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!

No Solution April 27, 2022

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 3:00 pm

downloadStevie can’t wait to get away from her parents – parents who don’t share the same beliefs that she does. They work for a Senator that Stevie can’t stand. So when she finds out about an old Cold Case – a murder that hasn’t really ever been solved, and it is at a school – she decides she has nothing to lose and applies to it. However, Ellingham Academy is filled with students who are exceptional in some way. And Stevie isn’t sure how she made it in. Other than the fact that she is pretty obsessed with the Ellingham murders.

As she meets her house mates, two other girls and three boys, she wonders if she’ll end up being true friends with any of them. Luckily, she was able to chat with two of them over the summer leading up to their arrival at the school, but still. As the school year gets underway, Stevie is fascinated to be at the place where the murders happened – or at least the kidnappings. She decides to make it her school project to solve the murders. But deciding something and doing it are two different things entirely!

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is truly devious in that the book creates not one but two mysteries to solve…and doesn’t deliver on either one of them. Instead the reader is left at the end of the book with two cases with some idea of what might have happened, but nothing clear cut. In fact it ends with the dreaded “to be continued.” Ugh. I have to say, as a reader I was seriously annoyed by this fact. However, if you as a reader, love series, then this is the book to start reading, because you will undoubtably want to read the next one.

Recommended for 8th graders and up.


Finding Your Way Back April 4, 2022

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

Mia’s family is moving back to the place she grew up in Vermont, after having lived in Boston for a fewdownload years. Mia is happy to leave Boston and its painful memories behind. Having been sidelined with a badly broken arm is enough to make anyone question going back into gymnastics, but Mia has no such issues. She wants nothing to do with the sport anymore. She’s just happy she gets to be back with her Gram again and helping her with the business she runs. Mia’s mom though, wants Mia to be “involved” this summer and that means Mia can’t just park herself in front of the television and watch all the seasons of her favorite shows.

What she doesn’t expect is to find two really awesome camps and a Gram who is convinced someone is trying to take down her business – a business that is about selling crickets for human food. After all, who on earth would want to do that? But as more and more strange things begin to happen, Mia thinks her grandmother is onto something. The question is, what can Mia do to help her Gram, and maybe even herself in the process?

Chirp by Kate Messner is part mystery, part finding yourself after something traumatic has happened but all of it is a good, fast enjoyable read!

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


What to Believe? March 14, 2022

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

downloadLeora and her mother have just had to say goodbye to her father and husband forever. He has just died. Now they both wait for the moment when they can bring him home, after the Weighing of the Souls ceremony. They won’t bury him, they will instead bring home his “skin book.” Everyone, after they die, has their skin removed and bound into a book. This book will then stay with the family forever. After all, everyone’s story is on their skin. For every important event in a person’s life, in Leora’s world, people get tattoos. Everyone’s story is there for everyone to read, on their skin.

Leora is reaching the end of her schooling and she must decide what she wants to do with her life. For as long as she can remember, she has wanted to be an inker – the one who puts tattoos on people. But with her father’s passing, life seems to not be so simple anymore. And when something happens that appears to put her father’s soul in danger at the ceremony to come, Leora is beginning to wonder if there is really anyone she can trust.

Ink by Alice Broadway is a great fantasy book. The concept of keeping all your ancestors skin books is an interesting and original one, and for me gave the book a bit of a creepy factor, but it was also intriguing. Leora is just like everyone else – trying to see where she fits in her world and what she ultimately believes. This is the first book in a trilogy.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Down Went the Plane February 28, 2022

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

Danny has been desperate to have a relationship with her father, Cougar, since her parents divorceddownload when she was seven years old. When she was little, she was in an accident that caused her to lose her eye, and she was traumatized from that. Prior to the accident, she wasn’t afraid of anything and was a little daredevil with her father. But afterwards, she became afraid of everything.

Her father went off to become an international star with his survival television show, and Danny has been left with her bitter, demanding mother. Danny can’t understand why her mother seems to hate her father so much. When her father calls and offers her a place on one of his shows for her 16th birthday (it is actually her 17th but her father doesn’t seem to realize that) with one of the biggest teen heartthrobs out there, Danny is super excited. Maybe now she’ll have the time to show Cougar how much she has been wanting to have some kind of presence in his life. And clearly, he wants her around, after all this time.

Danny has no idea that the father -daughter reunion she has been dreaming of will be taking place in the Amazon rainforest after their small airplane crashes in the jungle. How will she be able to prove to her father she is worthy of his love and admiration when she’s terrified of well, everything? To complicate matters, Gus Price, the teen heartthrob is there to witness every single misstep she makes. And of course there is the very real possibility that none of them will make it out alive.

The Speed of Falling Objects by Nancy Richardson Fischer is a survival story with lots of deadly moments and some death as well. At the heart is a girl who has been telling herself one narrative about her whole life and who she is because of it – only to realize she’s been reading the wrong script.

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up.


Another Year January 31, 2022

Filed under: graphic novel,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 pm

Jordan is back for another year at Riverdale Academy Day School and mostly he’s just worried that hedownload hasn’t grown much at all over the summer, and he knows his friends Drew and Liam have. He will have a decision to make at the end of this year too, should he stay or go to the Art school of his dream?

This year, his good friend Drew is struggling with dealing with a girl who really likes him, but he isn’t sure how he should interact with her, and when Drew and Jordan go to Liam’s house, Drew draws away from Liam. Liam comes from a super rich family, and Drew feels awkward. How can they be friends when they come from so very different circumstances. Add to that, the school is trying to acknowledge they need help with being more inclusive, but has some trouble getting there.

Class Act by Jerry Craft is a graphic novel that gives us a peak back into Jordan’s life from New Kid, while giving us more insight into his two good friends, Drew and Liam. Here’s hoping we’ll get to visit these guys more in the coming years!

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


A Dream Destroyed January 17, 2022

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

Ya Ta is the only girl in the family and her father and mother both support her desire to go to school. The only problem is, in Nigeria, you have to pay for schooling. So Ya Ta is very hopeful she will do well on a district test, earn a government scholarship and be able to go to a boarding school to further her education. If not, she’ll have to find a way to earn money to go.

Ya Ta is like many girls. She longs for a better life for herself and her family, she adores her older brothers and protects her little brother and even hopes for a marriage to the local pastor’s son, Silence. However, lurking in the shadows, never quite out of mind, is the threat of Boko Haram. They are a militant religious group bent on taking down the government of Nigeria. While Ya Ta is wary of them, she doesn’t think they will ever come close enough to her village for her to worry.

Until the day they do. She sees all her brothers and father killed, her best friends are rounded up with her and taken away to the dense forest. Her only hope is that she can hold out until help arrives, or figure out a way to escape.

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is fiction, but based on the accounts of many girls and women who have been taken by force by Boko Haram and indoctrinated into their beliefs or held for years against their will. The true horror of this story is that this group is still active in Nigeria and still holds many women and girls prisoner.

Recommended for grades 8 and up due the mature content and violence portrayed.


When They Fell… January 10, 2022

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

downloadThe twentieth anniversary of the Twin Towers falling and the attack on the Pentagon and the flight that went down in Pennsylvania just happened. This book In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers by Don Brown is a graphic novel that takes the reader onto the front lines of the disaster as it was happening, moment by moment, and then also looks at the aftermath for many of the first responders.

Some don’t know that a film crew was documenting the work of firefighters when the Twin Towers were first hit and so there is actual footage of the first moments when personnel learned of the crashes and the confusion as to what was happening. The book shows how some people were able to survive the falling of the towers and how many – most – did not.

If you are looking for a quick, powerful read, this is the book for you.

Recommended for grades 7 and up due to subject matter.


Taking Up Space…In A Good Way! December 13, 2021

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

Ellie has had to live with a horrible nickname since she was 5 years old. That was when her older sisterdownload-1 called her Splash, after she canon-balled into their swimming pool. After that point, everyone seemed to be making fun of or disparaging her about her weight. She hadn’t thought anything of how she looked until that moment. But for every moment afterwards, it seems that is all she thinks about.

Now she’s about to start 6th grade and her best friend is moving across the country, away from Ellie. All Ellie can think is that she has no support for school anymore. What will she do? And her mom seems to be ramping up her quest to get Ellie in for gastric bypass surgery. Her only ally appears to be her father.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps is a quick read about the struggles we face in our own families and in the world at large. And how everyone has something they worry about or wish could be different. The hardest thing in life is to learn to accept who we each are.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


A Meeting Gone Very Wrong November 29, 2021

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

downloadWhen the sharecroppers got together to discuss how to unionize, they knew they were doing something dangerous. After all, black people in the United States didn’t just decide they wanted to get a fair shake of things. After all, historically speaking, why would they think that was even possible? And in 1919, especially in the South, there was no way they were going to get fair prices for the cotton they had spent months growing and cultivating, unless they worked together. Even as they headed into the meeting at the church, they were nervous. Nervous enough to hire guards to be on the look out. But what happened was beyond their worst imaginings.

A white mob of law enforcement as well as other members of the town of Elaine, Arkansas began shooting into the church and ran off the people in it – including women and children. Many fled for their lives into the surrounding woods and fields and many more were gunned down as they tried to run. It is estimated around 250 blacks were killed over that night and the next few days.

Many black men were arrested and falsely charged with inciting a race riot. The white citizens of Elaine demanded that the black men be executed and if they didn’t get their way, they planned to storm the jail and lynch them all. A panel of white men decided they would hold trials quickly and find them all guilty of murder. It looked completely hopeless for twelve men in particular.

Enter Scipio Africanus Jones, a man who had been born into slavery and through perseverance and determination, became a self taught lawyer. Scipio Jones, by 1919 was a well known lawyer from Little Rock, and had gained the respect of quite a few white lawyers and judges in that area because he was just that impressive in his knowledge and his eloquence. Jones began what became one of the most important fights of his life, the fight to save the Elaine 12 from certain execution in the electric chair. His journey would be at a huge personal cost and would eventually lead him to the Supreme Court of the nation, and ultimately change the course of constitutional law and the application of the 14th amendment of the Constitution to black Americans.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Trapped at the Mall November 15, 2021

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

Miranda didn’t want anyone to know her secret. But then again, Amina, Grace, Parker, Javier and Cole all have something to eitherdownload hide, or be concerned about. What they don’t know is that all of them are going to be faced with some horrible decisions that will change the rest of their lives, forever. That’s because, while they are all at the mall for different reasons that afternoon, it soon becomes apparent when gunmen open fire, no one will be safe.

Miranda finds herself hiding in a back storage room with four other teens who are trying to stay alive as other people have been killed and taken hostage. Being locked away from everyone, and not knowing how to get out of the mall and who to trust, all the teens begin to question each other. Why was everyone in the mall? Did they have an ulterior motive? Parker is stuck by himself for a while until he can find his little sister Moxie. Was she killed in the first bursts of gunfire, or did she escape?

As time ticks by, the teens, hostages and gunmen begin to get uneasy. Who can you trust? Who is working for the gunmen, and who isn’t? And at what point do you just have to believe in someone and something, regardless of the past?

Run, Hide, Fight Back by April Henry is a nonstop action and adrenaline book. Even as you and the characters begin to find out things about each other that you might not want to believe, it keeps things moving and you wondering, who will ultimately survive this horrible tragedy.

Recommended for grades 8 and up due to some mature content.