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!

War In Pictures November 19, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 5:36 pm

The Civil War in the United States was one of the first wars to be captured withimgres photography. Up until then, images were in paintings or drawings often years after the events or battles themselves had taken place. With the invention of the camera, everything changed. The book Photo By Brady: A Picture of the Civil War by Jennifer Armstrong shows how important this work was at the time.

Two men were primarily responsible for the photographic documentation of the Civil War. The one most widely known is Mathew B. Brady who was a well known photographer of the day and had become known for doing portrait work. He was trying to make photography into an art form to give it legitimacy. The second person was Alexander Gardner who became a business partner with Brady for a time. During the Civil War they ended up splitting away from each other and Gardner created his own studio.

Both men were instrumental in giving the public at the time and all the generations afterwards a true glimpse into the horrors of the Civil War.

Recommended for grades 7th and up.



When a Boy Becomes a Girl….and Vice Versa!!!! November 10, 2015

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Humor — oneilllibrary @ 10:28 am

imgresBoth Ellie and Jack were having one of the worst first days of school ever. Ellie has had it confirmed that her once best friend now has a new one and loves to make fun of Ellie and Jack has gotten into a fight. Both end up in the nurse’s office. Ellie because she can’t stop crying and Jack, because, well, his nose is bleeding all over the place.

What they don’t know is that they both wish they were the opposite sex at the same time. They both think it would be so much easier. What they also don’t know is that their new school nurse, isn’t a typical school nurse. So she is able to make their wishes come true!

Be careful what you wish for comes back to bite both Jack and Ellie! Because now, Ellie is Jack and Jack is Ellie. And it is Friday and the nurse seems to have disappeared. So Ellie and Jack have to get through an entire weekend as each other without anyone else knowing what is going on. Can they do it? Will there be any long term effects? And what happens if they can’t switch back?

The Swap by Megan Shull is a great book and readers will gobble it up. A totally enjoyable read.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


It All Started on an Airplane October 28, 2015

Filed under: Humor,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 2:02 pm

imgres-1One real reason that Wyatt Palmer was looking forward to his 8th grade field trip to Washington, D.C.? Yeah, nothing to do with Washington or the sights. It has everything to do with the girl of his dreams, Suzana. Pretty much what he was looking forward to was just hanging in her semi space, since, well, she had a boyfriend and well, Wyatt certainly couldn’t consider himself part of the “in” crowd at Culver Middle School.

Still, it could have been a good trip, except for the fact that his friend, Matt, was kind of paranoid about these two men that sat behind them on the plane. He kept insisting that they were going to blow up the airplane once they got over Washington, D.C., which didn’t turn out so well when he actually grabbed the backpack of one of the guys and then a Federal Air Marshall comes up and starts asking who said there was a bomb, and, well, as you can imagine when they didn’t find a bomb, that made things kind of uncomfortable for Matt and Wyatt.

Anyway, Wyatt thought things could start to go smoothly AFTER they got off the plane, but that was BEFORE he found out that Matt had taken something from the backpack of the guy before giving it back. So, yeah, the guys start tracking them to get the thing back. The trip pretty much goes off the rails after that point.

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry keeps readers laughing from almost the first page till the last. Wyatt as the love sick, trying to do everything right, 8th grader is a great character as well as all the others around him. Really fun book.

Highly recommended for anyone 6th grade and up looking for a really fun, and entertaining read.


Two Ships, Cracked in HALF! October 16, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:00 am

In February of 1952 one of the worst winter storms to hit the Northeast also lead to one of the greatest Coast Guard rescues of all time.

With terrible weather pounding the coast and the high seas, two oil tankers, the Pendelton and Fort Mercer, both trying to ride out the horrible weather before heading into port, broke literally in half! Only one of the ships was able to get out an S.O.S. before it cracked in half, which was the Fort Mercer. The Fort Mercer knew things were bad and that they had sprung a leak in the middle of their ship, so they radioed the Coast Guard and ships were on their way to help them. However, the seas had 60 to 70 feet high waves,imgres-2 so any kind of rescue was going to be near impossible.

However, the Pendelton broke up in the night, and there wasn’t any warning so no S.O.S. was sent out. They were found purely by accident by a plane that was looking for parts of the Fort Mercer! This meant there were FOUR parts of ships that were floating in high seas and no one knew how long each section could stay afloat, especially in the horrible storm that was raging.

Into this nightmare, men were sent out to try to rescue them, knowing all the while, they might never return themselves.

The Finest Hours: The true story of a heroic sea rescue by Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman is a fast paced, edge of your seat adventure story about the real dangers of the sea, and the real people who venture out to save people. An amazing story.

Recommended for students in 6th grade and up.


Sister Knows Best October 14, 2015

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:59 am

Miranda both loves and admires her older sister, Lander. However, they have never been close. Miranda is 7 years younger than Lander, and Lander seems to operate in her own little world. They do have one thing in common, and that is how much they both love spending their summers at the cottage on the Connecticut River. Lander is set to head off to medical school in the fall, and Miranda will be a junior in high school. Miranda loves all the things about their little run down cottage; how everyone in the neighborhood uses their dock to get into the river, how two little boys are constantly at their place, and how comfortable everything is.

However, one day at their summer cottage, both girls witness something on the river, but they have vastly different takes on it. Miranda thinks she has witnessed an attempted murder, whereas Lander tells her to stop exaggerating. But Miranda can’t stop thinking about what she saw, and when her sister Lander gets caught up in something she isn’t equipped at all to deal with Lander realizes too late her mistake in not believing her sister.

No Such Person by Caroline B. Cooney is told from the imgresalternating perspectives of Lander and Miranda. Lander is totally bewildered, for the first time in her life, where as Miranda tries to become the focused member of her family when everyone is floating. While the book only really takes place over a weekend, flashbacks give more depth to the relationship of the sisters and help set up what is happening that weekend. As a reader, you’ll be pulling for both Lander and Miranda, and hoping they both come through this ordeal unscathed!

Recommended for grades 7th and up.


There Was a Killer in the Kitchen September 30, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 12:04 pm

Everybody loves ice cream, and especially, HER ice cream. She made really great ice creamimgres and at the turn of the 20th century, ice cream sure was a luxury item. One that a wealthy family that employed a cook could afford. What the Warren family didn’t know, was that when Mary Mallon made their wonderful peach ice cream in August of 1906 as their recently hired cook for their summer rented house, she gave them something that no one wanted. Typhoid Fever.

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A true story of the deadliest cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti peels back the myths and legends that surround this well known, but little known about, character who shaped much of American lore.

This book gives great insight not only into the time period at the turn of the 20th century, but also how Americans viewed science at the time, the idea of germs and how then, as in now, the rights of a person versus society’s good are hard to determine.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Does Growing Up Have to Mean Saying Goodbye? August 26, 2015

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — lpitrak @ 4:27 pm

Goodbye Stranger

This newest book by Rebecca Stead (who won the Newbery award for When You Reach Me) is an amazing exploration of friendship and finding yourself. Bridge, Em, and Tab have been best friends since fourth grade, and while they are very different… (Bridge is a free spirit who hates clubs and wears cat ears to feel like herself, Em is an outgoing soccer star, and Tab is studious and committed to social justice)… they have always supported each other.  They made a rule in fourth grade to never fight, but now that they are in seventh grade and facing social pressures and figuring out their place in a larger world, they realize it might not be possible to never disagree with each other.  Will going down separate paths break up their “set”, or will it bring an even deeper friendship  and understanding?  Readers will fall in love with Bridge, Em, and Tab, as well as with their quirky families, and recognize their own struggles throughout this beautiful novel.



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