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!

Strapped In and Trapped June 22, 2018

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 5:50 pm

This is the year for sure that Rachel thinks she’ll be able to start on her soccer team. She’s download-1.jpgbeen working so hard and she just knows it is possible. Starting 7th grade, starting on the team (maybe even as a forward,) everything seems to be right on track.

Except for one thing – her back. Rachel’s mother had scoliosis and had to have back surgery to straighten her spine. Rachel has been diagnosed with it, but up until this point, hasn’t had to do anything other than go for uncomfortable doctor appointments every six months since she was 8. All that changes before school starts when the doctor tells her she will need to wear a brace, 23 hours a day to prevent her spine from curving to the point where she’ll need surgery. For Rachel, this could mean the end of her soccer dreams, and perhaps just as devastating, if not more, the loss of her self as she tries to navigate what it means to be different and limited physically.

Braced by Alyson Gerber takes an honest look at how something can change your life quickly, and it also gives readers a feeling for what it is like to be on the inside of things and suddenly feel like that has changed.

Recommended for 6th graders and up.


Headline Only Tells Half the Story June 19, 2018

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 5:42 pm

downloadWhat we show to the world, and what is happening in our lives can be very different. Just because we look, or sound, or even act in one way, shouldn’t define everything about us.

Darrian Lopez lives in the world of headlines – because he wants to be a reporter someday. Each time he sees something or an event, he tries to encapsulate it into a headline. However, when he tells his counselor what he wants to be, he finds himself in Mr. Ward’s poetry class! Darrian doesn’t understand why he’s been placed in this class, when he wants to write about what really happens in the world – not fluffy poetry.

Darrian learns quickly though, that poetry might just be the ultimate truth as he gets to know his classmates and their lives through their poetry.

Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes is the long awaited and long hoped for sequel to Bronx Masquerade. For fans of the first book, you’ll be pleased Grimes has kept the same format, giving us glimpses of many different lives and showing how we are all more alike than different. This is a quick read and if you enjoy poetry, or not, still worth your time!

Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.


Drown Black Boy, City in Riot May 30, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 11:02 am

Even though I live near Chicago and know quite a bit about history, this whole subjectdownload had completely eluded me until I read this book. In 1919, after years of migration and immigration into Chicago, tensions between black migrants and immigrants from Europe were heating up. For over close to fifty years, the stock yards of Chicago had supplied much of the area with meat and with the invent of refrigerated train cars, the reach grew more each year to include most of the country. Unions were trying to form to increase wages and improve the horrible working conditions. The owners of the slaughter houses however, didn’t want to have to pay more, and with new immigrants looking for work, most of the time, they didn’t have to. When the unions were able to get something going and strike, often there were blacks who would step across the strike line to take the jobs.

Even over fifty years after the end of the Civil War, blacks were still viewed as second class citizens. Most employers would give jobs to immigrants who didn’t speak English over black citizens so when a job opened up, blacks were quick to take it.

When World War I erupted and the United States joined the war, many young men left Chicago and left thousands of open jobs at the stockyards. With a war on, meat was needed in greater quantities than ever, so many blacks from the South were encouraged to migrate North to Chicago where jobs were available for the taking.

After the war ended, unions were still trying to get better wages and working conditions and many returning soldiers displaced blacks who had been working for the past few years. Plus, many blacks didn’t feel that the unions would equally represent them and were hesitant to join, and immigrants didn’t trust blacks who didn’t want to join them in the union. All these tensions led to fights between the groups as well as crowded living conditions.

This all came to a head one August afternoon in 1919 when a four black boys were out swimming in Lake Michigan and drifted down toward a predominately white beach. A few white boys on the beach began yelling at the boys to drive them away and then threw stones at them. At first the black boys were ducking under their raft but one boy was hit in the head with a stone and he drown. Right away, all the years of resentment boiled over and riots consumed parts of Chicago for days.

A Few Red Drops by Claire Hartfield is an engaging, and interesting read about a little known part of our history. While the book is about the race riot in Chicago, the main portion of the book is describing all the events, circumstances and issues that created the atmosphere that allowed the riot to erupt.

Recommended for students in grades 7 and up.


Blood in Kansas May 22, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:36 am

Not much in Kansas, except for wind and cows. Yet this is where Carly’s family has moved, three years ago, when her father felt that life out East had become too complicated. He was a defense lawyer and too many people thought he shouldn’t be representing people they felt were clearly guilty.

Carly has struggled to make friends and not feel like the complete outsider that everyone in the small town of Holcomb treats her as. She desperately wants to be friends,

downloadbest friends, with Nancy Clutter, a popular vivacious girl with an adorable boyfriend. But Nancy has made it pretty clear that Carly isn’t best friend material. Still, Carly holds out hope when Nancy asks her to secretly tutor her in Math. Carly keeps her fingers crossed that soon, Nancy will see her as a good friend.

Before that can happen though, tragedy strikes the small town of Holcomb. All members of the Clutter family still living at home, including Nancy’s younger brother and both parents, are found brutally murdered in their home on a November Sunday morning in 1959. Now Carly has lost all chance of becoming better friends with Nancy, and she grieves for what could have been. Everyone in town begins to suspect everyone, but especially Nancy’s boyfriend, Bobby. Carly can’t believe Bobby could have done such a horrible act, and decides she will set out to clear his name. Only nothing goes as hoped or planned.

No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear is a fictionalized account of a real murder that happened in 1959 of a family in Holcomb, KS. While the reader can feel for Carly as the outsider, the story tends to jump around and it is often unclear why Carly has such a strong motivation for doing what she does. It would have been nice for the author to include a more detailed author’s note – with more about the crime rather than focusing on why the author felt compelled to write about the incident. It could have been an interesting read for students beginning to get into the genre of True Crime or other fictionalized accounts of real events. Still, some students might be drawn to it simply because of the topic.

Recommended for students in 7th grade and up.


Life in Prison May 14, 2018

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 10:01 am

Each Saturday like clockwork, Trell and her mother Shey head to Walpole to visit Trell’s father who is incarcerated for the murder of a young girl. He has no possibility of parole. He will live the rest of his life in prison. However, he says he didn’t do it and there were people who were with him at the time of the shooting. So why is he locked up in prison after being found guilty at a trial? Trell has grown up with the story of how her father didn’t do this horrible crime. But it seems hopeless because it can be so difficult to get a new trial.

Then Trell’s father hears about a young lawyer who might be willing to take a look at his case. Things start to

get moving after that point – or so Trell hopes. Yet each time they feel they are making steps in the right direction, something comes up to slow or stop everything. Finally, as a last ditch option, Trell’s family and the lawyer decide to try to get a reporter interested in the case. However, it has been almost 15 years since the murder and people who were involved at the time have moved on, or so it seems.

Trell by Dick Lehr is a fascinating look at a wrongful conviction and all the things that could happen to land an innocent person in prison. It is made even more powerful by the fact the author was a reporter involved in a similar case of a wrongfully accused and convicted man.

Highly recommended for 7th graders and up.


Frozen Charlotte Book Review by 7th Grader Leslie May 10, 2018

f.jpgFrozen Charlotte is by Alex Bell.

This story is about a group of girls who live in a boarding school and they play with a doll called Frozen Charlotte.  The doll was created when the school mistress gave them scraps of fabric and ribbons from the sewing room. They practice their sewing skills by making little dresses and bonnets. They also made a doll with the scraps. The doll is possessed with a spirit and becomes a killer.  

I really like this book because it’s based on a horror book and I like to watch horror movies when I am at home or at the movie theater.



Perks of Being Wallflower Book Review by 7th Grader Ali

p.jpgPerks Of Being A Wallflower is the best book I have read so far. I loved the book because I can relate to what happened to Charlie and I loved the stories he tells. I read the book over and over and I still can’t stop reading it because it is so good. When I found out what Charlie’s aunt did to him, I was in awe. I read the book many times because it was hard not to. When I found the author made  more books I was excited. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is the best book ever. 

Charlie was depressed with his life because his aunt Helen past away on his birthday while she was going to get his birthday present. Charlie had trouble fitting in at high school he had know friends until he went to a football game and met Sam and Patrick. Charlie had a huge crush on Sam since the day he met her. Sam left to go to college and that made him feel sad. At that point, Charlie wanted to end his life because he felt his aunt’s death was his fault. Charlie’s sister, Candace, told her friend to call the police and send them to her house.