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!

It Was Just a Prank…. July 29, 2015

Lara thought she was adjusting to high school pretty well. Sure, ninth grade had been hard, considering her once best friend and neighbor, Bree, seemed to totally brush her off when school started. But she’d survived and found a few close new friends. And she’s just made it onto the cheerleading team too! So when a cute boy named Christian friends her on Facebook, even though he doesn’t go to her school, she gets excited. After all, Bree and some of her other friends from her high school are friends with him.

imgresQuickly, Lara and Christian begin an online romance which looks like it is building up to Christian asking Lara to a dance at his school. Lara is so excited, especially after struggling with feelings of self worth in middle school. However, not long before his school’s dance, Christian attacks Lara on Facebook and others begin to chime in. Lara has no idea why he’s doing this to her, and all her previous feelings of not being good enough come to the front. Specifically when Christian says the world would be a better place without her.

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman takes on the current look at cyber bullying and how something starts out as one thing and begins to snowball into more and more, all the while the perpetrators seem to have no idea of the possible consequences.

Recommended for students in grades 7 and up.

 

Are Zombies Real????? July 17, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 3:54 pm
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Lots of books, movies and TV shows are focusing on Zombies these days, and while we know they are fantasy, some people think that zombies really could come about. So is there any truth to that? Are there any “zombies” in nature right now?

Zombie Makers: True stories of Nature’s Undead by Rebecca Johnson takes this question very seriously. Could something “take over” an animal or insect and control them? Could something invade an animal or insect and change its nature? This book is chalk full of examples where either another insect, fungus or virus is able to alter the animal or insect it comes into contact with. imgres

Read how an ant becomes the perfect host for a fungus that eventually grows out the top of the dead ant’s head. Or how a worm takes over crickets and forces them to drown themselves. Or how a caterpillar becomes a zombie like bodyguard wasp protector and starves rather than let the little wasp cocoons be eaten, and then the caterpillar dies.

Yes, nature is already providing us with some examples of how animals and insects can be taken over but nothing so far shows how something can die and then come back to life. Those are still in the realm of fantasy, and let’s hope it stays there!

Recommended for grades 6th and up.

 

Would You WANT to be Someone Else? July 15, 2015

imgresFive freshmen are entering into Noble High School, and just trying to fit in to survive. Some of them have a plan, like Vanessa, who wants to win every award possible at school. She has her reasons for wanting to do well, and they have everything to do with her family. Of course she doesn’t realize that a boy could totally mess up her plans.  Sheridan wants to take the school by storm with her acting abilities and isn’t sure what she’ll do if she doesn’t get the lead in the fall play.  Duffy is all basketball, all the time and doesn’t realize that his next door neighbor, Lily is in love with him. Lily is so used to being homeschooled that life at a large public high school just might be too much for her, however any time she gets to spend with Duffy is a huge plus. Jagger just wants to have enough food for the next day and deal with the craziness that is his life. Yet, all converge to impact each others lives in ways they could never have predicted.

Pretenders by Lisi Harrison looks like it is the first book in possibly a series or a trilogy. The book only covers the first two months of school, and leaves the readers hanging for what will come later on in the school year, when everything appears to be unraveling at the end of this book.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

Children Always Suffer in War July 14, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 5:51 pm
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As a young boy, growing up in rural southern Sudan, John only knew the good things in life. He enjoyed hearing stories of his relatives, braving the lions that roamed close to their village, and at 13 was looking forward to the day when he, too, would complete the ritual that would recognize him has a man in his community. However, one day, his village was attacked by the government forces. While there had been rumblings for years of possible war coming, until it arrived at his door step, John was able to push his fears aside. After the attack, he and a group of other boys and some adults, were forced to move from place to place, trying to survive.imgres

While John was going through this in the countryside, the major cities in the south were not safe either. Martha was only six years old, and her younger sister only three, when their parents decided it was too dangerous to stay in the main southern city and moved the family to the country. Martha was surprised by life in the country. It was very different than what she was used to. However, not long after this move, the village Martha and her family were in was also attacked. Her parents were in a neighboring village at the time, so Martha and her sister, along with other children were taken by a woman and they ran from the village.

What neither Martha nor John knew that first night, was this was not going to be something that would end quickly and they would be re united with their families. Both John and Martha found themselves traveling long distances, often without food or water, only to encounter hostilities at every turn. John found himself in a massive refuge camp, in charge of hundreds of younger boys, and in the position of trying to keep everyone going, while Martha struggled to find a place for herself and her sister.

Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan by John Dau and Martha Akech is an amazing true story of how these children used their wits and ingenuity when things were at their worst.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

“You can’t catch what you can’t see”~ Lisa Graff June 25, 2015

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — lpitrak @ 8:43 pm

lost

Trent Zimmerman was a normal 5th grader who loved reading and baseball.  In a tragic accident, however, he shot a hockey puck into a classmate’s chest… a classmate with a fatal heart defect, who was killed instantly.  Now, Trent is starting middle school weighted down with the guilt of having caused a death, and suffering from panic attacks and violent outbursts of temper.

Everyone, from well-meaning teachers, to his baseball-obsessed mom, to his two goofy, prank-war obsessed brothers, tries to help Trent see that what happened was not his fault.  But it isn’t until he forms a slow-growing friendship with class outcast Fallen, a funny, brave girl who loves movies and off-the-wall jokes, that he starts to feel like a person deserving of a life again.  Fallen, who has a large scar dissecting her face, has great dreams for the future, and shows Trent that his story is far from over as well.  Honest, touching, and very funny… very highly recommended!!!

 

Mythological, urban fantasy June 16, 2015

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 11:40 am
Tags: ,

girl at midnight

Below the New York City streets lives an ancient race of mythological creatures.  The Avicen, a cross between bird and human, have bright feathers covering their bodies and a deep-rooted knowledge of magic.  They have also been at war with the Drakharin, powerful dragon-like beings, for centuries.  The legendary Firebird has been prophesized as the only power in the world strong enough to end the war.

Can the Avicen’s adopted human daughter, Echo, and the Dragon Prince, Caius, find  the Firebird (who many believe to be nothing but a myth) before both their clans are destroyed?

 

One Wrong Note…Could Mean Death May 20, 2015

What happens when something you love, has the potential both to save you and possible be the cause of your death? Hanna is imgres
faced with this after she is pulled for an audition for the Commandant of the work camp, Birkenau. She has already been taken from her home where she had a lovely life with her older sister, Erika, and her parents. Hanna was excited before the Nazis invaded her country of Hungary because she had been planning to got to the Budapest Conservatorium of Music. Hanna has a gift for playing the piano and when she is forced with her family to leave, it is her piano she misses and the time to play.

Once in the work camp of Birkenau, Hanna realizes quickly that she and her sister and mother must learn new ways to exist. With her father taken away from them at the gates of the camp, Hanna can only hope they will all be reunited at the end of the war, if they can last that long.

An opportunity comes for Hanna to play for the Commandant of the camp and while she doesn’t think she’ll get picked, when the Commandant’s son, Karl, specifically singles her out, she gets the job. Only later does she learn that her time may be precarious, since one wrong move, or note, can be the end of her time playing and possibly her very life.

Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail takes the reader on a journey to explore not only what it might have been like to have your life hang in the balance every day, but how would you have felt if you realized you were beginning to have feelings for the enemy? Hanna faces this dilemma as she finds herself failing in love with Karl, the Commandant’s son.

Good Holocaust book with a different perspective than others. Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

 
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