Recently, I read Rhyme Schemers with 30 sixth graders at Park Middle School. It was recommended to us by the Schoo Middle School Librarian.
At first it made me uncomfortable reading about how mean Kevin was to his classmates; considering the real life bullying that so many kids endure on a daily basis. Too many of the kids I was reading this with could relate to this kind of daily abuse, either personally or through witnessing it. Talk about an opportunity to discuss our choice of words and/or actions when we witness someone being mean to someone else!
After reading further, I came to find out some important details of Kevin’s life. He had older brothers who were not very kind to him and parents who seemed too busy with their own life to take much notice of Kevin. Most surprising to me, though, was Kevin’s natural talent for writing poetry! Poetry that mostly addressed his deep need to be noticed, liked, listened to, understood, etc.
Sound familiar? It screams MIDDLE SCHOOL! Who thinks fondly of those years from hell?!
In the end, it only took one caring adult to take notice of Kevin and his gift of poetry. Through this librarian, and her commitment to reaching Kevin on his level, Kevin was able to find a positive way to express himself. And he made a friend! We all needed that friend in middle school.
This book is a fast read with a vital message for adults, educators, and anyone who says they care about kids.