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!

War in the Water December 9, 2019

Filed under: graphic novel,Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Many of us know a lot about the Civil War, or at least some of the battles that weredownload.jpg fought, some of the main players, and what it was about. But how many of us know names like Will Cushing, John Ericsson, Gideon Welles (A.K.A. Father Neptune) or Gustavus Fox? If you are like me, I didn’t… until I read this book.

When war broke out between the states, it became a main strategy for the Union government to try to squeeze the life out of the South. The way they sought to do this was through a plan called Anaconda. If the South couldn’t get their goods to markets, they had no money to fight a war and no way to get in needed supplies. So how to stop them? But not letting any of their ships out. Of course, the South had a large coastline. Virtually all of the states that seceded from the Union had a coastline. This meant the Union had a lot of water to cover. And when the war began, they had four ships! Yes, just four! They had a shipyard that could make more, but, it was in Virginia and they lost the yard when Virginia seceded. Not only did they lose the shipyard, but their best ship at the time called the Merrimack.

How on earth would the Union be able to  stop the South when they had the shipyards AND the Union’s top ship?

Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale is a  super fast read and really informative about the battle for the coastline during the Civil War. Highly recommended for its readability as well as just a great story and learning about one of the more daring sailors of the time and the pranks he pulled, and got away with, was great fun.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Love on the Ice December 2, 2019

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:44 am

downloadAll she’s known her whole life is Hockey! And yes, it has a capital letter in Holland’s house. Because not only does she play hockey, but her two older brothers and her little brother do as well. Their dad was a big hockey player in his younger years and both he and their mom are super supportive. Especially of the fact that Holland is a girl, playing on the boys varsity team in high school. For Holland it isn’t anything new. She’s always played with the boys, from the time she was little. But while it isn’t really strange for a girl to play on the boys team, it is a little strange because there is a girls team at her high school. Still, Holland has been able to deal with the undercurrent that comes through sometimes from some of the old timers who complain she’s taking a spot away from some boy that could be playing.

However, this year, her junior year, seems different. Partly because their school has just learned they are in the running for big prize. Each year in their state, five communities are highlighted for their hockey programs. This year, their town has been selected and if they win the online voting portion, their game will be broadcast live on television! This is a huge deal to the town, to the teams and to Holland. Because it seems that everyone thinks having a girl play on the boys team might just make them win the big live broadcast prize. This puts pressure on Holland at a time when she doesn’t need it. As all of this is happening, Holland begins to realize something. One of her co-captains on the team is someone that she’s loved to hate, but recently, she’s wondering if that hate is turning into a totally different emotion.

How on earth is she going to deal with that, when she has a strict no dating any teammates rule? Especially when she feels such pressure to be the best since she’s the only girl on the team?

Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren is a delightful quick romance that throws in a nice dash of hockey – if you are into that sport! This book was so easy to tear through because it was a great read. Lots of swearing if you bothers you, but come on, it is a book about hockey after all!

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Sentenced to an Island November 25, 2019

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

When he is sentenced to 10 weeks on the island of Slabhenge, Jonathan doesn’t protest. After all, he deserves to be there, for what he’s done. He’s ashamed of it, and feels horribly guilty for what has happened, and he’s actually glad to be away from home and his parents because he can’t face them.

What he doesn’t expect totally are the conditions of the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys. To say the “school” is something out of the dark ages would be nice. The Admiral, as the head of the school likes to be called, believes in no frills and is quick to punish. After arriving on the stone island, which had been an insane asylum years before, he is sent to bed with no food, and when he is locked up in his cell for the night, he gets a bucket of water thrown on him for talking to the boy in the cell next to his. Basically, the place is horrible. And then he finds out that the Admiral consistently keeps boys longer than their sentence, so who knows how long he will actually be on Slabhenge.

downloadBut during morning roll call, something happens that changes the direction of his stay on the island, and as the days progress, it becomes apparent, this can change the whole direction of his life, if he can survive.

Scar Island by Dan Gemeinhart is an adventure story set within stone walls and on an island where there doesn’t appear to be any escape. The boys residing on the island all have their secrets, but some are more closely guarded than others, as is evident by Jonathan and his troubled past.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Silent and Disastrous November 18, 2019

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:00 am

download-3Osmel has big dreams and he has plans for making them happen. His last year of high school looms ahead and he can’t wait for it to be over. When it is, he can start college and move on to fulfilling his dream since 5th grade of becoming a meteorologist. He works with his uncle sometimes in the orchards in the state of Washington, picking apples and other fruit that comes into season. However, his real passion will take him far away from the dry arid part of the state to the wetter Western side.

But at a family party for his little sister, Osmel’s perception of himself and his reality suddenly changes. He finds out that he’s undocumented – just like his uncle and his aunt and his mother. This sends him reeling as he wonders how on earth he will now be able to go to school. And the ICE raids that he hadn’t really paid much attention to in the past take on serious meaning to him now, since he could very well be sent back to a country he has no recollection of leaving and no memory from that time.

Sanctuary Somewhere by Brenna Dimmig is a very quick and powerful read about the realities facing children who were brought to the United States illegally.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


What Happens on the Field, Stays on the Field November 11, 2019

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:00 am

Teddy is in a coma after playing the Rookie Rumble – a game that just the incomingdownload-2 freshman play against each other and is coached by the senior football players on the last day of the preseason camp. Everyone is saying it was a tragic accident and how football has its problems, but everyone knows that is part of the risk to play this amazing game.

As Teddy’s family struggles to deal with his life threatening and possible life changing injury, others in the community gather round to support the family and the team in this time of need. However, when a well intentioned girl, who likes Teddy and just happens to be the daughter of the head football coach, puts up a site for people to offer prayers and to come together as a community, some interesting posts start to pop up. Was this really a typical football injury, or could there be something more to what happened on the field that day?

Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald is a super fast read as it is told in text messages, site posts, newspaper clips and short, almost novel in verse like text. The story shows how so many people are conflicted about the dangers of football and how some traditions are hard to let go.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Bones Do Tell Tales November 4, 2019

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:01 pm

Imagine you are just going about your business, doing your job, when suddenly, a humandownload-9 skull rolls out at your feet! Quite the shock, right? That is exactly what happened one day near Albany, New York in 2005. A backhoe was scooping up dirt to lay a sewer pipe when an object was dislodged by the digging a a construction worker realized it was a skull. Obviously work stopped right away. 

Quickly the police were called in to make sure they weren’t disturbing a crime scene. And what they discovered was a shock to many. It turns out they had stumbled upon the slave graveyard of a large family farm owned by the Schuyler’s until 1910. While the Schuyler family cemetery was closer to the main house and clearly marked, where the slaves had been buried was lost over time, probably due to just stones or wooden grave markers used to designate the graves. 

Archaeologists can learn a lot about how people lived in the past from studying how people were buried, what condition their bones were in at the time of death, and even doing DNA and isotope testing to show what areas of the country and world the people had lived in. This finding added to the growing body of knowledge about people who were enslaved in the north.

Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a slave cemetery by Lois Miner Huey is a fascinating look into the lives of enslaved people living in the north and how their lives differed and were the same as those in the south.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


In the Boat House, Strange Things Happen October 28, 2019

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:06 am

downloadHe was annoyed and mad, and a bit pissed off. He had only been trying to help when he heard Shannon screaming off on the side of the school parking lot back where the bushes were. Turns out, she and a bunch of other kids had taken the principal’s car and moved it off the parking lot and onto the grass near the bushes. But they’d dropped it right down on Shannon’s foot – hence the screaming. When Elliot arrived to help lift the car off of Shannon’s foot, that is when the principal showed up too. And said that Elliot was just as responsible as Shannon and all the other kids that she wouldn’t name.

Which leads to Shannon and Elliot being punished and having to clean out the boat house at the edge of the property by the school. Right away it is cold and dark and not a very inviting boat house and a mess! So Elliot, still angry that his good deed got him in trouble, grudgingly begins to clean up and listens as Shannon prattles on and on about nothing much. Then some strange things start to happen. Like the door that Elliot propped open slams shut. And Shannon says that maybe there are spirits in the boat house and they should try to contact them. So she constructs a Ouija board, and they both get more than they bargained for!

Shallow Grave by Alex Van Tol is a quick read and a nice ghost story for anyone looking for both!

Recommended for 7th grade and up.