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Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.

5th-6th Informational Text 880L
Tiny Plastic, Big Problem
Alison Pearce Stevens 2015
Passage Summary: When plastic was invented at the turn of 20th century, it was lauded as a miraculous new material that could be used to create innumerable products. Few could have recognized the impact that plastic would have on our world – particularly in our oceans – over the course of a century.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this text before they begin the book, to provide them with information on how garbage ends up in the ocean. Students should discuss how garbage in the ocean negatively impacts the animals in the water, as well as eventually effecting humans. As students read the book, ask them to consider how trash and waste that enters the ocean has widespread effects on the environment and animals.
5th-6th Memoir 920L
The Terror
Junot Díaz 2015
Passage Summary: In Junot Díaz’s “The Terror,” Díaz explores his experiences with fear after getting beat-up as an adolescent.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students finish Chapter 4, in order to generate a discussion on bullying and how youth respond to it. Have students compare Díaz’s experiences with being bullied in “The Terror” to Noah’s experience in “Flush.” How do both Díaz and Noah respond to being bullied? Why do students think the bullies targeted Junot and Noah?
7th-8th Psychology 830L
The Role Reverser: Growing Up Too Soon
Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. 2014
Passage Summary: In this article, Dr. Gregory L. Jantz tells the story of a boy named Adam and the pressures he had to confront following the divorce of his parents. In short, he was forced to grow up too soon.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this text after they have read Chapter 8, in order to consider whether or not Noah was required to grow up too soon, as Adam was in Jantz’s article. How is Noah required to take care of his mother and sister while his dad is in jail? How do these adult responsibilities affect Noah in comparison to Adam? Why do students think Noah and Adam are affected differently by these adult responsibilities?
5th-6th Poem
The Lighthouse Lamp
Margaret E. Sangster 1896
Passage Summary: In Margaret E. Sangster’s poem “The Lighthouse Lamp,” a brave girl saves sailors during a storm when she keeps the lamp burning in her family’s lighthouse.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students finish Chapter 12, and ask them to compare Abbey’s decision to videotape the Coral Queen with Gretchen’s decision to tend the family’s lighthouse during a storm. How do both girls put themselves at risk to help others? How do the results of Gretchen’s brave actions compare to Abbey’s?
7th-8th Informational Text 1140L
The 1972 Andes Flight Disaster
CommonLit Staff 2015
Passage Summary: In 1972, a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the remote Andes mountains, forcing the young men to resort to dire measures to survive. Instead of resigning to starvation (and perhaps, listening to their superego), they chose to engage in cannibalism.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students read Chapter 16, in order to examine plot, with an additional example of people who found themselves in a life-threatening situation. Ask students to compare the dangers of being lost at sea with being stranded on a snowy mountain. How do Abbey and Noah find themselves in this dangerous situation? How does this compare to what led the Uruguayan rugby team’s plane to crash? How might both of these dangerous situations have been avoided? NOTE: “The 1972 Andes Flight Disaster” includes depictions of cannibalism, that students might find disturbing.
7th-8th Memoir 820L
In My Mom's Shoes
Kat Chow 2016
Passage Summary: Kat Chow’s “In My Mom’s Shoes,” reflects on Chow losing her mother and the experience of walking in an old pair of her shoes.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this text after they finish Chapter 19, in order to help them examine character perspective and the theme of loss. Ask students to discuss how Chow and Noah’s dad continue to be affected by their mothers’ deaths years after they take place. How do Chow and Noah’s dad combat the sadness and loneliness they feel in the wake of their mothers’ deaths?
9th-10th Satire 1540L
Wealthy Teen Nearly Experiences Consequences
The Onion Staff 2008
Passage Summary: In this humorous article from the satirical news site The Onion, a wealthy teenager uses his wealth and connections to escape charges for causing a terrible drunk driving accident.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students finish Chapter 20, in order to allow students to further explore themes of wealth and privilege. How do both Dusty and Charles use their money to avoid being justly punished by the law for their actions? In what ways is it dangerous to others that Dusty and Charles are not held accountable for their actions? Will they likely stop their dangerous and self-centered behavior? What are your reasons for believing or not believing they will stop?
5th-6th Fable 650L
The Frog and the Mouse
Aesop 620-560 BCE
Passage Summary: In the Aesop fable “The Frog and the Mouse,” a frog tricks a mouse and is punished for his dishonesty.
When and How to Pair: Ask students to read this fable after they finish the book, in order to compare the fable’s moral with Noah’s mom’s belief that “what goes around comes around.” In what ways is the frog from “The Frog and the Mouse” similar to Dusty from “Flush”? How do both act deceitfully, and how are both punished in turn? How do both Dusty and the frog’s actions eventually lead to their own downfall?