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. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

Another Year January 31, 2022

Filed under: graphic novel,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 pm

Jordan is back for another year at Riverdale Academy Day School and mostly he’s just worried that hedownload hasn’t grown much at all over the summer, and he knows his friends Drew and Liam have. He will have a decision to make at the end of this year too, should he stay or go to the Art school of his dream?

This year, his good friend Drew is struggling with dealing with a girl who really likes him, but he isn’t sure how he should interact with her, and when Drew and Jordan go to Liam’s house, Drew draws away from Liam. Liam comes from a super rich family, and Drew feels awkward. How can they be friends when they come from so very different circumstances. Add to that, the school is trying to acknowledge they need help with being more inclusive, but has some trouble getting there.

Class Act by Jerry Craft is a graphic novel that gives us a peak back into Jordan’s life from New Kid, while giving us more insight into his two good friends, Drew and Liam. Here’s hoping we’ll get to visit these guys more in the coming years!

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


When They Fell… January 10, 2022

Filed under: graphic novel,Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

downloadThe twentieth anniversary of the Twin Towers falling and the attack on the Pentagon and the flight that went down in Pennsylvania just happened. This book In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers by Don Brown is a graphic novel that takes the reader onto the front lines of the disaster as it was happening, moment by moment, and then also looks at the aftermath for many of the first responders.

Some don’t know that a film crew was documenting the work of firefighters when the Twin Towers were first hit and so there is actual footage of the first moments when personnel learned of the crashes and the confusion as to what was happening. The book shows how some people were able to survive the falling of the towers and how many – most – did not.

If you are looking for a quick, powerful read, this is the book for you.

Recommended for grades 7 and up due to subject matter.


Hidden Darkness February 23, 2021

Filed under: graphic novel — lpitrakbromiel @ 7:29 pm
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Emma, Norman, and Ray are orphans, but they still have a seemingly-beautiful life. They live at Grace Field Orphanage, where they are protected, sheltered, and loved by the woman who runs the orphanage, whom all call “Mom.” Their only real rules are that they must never leave the gate surrounding the orphanage’s property– for their own safety, of course. All orphans are adopted by the time they reach the age of 12, and Emma, Norman, and Ray are 11. They cannot wait until they are adopted by kind and loving families! However, their story takes a dark turn when their friend Conny leaves her beloved stuffed bunny behind on the day she is adopted. The three friends break the rules and leave the orphanage gates in order to bring it back to her. What they find is horrifying, and makes them realize that none of the orphans have ever found a happy life. Rather, all who have been “adopted” have suffered a gruesome fate. Emma, Norma, and Ray are determined to get themselves, as well as all of their other friends, away from Grace Field Orphanage for good. To do, so, however, they will have to battle demons, witches, and their very scary “Mom.”

This amazing manga series has also been adapted as an exciting t.v. show, available on both Netflix and Hulu!


What if No One Sees You? February 8, 2021

Filed under: graphic novel,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-1Emmie used to talk, a lot, according to her family. But maybe having two much older siblings made her stop trying to talk because she couldn’t get a word in edgewise, or maybe when they went away to college and her parents were working so much, she had no one to talk to!In any case, now that she’s in middle school, she doesn’t have much to say…to anyone, except her best friend Brianna. Thankfully they’ve been best friends since kindergarten. If it weren’t for Brianna, who would she talk to? This year though, Brianna is in hardly any of her classes, because she’s in the gifted classes and Emmie, well, isn’t! Still, they are able to have lunch together, thank goodness, and on this day they decide to write love notes to the boys they have been crushing hard on for years. After writing their true love on the notes, it is time to leave, but unfortunately for Emmie, her note goes astray.

Could there be anything worse in middle school than a love note finding its way into the hands of the person you like?

Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson is a fun, funny, and super honest look at what school is like for many students. Not everyone has tons of friends, is great at sports or anything specific, but they are still making it through too. This is a book that everyone can enjoy and find something to relate to.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Between Two Worlds April 13, 2020

Filed under: graphic novel,Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Her mother had it hard, being a single mother in South Korea. When Chuna was little she didn’t understand just how bad the sigma was, however as she was going to school and got older, it became apparent quickly that to be a child without a dad at home was considered very strange. This made things really hard for both of them living in South Korea.

downloadWhen Chuna and her mother decided to go on a trip to American and to the state of Alabama, Chuna didn’t think much of it. After all, she and her mother were always going on trips outside of South Korea. However, when her mother tells her she is going to marry a man and they are now going to live in America, Chuna’s world falls apart. She knows hardly any English, and her new “cousins” and stepsister are distant and not open to helping her at all navigate this new world.

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha is a coming of age story where a girl struggles to find herself in two worlds that she doesn’t seem to fit in. How do you find your place when you have no place? This is a graphic novel and based on the author’s real life experiences of living in two different countries.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Everyone Feels Different, Right? December 30, 2019

Filed under: graphic novel,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 pm

Jordan is about to start a new school – and 7th grade. His mom is thrilled that he’s goingdownload to a really great school, with lots of rich kids and lots of learning opportunities. Jordan, he’s not so sure. He knows his dad has his back, but the school he really wants to go to – an art school – doesn’t take students until 9th grade. So his dad tells him to make the best of things for two years, and they can re-evaluate then as a family.

He’s a bit worried there won’t be any other kids like him, but he’s pleasantly surprised to see there is some diversity – a tiny bit more than they (he and his family) had expected. Still, it doesn’t stop one teacher from calling another black kid in class by a former black student’s name! And at first, Jordan thinks he’ll have more in common with one kid, simply because of the color of their skin – however, this turns out not to be the case.

Making friends, good friends, friends he has things in common with, turns out to be both easier and harder than he thought. As the year progresses Jordan has to take a stand both metaphorically and literally at different points.

New Kid by Jerry Craft is a great graphic novel. It is the story of every kid who wants to fit in, yet be themselves at the same time. It shows no matter who we are,  we all worry about being different and yet want to find that sweet place to be ourselves.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


War in the Water December 9, 2019

Filed under: graphic novel,Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Many of us know a lot about the Civil War, or at least some of the battles that weredownload.jpg fought, some of the main players, and what it was about. But how many of us know names like Will Cushing, John Ericsson, Gideon Welles (A.K.A. Father Neptune) or Gustavus Fox? If you are like me, I didn’t… until I read this book.

When war broke out between the states, it became a main strategy for the Union government to try to squeeze the life out of the South. The way they sought to do this was through a plan called Anaconda. If the South couldn’t get their goods to markets, they had no money to fight a war and no way to get in needed supplies. So how to stop them? But not letting any of their ships out. Of course, the South had a large coastline. Virtually all of the states that seceded from the Union had a coastline. This meant the Union had a lot of water to cover. And when the war began, they had four ships! Yes, just four! They had a shipyard that could make more, but, it was in Virginia and they lost the yard when Virginia seceded. Not only did they lose the shipyard, but their best ship at the time called the Merrimack.

How on earth would the Union be able to  stop the South when they had the shipyards AND the Union’s top ship?

Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale is a  super fast read and really informative about the battle for the coastline during the Civil War. Highly recommended for its readability as well as just a great story and learning about one of the more daring sailors of the time and the pranks he pulled, and got away with, was great fun.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


El Deafo Review by 7th Grader Maleni June 4, 2019

Filed under: graphic novel — oneilllibrary @ 1:48 pm

downloadCece is a normal four year old girl who plays with her best friend Emma. One day, Cece got really sick. Her parents drove to the hospital as fast as they could and the doctor said she has meningitis but something changed the next day. Cece couldn’t hear anything, not even her mom. Her parents didn’t find out until Cece got back home and her mom was calling her name multiple times. Cece freaked out that she couldn’t hear her mother’s voice and cried. Finally her mother knew…… she was deaf.

Cece struggled with her deafness. Cece’s family moved and she went to a new school. Life changes there for her because she is the only one deaf. Will Cece make friends or will she get teased about her hearing aids cords? Will Cece hear again? Well read the book..  

I like the book El Deafo by Cece Bell because it is based on a true story about the author and it shows that no matter what age you are, people can struggle with something they can’t fix. Cece is a strong girl and I love that she stills has her same personality before she was deaf because it doesn’t change who she is, it just becomes harder but eventually it will get better if you try.


Wanted by No One May 20, 2019

Filed under: graphic novel,Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 11:46 am

As the war in Syria began in 2011, many thought that the ruler, president Bashar Al-downloadAssad’s government would fall as other muslim countries had in the Arab Spring uprising that had been sweeping the region in North Africa. But many underestimated Assad’s grip on the country and that he would get military and political support from Russia.  As always it is the civilians who are caught up in any war, and in a civil war, as the country divides, it can be doubly so.

After days of rioting by civilians asking for their rights, Assad’s military forces went after Syrians and began a war that is still raging today (in 2019). Executions and massacres became common and many people were scared. At that point, civilians began leaving their homes in the hopes of a chance to get away from the war. At first, people went to Jordan and Lebanon and others went to Turkey.

To make matters worse, Islamic jihadists began to join the fight against Assad and brought with them their own brand of terror as they forced the communities they invaded to adhere to strict Islamic law. The people of Syria felt they were caught between two forces with no end in sight. By this point, millions of people were forced from their homes by violence or the threat of violence.

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian refugees by Don Brown is a stark look at what happens when a country falls into utter chaos and who ultimately always pays the highest price. The book also looks at how a country falling to pieces has a ripple effect on the whole world as others try to help, or turn away, the victims of the war.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Smile Book Review by 8th Grader Sydney May 9, 2018

SIn Smile by Raina Telgemeier, a girl named Raina is an 11-years old that was coming home from girl scouts with of her friends. Her friends ask her to race home. As she was running, she tripped and fell on her two front teeth. At first, Raina thought she didn’t break anything until she got up and felt her mouth. She realized that her two front teeth were missing. Her friend’s mom called Raina’s parents as soon as she noticed that Raina was hurt. Raina’s parents came running over and took her the orthodontist. The orthodontist filled her teeth in with a cast for her two front teeth. She went back after the month and they did work on her two front teeth again. When it was her first day of high school, Raina’s friends were being mean to her like pulling down her skirt and called her dog breath because of her braces kit. After all that happened she confronted them. On top of that, she could not smile with confidence, she would just smile with her mouth closed. Raina meets new friends after she was done with her old friends. In the end, Raina gets her final surgery and she is able to smile with confidence again.

In my opinion, I love this book and I would recommend this book to anyone that adores realistic fiction just like I do. I  also love books that I can relate to. This was a perfect match because most of what the author was saying it was like my life inside a book. I was able to relate to Smile because I had dental problems just like Raina. I had to go through the process like Raina but instead of knocking out my teeth, I had a palate expander, four brackets on my top four front teeth, and brackets and rubber bands all over my teeth now.