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!

Death – Everywhere June 30, 2014

At first, the reports from out East didn’t bother too many people in Oregon. After all, Pennsylvania and New York seemed almost a world away. It seemed that way to Cleo,imgres who was too busy trying to figure out what she should do with her life. After all, she couldn’t just hang around her brother Jack’s house forever, could she? But day after day, she felt no passion that inspired her.

When Jack and his wife, Lucy, go away on an anniversary trip to San Francisco, Cleo is forced to go stay at her school as a boarding student. Oh, the misery of living at the school full time. For the seventeen year old, nothing seems worse.

Until a trainload of soldiers from the east arrives, and the dreaded Spanish Flu is no longer just a problem to be dealt with in the east; now it is on Cleo’s doorstep. Quickly the city of Portland changes. Cleo’s school closes and Cleo, in a quick and crazy decision, decides to leave the school and go home by herself. There in the quiet of her home, she sees an ad placed by the local Red Cross, asking for help with the sick. Cleo, not even quite knowing why herself, goes to see what she can do to help.

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier looks at a time in our history where a flu so devastating struck so many millions around the world. It was made more deadly by the fact it was happening during World War I, and the contagion spread throughout the world. Cleo, like so many of her time, had to watch the strong and healthy brought low by this terrible flu, and wonder, if she was next.

Recommended for anyone interested in the early nineteen hundreds, World War I, and historical fiction in general. For grades 6 and up.


Mother Knows Best…or Does She? June 9, 2014

imgresGrowing up helping her mother run a porcelain doll shop in a coastal town in California might not be the most exciting life, but it is the only one Caymen knows. Now that she is starting her senior year of high school, she is having to make some decisions about her future. She knows her mother relies on her to help run the store, which always struggles to make enough money to keep them afloat. All her life, Caymen has heard the story of how a rich boy ran out on her mother, leaving her pregnant with Caymen and little else.

So when a rich boy comes in to pick out a doll for a relative, Caymen instantly recognizes his “type.” The type her mom has always said is no good. Quickly though, and without Caymen even realizing it, the rich kid, Xander, is working his way into Caymen’s life, and slowly, into her heart.

However, how can she talk to her mom about this “rich” kid who stands for everything her mother can’t?

Caymen looks for a way to keep her mom happy, herself, and at the same time begins to dream of a future that doesn’t include working full time in a doll shop. The question is, can she make that dream a reality, or does life always get in the way?

The Distance Between Us  by Kasie West is a great romance that shows how what you want and what your parent(s) might want can make for a pretty rough road to travel.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Blog This! June 2, 2014

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:50 am

What might it be like to have every moment of your life documented from the time of your birth? The exciting parts, the boring parts, the embarrassing parts? Welcome to the world of Babylicious, aka, Imogene. From the time she was born, Imogene has been the star subject of her mother’s online blog called When Imogene was younger she enjoyed feeling special and being recognized when she and her mother went out in public, or to a bloggers convention. Bimgresut now that she’s in 9th grade, things that used to be okay for the world to know, now are things Imogene would like to keep private. After all, her whole school knows way more about her than she’s comfortable them knowing. Imogene has tried, in her own way, to get her mother to understand now that she’s older, it feels more like an invasion of privacy than simply sharing their lives with, oh, thousands of strangers around the world.

So when Imogene’s English teacher says the class will be required to create a blog to record their thoughts, at first Imogene and her best friend, Sage, rebel. Sage is also the product of a blogger mom, and understands totally the pressures of being in the public spotlight and how their whole lives seem to be taken over by “the blog.” However, soon the girls realize this might be their opportunity to really give their moms a taste of their own medicine. What better way to get their parents to realize what it feels like to be talked about and examined by anyone and everyone than to make their student blogs about their moms?

As much as Imogene hopes this new tactic will get her mother to understand her point of view, she realizes things aren’t always as black and white as she’d like. She and Sage begin to disagree on how best to get their moms’ understanding, and in the process Imogene finds herself having to navigate her own way.

Don’t call me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley  is a fun, often poignant, story of a girl growing up, trying to define the line between what can be public knowledge and what should be private.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.