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!

Social Pariahs April 26, 2021

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

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

downloadRob and Meagan both have reasons to hate going to school. Rob’s is because of something his father did, and even a year latter all he wants to do is get in and out of school each day. What he has to deal with at home is more than enough. His interactions with everyone just seem too fraught with what happened and he wonders if everyone thinks he knew about it.

Meagan feels alone also, but it is because of something she did. She feels she has only her best friend left and that everyone is still mad at her for her actions and how they impacted others. Neither wants to have a partner for their math project, and as a result, they end up being stuck together. At first it is pretty rocky going, but soon they start to realize they have both misunderstood each other, and perhaps many others too. Can they find some common ground, and maybe help others in the process?

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer take a look at the idea that we all, in some way, feel that our actions must have huge consequences when sometimes they don’t and vice versa. How do we deal with the guilt of something we did, or how do we move past others perceptions when we actually didn’t do something? It can be complicated, but this is a such a great read and you as a reader will be pulling for both Rob and Meagan to figure it out!

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


To Be an Idol April 12, 2021

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

Candace can sing – like really sing! But the only people who know that are her two best friends because Candace’s parents (mostlydownload-1 her mom) don’t seem to approve of her singing. Her parents are both from South Korea and she knows they both had musical backgrounds. But they don’t do anything with it now in New Jersey. In fact, they own a connivence story – which seems to be about as far from music as they can get. While her brother seems to be fine with playing a sport, her parents would rather she be in orchestra playing a string instrument, like the viola. Which she hates, even if it makes them happy.

So when a large South Korean company decides to hold tryouts for a new K-Pop Idol girl group, she lets her two friends convince her to try out. After all, what are the chances she’ll get picked? Pretty good, it turns out! But at that point, Candace has no idea what kind of sacrifices she’ll have to make if she wants to be an Idol!  

K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee is a great look into a world that is perfect on the outside and designed to make you love what you see. But perfection comes at a cost. This is such a great book for anyone interesting the workings of the K-Pop industry and just what it takes to be an elite performer. 

Recommended for grades 7 and up. 


Be Aware All the Time March 29, 2021

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

Savannah is pretty sure she and her mom are going to be moving again. Because, once AGAIN, the man of her mom’s dreams download-2 12.45.11 PMhasn’t turned out to be the man of her dreams. And for Savannah, this move is going to be hard, because she likes it here. She is taking Kung Fu classes and loves it. She tries to get along with her mom’s boyfriend, but one night, just before she’s about to head off to Kung Fu class, she gets into a fight with Tim, and he takes her phone after accusing her of back-talking to him. Her mom is at work, so it is hard for Savannah to see how it won’t be just her word against Tim’s. And since they live in his house, she can only guess who her mom will side with.

At practice that night she worries so much about what will happen when she gets home, and when she and her mom will probably be leaving since the situation seems to be getting worse and worse by the day. She isn’t paying much attention when she leaves the studio.  And that turns out to be possibly the biggest mistake of her life.

The Girl in the White Van by April Henry is another great mystery from a great author. The perspectives that Henry gives the reader from all sides keeps the suspense and the storying moving at a break neck pace. Any reader who enjoys a good mystery and suspense book will inhale this story.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Does the Truth Matter? March 15, 2021

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

downloadAs the third year anniversary of her school’s mass shooting comes and goes, Lee is forced to relive the horror of that day when her best friend was shot and killed in the same bathroom stall with her. But now she’s hearing rumors that her friend Sarah’s parents are going to be putting out a book about her death. Lee knows the story of how Sarah died took on a life of its own after the shooting. And in that story is a lie. A lie that was repeated so often, it hurt one of the other survivors who was in the bathroom with them. Lee is faced with the dilemma. Is it sometimes just too late to speak up?

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger takes a deep look at what happens when we let one little thing slide by – something we think is little at the time, and yet how it can become something monstrous the longer we let it go. Yet the flip side is does the truth always have to come out?

Recommended for 8th grades and up due to content.
P.S. Notice anything interesting about the date of this release? Honestly, it just worked out that way! You’ll have to read the book to get it! 🙂


Hidden Darkness February 23, 2021

Filed under: graphic novel — lpitrakbromiel @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

Emma, Norman, and Ray are orphans, but they still have a seemingly-beautiful life. They live at Grace Field Orphanage, where they are protected, sheltered, and loved by the woman who runs the orphanage, whom all call “Mom.” Their only real rules are that they must never leave the gate surrounding the orphanage’s property– for their own safety, of course. All orphans are adopted by the time they reach the age of 12, and Emma, Norman, and Ray are 11. They cannot wait until they are adopted by kind and loving families! However, their story takes a dark turn when their friend Conny leaves her beloved stuffed bunny behind on the day she is adopted. The three friends break the rules and leave the orphanage gates in order to bring it back to her. What they find is horrifying, and makes them realize that none of the orphans have ever found a happy life. Rather, all who have been “adopted” have suffered a gruesome fate. Emma, Norma, and Ray are determined to get themselves, as well as all of their other friends, away from Grace Field Orphanage for good. To do, so, however, they will have to battle demons, witches, and their very scary “Mom.”

This amazing manga series has also been adapted as an exciting t.v. show, available on both Netflix and Hulu!


What Has Changed? February 22, 2021

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

download-1Ashley lives in her nice house in the Los Angeles suburbs where the most people worry about is when the wild fires come down and houses burn. Well, that is what people think. But just like most places and with most people, it doesn’t take too long looking under the surface to see issues. Like Ashley’s older sister, Jo. Jo has become a huge source of conversation at their household, and mostly because their parents don’t know what to do with her. Ashley feels like that has taken some of the pressure off of her, but really, how much pressure can be removed considering she’s a young black girl, growing up in Los Angels in 1992?

What Ashley doesn’t realize is that an event that happens not too far from her house (relatively speaking) is going to change how she views many things – her parents, her sister, her friends and most of all, herself. Rodney King was beaten savagely by police officers and it was caught on video tape. Ashley and her friends are shocked when riots break out across the city after the officers are acquitted of any wrongdoing at their trial. Ashley, who has been sheltered from some things because of her well to do parents and the life they gave their two daughters, often feels apart from the other black kids at her private school. Ashley has three close white girlfriends that she’s grown up with. Now, with the riots, Ashley, her friends and even her family are all coming up against ideas they have long held and are having to decide if they can still live with those thoughts.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed is like a look back in time and a look back to last week. Never does the author make the point of how little has changed when it comes to police brutality and people of color – or how this country, almost thirty years after the Rodney King event, are still grappling with issues of race. However, it is impossible as a reader to not see how little has changed. Children are still struggling with where they belong and who their friends are, really, and our society still hasn’t figured out how to move on from the legacy of slavery. This is a really great read.

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up due to content.


What if No One Sees You? February 8, 2021

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

download-1Emmie used to talk, a lot, according to her family. But maybe having two much older siblings made her stop trying to talk because she couldn’t get a word in edgewise, or maybe when they went away to college and her parents were working so much, she had no one to talk to!In any case, now that she’s in middle school, she doesn’t have much to say…to anyone, except her best friend Brianna. Thankfully they’ve been best friends since kindergarten. If it weren’t for Brianna, who would she talk to? This year though, Brianna is in hardly any of her classes, because she’s in the gifted classes and Emmie, well, isn’t! Still, they are able to have lunch together, thank goodness, and on this day they decide to write love notes to the boys they have been crushing hard on for years. After writing their true love on the notes, it is time to leave, but unfortunately for Emmie, her note goes astray.

Could there be anything worse in middle school than a love note finding its way into the hands of the person you like?

Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson is a fun, funny, and super honest look at what school is like for many students. Not everyone has tons of friends, is great at sports or anything specific, but they are still making it through too. This is a book that everyone can enjoy and find something to relate to.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


On the Way Home from School January 25, 2021

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

download-1A lot can happen on the way home from school. Just ask any of the kids that traverse the 10 blocks around their school – from the “Low Cuts” due to their hair styles to Fatima Moss – who records everything to Bryson Wills – who actually got to stay home from school the next day because of something that happened on the way home from school.

Look Both Ways: A Tale told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds lets us in on the often goofy, funny, tragic, exasperating, silly and just plain weird lives of middle schoolers. This book just goes to show, unless you know someone you never really KNOW what is going on in their life. 

If you are looking for a quick read, with some unforgettable characters, check out this book. It reads like a book of short stories with some connections between the stories

Recommended for grades 6 and up. 



Creepy Stories January 4, 2021

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Imagine walking home at night and seeing a little girl coming toward you. She’s lost and needs to be walked download-1home, but as you are walking her home, something seems off. Or what about finding someone to help you up your game of basketball, only to realize they aren’t all there. Or what happens if you “tease” the wrong woman and she turns out to be a witch.

The Puppet’s Payback and Other Chilling Tales by Mary Downing Hahn is a collection of creepy, strange and frightening tales of what can happen when you mess with the wrong people or put yourself in a bad situation! If you like ghost stories, creature stories or just the unexplained, this short quick read is for you!

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Time Is Ticking December 7, 2020

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

download-4Six students all walk into a high school, over a week before school is going to start for the year. Each one brings with them a backpack filled with important pieces that make up who they are. Or who they think they are.

Yet just after noon, the school is rocked by an explosion that shatters parts of the school. Diana, Frankie, Tad, Cas, Z and Rashid are all trapped in different parts of the school as explosion after explosion rips through their high school. Now, for some of them, their bags mean everything, and for others it will expose exactly who they are. As the students begin to pair up to help each other, it becomes known that one of them might be responsible for all the death and destruction. The question is who, and will the others be able to escape with their lives?

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau is a quick and exciting read that will have many guessing until the end.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.