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!

Real Story of Emmett Till October 24, 2016

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:25 am

6681233So much lore surrounds the murder of a young Chicago boy, named Emmett Till. What is commonly known is that he went to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi the summer of 1955. There after going into town with some of his relatives, two days later he was taken from his Uncle’s home by two white men. His brutally abused body was found in a river 3 days later.

At the time, this case was different from other black lynchings because it happened to a northern child, and this brought attention to a huge issue that had been happening for years; the random murders of black boys and men in the south for perceived wrong doings against anyone who was white.

Simeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till by Simeon Wright gives the first hand account from Emmett’s cousin of what happened in the days leading up to and the night of the fateful abduction. Simeon also clears up many of the myths and just plain wrong information that has often circulated in relation to this story.

This is an amazing story and should be read by everyone to get an idea of what life was like in many parts of the south during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.

Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.


Just One of the Boys? October 21, 2016

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — bhomel @ 12:35 pm

Rashad and Quinn are both just high school boys.

Both boys are involved at their school – Rashad is a member of the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training) and Quinn is on the basketball team.

Both boys were hanging out after school on a Friday evening.

Both boys were looking for some sort of party to go to so they could hang out with friends to check out the girls.

Both boys made a stop at Jerry’s Convenience Store before their fun evening.

But both boys couldn’t be more different – Rashad is African American and Quinn is White and that minor detail makes all the difference!


Rashad was falsely accused of shoplifting at Jerry’s Convenience Store and there happened to be a police officer in the store. That police officer decided to show Rashad a lesson by pushing him out of the store and slamming him into the parking lot concrete face first. Rashad’s injuries forced him to be hospitalized for several days and to be absent from school.

Standing outside of Jerry’s, Quinn is a witness to the beating Rashad sustained. Quinn knows what he saw was not right – he knows no one deserves to be hit and shoved that way. He also knows the police officer doing the hitting and AAB.jpgshoving…It’s Paul, the Paul who has been like a big brother to Quinn ever since he was younger. It’s Paul, the person who practiced shooting baskets with Quinn. It’s the same Paul who has been a mentor to Quinn.
Fists and worlds collide in All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. This is a book most students need to read. It’s a book that reflects our world and some of the real issues happening in cities around the US. There is some mature language in the book but the message of the book speaks louder than those words.




If She Only Knew October 12, 2016

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 9:08 pm

imgresWhen the Benevolent Home for Necessitous Girls burns down, Katie is sent off into the world, with little more than the clothes on her back, and a few small possessions.  She is also given an old newspaper clipping of a photograph taken at least fifteen years before by the woman who runs the orphanage in Canada. Katie knows nothing about the parents who gave her up when she was an infant, but she is sure this newspaper clipping can’t have anything to do with her. In fact, she almost throws it away.

Katie dreams of becoming a big time newspaper journalist. Her only problem – it is the 1960s and making it as a woman journalist is a difficult proposition. When Katie gets turned down and told she would need to have a great story to get a good job, she decides to investigate the newspaper clipping – hoping it will lead her to a great story. It leads her to an old murder, and to the grave of the supposed murderer. However, as Katie begins to question events of the past in this sleepy little Indiana town, people get worried Katie is turning over secrets best left alone.

My Life Before Me by Norah McClintock is some of her finest writing. As always, McClintock is a master at drawing the reader in and weaving complex themes and ideas into a fabulous, accessible story that will have you turning pages as fast as you can. While the story is set close to sixty years in the past, current events will show you how much and how little has changed.

Recommended for 7th grade and up. A truly remarkable book and a great mystery.


Is Ali losing her mind… or is a spirit haunting her lake house? October 4, 2016

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — lpitrak @ 10:33 am
Tags: , , ,

Ali and her mother don’t have a close relationship.  Her mom is forgetful and withdrawn- always staring into space, or locking herself alone in her room.  Because of this, Ali is excited to spend the summer with her fun Aunt Dulcie, who is a painter, and her sweet little cousin Emma.  Right before she is set to leave for the summer lake house, where her mom and Aunt Dulcie used to spend the summer every year when they were kids, Ali finds an old photograph of three girls.  She recognizes the beautiful, smiling girl as her mother, and the goofy, grinning girl as Aunt Dulcie, but who is the third person who has been partially torn out of the picture?  This mysdeep-and-dark-and-dangeroustery will become more important as Ali spends more time getting to know the lake house and a girl from the neighborhood, Sissy, who seems to hate Ali immediately.  Strange things begin to happen- doors open without anyone touching them, wet puddles appear on the floor in the middle of sunny days, Aunt Dulcie’s paintings turn dark and violent (almost as if someone else is guiding her hand as she paints) and sweet Emma has been having hysterical tantrums after spending time with Sissy.  Ali knows there is some connection between all these strange occurrences, something that happened when her mom and Aunt Dolcie were kids, something that turned her mom from fun-loving and happy to the miserable adult she is today…. Did someone hurt her mom and aunt?  Or did they hurt someone else?





Who is the Prince of Mist?

It is 1943, and Max and Alicia Carver are growing up in Spain while World War II is raging around them.  For the family’s protection, their father decides to relocate from the city in which they live to a small coastal town.  From the first day they move into their new home, however, Max and Alicia can sense an eerie, ghost-like presence.  Their younger sister finds a cat with giant golden eyes who seems to have a connection with the house.  Max discovers an overgrown sculpture garden made up of statues of creepy-looking circus performers that form a circle around a terrifying stone clown- a stone clown whose position changes overnight and who Alicia saw in her dreams before the family moved.  In addition, Max and the prince of mist cover.jpgAlicia see the dreamlike outline of a ship in the mist over the ocean… but it seemingly appears and disappears at random.  After Max and Alicia meet a friend in town named Roland, the three start to uncover a horrifying mystery involving the spirit of Jacob Fleishman- a young boy who drowned off the coast of their house, a boat which capsized almost thirty years earlier that was full of traveling carnival performers, and a legendary figure known as the Prince of Mist- a man capable of granting wishes, but demanding horrible payments in return.  This novel is part mystery, party ghost story, part horror… and will keep you creeped out and looking over your shoulder the whole time you are reading!





Vampires- Glamorous, Cruel, or Both?

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 10:24 am
Tags: , , ,

Tana lives in an ordinary town, exceptional only for its proximately to a Coldtown.  Coldtowns are walled off sealed cities, in which people who have been bitten by vampires are sent to live.  Once being turned into a vampire, a person becomes more beautiful, more powerful, and immortal… So it is no surprise that Coldtowns are actually seen as glamorous places, where champagne is always flowing, playing music and dancing in the streets is common, and the parties never end.  Life inside of Coldtowns is so mystifying that savvy journalists set up live televised feeds, so that normal mortals can have 24/7 access viewing to these cities where the fun lasts forever.  But Tana knows, because she witnessed her own mother undergo the transformation into a vampire, that there is extreme brutality, cruelty, and boredom at the heart of these vamthe_coldest_girl_in_coldtown_coverpire civilizations.  One night, after a party where most of her highschool class is in attendance, Tana wakes up in a pool of blood and sees her classmates slaughtered around her.  She is the only one still alive, besides her ex-boyfriend who is now one of her best friends, and a mysterious, dark stranger… both of whom seem to have been bitten.  Tana knows she has to get them to a Coldtown before they turn and become a danger to themselves, to her, and to the rest of her town…. But getting them there means traveling into the heart of a vampire Coldtown as a mortal girl. This awesome book brings a huge twist to vampire legend and mythology, and is dark, creepy, and funny in all the right ways!  Perfect for reading before Halloween!!!





Unbroken September 28, 2016

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:10 pm

He really was a trouble maker. If there ever was a kid that was destined for juvenile hall, it imgreswas Louis Zamperini. If it wasn’t nailed down, he had no problem stealing it and even if it WAS nailed down, he’d bring a hammer and pry the nail out! His mother despaired of him ever amounting to anything. That was until his older brother, Pete got him into running. By some luck, Louie loved running. And not only did he love it, but he was good at it. So good that by the time he was out of high school, he had his eyes on the Olympics. He just missed a spot in the mile, but then decided to try his legs at running the 2 mile. He was so fast at that, he made the Olympic team.

While Louis didn’t metal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he knew that he had what it would take to come back in 1940. However, in 1939, the world was caught up in World War II, and Japan withdrew as the host of the Olympics. Louie was heartbroken. However, he decided to join the Air Force and after Pearl Harbor was bombed was sent off to learn how to be a bombardier in a B-24 plane. It was Louie’s job to drop the bombs over the correct targets. His plane’s was nicknamed Superman.

One day Louie and his pilot – Phil – were ordered to go on a search and rescue mission in another plane that had the nickname the Green Hornet. Superman had been terribly damaged in a battle and so wasn’t available for them to fly. As Phil, Louie and the rest of a motley crew of airmen flew away in the Green Hornet, they had no idea it would be the last flight for all but two of them.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (the adapted for young adults edition) is a gripping tale of what war time is really like. Not only does Louie’s plane crash in the Pacific Ocean where he undergoes extreme thirst and hunger, but he and Phil are captured by the Japanese and endure unimaginable horrors in their prisoner of war camps.

Anyone interested in World War II, prisoner stories, survival stories, or just an amazing story will be captivated by this book.

Recommended for 8th graders and up due to the details of torture in this book.