Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School

Our focus is on books middle school students might like to read and topics pertaining to books for these students, and we are giving recommendations. Teachers, librarians and middle school students are the contributors to this blog. Enjoy!

This Book Has IMPACT October 17, 2014

Full disclosure – I’m not a big fan of football. Never have been. But I know lots of people love the sport. Really, LOVE it. Can’t get enough of it. Can’t wait for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and now Thursday for their fix of football. Now though, there are headlines about former players losing their mental abilities to depression, early dementia, and even more occurrences of ALS and Parkinson’s Disease. How can a game that so many love, be so deadly? Has it always been this way, or is this a new development?

Turns out, when football was first being played in the late 1800s there was controversy surrounding the brutality of the sport. Many, many players died. It wasn’t unusual for a season to have 20 deaths. These were among college football players. Some began to believe that the sport needed to have massive changes if it was to continue, because the idea that young men could lose their lives playing a game became too much. In fact, even President Teddy Roosevelt, in 1905 became involved. He didn’t want the sport to go away and he wanted the coaches of the big college teams, Harvard and Yale to figure out a way to make it a little bit safer.

imgresSo things changed a bit. However, what didn’t change was the impact to players’ heads. Most people look at the helmet and think, “Well, they have protection.” However, the helmet does nothing to protect the brain inside the player’s skull. We now have the technology to measure “hits” that players’ brains are absorbing. Many hits are recorded at 100g, which is the equivalent of running into a brick wall at 20 mph. So you think only professionals are hitting this hard? No, these hits have been recorded being taken by 7 and 8 year olds.

What is the impact of all these hits? Well, concussions are one, but in the book Fourth Down and Inches by Carla Killough McClafferty, it turns out that repeated hits, which don’t lead to concussions, can still impact how a person processes information. In other words, their brains are being damaged by those repeated hits, even if they don’t get a concussion.

Now we see how older players, and by older, I mean early 40s, who are having terrible mental problems. Why? Something has been identified in the brains of athletes who have died, called CTE. It is progressive brain damage and what is shocking is younger players have been shone to have it, after they have died. One as young as 15 years old.

So the question becomes, is it still worth it?

Fascinating book, for anyone who has ever played the game of football, is still playing and anyone who loves the game itself. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

 

Going for Gold! October 7, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 9:48 am
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So imagine hearing there is just money to be had lying around? What would you do? Would you go for it? That is the situation that happened in 1897 when a steamer came into Seattle with sixty-eight men who unloaded thousands and thousands of dollars worth of gold in cans, bags, blankets and even moccasins. Yes, the second great gold rush in the history of the United States had begun, and it wasn’t even on American soil. It was in Canada, but that didn’t stop Americans from making the long journey to the cold, arctic area of the Klondike.

What makes the book Call of the Klondike by David Meissner and Kim Richardson so fascinating is the personal, firstimgres hand accounts of two adventures’ who were inspired after seeing those 68 men disembark from that ship. The two men were Stanley Pearce and Marshall Bond, who were friends and both came from mining families. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and both had families that could set them up nicely for an outfit. So they took off for the Klondike quickly to get ahead of any others who would be taken over by gold lust. And they were right to go, because a huge wave of gold seekers were just a few months behind them.

Getting to the area where gold had been found wasn’t easy. First there was a four or five day boat ride, followed by 500 miles of trails and lakes, much of it done in cold, icy rain, or freezing cold weather.

This book looks at the lives of these two men through letters home to their parents, and the journal one of them kept during this adventurous year in our country’s history to give us a rare glimpse into this rush and the hardships many faced for a chance at getting rich.

Great read for grades 6th and up.

 

He Hid, But Was Found August 14, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 4:26 pm
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After World War II and the Nuremberg Trails, not ALL the major Nazis were captured and tried. Some escaped justice for a time and some for all time. One major person of interest was Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi official who was in charge of removing Jews from Germany and ultimately, all of German occupied Europe. This meant he was the one responsible for rounding up the Jews, and transporting them to concentration camps all over Europe where they faced unimaginable horrors trying to survive. Many had no chance of survival, as they were killed immediately.

imgresAs the war drew to a close, and it became evident Germany was losing, Eichmann was told to stop killing Jews, but he didn’t. He began moving them out of the camps on long torture filled walks in terrible weather where more and more died.

However, at the end of the war, Eichmann wasn’t on trail. He wasn’t to be found. Some didn’t even know his role in the war, and others, once they found out, didn’t even have a picture to know who they were looking for.

Thus it wasn’t until a girl named Sylvia, living in Argentina in 1956 brought home her new boyfriend to meet her family. His name was Nick Eichmann. During dinner he admitted his father had been a high ranking Nazi official who was instrumental in eliminating Jews in Europe. Many former Nazi found a haven in Argentina after the war, and anti Jewish sentiments were high even after the war in Argentina. For that reason, Sylvia’s father, who was half Jewish, had never admitted to anyone in Argentina his heritage. It made for a very uncomfortable dinner.

It wasn’t until months later, after Sylvia had broken up with Nick Eichmann, that she and her father read an article naming the notorious Nazi, Adolf Eichmann. They realized they might have been having dinner with one of his sons.

Thus began the secret spy operation by Israel to bring to justice one of the most hated and feared men from the Nazi organization. The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb tells the tale of how one of the most infamous men of World War II was kidnapped, drugged and ultimately taken to trail for his crimes.

Highly recommended for anyone who is interested reading about World War II or a good spy story in grades 7th and up.

 

Is there such a thing as Too Young? May 27, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:17 am

I will admit it; I’m a survival junkie. When it comes to adventure stories, I like mine on the high seas or in high altitude. I love reading about these people and the things they do in real life, because I know I will NEVER do anything like that! So when I saw No Summit Out of Sight by Jordan Romero and Linda Le Blanc, I had to grab it. I wasn’t disappointed.

Years ago I read a book called Within Reach: My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer which was about a young man who attempted to climb Mt. Everest. He imgreswas the youngest to ever attempt at that time at the age of 16.

No Summit Out of Sight chronicles the climbing life of Jordan Romero, who currently does hold the world record for being the youngest to climb Mt. Everest at the age of 13. However, what I didn’t know is that Everest was only one stop for him, on his bid to climb the Seven Summits. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, including Antarctica.

What is amazing about this young man, is the fact he got this idea when he was only 9 years old, and where he got the idea from was very interesting. It shows how something that others walk by every day can change someone else’s life.

For anyone who is interested in high adventure and real life drama, this is a great book to pick up and enjoy, as I did!

Recommended for grades 6th and up.

 

The Dead and Dying…Everywhere February 9, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 9:13 pm
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I’d heard about this girl, Tillie Pierce for several years. When reading some excerpts from other Civil War books, her name would come up periodically and especially when I was reading about the Battle of Gettysburg. So I was very excited to see there is a whole book written about this brave girl who witnessed one of the most pivotal battles of the whole Civil War.

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg by Tanya Anderson does a wonderful job of giving the reader lots of background on how the town of Gettysburg was founded, who the main citizens were, and how Tillie came to be in the thick of the battlefield, filled with the dead and dying men and horses.

searchTillie’s family thought she would be safer outside of town, at the farm of a neighbor’s parents, away from where they thought the fighting would happen. Instead, Tillie and the neighbor’s family found their farm in the midst of horrific shelling and bullets whizzing close by. At one point, Tillie and the others found themselves running through a field as shells exploded around them!

What Tillie probably remembered the most, and what the read will too, was the aftermath of the battle. The shear amount of dead was almost beyond comprehension. Tillie, as a young girl, struggled to help the sick as best she could, and her vivid descriptions of seeing amputated limbs stacked next to a fence will resonate with readers long after the story is finished.

Recommended for 7th grade and up, and especially for any students interested in the Civil War.

 

Imagine Growing up in the Woods…Alone January 30, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 7:02 pm
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imgresWhat would it be like to be completely by yourself. Surviving by your wits alone, in the cold, rain, snow, heat? No one to talk to, no one to help you? For one boy in the late 1700s, this was his reality. In a small village in France, in 1798, a boy was captured, a wild boy. He appeared to be around the age of 9 or 10, and he seemed totally wild. He wouldn’t speak, sniffed everything that he wanted to eat, and bit at people that were trying to keep him. Quickly, he escaped and ran back into the woods.

This was repeated several times till, finally, he was caught and taken away from the woods he loved. Over the next thirty years, he would spend most of his time in Paris, under the care of a doctor named Itard who thought it was possible to teach him to speak. Could a boy who ran free for years ever be civilized? Did that make the boy less human?

Wild Boy by Mary Losure is the fascinating true story of a boy found roaming in the woods, completely alone, surviving in the wild, and how his life is changed forever after coming into contact with…humans.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.

 

Student Blogger Kelly P. Reviews SURVIVORS November 24, 2013

Survivors by Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsum is a nonfiction book. This book has many different true stories of children in the Holocaust and the gruesome times they went through. One  story in particular stuck out to me where a Jewish family living in a town full of Jews knew that eventually they were going to get caught by the Nazis. They left their house and the family went farm to farm, hiding in haystacks. Then one day while this family was in hiding, they recognized a man and he was willing to take the family into his house to care for them, but what this family didn’t know though is that they were going to live in the man’s crawlspace. The Engelbergs, the family, hated living in there and didn’t  know if they could survive that dreadful time.

I enjoyed this this book because all the stories were so engaging and I wanted to keep reading. It is a shorter book, only 196 pages, but the content was sometimes confusing to me because of the many German words in it. I think this book is good for young teens. If you liked Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, you’ll like Survivors even better.

 

 
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