A Fresh Start

The New Year is a time when people look for a fresh start.  It may mean a move, a major decision, an improvement in behavior, or a vow to do better in school.  Sometimes a fresh start is necessary because of a change within the family, or emotional needs within a person.   No one’s fresh start should be considered frivolous because any fresh start comes from the need to change.

  • Ask readers to make a list of their own New Year’s Resolutions.  Then have them make a written plan for accomplishing their goals.  Which “Resolution” is the easiest to change?  Which is the most difficult?
  • Have children and teens read about the immigrant experience and discuss how coming to this country was a fresh start for them.  Such books from Random House include:

All the Way to America (picture book) by Dan Yaccarino

The Name Jar (picture book) by Yangsook Choi

A House of Tailors (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Nory Ryan’s Song  & Maggie’s Door (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

The Red Umbrella (middle grade) by Christine Diaz Gonzales

The Tia Lola series (middle grade) by Julia Alvarez

Enrique’s Journey (young adult) by Sonia Nazario

After reading one of the above books, ask readers to write a letter from the main character to someone in their homeland that describes their first few months in the new land.  Begin the letter with “My Fresh Start Began…”

  • Suggest that readers select books about main characters that are struggling to make a fresh start. Books from Random House include:

The Invisible Boy (picture book) by Trudy Ludwig & illus. by Patrice Barton

Child of the Mountains (middle grade) by Marilyn Sue Shank

Gingersnap (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Flightsend: A Summer of Discovery (middle grade) by Linda Newbery

Laugh with the Moon (middle grade) by Shana Burg

Liar and Spy (middle grade) by Rebecca Stead

The Great Trouble (middle grade) by Deborah Hopkinson

The Mighty Miss Malone (middle grade) by Christopher Paul Curtis

Navigating Early (middle grade) by Clare Vanderpoole

Pictures of Hollis Woods (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Whittington (middle grade) by Alan Armstrong

Wonder (middle grade) by P. J. Palacio

Orchards (young adult) by Holly Thompson

The Language Inside (young adult) by Holly Thompson

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature (young adult) by Robin Brande

Hattie Ever After (young adult) by Kirby Larson

It’s Not the End of the World (young adult) by Judy Blume

Revolution (young adult) by Jennifer Donnelly

Small Steps (young adult) by Louis Sachar

The Beet Fields (young adult) by Gary Paulsen

Suggest that readers write a paper that discusses who or what helps the character make the journey toward a fresh start.

  • Have readers write a plan for a fresh start for the following main characters:

Daniel in Gone From These Woods (middle grade) by Donny Bailey Seagraves

Mickey in Feels Like Home (young adult) by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Jason in My Chemical Mountain (young adult) by Corina Vacco

Shavonne in Something Like Hope (young adult) by Shawn Goodman

Boaz in The Things a Brother Knows (young adult) by Dana Reinhardt

  • Finally, suggest that readers write a monologue  from the point of view of a main character that has experience a fresh start.
Random House Teachers and Librarians