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!

Modern Retelling of Snow White September 19, 2017

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 3:51 pm
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This is a very inventive reimagining of the classic fairy tale Snow White. Mina, daughter of a cruel magician, has not known love since her mother died when she was a young girl. Even if her mother was still living, however, Mina might not be capable of love. Her outer beauty conceals a very dark secret—a heart made of glass. To save her life, her father removed her diseased heart and replaced it with one of cold, perfect glass. While she is alive, though, this has left her unable to feel emotions. Through scheming, Mina finds herself marrying King Nicolas, moving to Whitespring Castle, and becoming stepmother to a two-year-old little girl with a dark secret of her own; Princess Lynet has been sculpted from snow by Mina’s father, who is now blackmailing the king by threatening to reveal this to the entire kingdom. When Princess Lynet turns sixteen and her father announces his plans to name her Queen in Mina’s place, the two are positioned to fight to the death. But, is it possible that a stepmother with a heart of glass and a princess made of snow might actually love each other more than they love power, money, and their royal positions?

Image result for girls made of snow and glass


Running Blind September 14, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 1:18 pm

For Parker Grant, many things have happened to shape who she is. Many, many things. And she’s just 16 years old. When she was seven, she was in a car accident with her mom. Her mother died and Parker was left permanently blind. Her father became the rock in her world. Along with her father and some close friends, Parker was able to take back control of her life, as best she could. When she was in 8th grade though, Scott, who was her closest friend and for a little time – her first boyfriend – betrayed her in a way that she has never recovered from. If her best friend could devastate her, what could the rest of the world do to her? Luckily, she and Scott ended up going to different high schools.

But starting her junior year, the town has decided to combine the two small high schools, and so Parker must contend with a whole new group of people who don’t understand the girl with the blindfold on in the hallways, and Parker gets a new “guide” at school; a girl named Molly. While Parker is trying to adjust to life among the new students, she has forgotten about one person. Scott.


He is in one of her classes and Parker begins to question many of the things in her life. Especially ever since her father died of a supposed overdose three months before school started and her aunt’s family came to live with her. Parker begins to realize that everyone has secrets – ones that even if she could see, she wouldn’t know about. She found out things about her father after he died she never suspected. Could she be wrong about other things as well?

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom is a wonderful, powerful look at how we can think we understand a situation or a person, and realize we truly know nothing.

Recommended for everyone because it is just that good. Or 7th grade and up.


Rats!!!!! September 1, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 9:08 am

I’m a huge lover of animals so when I selected this book, Misunderstood: Why the Humble Rat May Be Your Best Pet Ever by Rachel Toor, I was excited to read it. If you aren’t a rat person, you will be after reading this book. And after seeing the rat on the cover of this book. Seriously, couldn’t be cuter!

downloadMisunderstood gives the reader an admittedly biased view of rats. The author clearly adores rats, but does a review of other literature that is out there on these little creatures, which lend toward negative almost exclusively. Most people have a decidedly poor view of rats without really knowing about them. Toor does a great job of showing all sides of rats, what they need and the many different people who love them. Did you know that rats are litter trained, are incredibly clean and very social? These are just a few of the surprising facts you’ll learn if you give this book a chance.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone thinking about rats and wanting to know more about them, and also for those out there who only think of rats in a negative light. To know them is to love them, according to many!

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


Terrible But True August 18, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:39 am

I live not far from Chicago, but I’d never heard about the over eight hundred men, women and children who died in in the Chicago River, ten feet from the dock, when the ship they were on for a fun excursion day literally rolled over! There were 2,500 people on board and many were trapped below deck, and died in the hull of the ship. People broke holes in the hull to try to help people escape. A temporary morgue was created in Chicago’s Second Regiment Armory which years later, Oprah Winfrey built her Harpo Studios in.


Or what about the molasses flood of Boston? Seriously, a huge container of molasses broke and flooded streets with over two million gallons of the sticky stuff. Twenty-one people died and lots of animals were trapped and smothered to death.

Terrible But True: Awful Events in American History by Dinah Williams looks back at our history and finds those truly horrific events that shaped our laws, how we looked at child labor and even how we put people to death.

Fascinating read for anyone who wants a quick nonfiction look at some of the most pivotal moments in American history.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


Dreams of Gold August 15, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 3:14 pm

When Joe was little, he had a really rough time of it. His mother died when he was very young and then his father shipped him across the country to live with his aunt for two years. When his dad remarried, he sent for Joe to come back. However, Thula, Joe’s new step-mother, never seemed to take to him. Joe found himself set aside when he was fifteen years old and had to survive on his own while his father and stepmom left with the four younger siblings.

This made Joe leery of trusting others, but he was determined to go to college. He started at the University of Washington in Seattle in the fall of 1933. This was a rough time in the United States. The stock market crash of 1929 had cascaded down into all walks of life, and so Joe had a hard time finding jobs so he could pay to attend school. That was mostly the reason he found himself at the rowing try outs. Because each freshman that made the rowing team was guaranteed a part time job on campus – which might bring in enough money to keep him from having to drop out of school.

The rowing team was not easy though. There were close to 200 new freshman that wanted a spot on the boats, and already upper class teams in place. So competition was fierce. But there was something special about the boys that showed up to row that year, and even the year after as well. Something that made the coach of the University of Washington believe that he could put together a shell (as the boats are called) that could take Washington to the Olympics in Berlin in 1936. And it was possible, that Joe just might be in that shell, rowing it!

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is a fast and interesting read about the United States rowing team that entered the Berlin Olympics. This is a wonderful story about a boy finding his inner strength and how it is possible to move beyond your past.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


What Can Save Her? August 11, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:49 am

Orphaned after both Russia and Germany invade her country of Ukraine, Lida is hopeful that she and her sister can stay together, with their grandmother. But what Lida doesn’t know is that the Nazis are always looking for slave labor, and young people are perfect for that. Larrisa and Lida are rounded up by Germans one day, and their wonderful grandmother has surely been killed. Lida is determined to keep Larrisa with her, but during a medical examination by the Nazis, Larrisa is taken away as well. Lida is shoved with other Ukrainian children into a cattle car and taken to Germany.

There, a woman says to the children, be useful or they will die. Lida has no idea how she can be useful until she notices a loose button on a commander’s shirt. Lida is a seamstress and a good one at that. She is able to escape hard labor by workidownloadng in the laundry and cleaning sheets as well as mending clothing from the officers and others.

However, this time doesn’t last, and Lida knows that her life and the lives of all the other captured children are in danger all the time. The war is coming to an end, and the Allies are constantly bombing. When Lida gets taken from the laundry and sent to make bombs, she wonders if she’ll have the nerve to sabotage them in some way.

Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Skrypuch tells the story of a little known fact that civilian children and adults were taken from countries that the Germans invaded during WWII to work as slaves in their factories and in other locations. With so many people dying during the war, human labor became a premium needed to keep the war going. Very young children, generally under the age of 12, were often killed rather than put to work. It was believed they were too young to do much help. Many children lied about their ages to protect their lives.

Recommended for ages 6th grade and up.


Bad Business August 7, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:20 am

Lindy was super excited! She’d been accepted into an amazing summer program that took students to the Arctic to learn and do projects AND see polar bears in their natural environment.

The only problem is that it costs a huge amount of money. She was able to get a scholarship to cover part of the cost, and if she turns in her money early, that will knock off another $2,000, but the problem is the early bird date is approaching fast and while Lindy does work, she isn’t sure she’ll be able to make the deadline.

Lindy works for seniors in her neighborhood doing odd chores for them. One of her best clients, Mrs. Naulty, is wonderful, but Lindy has begun to notice that she’s getting confused sometimes and forgetful. The only thing that isn’t great about Mrs. Naulty is she download-1doesn’t pay very well. However, just when Lindy thinks she’ll never be able to make her money deadline, Mrs. Naulty gives her $200! Usually she only gets 10! Lindy knows this must be another time when Mrs. Naulty is confused but she doesn’t feel she can turn down the money.

Bad Business by Diane Dakers gives us a situation where we are rooting for Lindy and when a supposed friend puts Lindy in an even worst position we aren’t sure how it will come out.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.