All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
This story is taken straight from the headlines about police brutality in the black community. An innocent black boy in the neighborhood convenience story kneels to get something out of his gym bag, which by the way contains his ROTC uniform. A white lady trips over him. A white cop grabs the boy, accuses him of shoplifting, handcuffs him and throws him on the pavement in front of the store and starts punching him. And of course, there is cell phone video. If not intense enough Rashad the boy who was accused and beaten, Quinn who happened to be on the street outside the store and saw everything and Guzzo whose older brother is the cop beating up Rashad all play for the same high school basketball team and live in the same neighborhood. This is a powerful exploration of this issue.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Melody was born with cerebral palsy that has left her trapped in her body unable to walk, talk or feed herself. She has a photographic memory, is extremely bright and is unable to tell anyone. She gives us a good look at how we treat those we consider ‘special needs’ and points out how we all have special needs. In the fifth grade, she gets a Stephen Hawking’s style talking board and can show them she is bright. They don’t believe her. When she actually proves it they still mistreat her saying she is an embarrassment. It is a powerful and painful look at us and others.