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!

Nothing But a Man March 12, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:29 am

Much legend and mystery surrounds John Henry – the man that raced an engine and won. How do you separate fact from fiction? Many songs were written about John Henry over the years and how he was able to dig out more rock than a machine.

downloadAin’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson tries to dig beneath the surface and reexamines old documents and ideas to determine if the current thinking on who John Henry was, is based more on legend than on reality. Could the real John Henry have actually been in prison and part of a work gang hired out to work for the railroad company? And if so, how did he die? Was it really right after winning against the machine? Looking at the many songs that were written about this man, the author is able to uncover some possible truths about who John Henry really was, and what happened to him.

This was a super fast read, but I wish more description had been given to the actual method for going through the rock and also how the machine worked. It was a short book and I wanted more!

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


And Then She Was Gone… February 28, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 12:36 pm

So much mystery has surrounded the disappearance of Amelia Earhart that it is hard to believe she was as famous in life as she has been in death, or presumed death. Amelia had an interesting life growing up in the early 1900s in the United States. She and her younger sister had an unconventional upbringing to a certain degree, and her childhood was happy until her father’s alcohol use got out of control and cost him several jobs downloadwhich forced the family to move many times. This made Ameila less trusting of marriage in general and a conventional life even more. She was a risk taker and got involved in planes early on. Mostly because she enjoyed being aloft in the sky and daydreaming.

While Amelia did set records for flying, and for being a woman who was flying, many times she seems to have lucked out. She wasn’t completely immersed in the machinery and knowing all the ins and outs of the actual airplane as many pilots are and need to be. She was more interested in just getting up there, even though she was very intelligent.

Which could be why she never learned how to properly use the radio, even though she would need it to make her attempt to circumnavigate the world at the equator.

Amelia Lost: The life and disappearance of Ameila Earhart by Candace Fleming is a fascinating read about one of America’s biggest unsolved mysteries. While the book doesn’t say what happened, it does present enough evidence through witnesses that she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, probably did crash land somewhere, but where has always and still today, remains the question.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


A Missing Mother February 19, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:58 am

For ten years, Sami has been haunted by the last memory she has of her mother. She said she would see Sami on Wednesday, but her mother never came back. Instead, Sami was found by herself, scared. But she doesn’t even recall that. All she knows is that her father is under suspicion for her disappearance. Every so often a post card arrives in the mail, appearing to be from Sami’s mother. Sami is frustrated and mad that her mother would just disappear and only send post cards once in a while. Yet her father has been faced with hostility from the community for years because of his possible involvement. In all the years though, Sami has believed her father had nothing to do with any foul play against her mother – even though they were divorced.

Now, however, Sami’s mother’s cold case file has taken a new turn. A body – possibly the body of a woman named Trina has been found. It turns out that Trina was once married to Sami’s father – a fact he never mentioned to her. Now, Sami begins to question her own father and if it would be possibly for him to be connected to not just one woman’s disappearance, but two.  Could it be that the man she’s been living with and loving for her whole life, is a killer?

Splinter by Sasha Dawn is a fast moving book that takes you on a ride! So many twists and turns happen in this book, it can be hard to keep them all straight! But because it moves along so quickly, you don’t feel too lost. This is a book that held my attention and that is saying a lot!

Recommended for mature 7th graders and up only because the text can get complicated at times.


The Klan Is Coming January 29, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 4:32 am

After the Civil War, the hope was for the country to come back together and become united. However, there were many from the Southern states who felt their entire way of life was gone and didn’t know how to rebuild it. The South was in a terrible state, in terms of how much of the area had been devastated by the war years. Many cities and towns were in shambles, much of the countryside had been pillaged by troops and crops and livestock had either not been kept up or were simply gone.  Add to this millions of freed people, most with little to no education or place to go, other than the plantations they had lived their lives on up until emancipation.

After Lincoln was assassination, President Johnson was sworn in. And though he was a Republican, he had sympathy for the Democratic South and halted much of the plans for reconstruction that the Republican congress had laid out. Into this mix came a group of Southern men who decided to start a “club.” At first it appeared the club might just be a lark, and a chance for them to get dressed up, ride around the countryside, and supposedly enforcing any laws that weren’t with the upheaval in the Southern states. Early on though, there were shaded of what it would become. downloadHowever, when Nathan Bedford Forrest took an interest in the Ku Klux Klan (which loosely translates to circle circle) the main focus of the group became keeping the newly freed people in the same position they had basically occupied during slavery. This meant massive terror for people who supported any Republican candidates – leading to disenfranchisement in voting, school teachers who were beaten and sometimes killed, churches burned and average citizens driven from their lands by force and brutality.

Finally, the U.S. government realized that the state governments either wouldn’t or couldn’t control the members of the Klan and stepped in.

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The birth of an American terrorist group  by Susan Campbell Bartoletti is an amazing read about this organization which is still with us today. Knowing the history behind this group, and understanding all that they have done to many citizens of this country is plainly presented in easy to read nonfiction work.

Recommended for students in 7th grade and up.


Ms. Underwood’s Review of The Raft by S.A. Bodeen January 25, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — bhomel @ 10:31 am
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The Raft had my attention from beginning to end. The Raft is a quick read, following The RaftRobie as she survives at sea after a devastating plane crash.  Robie is very relatable and easy to follow. She is independent, hopeful, and resourceful.  Robie also has a care for the environment and animal welfare. You can still relate to Robie, even as her mental state starts to diminish.

This book will catch the attention of any reader from beginning to end.  It reminded me of my time in Oahu, the fear on every turbulent plane ride, and those moments of sheer determination in an emergency situation.


Mrs. Kennedy’s Take on The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — bhomel @ 8:52 am
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The GardenerMason is a teenager living with his single mother in Melby Falls, Oregon. He was mauled by a dog who ripped off half his face when he was five years old, and now bears the grisly scars that make him different. While visiting his mother at the nursing home where she works, he meets a beautiful girl. The girl longs to escape, and Mason is happy to help. Mason soon realizes that he is being followed and that he must protect the mysterious girl.

Their plight leads them to The Gardener, a man who holds the keys to helping the girl and ending starvation for humans. But at what price?


Mrs. Ferroli’s Review of The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — bhomel @ 8:42 am
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The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen is a fantasy/science fiction novel. It is told from the The Gardenerperspective of Mason, the male protagonist. I felt an immediate connection to Mason and therefore, I wanted to continue reading. I was able to read the book in three days so it was a quick read, but highly engaging. This book contained some romance, some action, and really causes the reader to think about how we have treated the planet in the past and what we can do to survive in the future!