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!

Wandering, Lost May 25, 2020

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

downloadJerome has a tough time at school, mostly because of three boys who like to bully him on a daily basis. Still, he tries to put on a brave face for his parents and grandmother. Why worry them about something that they can’t change. But he has a plan for how to avoid them, most of the time. However, on this particular day, a new boy comes to school, named Carlos. Right away Jerome can tell, Carlos is going to be the bullies next victim. So, Jerome lets Carlos in on one of Jerome’s favorite hiding spots. It is in that hiding spot that something new happens. Jerome makes a friend.But later on that same day, Jerome is shot, and killed by the police. Jerome never leaves though, he haunts his old apartment, seeing his family grieve and change, hoping he will be able to leave, but still he stays. Until one day he sees a boy like him, only from a different time. It turns out this ghost boy has something to share with Jerome. Only Jerome isn’t sure he wants to hear it.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a book about an all too common occurrence – black men and boys being shot and killed by the police.  It looks at the damage inflicted upon everyone involved in the horrible situation – including all the things that Jerome will now never be able to do – since he will never grow up. Thoughtful and thought provoking read.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


In the Boat House, Strange Things Happen October 28, 2019

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:06 am

downloadHe was annoyed and mad, and a bit pissed off. He had only been trying to help when he heard Shannon screaming off on the side of the school parking lot back where the bushes were. Turns out, she and a bunch of other kids had taken the principal’s car and moved it off the parking lot and onto the grass near the bushes. But they’d dropped it right down on Shannon’s foot – hence the screaming. When Elliot arrived to help lift the car off of Shannon’s foot, that is when the principal showed up too. And said that Elliot was just as responsible as Shannon and all the other kids that she wouldn’t name.

Which leads to Shannon and Elliot being punished and having to clean out the boat house at the edge of the property by the school. Right away it is cold and dark and not a very inviting boat house and a mess! So Elliot, still angry that his good deed got him in trouble, grudgingly begins to clean up and listens as Shannon prattles on and on about nothing much. Then some strange things start to happen. Like the door that Elliot propped open slams shut. And Shannon says that maybe there are spirits in the boat house and they should try to contact them. So she constructs a Ouija board, and they both get more than they bargained for!

Shallow Grave by Alex Van Tol is a quick read and a nice ghost story for anyone looking for both!

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


In Plain Sight September 30, 2019

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 7:45 am

They were broken up, so why would he even contemplate going into her house, bydownload-1 sneaking in through an open basement window? He couldn’t even give a good reason to himself, let alone a member of her family, or heaven forbid, the police, if he was caught.

But still, after three months of being apart, he finds himself leaving his house one night because, after all, his dad and mom are going through a separation themselves and his dad can’t seem to move off the couch these days. So there is really no reason to hang around the house. His dad probably won’t even notice that he’s gone out for a walk, after midnight. School hasn’t started yet, so it isn’t like he needs his sleep. Still, he doesn’t have a destination when he leaves his own house. Until, suddenly he does. Laura’s house is right there, and he can’t help but remember all the good times they had. So why did she really break up with him?

Maybe the answer can be found in her house. So he sneaks in. And he’s always been really good at hiding in plain sight.

Hiding by Henry Turner is an introspective read, with the book alternating between flashbacks and present day. While there is a twist, this reader guessed it early on and some readers might love the twist, and others, like myself, might just feel annoyed. Still, if you are looking for a psychological what is happening kind of read, this might be the one for you.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


She Sees Ghosts Or Does She? June 27, 2019

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 1:38 pm

Adele is struggling. She takes medicine for her diagnosed schizophrenia, which both herdownload  mother and her grandmother had as well. Adele has been on the medication since she was young and a few weeks ago, she forgot to take one of her pills at night. The next day she felt so awake! It seemed that she’d been sleeping through life while on her medication. She’s paying attention in class and actually answering questions, she’s interacting with other students at school…and so she decides to not take her medicine that next night as well. She’s now been two weeks without her meds, and she feels great.

Until she takes her normal short cut home though the park on Monday after school. That’s when her hallucinations begin again. Or so she thinks. After all, that was why she started taking the medication. Because she would see things that no one else could see.

In the park she sees Tori. A girl she used to be good friends with, long ago in elementary school, but who just on Saturday night, screamed at Adele to leave the party at Tori’s house.  So what is Tori doing here in the park, in the dress she wore to her party on Saturday night? And why is she talking to Adele like it is no big deal that she’s sitting in the park and not wondering why she’s there? Adele gets a sick feeling that she is seeing Tori because Tori is actually dead.

The Lonely Dead by April Henry is not only a ghost and mystery story, but it brings up the larger issue of mental health, questioning if people who have been diagnosed simply see things that others don’t. Adele must figure out how to navigate this world she now thinks she can be a part of, and yet still try to keep the people who are important to her, in her life.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Always Running July 17, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 3:58 pm

A new house, a new town, a new school. Cameron has done it all before, multiple times. In fact, he’s getting so tired of the same old story, that he’s beginning to question whether his mom is making things up. Maybe his dad wasn’t quite as bad as she remembers. Maybe if Cameron did contact him, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. After all, he hasn’t talked to him or seen him in years.

The latest move has put Cameron and his mom in a tiny town in the middle of And not only that, but the house they move into is strange. It is an old farmhouse in the middle of cornfields, with some woods off to one side. Quickly, Cameron realizes he won’t fit in at school, and his mom seems to be pretty wrapped up in her new job. When Cameron starts seeing a boy, he wonders if something is going on with him. His mom is worried about his behavior and Cameron realizes he doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing all the time.

After hearing some rumors about the house he now lives in, Cameron does some investigating and finds out that a long time ago a little boy and his mother disappeared from the house. One woman in town claimed they had been murdered, along with her cousin. But no bodies were ever found and it became part of the town lore. But Cameron keeps having strange dreams about a boy, a boy he comes to believe is the boy who disappeared. Is Cameron losing it after all these years of running? Who can he trust? Maybe it’s time to let his dad back into his life.

The Dogs by Allan Stratton is a mystery of who did it back then, and who can you trust now. Readers who like a bit of suspense and uncertainty will enjoy this book.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Once a Liar, Always a Liar? July 10, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 12:50 pm

Kay has a close knit group of friends at her boarding school, a school where she escaped after tragedy struck her home years before. A tragedy she can’t help feeling a part of…because of a series of lies she told. At Bates, the boarding school, many of the studentsdownload-1 appear to have a golden life, but as a student there on scholarship, Kay has to walk a fine line and keep her grades and her place on the soccer field perfect, or it can all slip away.

One night, as Kay and her friends are about to have their annual skinny dip in a pond on campus after a Halloween party, they make a grisly discovery. A girl has beat them to the pond, but she won’t be coming out on her own. She is dead. Quickly, rumors of a suicide turn into rumors of murder. When Kay gets a mysterious email that sends her to a website, she knows that her time might be up. Basically, if she doesn’t force other members of the school out, her own terrible secret will be out. Kay has limited knowledge of computers and hacking, so she turns to a girl named Nola to help her before time runs out and her secret is revealed.

As Kay and Nola begin to unravel the pieces of the website, it quickly becomes clear that lots of others at Bates have things to be weary of, and as Kay works to save her own skin, she begins taking down members of her own group of friends. The question becomes, who is next? And could the website be setting Kay up to take the biggest fall of her life?

People Like Us by Dana Mele is a book that most readers will enjoy. I was a little confused at times by Kay and her romantic indecision when it came to some of the people in her life. Kay’s secret also seemed a bit much, but other readers will be able to forgive that if they enjoy the rest of the story.

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up.


Frozen Charlotte Book Review by 7th Grader Leslie May 10, 2018

f.jpgFrozen Charlotte is by Alex Bell.

This story is about a group of girls who live in a boarding school and they play with a doll called Frozen Charlotte.  The doll was created when the school mistress gave them scraps of fabric and ribbons from the sewing room. They practice their sewing skills by making little dresses and bonnets. They also made a doll with the scraps. The doll is possessed with a spirit and becomes a killer.  

I really like this book because it’s based on a horror book and I like to watch horror movies when I am at home or at the movie theater.



Crime Travelers Book Review by 8th Grader Joseph May 8, 2018

cIn Crime Travelers Brainwashed by Paul Aertker, Lucas Benes is more than just a normal boy. Lucas and his adopted sister, Astride, are spies who work for his dad’s company. They are getting ready to protect their country and other countries while they are in training. But while they are in training, Coach Creed sends them on a mission to go save children that are about to get kidnapped in France.

If you like mysteries, this book is for you because it has a lot of mystery and action. I liked this book because it tells the different sides or perspectives of the main characters.


Bull’s Eye Book Review by 7th Grader Addy C. April 12, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Student Book Reviews — bhomel @ 9:10 am
Tags: ,

BullsBull’s Eye by Sarah N. Harvey is about a girl named Emily who finds out a huge secret that changes her life!

Emily’s life was all normal and then Emily’s mom hands her a box full of stuff from her aunt. A picture falls from the bottom of the box and it is a picture of Emily’s mom and her aunt standing outside the Hotel in Vancouver’s West End. A minute later, she looks at it and noticed that her aunt is very pregnant and her mom that she is living with now is not. This picture was taken not long before the day she was born. Emily wants to go find her real mom and her real dad. So she went to the Hotel in Vancouver to stay there. During the day, she would go looking for them. Emily searched for her parents for a week but it wasn’t easy to uncover the truth.

I think that everybody who likes mystery books would really like this book. I really liked this book because there were a lot of twists in this book. There were things I didn’t see coming. There are some mature words in this book so I think 7th and 8th graders should read this.


Revelations in the Elevator March 25, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 4:48 pm

downloadIt has happened again. Someone close to him has been taken, by violence. Gun violence. Will knows what he has to do. After all, there are rules that have to be followed. For example, no matter how you are really feeling, you can’t cry. You can’t snitch and you must – MUST – get Revenge.

Will’s older brother, Shawn has been killed. Gunned down in the street on his way back from getting special medical cream for their mother. And this isn’t the first important person to be lost in Will’s life to guns. Will knows who did it, who killed his brother. And now, according to the rules, he needs to seek Revenge.

Will finds a gun in his brother’s drawer and knows it is now or never. He has to get revenge. But as he listens to his mother crying, and thinks of what he must do, he worries if he’ll be able to complete his revenge. After all, he’s never even shot a gun before.

Still, he heads down in his apartment building’s elevator, ready to do what needs to be done. Once on the elevator, he is surprised when a man gets on and begins talking with him, and when Will recognizes who it is, he begins to question his sanity.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds takes a hard look at the cost of violence in many communities around the United States, and what it is like to have certain rules in your life. Can young people really have the courage to break the rules that have governed their lives for so long, or are they doomed to keep repeating the same events over and over?

Recommended for grades 7 and up.