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!

#mynewfavoritebook Review by Mrs. Homel October 18, 2021

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

All it took was one social media post to change Rachel and Kyle’s lives forever! Hiding behind her phone, Rachel secretly snaps a picture of Kyle looking all cute in his Burger Barn uniform. He’s so cute, she decides to send the picture to her friend on social media. One reflit (share) turns into another and another, and then Rachel can’t even keep up with her notifications!

After work, Kyle turns on his phone and he has no idea why he has thousands of messages. He finds his picture, which he had no clue was ever taken, plastered all over Flit! (Think fake Instagram or Snapchat)

One post has thrown Rachel and Kyle into the spotlight and they’re now famous…so famous a big talk show host has plans for both of them. Being suddenly famous does come with some perks, but it also brings out some haters and bullying, online and at school.

download-6#famous by Jilly Gagnon is great if you love stories about social media and the drama of having a crush, you have to read this book! It does have some mature content because the characters are in high school.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Bells are Ringing, In a Bad Way October 4, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:31 am

Football is what has kept him sane for years now, and without it, Isaiah can’t see how he will be able todownload-1 focus and function. He has become such a good player that he is being recruited by Cornell, but he hasn’t told his parents yet. And that is because of what happened to his sister years ago, and why Isaiah needs football.

All that changes though, when he gets hit, bad. So bad, that he hears witches screaming in his head and he doesn’t even remember getting up and going home that night. It scares him though. Because is this game, and it is a game after all, worth everything?

As Isaiah struggles to figure out who he is without the sport, he begins to realize maybe he isn’t anything without it. And if he is forced to give it up? What then?

Cracking the Bell by Geoff Herbach gives a very personal look at how tragedy can lead to some unexpected good things, and what to do when that good thing might be taken away. How do we redefine ourselves, without getting lost along the way?


Say Whaaaattt? September 13, 2021

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

download-2Liliana is floored when she is called to the office of her high school at the beginning of her sophomore year and finds out she has been accepted into the METCO program. The only problem is that Liliana has no idea what the METCO program is. So she goes to talk to her guidance counselor, who, it just so happens is a graduate of the METCO program. Liliana is shocked to discover that her parents signed her up for this opportunity when she was young and her name has final come up. The METCO program takes kids from the urban areas of Boston and puts them into schools in the surrounding suburbs. The white surrounding suburbs. Liliana, a proud Latina, isn’t sure she wants this “opportunity.”

But things are messed up at home. Her father has gone missing. Although, it soon becomes apparent that her mom knows where her dad is, but doesn’t want to share that information with Liliana and her younger twin brothers. Her mom is STRESSED out, understandably so, but Liliana has no idea how to help out since she doesn’t know what is really going on.

On top of all of that, her oldest and best friend Jade is so consumed with her boyfriend she never seems to have time for Liliana anymore – even when Liliana needs someone to talk to about this new school she’s going to in Westburg. The other METCO students at Westburg certainly don’t go out of their way to be welcoming, so Liliana finds herself floating in a world that she doesn’t fit in at all. Or so she thinks at first.

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon is a current and realistic look at how a person can be pulled in so many different directions and struggle to find themselves as the world keeps on spinning. This book does have some continuity issues – but overall is a good read and most readers won’t be bothered by those issues.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Who Was It? August 30, 2021

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

When she heard the news, it took her breath away. She was just getting to know Grant, and now, suddenly, he’sdownload-1 dead. Shot by one of his best friends on a hunting trip. But who did it and why? Kate, and everyone else, can’t wrap their heads around the fact that one of the most popular boys in their small community has died and no one is saying who pulled the trigger.

But people, especially Grant’s parents, want answers. What happened in the woods that morning where five best friends went out and only four lived to tell the tale. But that was the problem. No one was talking. Kate is in a unique position because her senior year internship has her working for the District Attorney’s Office and the lawyer she helps out has just been charged with figuring out who did pull the trigger.

Kate has her own reasons for wanting Grant’s killer brought to justice since she had been getting so close to him. So close that she was almost at the party the night before he died. But the closer she gets the more she uncovers about Grant, and he certainly wasn’t who she thought he was. Still, can she help find the killer before someone else dies?

This is Our Story by Ashley Elston is a really good read that will have some nice turns in it for you. While you might not guess who the killer was, in many ways it doesn’t matter, since the read to get there is so enjoyable!

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


Struggle to Survive August 9, 2021

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

download-2That summer was a hot one, just like all the others in Mississippi. Yet Rose Lee was used to the heat, even if she never got USED to it. It just was. But that July, she and her brother Fred Lee got bad news, news that they should have seen coming but didn’t. Their mother, who had married a man to take care of his younger children, was moving to Chicago, without them. Not that they had seen their mother much since she’d married Mr. Pete, but still, now she was moving to Chicago, without them, and didn’t seem to have any issues with it. Of course, she’d already left them with her parents, Papa and Ma Pearl, about seven years ago, so why should she start acting like a mother now? Still Rose is terribly hurt by the fact that her mother is showing she obviously doesn’t care about either her or Fred.

And after that big hit, they just keep coming. The summer turns out to be one shock after another, and all of them are unpleasant and show how different some of her own family feel about events happening in and around Mississippi. Ma Pearl never lets Rose forget she is NOT the favored grandchild, not even close and makes references to her dark skin as if it is something to be ashamed of, and makes Rose think bad things about herself.

When horror strikes close to home, Rose feels like her connection to Mississippi and home is slipping away, and all she wants is to get away as fast as possible because she can’t see herself surviving in such a place. Is it possible to be happy when she is surrounded by so much despair and horrible history, past and present?

Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson is a look at the south during the murder of Emmett Till and how many people were living with the constant battle between wanting to do what they knew was right, and being terrified of how it could come back down on them and their families. It shows how not everyone felt the same way about how to move forward and how that could and did create family conflict and how if things were going to change, it might just have to come from the younger generation.

Recommended for grades 7 and up due to authentic language usage.


And So it Began July 26, 2021

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Race, in America, is a complicated and divisive subject. How can we talk about it, if we don’t exactly know how it alldownload-1 came about, and where so many of the ideas we still believe today actually had their origins?  When we look back at the history of enslaved people in our country, how is it that so many beliefs that were started hundreds of years ago to justify this horrific economic machine are still around, over 150 years after the abolition of the official practice?

Hopefully, you’ve heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, but what about W.E.B. Du Bois and Angela Davis? And did you know that the guy who played a big part in the Salem Witch Trials, also played a huge role in shaping how people who lived in the colonies viewed people who were black and the ideas about enslaving people? My guess is you didn’t, and neither did I – at least about Cotton Mather – the Salem Witch guy. Even the movies you might have grown up with helped to reinforce many of the ideas that are centuries old, and still have tremendous power to this very day.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi says it isn’t a history book, but it certainly does give you a history of how ideas and people have shaped the institutions and systems that we have in place today which keep racism alive in America.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Vanilla and Chocolate Make? July 14, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:03 am

downloadIt has been a while since her parents got divorced, but it doesn’t mean that things are easier now for Isabella (as her dad calls her) or Izzy (as her mom calls her.) See, they can’t even agree on what to call their own child! Every week, Izzy finds herself in a new home – either living with her dad or her mom. It is hard to feel like she truly belongs anywhere. And now that she’s in 6th grade, she is realizing there are some things harder than just knowing whose week it is, but how does she, a child of a white mother and a black father, fit in to the world around her.

Life just keeps seeming to get harder and more complex for Izzy. She plays piano and has a huge recital coming up that she is both excited for and a bit stressed out about and on top of that, something really horrible happens at school that makes her begin to wonder if she knows people at all or what they stand for. What does she believe and stand for? And her parents can’t seem to agree on anything, big or small and it is all becoming way too much for her to handle – why can’t they see that?

Blended by Sharon Draper is a great book for anyone. It shows how we all struggle, yet looks at the very real racial problems in our country and how our biases can have serious consequences.

Highly recommended for 6th grade and up.


Finding Yourself June 21, 2021

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

downloadAllie is struggling after witnessing her father being the victim of prejudice on an airplane flight to visit relatives. She has always known people are prejudice, but to see it happen right in front of her, was very hard. Her father was raised Muslim and still identifies as that, even though he isn’t religious and doesn’t practice it. Her mother converted to Islam when she married Allies father. Allie’s dad never bothered to teacher her Arabic, so she can’t talk with her own grandmother, and this has been bothering Allie more and more. Where does she fit into the world?

Allie decides she wants to pursue learning about her religion, Islam. She reaches out to some people at school and as she dives deeper into learning, she finds herself with more and more questions. She worries she is hiding too much. From her father, from her friends, and maybe especially from the boy she is beginning to like, a lot, named Wells.

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney is a fabulous read focusing on what it feels like to be on the outside of anything and wanting to be a part of something greater than yourself.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.


Feeling Alone June 7, 2021

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Aza has a power that not many people do anymore. She has full magic. That means she has more power and abilitydownload-2 than most everyone else – but with power comes a price. When she uses her full magic, she hurts, and so does the earth. Hundreds of years of casters using full magic has been destroying the earth, so full magic casters are against the law – or at least they aren’t supposed to use full magic because of the damage it causes.

Still, Aza doesn’t see a way to NOT use her magic. Her older sister, Shire, died using her full magic and when she died so did the major source of income for the family. Her parents are struggling to keep their tea shop going in Lotusland, and Aza knows it is only a short matter of time before the gang lord who controls their sector of the city comes asking for payment. Payment that Aza knows her family can’t come up with.

As Aza is searching for ways to help her family, she comes across a tournament where full magic casters are competing against each other for a major monetary prize. She realizes she has to try to win for her family’s sake, especially after she learns of a tie her older sister Shire had to the tournament. What she doesn’t know is if she can pay the the ultimate price the competition will have on her.

Caster by Elsie Chapman is reminiscent of quite a few books out there – Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent – to name a few, but if that is what you are looking for, and with magic to boot, check this book out. If you enjoy this book, Aza’s story continues in Spell Starter.


Aging Out May 24, 2021

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

downloadMuiriel was named after the hospital she was abandoned at. To be precise, the John Muir Medical Center in California. And since she was a girl, well, they tried to keep it close. And when her social worker, Joellen, gave her a book about her namesake for her 8th birthday, it, in many ways changed the direction of her life. If she had any say in it, that was. Because John Muir was a famous naturalist, who spent most of his life outdoors and trying to protect the wilderness we have today – places like Yosemite. Still, to a little kid of 8, probably not the best gift, or so she thought at the time.

Now Muir is about to embark on her last placement in foster care, because she is 17 and will be aged out of the system when she turns 18. And then she will truly be on her own. But her rules have been carefully in-place for herself for many years, and she believes she will survive this placement as well as she has the others. Don’t make any friends or connections, don’t cause trouble and always be ready to leave.

However, almost as soon as Muir sets foot on the only place Joellen can find to put her – a small island off the coast of Seattle, Muir begins to break her own steadfast rules. Her foster mother, Francine seems almost too good to be true, she makes a friend almost immediately and then she meets Sean at a dream job. What is happening to her well planned out life? Muir feels herself moving in a totally different direction and she’s not sure how to stop or if she even wants to.

What I Carry by Jennifer Longo is an amazingly good book about a subject that everyone should know about and most don’t even think about. What happens to all the children who never get adopted and “age out” of foster care? Where do they go, who can they depend on and what will their lives be like? Truly a wonderful book.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.