the business world, challenges Maleeka to think for herself.
Topics: self-esteem, confidence, body image, race, middle school, peer pressure, money issues, assault, clothing, status, taking a stand, arson, bullying
Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Historical Fiction (Writing), Literary Essay, Talking and Writing About Books
Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs, right to pass
Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, synthesis, making connections
Writing Skills: keeping journals, writing poetry
My Thoughts: This is a fantastic text to read aloud in a middle school classroom. I’m not sure that I would read the text as a whole to everyone in an upper elementary grade classroom. I would encourage certain fifth grade book clubs to read and discuss this book. I plan to read certain sections from this book. For example, Maleeka keeps a journal which she writes from the perspective of an African girl aboard a slave ship. There are several scenes throughout the book where Maleeka’s historical fiction writing parallel’s her own life. This would be a great way to show how writers of historical fiction create characters who struggle with similar issues to their own. This is an excellent cautionary tale detailing what can happen if you refuse to let others force you into situations that you know are wrong.
Entry filed under: African-American Authors, Chapter books, Coretta Scott King Award Winners, Female Authors. Tags: appreciations/no put-downs, arson, assault, body image, bullying, character, clothing, confidence, historical fiction, inference, interpretation, literary essay, making connections, middle school, money, peer pressure, race, right to pass, self-esteem, social issues, status, synthesis, taking a stand, writers notebook.