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!

Are Zombies Real????? July 17, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 3:54 pm
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Lots of books, movies and TV shows are focusing on Zombies these days, and while we know they are fantasy, some people think that zombies really could come about. So is there any truth to that? Are there any “zombies” in nature right now?

Zombie Makers: True stories of Nature’s Undead by Rebecca Johnson takes this question very seriously. Could something “take over” an animal or insect and control them? Could something invade an animal or insect and change its nature? This book is chalk full of examples where either another insect, fungus or virus is able to alter the animal or insect it comes into contact with. imgres

Read how an ant becomes the perfect host for a fungus that eventually grows out the top of the dead ant’s head. Or how a worm takes over crickets and forces them to drown themselves. Or how a caterpillar becomes a zombie like bodyguard wasp protector and starves rather than let the little wasp cocoons be eaten, and then the caterpillar dies.

Yes, nature is already providing us with some examples of how animals and insects can be taken over but nothing so far shows how something can die and then come back to life. Those are still in the realm of fantasy, and let’s hope it stays there!

Recommended for grades 6th and up.

 

Children Always Suffer in War July 14, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 5:51 pm
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As a young boy, growing up in rural southern Sudan, John only knew the good things in life. He enjoyed hearing stories of his relatives, braving the lions that roamed close to their village, and at 13 was looking forward to the day when he, too, would complete the ritual that would recognize him has a man in his community. However, one day, his village was attacked by the government forces. While there had been rumblings for years of possible war coming, until it arrived at his door step, John was able to push his fears aside. After the attack, he and a group of other boys and some adults, were forced to move from place to place, trying to survive.imgres

While John was going through this in the countryside, the major cities in the south were not safe either. Martha was only six years old, and her younger sister only three, when their parents decided it was too dangerous to stay in the main southern city and moved the family to the country. Martha was surprised by life in the country. It was very different than what she was used to. However, not long after this move, the village Martha and her family were in was also attacked. Her parents were in a neighboring village at the time, so Martha and her sister, along with other children were taken by a woman and they ran from the village.

What neither Martha nor John knew that first night, was this was not going to be something that would end quickly and they would be re united with their families. Both John and Martha found themselves traveling long distances, often without food or water, only to encounter hostilities at every turn. John found himself in a massive refuge camp, in charge of hundreds of younger boys, and in the position of trying to keep everyone going, while Martha struggled to find a place for herself and her sister.

Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan by John Dau and Martha Akech is an amazing true story of how these children used their wits and ingenuity when things were at their worst.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

How They Croaked! May 7, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — lpitrak @ 3:41 pm

How They Croaked

This fascinating nonfiction book tells the totally true stories behind the deaths of nineteen famous people.  Historical figures like Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Beethoven did not always die in the way their legends say they did.  For example… Was Cleopatra really bitten and killed by an asp?  Read more to find out!! :-)

 

Written  and recommended by the staff of the Downers Grove Public Library.

 

Dreams Do Come True March 30, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 5:45 pm

For a little brown girl, born into a world of continuing turmoil of change, Jacqueline Woodson had no idea how much her life might parallel the world around her, and the struggles her nation was undergoing. For Woodson was born in the early 1960s in the Unites States. She was a girl born to a northern father and an southern mother, at a time when the South was still very entrenched in their Jim Crow world. After the marriage fails between her parents, Jackie, as her family called her, along with her mother and two siblings, moved to the South and lived with her mother’s parents for several important years.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a novel in verse biography of Woodson’s early years and howimgres she tried to resolve her love of the South, with some of the harsh realities of her younger years. She also moved to NYC when she was still fairly young, and the differences between the two climates and cultures made her feel split often.

This book will be slow for some readers, and is what I would call a quiet book. This book is recommended for thoughtful and mature readers, as some inferences will be needed to fully appreciate this story. For grades 7 and up.

 

Stranger than Fiction December 18, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — lpitrak @ 2:01 pm

Lincoln's Grave RObbersIn 1874, President Lincoln’s coffin was moved to the newly completed Lincoln Monument.  The following year, a notorious mob of money counterfeiters is caught in the act by members of the just-formed Secret Service. Benjamin Boyd, boss of this counterfeiting ring, is arrested and sent to prison.  His employees want him back, and they have the perfect plan.  They will steal President Lincoln’s body, hide it on the banks of the Sangamon river in Illinois, and pretend to “find” it.  They will be happy to return the President’s body to its rightful resting place, of course, but in return for the release of Ben Boyd from prison and $200,000.  Counterfeiters, Secret Service agents, double agents, grave robbers, and alot of bad luck… sometimes true history is so much stranger (and more fun!) than fiction.

 

No One is Perfect November 4, 2014

What makes someone successful? Is it what they do right? Or what they actually do wrong? How They Choked by Georgia Bragg looks at 15 people in history we often think of in terms of their successes. But what about their failures? Maybe those failures weren’t very public and maybe, as in the case of Amelia Earhart, they were.

What is great about this book, is the irreverent way Bragg approaches each of her subjects. As she says at the beginning of herimgres book, no one is perfect, and the sooner we all learn that, that happier we will be.

The chapter on Thomas Edison showed how someone could be success during their life, but a not nice person to those around them, or as in the case of Vincent Van Gogh – no one liked him. Not his family, or people around him. Ever. He had to pay people to pretend to be his family and it got to the point where people wouldn’t even pose for him because they disliked being around him so much.

Recommended for grades 6th and up for anyone who wants to be surprised, shocked and down right disgusted at times.

 

Ever Want to Be Someone Else? October 27, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 1:11 pm
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What would it be like to pretend to be a different gender? Could you keep that up for a long time? What about pretending to be a different race? What if your life depended on how well you could hide who you really were?

Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton looks at ten different people through history who have had to change their identity to keep themselves safe and others who just wanted a lark.

imgresMost interesting are the stories of people who created whole new personas for themselves that were needed to keep them alive. For example, Solomon Perel was a young Jewish boy, trying to survive during World War II, and he hid in plain sight. You’ll have to read the book to find out how. Or what about the husband and wife who were slaves and came up with a plan to get their freedom, if they weren’t caught be slave catchers first.

This is a quick read that will have you thinking about who you might like to pretend to be, and if you could pull it off!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.

 

 

 

 
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