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!

Imagine Growing up in the Woods…Alone January 30, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 7:02 pm
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imgresWhat would it be like to be completely by yourself. Surviving by your wits alone, in the cold, rain, snow, heat? No one to talk to, no one to help you? For one boy in the late 1700s, this was his reality. In a small village in France, in 1798, a boy was captured, a wild boy. He appeared to be around the age of 9 or 10, and he seemed totally wild. He wouldn’t speak, sniffed everything that he wanted to eat, and bit at people that were trying to keep him. Quickly, he escaped and ran back into the woods.

This was repeated several times till, finally, he was caught and taken away from the woods he loved. Over the next thirty years, he would spend most of his time in Paris, under the care of a doctor named Itard who thought it was possible to teach him to speak. Could a boy who ran free for years ever be civilized? Did that make the boy less human?

Wild Boy by Mary Losure is the fascinating true story of a boy found roaming in the woods, completely alone, surviving in the wild, and how his life is changed forever after coming into contact with…humans.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


How Well Can You Keep a Secret? January 28, 2014

She doesn’t understand at first, why she must keep certain things a secret. Growing up in Paris with a loving mother and father, Odette’s life is wonderful. She gets to stay after school with her godmother and father, who dote on her endlessly. However, even as Odette’s life seems perfect, the outside world isn’t. Often, her father and mother whisper into the night about Germany and Hitler and the Nazis. Odette isn’t sure at all what these things mean, being a little girl.

imagesHowever, one day her father says he is going to join the French army to stop the German forces from taking over France. He is captured, and Odette and her mother go visit him in prison. But that is the last time they are able to see him. Not long after that, Odette’s mother tells her they must begin to keep secrets. One of those secrets is Odette must go live in the French countryside with other people. The biggest secret Odette must keep is one that could lead to her death if she doesn’t. The fact that she is a Jew must never come out, or it could mean capture for her and the people sheltering her. Can she keep this incredible secret?

Odette’s Secrets by Maryann MacDonald shares the story of a little girl caught up in the terrifying events of World War II. This story is based on the real life of a woman who was sheltered during WWII in France, and actual photos of her and her family add to the story. This novel in verse is a great book for anyone looking to learn more about the war and another Holocaust survival story.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Can you be Wicked and Just? January 23, 2014

Leaving everything behind that she loves, Cecily travels with her father to the countryside of Wales. Her father, a younger brother, has no hopes of inheriting the beautiful landimgres where Cecily has spent her life. With the promise of low taxes and land, her father is lured to the recently settled land of the Welsh. However, the Welsh in the late thirteenth century are chafing under the strict rules and taxes the newly settled English are forcing upon them.

Cecily isn’t happy. She wants to be in charge of her own house, but her father still looks at her as a little girl, and the woman in charge of their house, scoffs at her. Worst of all is the servant girl, Gwinny – as Cecily calls her – with her clear distain for the new English girl. Cecily has no idea that Gwenhwyfar’s family once held claim to some of the same land now occupied by the English.

Life isn’t easy for the Welsh, but as a famine begins to wear away at everyone, the differences between the Welsh and English are exacerbated. Cecily delights in abusing her power over one Welsh boy, not knowing he is actually Gwenhwyfar’s brother. Gwenhwyfar has a hard time seeing Cecily as anything more than a brat come to reek more havoc on her already stressful and harrowing existence.

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats is a detailed look at the lives of the haves and the have not’s during the late Middle Ages. At times the reader will wonder if these two girls will ever reach a common ground, and if so, at what cost?

Recommended for 8th grade and up due to the complicated vocabulary used to depict life at this time. A great read for anyone interested in historical fiction, especially set in the Middle Ages.


Ready for Anything??? January 15, 2014

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 2:26 pm
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imgresI’m a HUGE historical fiction fan. I know that isn’t typical for most readers, but I love history. In a time of so many series, there are a few that I believe have been overlooked. Once such is the series about Mary ‘Jacky’ Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer.

Mary is feeling beyond hopeless. When she loses both her parents and her sister in a matter of two days to a dreadful disease in London, 1797. Luckily, for Mary, she is accosted after she runs out of the only home she’s ever known, and right into the hands of Charlie’s gang. Charlie’s gang is a misfit group of children lost to the streets. Her life continues on with the gang for some time until one night, things go badly for Charlie. Mary sees a chance to change her life forever. The question is, can she pull it off, will she be strong enough, and if she does take the chance, what happens if she is discovered?

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer is the first book in this fast paced, exciting, swashbuckling adventure. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to laugh and gasp at this incredible character.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.


8th Grader Jeremiah’s Top 4 Books of 2013 January 10, 2014

1.Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper


I liked it because I thought I could relate to it because I knew a friend who played sports and died in a car crash .

2.Forged By Fire by Sharon Draper


The only reason why I read this book was because I read other books by her and they were good and this book was great.

3.The Recruit by Robert Muchamore


I thought it was great how a boy who was good at math but never showed it and who always got in trouble got in a secret organization.

4.The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick


I read this for a class book and really enjoyed it because it was so detailed.


Who Will Come Out on Top? January 5, 2014

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — lpitrak @ 4:05 pm
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ImageThis final book in Lu’s Legend trilogy has all of the intrigue, action, and danger found in the first two volumes.  June has been chosen by new Elector Anden to serve as one of three Princeps-Elect, his closest government advisors.  Meanwhile, Day is acting as a commander in the military, but suffering from severe headaches and black-outs as a result of the experimental tests run on him by the government.  Day and June have not seen each other since the conclusion of Prodigy, and now June is urgently requesting to see Day.  However, despite his continued love for her, the favor June has to ask might be too much….  Like Lu’s previous books, this one is intelligent, fast-paced, and heartbreaking. 


How Much Can You Lose? January 2, 2014

Growing up in southern Sudan while the civil war raged was difficult to say the least. Viola doesn’t even remember her father, and her mother and grandmother struggle to keep the soldiers at bay in their small home which becomes a gathering place for many other widowed women in the community. Viola hasn’t been able to attend school since the northern Sudanese took over, but she does try to keep things going at home with her younger brother Francis.

imgresBut how can you live when even a boy trying to protect you soldiers on the street can be killed in front of your eyes? Something horrible happens to Viola, and her mother realizes they must leave. After a few false starts, Viola, her mother and little brother begin the flight to America. After much trauma, Viola is able to begin a new life, however, nothing is what she thought it would be.

The Good Braider by Terry Farish is a harsh, realistic look at immigrants and the situations that can bring people to America. It shows the huge adjustments that immigrants are forced to make in order to assimilate to a new country and culture.

Due to the realistic situations Viola and her family encounter, this book is recommended for mature 8th graders and older.