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Middle Schooler Book Recommendation About Responsibility

To help an older middle school child learn that responsibility can go beyond just caring for oneself but also for one's community, I recommend the chapter book Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. It consists of first-persons vignettes, each told by a different character. Together they change a bleak Cleveland neighborhood into a community of pride fellowship, and hope by the planting of a garden on a vacant lot.

As each character begins to interact with their neighbor, they transform this vacant lot into a vibrant community that sprouts and spreads as does their garden. It begins with a Vietnamese girl, Kim, who plants six lima beans. A Romanian woman, Ana, watches her and eventually discovers what she had been doing. Noticing the beans are wilting, she persuades her neighbor, Wendle, to water them. He does and begins to plant as well.

A Guatemalan family, Gonzalo and his great-uncle Tio Juan, join in. And then comes Leona, Sam, Virgil, Sae Young, Curtis, Nora and her patient Mr. Myles who's recovering from a stroke, Maricela, Amir, and finally Florence. After a tough first year, Florence wasn't sure the garden would be planted again in the spring, but she was pleasantly surprised for they had formed a community of "seedfolks" (people who put down roots) and when spring came she saw Kim once again planting lima beans. She knew the garden and their lives would thrive again!

A great book to share together and might just inspire you to plant your own garden and become "seedfolks" yourself!

Happy reading!!

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