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. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

Divergent Book Review by 7th Grader Nora March 21, 2023

Filed under: Science Fiction Books,Student Book Reviews — oneilllibrary @ 9:16 am

imgres-4Sixteen year old Tris lives in a dystopian society in future Chicago. In her life, once somebody turns sixteen, they have to choose one of the five factions to live in for the rest of their life, and cannot see people from any other faction, even if they are family. Their best match for a faction is chosen through a personality test that normally turns out with just one answer. In her case, however, she matches with three factions, which means she is divergent. She has to hide this fact or she would either get killed, or live homeless. She chooses to pick the exact opposite of her old faction, going from abnegation (values selflessness), to dauntless (the fearless). She has to go through the long process of initiation to find out if she can stay or become factionless. 

See Tris as she struggles to prove that she is just as tough as the rest, not be able to see the rest of her family, and try to keep her secret hidden. This is the perfect book for middle school as it covers mature topics and language, while it still has an amazing storyline that makes you want to just keep reading it. Divergent by Veronica Roth is followed by the books Insurgent and Allegiant with great movie adaptations that are unforgettable. This is truly one of the best books I have ever read and I couldn’t put it down!


Following Book Review by 7th Grader Lily

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Student Book Reviews — oneilllibrary @ 9:09 am

download-7Alden seems like a regular kid to most, but his friend Charlie knows his secret. To Alden, following others doesn’t seem weird, but Charlie disagrees. One day after school, Alden finds his new target to follow: Greg Matthes. He thinks it will be a perfect chance to practice his skills so he can one day become a detective, even though he promised Charlie to stop following others.

Greg is just an ordinary kid who likes to play baseball and is nice to everyone. But today Greg is looking mad as he exits the school. Alden follows Greg, and Greg leads him to a park where he meets his girlfriend Amy. But as time passes, Alden cannot believe what he has seen! It looks to him as if Greg is hurting Amy, or possible worse. But when Alden goes to investigate, things take a wild turn!

The book Following by Jeffry W. Johnston, is a great book for those who love mysteries. This book has so many wild turns and twists that pull you in. As I got farther into the book, I couldn’t put it down! There were so many questions I had about what would happen next that kept me on the edge of my seat. 


The Maze Runner Book Review by 7th Grader Ava

Filed under: Science Fiction Books,Student Book Reviews — oneilllibrary @ 8:13 am

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up in a strange place and not be able to remember anything? Well that’sdownload-2 how the situation is for Thomas. He wakes up in a magnificent glade. (A glade is a big open space in a forest) 

However, he can’t remember anything…his name, his past life, nothing. Surrounding him are dozens of boys. They all seem to be around the age of 14,16,17, or maybe even 18. Then he sees it….the maze. Massive walls are covered in thick ivy. The doors close every night. You don’t want to be trapped out there at night. Why? The Grievers. They are huge metal spider-like creatures that will sting you and infect you. The Gladers think that’s the only way out of this horrible place. 

Thomas soon adjusts to their way of living. He starts to become close to two boys named Newt and Chuck, especially Chuck. All is going well until two days later, a girl soon comes up from the box, Theresa is her name. Strange things start happening all throughout the glade. They believe it has to do with Thomas. Ever since he came, things have started to change. All the Gladers blame him. The only allies he feels he has are Theresa, Chuck, Minho, and Newt. Soon Thomas becomes a runner. The Gladers start losing valuable resources. 

Will they ever find a way out of this nightmare? Will Thomas be able to lead them to the exit? Read The Maze Runner by James Dashner!


Goodnight, Boy Book Review by 7th Grader Azul 

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Student Book Reviews — oneilllibrary @ 8:07 am

download-1In the book Goodnight, Boy by Nikki  Sheehan, a boy named JC just writes everything about his life and how he lives. JC talks about what stuff happened when he was adopted. JC’s adoptive parents arent the best at taking care of him. They make him live inside a kennel with his pet dog, Boy. Boy and JC live inside a kennel and are locked in there so they are not allowed to leave. 

In all honesty, I really enjoyed reading this book because it tells a lot about Jc’s life and it shows the truth of what some adoptive parents can do. It is really quick to read because some pages are short. It is an easy read.


Hope March 20, 2023

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Amal knows the deck is stacked against him. After all, he is young, black and male. Still, he is hopeful that the truth will come outdownload at his trial. However, when things don’t go the way he had hoped, he isn’t sure what to think. All he knows is that being locked up is a terrible thing. And while maybe he had some anger outside, it is nothing like the anger he feels now. How can he channel his feelings and emotions when he is locked up and doesn’t belong there?

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi is a raw, hard look at what it means to be locked up for a crime that many think you did, but you know you didn’t. Amal’s artwork and his poems help to convey what he is going through and how, even when things seem to be at their bleakest, there might just be that glimmer of hope.

Recommended for 8th grade and up due to mature content.


We Should All Thank One Man March 13, 2023

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:19 am

download-1Most people have never heard the name Vasili Arkhipov, but we all should know about him. If it weren’t for him, the world would be a very different place, and humans might not even be on it anymore. Or, if any of humanity had survived, it would certainly not be in the current world we exist in. Why? Because in the early 1960s, the Cold War was raging between the United States and the U.S.S.R.  and Cuba had just become the hot spot.

After World War II, Europe was just trying to rebuild, but the United States and the U.S.S.R. both emerged as the most powerful countries in the world. The Soviet leaders wanted to make sure the world would sit up and take notice of them, and make sure no one ever invaded them again, like Germany had during World War II. As the world entered the nuclear age of weapons, the knowledge that life on earth could actually be destroyed kept everyone on edge. In the United States, President Kennedy encouraged all Americans to build fallout shelters that would allow them to survive a nuclear holocaust. However, people that had actually lived through a radioactive experience, knew first hand how horrible the effects were, and how helpless humans are in the face of such a disaster. Which is where Vasili Arkhipov comes into play, and how he may have literally saved the world.

Fallout by Steve Sheinkin is an amazing look at the Cold War and all the spy intrigue that was happening on both sides, while driving home just how lucky we all are that our world wasn’t completely destroyed during some tense days in October of 1962. This is a chilling and unforgettable book.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


The Outsiders Book Review by 8th Grader Jaden T.  March 10, 2023

Filed under: Student Book Reviews — oneilllibrary @ 10:17 am

Ponyboy is the youngest, he’s 14 years old and he lives with his brothers. 

He and his brothers like to fight. Pony is a part of the Greasers. They are called Greasers because of their greasy hair. Socs are fancy people who live in a wealthy  neighborhood, They wear colored shirts and drive nice cars. They call them Socs because of their nice clothing. This book has two different sides of the story because all they do is intimidate one another. 

You shouldn’t be worried about how someone is dressed as long as they have the common sense to respect you as a person in general. The Socs thought the Greasers were disgusting because of the way they dress, and how their style wasdownload. The Greasers don’t like the Socs because they think they’re better than the Greasers with their fancy clothes, cars, shoes, and money. 

In the middle of the book, Ponyboy gets into some trouble, and then runs away, and gets into even more trouble. The book is called The Outsiders, by S.E Hinton. I love the plot, the setting, and all the characters in the book! In my eyes, this is a two sided story of the Greasers and Socs. 

Basically, if you like two sided stories and plot-twisting events, The Outsiders is just for you.


In the Dark March 6, 2023

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Stella has found lately that she does better with her writing when she goes outside at night. But this particular night, she has already gone to bed, when her younger brother, Jojo, comes to wake her up. They both go outside and see across their backyard to a pond, where there is a cross burning, surrounded by what appear to be men in white sheets and hoods. They aren’t sure what is up, but they feel like it is something bad. After letting their parents know, they realize they were right to feel uneasy. Turns out, those men belong to the Ku Klux Klan, or the KKK. And this concerns everyone in Bumblebee, North Carolina who is black. Including Stella’s family.

Stella isn’t sure exactly what this might mean for her family, but when she hears her Papa talking about voting, she knows that black people voting in the South, especially in 1932, just doesn’t happen much, if ever. And what might the Klan do if some people start thinking about voting, or setting up their own stores? She doesn’t know, but she’s also getting scared that she might find out.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper is a look at a time in the South where many Americans did not have the ability to fully exercise their rights as citizens. Through Stella, we all learn just how hard and trying things could be, depending on your skin color.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Until It All Goes Wrong February 27, 2023

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

ZJ loves his dad. And so does everyone else! After all, he’s a pro football player and what is better than that? His friends all thinkdownload he is super cool because of his dad, and ZJ doesn’t mind one bit. Even though his dad has to be gone a lot for football, when he is home, he makes up for it. He is the best. Until one day, he gets super mad at ZJ and his friends, for no real reason. Then he starts complaining about his head aching all the time. He stops playing football too, because his hands shake and his head hurts. Why is his dad acting this way? It makes no sense to ZJ and not to his mom either.

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson takes a frank look at the effects football and brain damage can have on a family, especially on a family before the well known connection between them was common knowledge, like it is today. What do you do when the person you look up to most in the world becomes someone you don’t even know sometimes?

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


A Symbol of Hate February 20, 2023

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-2He only went back to school because he forgot his phone in his locker. It just happened he was the first one to see the ugly sign of hate – a swastika. While Michael knows he didn’t put it there, at first people think he might have because he was the only one in the school at the time of its discovery. Quickly though, even though everyone is wondering who really did it and why, the school moves into defensive position. Whoever put it up, needs to understand just how powerful the symbol is and how hurtful it is. While the school engages everyone in a ton of social and emotional learning, the students are trying to figure it out for themselves.

Lincoln, or as everyone calls him, Link, is used to pulling practical jokes. His dad is so set on making their town known as a vacation spot and wanting Link to live up to his potential, that sometimes, for Link, it is just too much. But when this symbol of hate keeps showing up at his school, even after all the lessons, Link, who for one didn’t even know the history behind it, finds out something about his own history that changes everything for him. And because of that, for everyone at his school.

Linked by Gordon Korman is a thought provoking book on the power of symbols and how they can be used to inspire both horrible and wonderful things in people.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.