Posted March 2, 2023
Hello 7th Grade Bear Valley Families!
As part of our 7th grade language arts curriculum, we will be beginning a new novel study of Free Lunch by Rex Ogle. This novel addresses a variety of complex themes and characters. We are teaching this novel because we want to, by the end of the year:
Here is a quick synopsis of the novel:
Instead of giving him lunch money, Rex’s mom has signed him up for free meals. As a poor kid in a wealthy school district, better-off kids crowd impatiently behind him as he tries to explain to the cashier that he’s on the free meal program. The lunch lady is hard of hearing, so Rex has to shout. Free Lunch is the story of Rex’s efforts to navigate his first semester of sixth grade―who to sit with, not being able to join the football team, Halloween in a handmade costume, classmates and a teacher who take one look at him and decide he’s trouble―all while wearing secondhand clothes and being hungry. His mom and her boyfriend are out of work, and life at home is punctuated by outbursts of violence. Halfway through the semester, his family is evicted and ends up in government-subsidized housing in view of the school. Rex lingers at the end of last period every day until the buses have left, so no one will see where he lives. Unsparing and realistic, Free Lunch is a story of hardship threaded with hope and moments of grace. Rex’s voice is compelling and authentic, and Free Lunch is a true, timely, and essential work that illuminates the lived experience of poverty in America.
As your students’ 7th grade literacy team, we aim to prioritize the mental, social, and educational well-being of your students. This novel does address complex and sometimes uncomfortable issues such as poverty, physical and emotional abuse, and food insecurity. We know that these are issues that affect people in our Bear Valley community and may be potentially sensitive or difficult to talk about. If you are experiencing any of this, please reachout to the BV Mental Health Team or contact the main office for support. We plan on offering resources and curriculum adaptations throughout quarter four to best support our students and the nuanced discussion of these complicated topics.
If you have any questions or concerns about this upcoming novel study, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to support your students and their education!