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!

One Wrong Note…Could Mean Death May 20, 2015

What happens when something you love, has the potential both to save you and possible be the cause of your death? Hanna is imgres
faced with this after she is pulled for an audition for the Commandant of the work camp, Birkenau. She has already been taken from her home where she had a lovely life with her older sister, Erika, and her parents. Hanna was excited before the Nazis invaded her country of Hungary because she had been planning to got to the Budapest Conservatorium of Music. Hanna has a gift for playing the piano and when she is forced with her family to leave, it is her piano she misses and the time to play.

Once in the work camp of Birkenau, Hanna realizes quickly that she and her sister and mother must learn new ways to exist. With her father taken away from them at the gates of the camp, Hanna can only hope they will all be reunited at the end of the war, if they can last that long.

An opportunity comes for Hanna to play for the Commandant of the camp and while she doesn’t think she’ll get picked, when the Commandant’s son, Karl, specifically singles her out, she gets the job. Only later does she learn that her time may be precarious, since one wrong move, or note, can be the end of her time playing and possibly her very life.

Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail takes the reader on a journey to explore not only what it might have been like to have your life hang in the balance every day, but how would you have felt if you realized you were beginning to have feelings for the enemy? Hanna faces this dilemma as she finds herself failing in love with Karl, the Commandant’s son.

Good Holocaust book with a different perspective than others. Recommended for 8th grade and up.


How They Croaked! May 7, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — lpitrak @ 3:41 pm

How They Croaked

This fascinating nonfiction book tells the totally true stories behind the deaths of nineteen famous people.  Historical figures like Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Beethoven did not always die in the way their legends say they did.  For example… Was Cleopatra really bitten and killed by an asp?  Read more to find out!! 🙂


Written  and recommended by the staff of the Downers Grove Public Library.


V if for Villain by Peter Moore

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 3:29 pm


I totally love books where the main character could be either the hero or the villain, so I loved reading V is for Villain by Peter Moore.  Main character Brad is a genius, but feels overshadowed by his older brother Blake.  Blake is a real life superhero, who fight for the benevolent Justice Force.  To compete, Brad befriends dangerous Layla, who has a super power so intense that it is illegal and she must keep it a secret.  Following her gets Brad into serious trouble with the criminal underworld; at the same time he uncovers some family secrets and starts to notice his own (very illegal) super power beginning to emerge.

Written  and recommended by the staff of the Downers Grove Public Library.


Powerless by Matthew Cody


12-year-old Daniel moves to a new town, and is immediately befriended by local kids.  Nothing about his new friends is ordinary however… They can fly, conduct electricity with their hands, turn invisible, and a bunch of other cool superhero tricks.  They use these powers to do good deeds in secret in their small town.  All are dreading the day they turn 13, because that is when their super powers will fade away, as will all their memories of having them in the first place.  Daniel is determined to help his new friends retain their special powers, so he begins investigating why the kids’ powers have started to disappear… What he discovers is a huge conspiracy involves an ancient meteor strike, and comic book from World War II, a mysterious witch who produces green flames with her hands, and Danny himself (who has no powers of his own).

Written  and recommended by the staff of the Downers Grove Public Library.


Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — lpitrak @ 2:36 pm

“You are indestructible.” These are the last words that Jake’s foster father whispers to him in the midst of a violent car crash. Jake sThirteen days to midnighturvives the crash, his foster father does not, and soon Jake realizes that these were more than just words – he is now invincible. Jake and his friends begin testing and transferring the power, trying to unravel the mysterious life of Mr. Fielding and the origins of his indestructibility. More than just a superhero tale, this book delves deep into the philosophical questions and dark consequences of having control over life and death.

Written by guest blogger Maggie Thomann, Downers Grove Public Library



Foul Trouble by John Feinstein

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — lpitrak @ 2:31 pm

High school student Terrell has the potential to be the next big basketball superstar, and college recruiters from all over the country Foul Troublewant him playing at their school. The book features fast-paced basketball play-by-play and an insider look at navigating the crazy world of recruiting and NCAA rules. A fun look at a hot topic written by a veteran sportswriter.

Written by guest blogger Maggie Thomann, Downers Grove Public Library


Atlantia by Ally Condie

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — lpitrak @ 2:26 pm

Rio lives in the underwater city of Atlantia, inhabited by a group of settlers who left Above during the Divide. Atlantia is mystical, bubble-enclosed dwelling, populated by sirens and designed with ornate buildings and shimmering metal trees. Rio has aAtlantialways dreamed of sun and sky, and plans to eventually go Above but makes a promise to stay Below with her sister, Bay, after their mother dies. When Bay stuns Rio by taking the family’s only spot on a transport, Rio is left in Atlantia, alone, except for her eccentric siren-aunt Maire. Rio must come to terms with her own secrets and the truth of the city’s history, while finding a way to reach her sister Above. This is a quiet, reflective dystopian from the author of Matched that offers the reader a strong heroine with an unlikely mentor, and a uniquely beautiful world.

Post written by guest blogger Maggie Thomann, Downers Grove Public Library