DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.
Sometimes a book just connects with kids and this one, Counting by 7s, did that with my students. After a couple rough read alouds that weren’t big hits (What’s Left of Me and Code Name: Verity), I was hopeful when I picked this book out for my excel class. And from the beginning they were hooked.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan follows twelve year old Willow Chance from the day her parents die in a car crash to the day, months later, when her guardianship is decided. Because when your adoptive parents die with no relatives or close friends, your life kind of spirals out of control.
And for Willow who has rituals and schedules for everything, this just doesn’t fit into her world. It’s never directly stated, but it’s obvious that Willow is somewhere on the autism spectrum. She’s high functioning and brilliant, but has trouble making friends, connecting with people, and fitting in. So when she’s accused of cheating by her teacher for getting all the answers right on a state test, she is assigned a district counselor for troubled kids.
Once she meets inept counselor, Dell Duke, things start happening that flip Willow’s world upside down in more ways than she could have ever expected.
Like my students, I loved Counting by 7s. It made me laugh out loud multiple times, had enough awkwardness that middle schoolers could relate to it, and Willow’s struggle to fit into a world that doesn’t completely understand her was painful and beautiful to watch. This one was well-loved and weeks later, I’ve still got kids talking about it. That’s a powerful book.