Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Misfits

James Howe

The Misfits is a novel written by James Howe. The target audience of this book is fifth to seventh grade students.
-“ A fast, funny, tender story that will touch readers.” (School Library Journal)
-“A timely, sensitive, laugh-out-loud must read.” (Voice of Youth Advocates)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Misfits is the story of a group of social “outcasts” and their struggle within the social norms of school. The gang of five (made up of Skeezie, Joe, Colin, Bobby, and Addie) want to change their school for the better and decide to form a political party in their school election called the Freedom Party. The gang wants the school’s only African American student to be the president of the party. The Freedom party is broken up due to not having permission by the school and they reassemble to form the No-Name Party that has a central focus around no name-calling in school. Unfortunately the No-Name Party looses in the school election but based on their efforts the schools adopts a no name-calling day. This book is more than just a school election race. It focuses on interpersonal relationships and the struggles that students face through bullying and name-calling.
This book really speaks out as an anti-bullying message. It is an issue that is faced within schools on a daily basis and it can have last effects on students whether it is physically or psychologically. Students should be exposed to a novel like The Misfits because I feel it is important to have students understand and know what the effects of bullying are. Having students being exposed to a narrator who tells the story through a victim’s eye can really open up the minds of students and let the see into their world. When bullying takes place, many students do not understand the repercussions it may have on someone and the effects may be long lasting. Bullying should not be tolerated in schools even if it name-calling. The physical abuse sometimes does not out weigh the verbal abuse that goes on in the hallways and classrooms of schools and it is extremely detrimental to self-esteem. Even though this book is aimed at fifth through seventh graders, an anti bullying message should be expressed to students no matter the age. Visit this anti-bullying website for parents, students, and educators to find out more information: http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/ and http://www.antibullying.net/
The Misfits can also be considered a controversial book. Joe is a character in the book that is confused about his sexuality. This can be a touchy subject to talk about within a classroom but it is something that students might be able to relate to if they too are confused about their sexual orientation and it should be known that it is something that occurs within other people as well. Joe is afraid to talking about his confusion and does not know how to feel. There is also a list generated in the book of names that Joe is called such as queer, fag, faggot, and gay. These terms might not be familiar with all students but a simple explanation can keep from a classroom discussion getting out of hand. Teachers can explain how these words can be hurtful and damaging when used. Exposing students to this can help them cope with the idea that they might be confused as well and that is okay. Schools should be a safe environment where students should not feel afraid and teachers should be open to their students if they are confiding in a struggle. Even though this book does have some controversy in it, it should not be banned from classrooms. There are a lot of great life lessons and messages to be discussed within a classroom that students should be exposed to.
“Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit”

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