My Students’ Favorite Young Adult Series: Dear Martin

A High Interest Read for 9th and 10th Grade Classes!

teen-freshmen-grade-nine-book-series-225x300 My Students' Favorite Young Adult Series: Dear Martin

This book is magical! 

Imagine a book that will engage the most reluctant young readers that also sends a powerful message of social justice. Here it is! 

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An Excellent Fiction Book Choice for High School Freshmen and Sophomores!

My thoughts: Dear Martin  features Justyce, a student who doesn’t quite fit in with his tough neighborhood or at the private school he attends. He is searching for insight and decides to journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to make sense of the world around him. 

I immediately wanted Justyce to be successful and easily invested my time in the book to see his story through. However, journeying with Justyce proved to be difficult at times. The racial and educational disparities around him are prevalent and he makes many mistakes along the way. 

However, Justyce is a highly likable character, as are his friends and family, and I found myself connected to their characters in a deeper way than expected in such a short novel.

After finishing the novel, it was clear to me that this would be a high interest read for my students, who care deeply about social justice issues. 

This Book is an English Teacher’s Dream!

My freshman students love this book. My kids who “hate reading” (honestly, is that even a real thing?) “didn’t hate” this book. I conferenced with a mother who was literally jumping up and down, so excited because her dyslexic student read a book cover to cover and wanted to talk about it during dinner with his family. 

Let me say it again: this book has magic powers. And, to top it all, it’s a series! Dear Justyce was released in 2020. I have yet to read it, but many of my students have and enjoyed it! 

Students Choose Dear Martin Because it is Short

One of the bonuses of these books is that they are short, which is the reason many of my reluctant readers choose it to begin with, but this book packs an intense punch and speaks a high school student’s social justice language. 

To my surprise, I have heard kids discussing Dear Martin to each other in the hallways, cafeteria, and locker rooms. Hallelujah for a book that has the kids talking about it outside of English class!

To learn more,  here is a link to Nic Stone’s website.

“You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?” (Stone 152).

As you may have guessed, I use this book as a choice for freshman students. They are expected to annotate and journal as they read, which works well with Justyce’s writing. 

This is also an excellent resource for teaching characterization, setting, and plot. There really is so much here to dive into from a teacher’s perspective! I think this would be an excellent choice to assign to a class of reluctant readers as well.

Check out the video of Nic Stone below:

An Unexpected Hit!

Who this book is for: Freshman/sophomore students, reluctant readers, parents of those readers who want to talk about this over dinner with their kids. There is very mature language and derogatory slang, such as ‘skank’ and ‘ho’, so definitely read through it if you work for a school that can be sensitive. 

My recommendations: Engaging young adult novel. I listened to the audiobook, which was very well done.

Purchase Dear Martin and Dear Justyce here.

Check out the lesson planning template that I use for creating and organizing my lessons here!

Check out my post with other compelling and contemporary book choices for 9th graders here!

This is an enjoyable social justice novel for high school 9th and 10th grade students!

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