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!

Escape Across the Mountains June 26, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 11:43 am

One morning, Tenzin woke up to find that his older brother, Pasang, had returned to their home in Tibet. He had been gone for five long years, having run away from the monastery where he had been studying to become a monk. Tenzin was beside himself with excitement, but he was quickly hushed by their mother. Pasang could get into a lot of trouble for leaving in the first place, since the Chinese, who controlled Tibet, wouldn’t be happy someone had gotten out. In a small village though, it’s hard to keep anything a secret and that night when Tenzin got home from school, the Chinese police were already there, giving Pasang a hard time.

Pasang said that he wasn’t going to leave and for a time, Tenzin believed him. But then, he sawdownload-2 his mother talking with Pasang late into the night and he began to realize that all was not well. One day on his way to school, Pasang and their mother insist that he ride the family donkey cart to school – which he never did. At that point, Pasang told him that he has been chosen to leave Tibet with Pasang and go to India for a better future and more opportunities. At first Tenzin was excited but then the realities of the huge undertaking quickly took over. Would he ever see his other two brothers again? Would he ever see his mother?

Pasang and Tenzin, who was only eleven at the time of their journey, had to overcome huge obstacles, including running out of money and food, as well as being captured by the Chinese police and beaten. Most daunting was when they realized in order to get out of Tibet they must cross the Death Pass – the highest mountain pass in the world, without the proper clothes, equipment or food.

Escape from Tibet by Nick Gray and Laura Scandiffio details the story of these two brothers as they strive to make it out of Tibet and into the new world of India. Told from Tenzin’s perspective, this story gives readers a clearer understanding of the desperation others around the world feel to be free.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.

 

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? June 22, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:59 pm

We’ve all had those moments, when we either think everything will be just fine, and thendownload-1 it all falls apart, or conversely, we keep waiting for what looks like an inevitable tragedy lurking on the horizon.

What about your plane breaking apart over a jungle and you falling through the air in your seat, only to survive but have no idea where you are and if you have the skills to make it out alive? Or being trapped at your job – because you work in a mine and there has been a cave in? Or someone on your ship thinks there is a fire, and most of the crew jump out onto floating icebergs including your family, only to watch your ship sail away, NOT on fire?

All of the above harrowing stories really happened to young people. When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival by Tanya Lloyd Kyi will give you story after story of some amazing feats that humans have done to survive the precarious situations they have found themselves in – sometimes through no fault of their own.

If you like any kind of survival or adventure stories, this is the nonfiction read for you. Packed full of stories you’ve never heard of before and a few you might have, it will give you insight into what to do if you were to ever find yourself in such a position and how you might be able to actually survive!

Recommended for 6th grade and up.

 

To Eat, or Not to Eat? June 19, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 2:41 pm

downloadMany know of the story of the doomed Donner party, a group of travelers who were trying to make it to California from the East, but were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains when snowfalls kept them from moving on. As the supplies ran out, and people died, some began to look at the dead as a source of food. While many wagon trains West all had their own sources of torment and tragedy, the Donner group remains in the mythology of these travels and is told in hushed tones as the ultimate horror story of what can happen when time runs out…and you are still in the mountains.

Mary Ann Graves, who was nineteen when her parents packed up the family and headed West for the promise of California with her eight siblings, had no true understanding of the sacrifices she and her fellow companions were going to make in the months to come. Part of the Graves’ misfortune was to join with the wagon train that included the Reed family. John Reed had heard of a supposed short cut, called the Hastings cutoff, which was to reduce the amount of time they had to travel. However, it turned out the cutoff was passable on horseback, but for a wagon train, it was horrible. Much time was wasted trying to make a trail and as a result, it put them weeks behind where they should have been heading into the mountains.

To Stay Alive by Skila Brown is a novel in verse that shows the gritty, boring, horrifying and desperate journey of these hopeful settlers and reveals in those awful moments what it really takes to stay alive.

Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

 

The Mad Boy June 15, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 5:13 pm

When he started going through the junk yard across the street from the school he’d been kicked out of because his family couldn’t pay the tuition, kids started saying he was crazy. And while there were times when William got discouraged, he never lost sight of his vision – to bring electricity to his home in Malawi, Africa and to eventually build a windmill that would bring water up from the ground.

For William, it all started in fits and leaps. He became interested in how some bikes that people rode around his town had a light come on when the rider peddled and then it went out when they stopped. How was this possible? Since he could no longer attend school, he went to visit the library at his old school and found some amazing books that he poured over until he was able to figure out how to create electricity.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamb and Bryan Mealer is an AMAZING read and will give many people more perspective on their own lives as well as how much we can take for granted. The discussion of what life was like to live through a famine and to have to make so many sacrifices was incredibly poignant and heartbreaking. This is a great look at the will of the human spirit to find a way toward fulfilling a dream.

Highly recommended for all 7th grade social studies students and a great read for science classes as well. Overall, just a wonderful and inspiring read!

 

Thirteen and a half years of memories– wiped out in one instant! June 4, 2017

Chase Ambrose wakes up in a hospital bed, with no recollection of who he is, why he is there, or what happened in his life leading up to this point. He is told that he fell off of his roof and the resulting injury to his head caused amnesia. Thirteen and a half years of life– wiped out in one instant! While he doesn’t remember

anything about his life, Chase thinks he has a pretty good idea of who he is from pictures he finds on his phone– he’s a football star, a popular student with lots of friends, and a brother. However, as he begins to pick up on other people’s reactions to him (his four-year-old half sister is terrified of him; students at school cower in fear when he walks down the hallway; a girl dumps a whole bowl of frozen yogurt over his head), he realizes that he might have been a bully. “New Chase” doesn’t feel like a bully though. He truly enjoys his (court ordered) community service at the senior center, hanging out with the video club, and creating a relationship with his arch-enemy Shoshanna. Now Chase is torn– can he go back to his old life now that he has seen the person he could be? Even though this book’s topic is serious, it is executed in Korman’s signature hilarious style. Crazy stunts meant to turn viral on YouTube, pranks, a cranky Korean War veteran, and more will keep middle school students laughing until the happy ending.