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!

When Mermaids Meet Humans… May 28, 2013

Forgive My Fins, Fins Are Forever, and Just For Fins

By: Tera Lynn Childs


Forgive My Fins, the first book in the series,was quite clever and fitting for the overall post. I will say this was an incredibly cute love story that captured it’s reader right from the beginning; all this coming from a non-fantasy and non-mermaid fan…typically. This book has it all:

-A secret the main character is hiding from everyone, including the guy that she loves and her best friend.

-Typical teenage drama and the feelings of liking someone so much and them not knowing.

-Characters you root for, especially the underdog Quince who you can’t help but love.

-An underwater, magical kingdom equipped with an evil cousin that will stop at nothing to see our main character suffer.

As you can see this book has a lot of different faucets and reasons to take you on the magical journey underwater.

After having finished the next two books, Fins are Forever and Just For Fins, I must admit that I am incredibly impressed. The writing got even better and I found myself not being able to put the books down. This series is definitely one I will purchase for my incoming 8th graders, and I think would be suitable for all middle school students. As the drama heightens and we see more of the mermaid, underwater adventures in the second two books, there is still a sense of realism that I believe anyone can connect to!

Happy readings 😉


Survival is the Name of the Game May 23, 2013

imgresImagine, being alone with your 7th grade teacher, every Wednesday afternoon, all school year. Horrifying, right? Well, that is what Hollis Hoodhood is faced with in 1968 when he begins 7th grade. See, everyone else leaves school on Wednesday afternoons in 7th grade for religious studies. Everyone except for Hollis because he is Presbyterian, not Catholic or Jewish. Quickly, Hollis realizes Mrs. Baker has it out for him, first by trying to get him killed by sending him outside to play football with some juvenile delinquents, and then secondly, by sheer boredom by forcing him to read Shakespeare.

In The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Hollis runs the gamut from trying to outsmart the 8th graders at school, his teacher, 2 rats that have gone rouge in the school, and then his own father at times. All this is set within the turmoil over the escalating violence in Vietnam, and hearing how more and more soldiers are being killed each day. Issues arise in Hollis’ own family with his sister and father constantly butting heads over politics and how to live one’s own life. Hollis has to make some pretty big decisions for himself over how much he will let others dictate his life and how much he wants to control it himself.

Parts of this book were laugh out loud for me, but to truly get this book you’ll need to be a reader with some knowledge of the climate of the 1960s. A book worth enjoying but not a light read.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Poison can be awesome ( If it is this book that is)! May 17, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — kbradley123 @ 10:42 am
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes you just need a book that is a little bit different. It might be a little quirk; a little dangerous perhaps? That is what I found in Poison by Bridget Zinn. I really enjoyed it and wished there was even more to this fun adventure!

Kyra is a Master Potioner at the age of 16.  She is also a wanted criminal. Kyra tried to kill the Princess Ariana but her arrow missed. The Princess also was her best friend until this dreadful incident. Now Kyra must find the princess before she destroys the kingdom or before Kyra gets arrested and thrown in the dungeon. Kyra’s only allies in this quest are wanderer Fred, his dog Langley, and a tracking teacup piglet that Fred names Rosie. Kyra had been having visions of the kingdom in ruins after the Princess’s marriage. Will Kyra be able to stop the destruction before it is too late?

This story is quirky and

not what you are expecting. The storyline takes lots of twisted and turns and the relationships of Kyra’s are explained quite nicely. There is also a lot of humor involved including chasing after a tracking piglet and underwear with a kitty on them. This story is never boring and always moving.

 If you liked fractured fairytales, or books by Vivian Vande Velde then you’ll feel right at home in this kingdom full of magic, poison, and intrigue.


The Futuristic World of The Bachelor May 13, 2013

The Selection (Book 1) & The Elite (Book 2) 

By: Kiera Cass

Finally, The Bachelor (a favorite reality television show of mine for years) has come into play in YA literature! I had heard about The Selection from many of my female students this year. They urged me to wait until the second book (The Elite) came out to read them right after one another, as Kiera tended to leave things in a cliff hanger. Sure enough, I could not put either book down when reading.


The Selection takes place in a futuristic world where the prince is looking for his princess. 35 girls are selected to go through a “Bachelor-type” process and fight for the prince’s love. All the while, the society is built into a caste system where girls from all castes are able to apply. Our main character, America, ends up being part of the Selection, despite having little confidence in herself, nor interest in the prince. America remained one of the only lower-caste young ladies in the process. She cleverly showed her true colors very early on to Prince Maxon, as she gave him the idea for her to be a “friend” in the process, since she was in love with someone else (Aspen); one who could help weed through the large amount of young ladies. However, as time progresses, America is beginning to become jealous of the other girls and their relationships with Maxon- and why would that be? Could she be interested in him as more than a friend? The first book ends up with Maxon cutting the Selection numbers down to The Elite, which are the six remaining girls.

As the story unfolds in Book two, I was interested to see where the story was going to go. I was thoroughly impressed with the writing, as it continued to entice me and want to keep reading, as there were many twists and turns along the way that I did not see coming. Without giving too much away, America finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, in a physical altercation with another contestant, fighting for her friend’s life and love, and standing up for herself and her country unlike anyone else has ever dared. Again, Book Two leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering just what will become of Maxon and who his princess will be. I know many of my students and I are counting down the days until Book three comes out!

**Also, it may be that there will be a television show on the CW of the book series. Fingers crossed!**


Class Clown, or Class Savior? May 10, 2013

imgresAlways in trouble and loving it! That is how Donovan views his world in middle school. He sees something and does it without any thought to the future or the possible consequences of his actions. Such is the case one afternoon in detention for participating in a spitball war. Of course, Donovan was the only one caught, so he’s serving time alone. After being lured out of a window by his friends, he looks at a statue of Atlas holding up the world (a very old statue in front of the school) and thinks to take a whack at it with a stick. Gee, what could possibly happen, right?

Well, the “world” rolls off of Atlas and down the hill, in the process breaking the wall of the gym, destroying the gym floor and almost running some people over. The superintendent of the schools looks out and catches Donovan red handed and guilty. But that is when things get pretty funny and turned upside down in Ungifted by Gordon Korman because instead of being punished, by a fluke, Donovan finds himself going to the gifted school in his district and thinking he might be able to hide out for a while. But the question is how long can a really average kid hide among a group of geniuses and what happens when it all falls apart?

As with most of Korman’s books, humor is front and center. Donovan is a likable kid who, frankly just doesn’t think. He wrangles his very pregnant sister into the class of genius kids, turns their robotic team inside out and introduces one to youtube with hilarious results. I literally laughed out loud at parts.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.