Global Read Aloud Choice 2021: Middle School Choice #GRA21

Are you ready for the next reveal? So far I have shared the following choices:

In a world that is upside down, still, I have found myself reaching for fantasy books more and more. As a way to learn about our past and consider our future, the realm of fantasy allows us to escape, dig in, and dream of what can be. While the worlds may be unfamiliar, their messages are not and we can find comfort, hope, joy, even in the darkest parts of their stories. Our Global Read Aloud choices offer up hope in the most human way; tales of overcoming, tales of finding your own strength, tales or relying on community to come together in order to defeat a common enemy. It is what the world has shown us in the past year as well, it is what has kept many afloat, many alive. And so we shall gather around these books and continue to build community. We shall share these read alouds as way to connect across city lines, country borders, and oceans. We shall hopefully find similarities within the heroic journeys of the stories we read that let us see how we, too, can be heroes in our way.


  • Kick off will be October 4th and the project will run for six weeks as usual, ending on November 12th. You can absolutely fall behind or start later, just don’t read ahead.
  • The official hashtag for the year is #GRA21, other hashtags will be announced once all the books are.
  • The hashtag for this book will be #GRABarren
  • For a comprehensive FAQ post, go here
  • To join the main Facebook group, please go here. To join the middle school Facebook group, please go here. This is where news will be posted for the most part.


The Barren Grounds: The Misewa Saga, Book 1: Robertson, David A.:  9780735266100: Books
The Barren Grounds by David Alex Robertson

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

David Alexander Robertson (Author of When We Were Alone)

In 2020, I had the honor of listening to David speak at the incredible conference Reading for the Love of It in Toronto. In his personal presentation he shared these words, “With accurate representation in story we can offer kids the truth about their lives that we were never offered growing up…” and those words have traveled with me since. What we read matters so much to our students and to the lives that they give value in the world. What we experience together through our read alouds become the shared language we speak, the tapestry that weaves us together. I am, therefore, thrilled to be bringing his newest series, The Misewa Saga, into the Global Read Aloud. Through his writing he allows us all into a world centered in love, tradition, hope and survival. Following the voices of Morgan and Eli as they crawl through a portal to a snow-covered land, we see what hope does, what resilience and strength passed down through generations of persecution can do as they face the battles of a new world. It is a story centered in strength and one that I hope will inspire us all.


Week 1: Oct. 4th – 8th : Chapters 1 – 5

Week 2: Oct. 11th – 15th: Chapters 6 – 10

Week 3: Oct. 18 – 22nd: Chapters 11 – 14

Week 4: Oct. 25th – 29th: Chapters 15 – 18

Week 5: Nov. 1st – 5th: Chapters 19 -22

Week 6: Nov. 8th – 12th: Chapters 23 – end

Don’t worry about falling behind, just don’t read ahead and if you need to start later, please do.

Please consider following David’s work on social media and supporting your local independent bookstores with your book purchases. If you want to support the Global Read Aloud, please consider purchasing your books through the links placed here, the GRA gets a small affiliate percentage whenever books are purchased through – a website that sends orders through local bookstores.  If your school requires you to go through Amazon, please consider using this link to purchase the book in order to support the Global Read Aloud.

I hope you like these choices, and if not, that’s okay too, then come back next year.


12 thoughts on “Global Read Aloud Choice 2021: Middle School Choice #GRA21

  1. Jan Cornelison says:

    I really would like to be a part of this and have been interested in it for many years, however, I do not have a Twitter or FaceBook account. Is there a way that I could still participate via email?
    Thank you,
    Jan Cornelison

    Jan Cornelison
    591-7859 = classroom
    591-7840 = office
    591-7811 = fax

  2. Pernille Ripp says:

    You can absolutely participate with your email, but Facebook and Twitter is where people reach out to make other connections. I am not sure how you can find others to connect with unless someone replies to you here.

  3. KG says:

    Hi there,
    Can I ask what the difference between Middle School Book, and the Middle Grade Choice categories are? Are they meant for different age groups, meant to be used in a school vs. outside a school?

  4. tlisa says:

    Hi Pernille,
    Thank you for the distinction you mention in your response: Middle grade is typically better suited for upper elementary (4-6) whereas middle school is better suited for a little bit older than that (6-8th). Since I teach 6th, I guess I could choose either book. How would you suggest making a determination? The Barren Grounds might take us longer to read. Since we are already reading Front Desk by Kelly Yang and Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy, maybe The Barren Grounds might be a good challenge. On the other hand, The Jumbies might be more entertaining and a quicker read in terms of the rest of our course. Thoughts? What questions might I ask to help me decide?
    Thank you!:)

  5. Pernille Ripp says:

    I would definitely look at your time constraint and choose the book that would work best for that. I have also heard of folks who read one at the beginning and then the other one later.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to connect with another sixth-grade class who will be reading The Barren Grounds. I’m not a fan of using Facebook or Twitter, but I’d love to establish correspondence between my students and those of another school. Email me if interested.
    Valerie Parry
    Westfield Friends School
    Cinnaminson, NJ

  7. Raechel Cowell says:

    The Barren Grounds was not among the GRA books linked above in but I was able to search for it there and find it. I hope the GRA still gets a small percentage if I buy it. (FYI)

  8. Cathy Wakeman says:

    We will be participating in GRA21 using The Barren Ground with a mixed group of 7-12 grade students. Our students do not have access to internet based communication. We will gladly do group communication via e-mail.

    Thank you-
    Cathy Wakeman
    George Junior Republic
    Freeville, NY

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