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!

New House…New Horrors September 30, 2013

It was what she wanted, really, to move to a bigger town, with more people, more opportunities. So it seems so wonderful when imagesJade’s family is able to afford a house she never thought they could, in a nice suburb in a beautiful community. Quickly though, the kids at school let her know exactly why the house was so cheap. A girl fell to her death on the stairs in Jade’s new house.

Now her little brother is talking about seeing a girl in his room, people at school tell Jade that the girl was pushed to her death, and Jade’s relationship with her stepmother seems to be boiling over. Quickly, Jade realizes that her little brother isn’t just seeing an imaginary friend, but the ghost of the girl who lived in the house and died. Jade soon finds out, she isn’t a happy ghost either.

Can Jade convince the ghost to leave her littler brother and her family in peace? Or will Jade need to find the real killer and bring that person to justice before the ghost does something fatal to the living?

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington is a fast paced ghost story that will keep you turning pages to find out if Jade can indeed save her brother from a malevolent ghost, and perhaps gain a boyfriend in the process.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Learn About Far Away Places and People September 26, 2013

Filed under: Historical Fiction — bhomel @ 2:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy describes what life has been like for many females in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. Zulaikha is a young Afghani girl who was born with a cleft palate – a facial deformity. Her mouth and teeth are not shaped correctly and she hates not feeling and looking normal. Some of the boys in her village tease her and call her donkey face.

Zulaikha does not go to school. As a matter of fact, none of the females do. Their jobs are cooking, cleaning, going to the market, and taking care of younger brother and sisters. Zulaikha follows the grueling orders of her stepmother but wants something more for herself.

While American soldiers are stationed nearby, one of them notices Zulaikha. This soldier, with the help of his commanding officer, finds a doctor to help fix Zulaikha’s face. She knows this surgery will change her life – she could be pretty like her older sister and then find a husband some day.

Unfortunately Zulaikha faces several obstacles in becoming pretty, with her family, and figuring out what would make her life happier. Words in the Dust was written by a soldier, Trent Reedy, who spent time in Afghanistan while in the military. His story is based on real people he met and his experience there. This book inspired me to want to learn more about Afghanistan because of how different it is from the life we know in America.


Hunger Games meets….The Bachelor? September 24, 2013

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — ghahn2012 @ 10:34 am
Tags: , , ,

Dystopian novels are incredibly popular right now, most of us can’t get enough of them!  However, when you think about the genre, most are incredibly dark and depressing.  The world has ended as we know it, there wars, zombies, aliens, etc.  The Selection by Kiera Cass gives readers a lighter side to the genre; a love story.  The setup is still dyImagestopian, after many wars the world has moved to a strict caste system in which people are born into their rolls in society, but the caste system really just provides an interesting background for the story.  The main character, America, is selected along with 35 other young women to complete to marry the crown prince Maxon.  Initially, she rejects the game and the prince himself for the love of  a servant back home.  As the story progresses, both her relationships with Maxon and Aspen (the boy back home) change.

As with most books published recently, this is the first in a series.  I personally can’t wait to see what happens to Lady America in this twisted dystopian love story.

For lots more details both about the book and author, check out Kiera Cass’ website.


In a War Zone…Hope September 19, 2013

imgresMatt only knows that his best friend has been taken away to live in a detention center. He doesn’t understand why after 6 years living in England, his good friend Aman and Aman’s mother are suddenly considered a threat and must return to Afghanistan. A country they fled in terror years ago.

Turns out, Matt doesn’t really know much about his good friend. As Matt works with his Grandfather to help Aman and his mother out of the detention center, his Grandfather hears the story of how Aman and his mother were forced to live and hide in caves to avoid the Taliban. How a little dog showed up at their cave one night and became Aman’s best friend. This dog, whom he named Shadow, assisted Aman and his mother through enemy areas, always on the look out.

 Shadow by Michael Morpurgo is a quick read, and a great book for animal lovers. Sometimes war stories focus so much on the soldiers, it is easy to forget all the civilians whose lives are changed tremendously because of the conflict.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


39 Clues: The Maze of Bones September 12, 2013

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — ghahn2012 @ 2:09 pm

This series is not new, but upon discovering that Rick Riordan wrote the first book I decided to give it a shot.  The main characters of the book are a brother/sister team who are trying to unravel the family secret in order to become rich and powerful.  The problem is they are working against other members of the extended family who are trying to do the same thing…think rat race.  I love that the publisher hired all different popular YA authors to complete the series.  Book one was a fast-paced quick read and definitely made me want more.  The bonus is, since they aren’t brand new, you can just keep reading through the series!  I also found out there are all kinds of “extras” on the scholastic site that go along with the books.  If you love mystery and suspense, this could be a good series for you.