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!

Looking for 60-year-old Skeletons? Fun! July 29, 2014

After his father died two years ago covering the conflict in Darfur as a photojournalist, Dylan can’t seem to connect with anyone or anything. He is hostile, angry, and just plain unpleasant to be around. His mom doesn’t seem to know what to do with him, and that is just fine with Dylan. After all, she doesn’t seem to blame his dad for going off and getting killed in some far off place hardly anyone even thinks about, so Dylan will be ticked off at the whole world enough for her too. One night he lands in jail after joy riding through a field in a stolen car. He doesn’t see what the big deal is, but his mom and the courts sure seem to have a problem with him.

imgresEnter his dad’s brother, Uncle Todd. Uncle Todd has some crazy idea to go find the Bomber plane his dad, Dylan’s grandfather, flew in during World War II. It was shot down in Papua New Guinea (PNG), and his grandfather was the only one of the crew who made it out alive, two weeks after the plane went down. For some reason, Uncle Todd thinks he can find the plane in the jungle after over 60 years, and that Dylan will become enlighten by the journey through bug infested foliage! Dylan thinks his uncle is nuts. No way does he want to tramp through some stupid jungle looking for a plane no one will be able to find anyway.

Contrary to all of Dylan’s best plans, he does end up in the jungles of PNG, and not long after arriving, he finds himself fighting for his very life, all because of his own actions.

Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen takes a kid who hates the world and gets set down in a situation where the world couldn’t care less. It is up to Dylan to decide if he really doesn’t care, or if there is something more to life.

Recommended for readers who enjoy survival stories and reading about characters who get their just deserts! For grades 6th and up.




What Would You Do if Your Best Friend Disappeared? July 14, 2014

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — lpitrak @ 2:11 pm

since you've been goneFor the last two years, Emily’s world has exploded into a bright exciting place because of her best friend Sloane.  Sloane showed up the summer before sophomore year of high school, adorned in vintage cocktail dresses and smoky eye makeup, with amazing stories and adventurous plans.  All of this changes the summer before senior year, when Sloane has just disappeared.  Left behind for Emily is a list of thirteen tasks, cleverly designed by Sloane to draw Emily out of her introverted shell.  Emily vows to complete the whole list before the summer’s end, positive it will lead her to Sloane, but is horrified at the idea of kissing a stranger, dancing until dawn, or buying the expensive backless dress she’s always loved at the thrift store.  Along the way, though, Emily realizes she has hidden reserves of strength, humor, and compassion, and finds a place for herself in the world without Sloane.  VERY highly recommended for all fans of Sarah Dessen’s smart, realistic fiction.


Bodies and Tweets, piling up! July 10, 2014

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 1:07 pm
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Thinking this new school will be her chance to break free of her old self, Brianna heads back to MacHale after winter break with mixed feelings. She thought going to the private arts boarding school would allow her to finally get out from under her mom’s thumb and get into acting. However, after the fall session, she isn’t sure anyone will take her seriously as an actress or even as a friend.

When she gets to her room for the beginning of the Winter session, she is surprised to find it full, of not only her roommate but some of the most influential upper classmen guys on campus. Including, Eric, the guy she’s been secretly crushing on since her arrival months ago. Eric is an amazing actor, and Brianna hopes her try out for Hamlet will land her a starring role, opposite Eric.

However, her hopes are quickly dashed when the old director dies, and a new teacher comes in. His style is very different and Brianna gets a role of being the play’s imgressocial media person. The new director wants her to tweet about the show and all the happenings. Very quickly though, the production is plagued by bad luck, and some cast members actual die! Brianna grows more paranoid as tweets from a mysterious person seem to predict these dire events. More and more of her classmates seem to think Brianna is the one behind these awful events.

Can Brianna figure out who is really behind the tweets and the murders before she finds herself caught in the murderer’s sights?

Followers by Anna Davies is a mystery that will leave you with some questions at the end, but if you want a mystery, grab this one for a quick read.


The truth shall set you free? Maybe. July 6, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead By: Ava Dellaira


Laurel has moved to a new school. She did after her sister committed suicide the year prior and Laurel needed a fresh start from the devastating act of losing her older sister. Starting as an assignment in Lauren’s English class, the format of the text is a series of letters to famous people from the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, and Amelia Earhart, whom she writes letters to. Embedded in the letters, Laurel tells the narrative that is her life, including her past, present, and future. Throughout the intense novel, we finally find out what exactly happened to Laurel’s sister, the new relationships that she attempts to form, and how her family and loved ones are coping with the lose of their beloved May.

In this griping and heart-wrenching novel, we really get to know all about the awful moments within Laurel and his sister’s lives, things that Laurel is afraid to share with most people around her, especially her teacher whom originally gave her the assignment. Laurel’s letter seem to be a way for her to begin coping through the process and finding the person who she really wants to become, which ultimately has quite a few more differences than she anticipated from her beloved sister May.


Sometimes it’s best for your well-being NOT to seek the answers to your questions…

Don’t Look Backimgres-2

By: Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Mean Girl” Samantha and her best friend disappeared. Samantha finds a way back to her family, but no one knows about her best friend’s whereabouts, not even Samantha. After the trauma that she underwent, Sam returns back to her everyday life without much memory and no recollection of what happened during her disappearance, not only to her but her best friend as well. As Sam is thrown back into her old life, she begins to question if the person she was, was really the person she wanted to continue to be. Each day she begins to piece together some parts to the puzzle and remembers bits and pieces, but are those smalls bits and pieces going to help her find her best friend? As Sam unfolds some portions of the mystery, she questions how far she’ll need to go to find the answers she seeks, and if they are really worth finding the answers in the end? Ultimately, with Samantha even survive after all that she went through or will the knowledge that she is unlocking get her killed or hurt once again?

Another book that I could not put down. The clever way that the author writes and embeds ideas and plot lines really keeps things interesting and flowing. There are various twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and an ultimate solution that both left me surprised but satisfied!


For all the GATSBY fans!

Great  By Sara Benincasaimgres-1

If you enjoyed The Great Gatsby, then this modern-day retelling of the classic is right up your alley! With a famous blogger longing to meet the famous fashionista, all Naomi needed to do during her summer vacation was introduce the two ladies, and the rest was history. As time continues and the similarities between the original and this modern-day take unfold, even more scandalous and abrupt behavior ensues. Will Naomi find herself in the middle of inappropriate friendship? Will she find herself and the person that she has always desired to be, much to her mother’s pleasure? Or will she continue to be the rebellious teen that doesn’t have a ounce of care in the world, especially to fit in within the East Hampton social life? For all the scandal, thrills, and the sarcasm of Sara Benincasa, this is a definitely a book you won’t want to put down!

Appropriate for more mature readers- 8th grade and up!


Not your typical Summer romance…

We Were Liars By: E. Lockhart

This is a great read for summer, as the majority of the book takes place on an island near Martha’s Vineyard, where various families have come to spend time with one another. A group of four children, calling themselves the liars, become close, inseparable, and eventually as the time progresses they become teenagers.

imgresWith the passing of their grandmother, things on the island start getting tricky and difficult for the kids, as their parents, namely their mothers, are constantly putting the kids in the middle of their fights about land, houses, and opportunities for the family fortune. These liars decide they want to do something about this and decide to take action. How far will they go to save their families and regain their cherished summers?

There aren’t a lot of times that books come around that leave me speechless, but not only the plot line itself caught me off guard, but the way in which Lockhart writes is simply poetic. The format has some differences, as well as the language she uses paints beautiful pictures in the reader’s mind. The idea of our main liar, the narrator of the story Cady, also having an accident that she doesn’t recall, help us to see the true problems on the island and with the family that may not have come to a head before.

Definitely a book I’d recommend to read soon!