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!

Beneath the Surface of the City July 21, 2016

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:25 pm

imgresNew York City, circa middle to late 1800s, was a MESS! Seriously! There were tons of people and conveyances and thousands of horses adding tons of manure to the streets each day. It could literally taken an hour to go a few blocks, simply because you took your life in your own hands trying to cross the street!

Keep in mind, this was long before traffic lights and anything else that would help people. Traffic moved at slower than 1 mile per hour. Many people knew that things were horrible, but no one seemed able to come up with a plan to make things better. However, one man named Alfred Beach thought the only way to solve this massive congestion problem was to create an underground subway system.

Secret Subway: the fascinating tale of an amazing feat of engineering by Martin W. Sandler tells the story of the first subway in New York City and all the wrangling that went into it. This story includes how “Boss” Tweed – a crooked politician – tried to single handedly de-rail the whole process and how some things are just beyond anyones control.

This is a great story about a little known project and a really fast read. Recommended for 6th grade and up.

 

True Story Behind Man vs. Wild December 17, 2015

 

The Kid Who Climbed Everest

Bear Grylls, most famous for his hit t.v. show “Man vs. Wild” has done some crazy things on camera!  He’s run Class Five rapids… with no raft; he’s dove beneath the ice of a Siberian frozen lake… with no protective gear or clothing; he’s demonstrated how to effectively free yourself from deadly quicksand… by getting stuck up to his chest in some of the fastest moving quicksand on earth; he’s eaten rats and termites that he dug out of a rotting tree stump, and finally, perhaps most famously, he’s even drunk a bottle of his own urine to avoid dehydration in the middle of the ocean!!

GROSS!!!

But before Bear was the star of his own show, he was a member of the British Special Air Service.  On a training jump in Africa his parachute failed to open, and he fractured his spine.  Doctors were unsure if he would ever walk again.  After multiple surgeries and eighteen months of agonizing, painful rehab, Bear did regain the ability, not only to walk, but to train to climb Mount Everest.  Two years later, at age 23, he became the youngest Englishman to climb Everest, which is the highest peak in the world.  (The record has since been broken, just for FYI!!).   is an awesome book about this whole journey, and speaks to overcoming obstacles, true resilience, and the power of an adventurous spirit.

 

War In Pictures November 19, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 5:36 pm

The Civil War in the United States was one of the first wars to be captured withimgres photography. Up until then, images were in paintings or drawings often years after the events or battles themselves had taken place. With the invention of the camera, everything changed. The book Photo By Brady: A Picture of the Civil War by Jennifer Armstrong shows how important this work was at the time.

Two men were primarily responsible for the photographic documentation of the Civil War. The one most widely known is Mathew B. Brady who was a well known photographer of the day and had become known for doing portrait work. He was trying to make photography into an art form to give it legitimacy. The second person was Alexander Gardner who became a business partner with Brady for a time. During the Civil War they ended up splitting away from each other and Gardner created his own studio.

Both men were instrumental in giving the public at the time and all the generations afterwards a true glimpse into the horrors of the Civil War.

Recommended for grades 7th and up.

 

 

Two Ships, Cracked in HALF! October 16, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:00 am

In February of 1952 one of the worst winter storms to hit the Northeast also lead to one of the greatest Coast Guard rescues of all time.

With terrible weather pounding the coast and the high seas, two oil tankers, the Pendelton and Fort Mercer, both trying to ride out the horrible weather before heading into port, broke literally in half! Only one of the ships was able to get out an S.O.S. before it cracked in half, which was the Fort Mercer. The Fort Mercer knew things were bad and that they had sprung a leak in the middle of their ship, so they radioed the Coast Guard and ships were on their way to help them. However, the seas had 60 to 70 feet high waves,imgres-2 so any kind of rescue was going to be near impossible.

However, the Pendelton broke up in the night, and there wasn’t any warning so no S.O.S. was sent out. They were found purely by accident by a plane that was looking for parts of the Fort Mercer! This meant there were FOUR parts of ships that were floating in high seas and no one knew how long each section could stay afloat, especially in the horrible storm that was raging.

Into this nightmare, men were sent out to try to rescue them, knowing all the while, they might never return themselves.

The Finest Hours: The true story of a heroic sea rescue by Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman is a fast paced, edge of your seat adventure story about the real dangers of the sea, and the real people who venture out to save people. An amazing story.

Recommended for students in 6th grade and up.

 

There Was a Killer in the Kitchen September 30, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 12:04 pm

Everybody loves ice cream, and especially, HER ice cream. She made really great ice creamimgres and at the turn of the 20th century, ice cream sure was a luxury item. One that a wealthy family that employed a cook could afford. What the Warren family didn’t know, was that when Mary Mallon made their wonderful peach ice cream in August of 1906 as their recently hired cook for their summer rented house, she gave them something that no one wanted. Typhoid Fever.

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A true story of the deadliest cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti peels back the myths and legends that surround this well known, but little known about, character who shaped much of American lore.

This book gives great insight not only into the time period at the turn of the 20th century, but also how Americans viewed science at the time, the idea of germs and how then, as in now, the rights of a person versus society’s good are hard to determine.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.

 

Slavery….Alive and Well August 6, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 1:24 pm
Tags: , ,

Unfortunately, slavery is not a problem from the past, but very much something  that concerns nations around the world,imgres including the United States, today. This isn’t slavery that is sanctioned by the state or by governments, but rather done illegally by either deceiving people, or outright kidnapping them. Most of the time, people are transported to another country, one where they don’t speak the language or even understand the customs. This is intentional, because if a kidnapped victim were to escape, who could they turn to? Some are afraid that the country they have been brought into will send them back since they are there illegally.

The horrors of being a slave today are often overlooked because so many people think that slavery is over. Little do they know, that the person in the back of the restaurant might be a slave. Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by Alison Marie Behnke gives the reader much to think about.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

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

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 3:54 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 135 other followers