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!

Locked Up as a Madwoman April 17, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:17 pm

As a young girl growing up in Pennsylvania, not many would have guessed Elizabeth imgresJane “Pink” Cochran would become one of the most famous journalists of her time. The was even more impressive because up until that time and even for long after, journalism was considered to be a man’s world – one that women didn’t belong in and certainly weren’t welcome in. However, this didn’t stop Elizabeth, who quickly took up a new name – Nellie Bly. After working in some small newspapers in Pittsburg, at the age of 23, Bly decided to try New York City. However, no editors seemed willing to take on a young woman as an investigative reporter. After all, you couldn’t ask a woman to go to the morgue to follow up on a story, or stay up all night chasing down a lead. At least that was the conventional thought of the day.

Nellie Bly however, was set to turn that conventional thought upside down. Finally, one editor decided that if she could get herself locked up in an insane asylum, he would get her out after a week and she could write up her story. If it was good enough, she’d have a job. That was all Nellie needed to hear. Off she went to begin making herself appear unstable. It didn’t take much. Just acting depressed was what got her taken in front of a judge who said that she could be committed.

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes is a great look into one of the United States first truly investigative reporters and how she had to overcome many hurdles to get to the place where she could write about the stories she wanted. However, things didn’t always work out for Nellie as she would have liked, and the road she picked wasn’t an easy one.

Recommended for anyone looking for a quick biography about an interesting person. Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.


Spirits Attracted to Art? April 11, 2017

Sierra is an artist, and looking forward to a summer break of painting and parties in her New York City neighborhood. Sierra doesn’t paint on canvas or paper though; she creates fantastic, huge murals on the walls of the city. Her latest creation is a five-story fire breathing dragon that towers over the local junk lot, as well as the new luxury condo development. But, right as Sierra is about to kick summer break off with a huge party with all her classmates, strange things begin to happen. Her grandfather Lazaro, a very recent stroke victim, begins speaking again… but just very short fragments, saying he is sorry and mentioning a woman named Lucera. Then, her grandfather’s friends come to visit her, urging her to finish her dragon mural quickly, but won’t say what the rush is. Then, other neighborhood murals, once so brightly colored and vibrant, seem to wash out and fade overnight. Finally, a zombie-like creature chases Sierra and her crush through the neighborhood asking for Lucera– the same name her grandfather mentioned. What is going on in Brooklyn? Is it possible that rumors of spirits who have died there– some innocent and some intent on evil– have stayed around? And is it further possible that they are drawn to art, murals, music, and stories, that are connected to the city? And if all of these things are possible, what do they have to do with a highschool girl who just wants a fun summer?


Chocolate Has a Dark Side April 3, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 5:05 am

Amadou thought that he was leaving Mali to hopefully be able to earn some money for his family. Drought over the years had left his area of the country badly impoverished, and he hoped to be like other children who had left and returned with money in their pockets. His little brother, Seydou comes with him. What Amadou can’t know is that the farm he lands on, isn’t one that will pay him. Instead, he’s been sold to a family that can’t afford to pay workers a wage, so they rely on children to work their cacao trees and repay them with harsh working conditions, beatings if the daily quota isn’t met and a miserable existence. Quickly, Amadou realizes that he isn’t going home at the end of the season with money is his pocket. In fact, he’s never seen a boy leave the farm…alive.

Amadou has spent the last two years of his life in this terrible situation, trying each day to keep his much younger brother alive and safe, with no end in sight or a way out that he can see. Until one day something strange happens. A girl shows up at the farm. No other girls have ever come to the farm and no other girls work with them currently. Wimgreshy would a girl show up and by herself, with no other new boys to work with the cacao pods?

Right away, the girl causes trouble, and somehow Seydou and Amadou are always right in the middle when it comes to her.

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan takes a subject about a little known event that is happening currently in the world and something that many of us take for granted. How does chocolate end up in our stores and in our lives? What is the price that others are paying for us to have that moment of sweetness in our mouths? Is it worth it?

Recommended for mature 7th graders and up. Very insightful story and important read.