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!

Humor Born from Struggle December 16, 2019

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

Imagine growing up knowing your very existence was against the laws of your That you couldn’t say “Dad” in public to your own father, because you could be taken away from your mother and put in an orphanage, and your parents could be arrested. All because of race. Welcome to Trevor Noah’s life.

Growing up, at least when he was under ten, Trevor lived under the system known as Apartheid. This meant that the government had instituted a system of racism and figured out a way to classify everyone. Based on your skin color (and language which in many cases was set by your skin color), your life was set. If you were black, you lived in the worst parts of the country, had little education, and were destined to work menial jobs your whole life. Coloreds (people of mixed ancestry from colonial days) were in the second rung and the whites occupied the top tiers of society and controlled not only the government, but also the economy.

Now, being just a kid, Trevor didn’t really get all of this. So when he went to visit his grandmother, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t go outside and play with his cousins in Soweto – a black only township – that have been created by the government as a place to house black workers. He couldn’t go outside because Trevor was mixed, or colored, although he wasn’t colored because of colonial times. His mother, who was black, had decided she wanted a child. And she picked a white man from Switzerland to be her child’s father. Trevor’s years growing up were filled with pranks, close calls and a real story of finding oneself in the midst of poverty and hope.

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is a funny, tragic, uplifting story giving insight into another whole world. The part in the book where he talks about his good friend, Hitler, is really eye opening. Many children in South Africa are named Hitler. He gives a really interesting and thought provoking answer for why.

Highly recommended book for grades 8 and up.


What We Leave Out September 23, 2019

Filed under: Humor,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 6:29 am

Joel has it all figured out. For example, he’s figured out that the school could actually download-1save money by buying all the juniors and seniors cars and it could be less than the annual transportation budget. Or maybe motorcycles if the cars turn out to be too expensive. He also knows how to really let people know how he feels by writing text messages to them and then, just not sending them. Yup, he has his whole life figured out, for sure.

Or maybe not. Most assuredly not. In fact, Joel is pretty messed up. He misses his best friend, Andy, but well, he’s gone because of what happened. He’s in love with a girl named Eli, and has been since the 7th grade, but can’t work up the courage to tell her because he’s two inches shorter than she is and he might actually be shrinking rather than getting taller, he is a hypochondriac, and might have just punched in the face the only other person who could possibly want to be his friend. So yeah, nothing is going right for him.  

So Joel just pretty much tries to follow Eli around and she’s such an amazing person who truly wants to make the world a better place and when that thing that happened to Andy happened, it was Eli who started to sit with Joel in the school cafeteria. And so when she decides to do her junior year community service semester at a local soup kitchen, Joel has no reason not to join her and every reason to, since Eli is pretty much his every reason.

It is at the soup kitchen that Eli and Joel start to get to know Benj – a new kid at school who no one really knows what is up with him only that he blurts out the most random stuff – and all the regulars that come into the soup kitchen, including a guy that Joel names Rooster, just because he always gives names to the ones that don’t talk. Joel feels he’s just keeping his head above water, and soon he realizes it won’t be enough as one thing after another begins to pull him under.

Words We Don’t Say by K.J. Reilly is a priceless book that touches on some of the most heart wrenching topics facing society and our teens today. This book will make you laugh out loud and cry and cross your fingers for all the people you meet along the way. Just an absolute delight to read and an unforgettable book.

Highly recommended for 8th grade and up – due to heavy use of language, but in this reviewer’s mind, appropriate to the book and the character.


The Well Boy August 19, 2019

Filed under: Humor,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:46 am

When Sam Abernathy was four years old, James Jenkins threw a ball up in the air so high that everyone playing the neighborhood game of SPUD ran really far – so far that Sam took that one extra step before the ball was caught…and fell down a well. A well that put his little Texas town on the map, and led to T-shirts being sold that all said “Pray for Sam,” and resulted in Sam not speaking for quite some time after the whole incident. So he started school a bit later than usual, but he must have been absorbing a lot, because now that he’s supposed to be in sixth grade, he’s just been skipped ahead to 8th grade.

Now, starting middle school is a pretty big deal, but to be starting middle school as an 8thdownload-1 grader is crazy, at least that is how Sam feels. And when he finds out that James Jenkins – the boy who caused Sam to fall down the well, at least in his mind anyway – has been held back and is repeating 8th grade, well, life just keeps getting worse as far as Sam is concerned.

After falling down the well, Sam has been worried about taking a wrong step, both figuratively and literally! His parents are more than happy to step in and plan all those steps out for him, especially since he’s tested so high. His father has decided that Sam will get into high school early and then go on to MIT and make amazing advances in the areas of Math and Science. The only problem with that plan, is that Sam has no interest at all in Math and Science. Instead, he sneaks downstairs at night to watch cooking shows, and tries out all his recipes on his best friend Karim. All while he’s pretty sure that James Jenkins is planning to murder him, because he appears to have all the attributes of an actually murderer, at least as best Sam can figure out!

The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith is a delightful book about a boy who has grown up believing in one story, only to slowly figure out that story was clearly written in a different language. It is hard to make a book humorous without going over the top, and this book does it. This was a really fun read.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Big Nate In A Class By Himself Book Review by 7th Grader Anthony May 9, 2018

Filed under: graphic novel,Humor,Student Book Reviews — bhomel @ 11:36 am
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I really like this book. I recommend it if you enjoy comics and Diary Of a Wimpy Kid.

This story is about Nate Wright. One morning, Nate forgot about the social studies test so Nate was trying to get out of getting a social studies test. His teacher,  Mrs. Godfrey, said if he does not pass his next test, he will need to go to summer school! But those chapters you need to read for yourself. The main part of the book is about Nate trying to surpass all others because his friend Teddy gave him a fortune cookie that he got from his Chinese food the night before. It turns out Nate is having the worst day ever so will Nate’s fortune come true? Read Big Nate In A Class By Himself by Lincoln Peirce to find out. I love Big Nate! I’ve been  reading Big Nate since I was little. It’s a 10/10 book! You don’t even need to read the first book, they explain everything in the book. You don’t need to read them in order.


Frogkisser! April 24, 2018

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Humor — lpitrak @ 2:29 pm
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This book is perfect for any fantasy lover who is looking for something funny instead of dark! Anya is in a terrible situation. Since her father’s passing, she has been left with her evil stepmother– who has recently gotten remarried. So, she now has an evil stepmother AND an evil stepfather! On top of this, Anya has a super weird magical ability– she is able to break curses with a kiss. This might sound great, but she’s getting a little tired of kissing everyone in the kingdom who has been cursed and is now covered in gross pus-filled boils or who has been magically turned into animals (they don’t call her Frogkisser for no reason!).

But Anya is a princess and her duty to her people will always be more important to her than her own happiness. Now, though, her new evil stepfather has decided to claim the kingdom as his own. Her kingdom! Anya decides to leave on a quest to find a group of magical wizards who will free her kingdom for good. Along with a boy who has been turned into a newt and an amazing talking dog, Anya will prove that even the strangest abilities can give power to those who want to use them to do good.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid Review by 7th Grader Eduardo April 17, 2018

Filed under: Humor — bhomel @ 8:59 am
Tags: , ,


In the book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney, Greg’s parents buy a toy called Santa’s Scout. It sees Greg and his brother Rodrick. Everywhere Greg goes, Santa’s Scout is there and he thinks it’s Rodrick moving it wherever he’s going. Santa’s Scout checks out if Greg is being naughty or nice. Greg is nervous that he will mess up and be on the naughty list. Greg is being extra nice in front of Santa’s Scout. Rodrick is trying to get Greg on the naughty list by lying that Greg stole money from his mom. Rodrick moves the toy everywhere Greg goes so if he messes up and Santa’s Scout is there watching him then he’s on the naughty list

Greg’s family gets stuck in a snowstorm and they are running out of food and there’s no electricity. Greg is stuck inside the house with his family and cabin fever sets in. 

I like how the pictures show us what the book is trying to tell you. It helps tell you what’s happening in the story. The book is is funny because there is a lot of dumb things that happen to Greg that embarrass him. If you watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, I recommend you read the books.


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.