Author Ideas on Integrating Fiction into the Middle-Grade and Middle-School Curriculum

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Thursday, April 12, 2018 | 3:00 p.m. Central

Three authors of novels for middle-grade/middle school students discuss the value of including fiction in teaching various curriculum areas – and not just designating novels as “extra-credit!” The authors will reveal the depth of their research for historical fiction (Rebecca Behrens, "The Last Grand Adventure"); for science/nature study (Jo Hackl, "Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe"); and about political and social change (Sara Holbrook, "Enemy").

Eileen Makoff, a school librarian with a New York City Public School: The Magnet School for Environmental Studies and Community Wellness, will lead the discussion and present solid reasoning for the role of the school librarian to foster inclusion of fiction in curriculum teaching and learning. Librarians, bringing their broad expertise with children’s literature, their understanding of children’s reading preferences, and their knowledge of curriculum demands can partner with teachers to enrich and enliven study of history, science, social studies and more by integrating fiction into the center of learning, not keeping it on the sidelines The program will include a list of recommended novels that tie to curriculum.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Encourages engagement of school librarians with teachers by introducing discussion between them about the integrated use of selected fiction in the teaching of specific curriculum areas and the ongoing shared work of implementing the idea into classrooms thereby increasing the perceived value of the librarian within the school.
  2. Offers an opportunity for librarians to learn from authors themselves about the research and expertise they put into their novels in order to provide young readers with a deeper understanding and appreciation of various subjects.

  3. Provides school librarians with a list of excellent works of fiction that relate directly to curriculum subjects in such areas a history, science, social studies, and language arts.

Who Should Attend

School library professionals and those interested in the topic.


Eileen Makoff

Eileen Makoff is librarian at a New York City Public School: The Magnet School for Environmental Studies and Community Wellness in Coney Island. She currently serves on ALSC’s Grants Administration Committee. Previously, she served on ALSC’s Advocacy and Legislation and Membership Committees, as well as AASL’s Distinguished Service Award Committee. She is a member of New York City’s Department of Education NYC Reads 365 selection committee. She was a 2016 Morris Seminar participant and has been nominated to be on the ballot for the 2020 Newbery Committee.



Rebecca Behrens

A former textbook editor, Rebecca Behrens is the author of the middle-grade novels When Audrey Met Alice, which BookPage called “a terrific work of blended realistic and historical fiction;” Summer of Lost and Found, which School Library Journal praised as deftly written; and The Last Grand Adventure, which Kirkus recommends as “a quirky, heart-rending journey.” Some of Rebecca’s favorite things are: the beach, history, running, doughnuts, and laughing.




Jo Hackl

Jo Hackl was born near Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where her favorite artist, Walter Anderson, painted a secret room. Jo later moved to a ghost town, Electric Mills, Mississippi. Anderson’s secret room and the ghost town inspired Jo’s debut novel, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe. Beyond inspiration, Jo did a lot of research for the book, including spending an enormous amount of time outdoors, where much of the novel is set. Find Jo online at




Sara Holbrook

Sara Holbrook is the author of over a dozen books for children and teens and three poetry books for adults. Her first novel The Enemy, Detroit 1954 was released March 2017. Along with her co-author Michael Salinger, she is also the author of five teacher professional books. She is a frequent speaker at schools all over the world where her life has been enriched by talking to children of all backgrounds. A mother and a grandmother, she lives in Mentor, OH.





Attendance during the live webinar is complimentary and open to all.

Access to the webinar archive is reserved for AASL members and subscribers of AASL eCOLLAB.

How to Register

Register below for Author Ideas on Integrating Fiction into the Middle-Grade and Middle-School Curriculum. You will receive an email 2-3 days prior to the webinar with login instructions.

Tech Requirements

Internet connection and web browser.


A certificate of participation will be provided to attendees of the live webinar by request. To request a certificate of participation after the webinar, please email Jennifer Habley. email icon Certificates will be sent as PDFs via email within one week of the webinar.


Jennifer Habley email icon
AASL Manager, Web Communications