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Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life

Last updated Friday, August 5, 2016

Author: James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
Illustrator: Laura Park
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 0316101877
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2016

Synopsis: Rafe Khatchadorian has enough problems at home without throwing his first year of middle school into the mix. Luckily, he's got an ace plan for the best year ever, if only he can pull it off: With his best friend Leonardo the Silent awarding him points, Rafe tries to break every rule in his school's oppressive Code of Conduct. Chewing gum in class-5,000 points! Running in the hallway-10,000 points! Pulling the fire alarm-50,000 points! But when Rafe's game starts to catch up with him, he'll have to decide if winning is all that matters, or if he's finally ready to face the rules, bullies, and truths he's been avoiding.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is your favorite thing about school?
•  What is your least favorite thing about school?
•  Are you ready to go to middle school?


•  Woe - a feeling of great pain or sadness
•  Pathetic - causing feelings of sadness and sympathy
•  Fluorescent - very bright
•  Hazardous - involving risk or danger
•  Podium - a stand with a slanted surface that holds notes for someone who is speaking
•  Stupendous - so large or great that it amazes you
•  Lamely - not strong, good, or effective

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How do you usually feel on the first day of school?
•  What kinds of rules do you have at your school?
•  What was Rafe's big idea?
•  What was the first rule Rafe broke?

Craft ideas:
•  Have kids use the comic strip template from Pinterest to make up a story about their experience in school.
•  See examples on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/readingtokids/august-2016-art-entertainment/
•  Draw and color in a map of your school and classroom.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!