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!

A Life In Poems March 3, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 12:43 pm

Born a slave in 1864, his mother and he were stolen from the white couple who owned them. Little George was recovered but not his mother, so he and his older brother were raised for a time by the white couple who clearly cared deeply for them. Later they sent George and his brother to get an education.

For many years George worked hard and traveled far to learn as much as he could about life and many living things. He was amazing at laundry, because he’d figured out how to clean things well! He was able to tell people huge amounts of information about many plants and what they could be used for.

imgres-1Eventually, he was able to get his master’s degree and began working as a professor at Tuskegee Institute where he made incredible works of art as well as improved the lives of farmers over and over again with his techniques. His introduction of the peanut as a way to improve the lives of former slaves and the soil in the south was a brilliant stroke to better the lives of many.

Carver: a life in poems by Marilyn Nelson is a difficult read at times and at turns very poignant as we get a glimpse into the private and often lonely life of George Washington Carver, undeniably one of America’s greatest scientific minds.

Recommended for 8th grade and up due to high level of inferencing and vocabulary.


A Father Changes Everything February 22, 2017

Connor understands that his father is very depressed after the death of his mom. What he doesn’t realize is that his dad is thinking about a lot of things. It turns out that when his mother died, she left him with something that shook the foundation of Connor’s father’s life. In a letter, Connor’s grandmother tells his dad that the man he thought was his father all thes9780803733053e years wasn’t. At least not biologically. Turns out that when she was in Italy during World War II she met an American pilot and he is really Connor’s father’s dad.

When Connor’s dad shares this news with the rest of the family they react quite well. However, it is the ring and set of wings that came with the letter that captivate Connor and his dad’s interested. Could these be the key to finding out more about Connor’s biological grandfather? And is this something they should be digging into? What if it leads them down a path they realize they aren’t quite ready to tread?

American Ace by Marilyn Nelson is a quick and powerful read about a family coming to terms with learning biology can be a powerful thing, but not everything. And what if you find out something that you didn’t expect?

This is a great novel in verse story. I loved how the information was interwoven and felt the reactions to the revelations were authentic to real life. Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.


One + One = Two December 14, 2016

Image result for one by sarah crossan

Being twins, Tippi and Grace have a very close relationship and are joined at the hip – literally. They are conjoined twins who look separate from the waist up and share one body from the waist down. For most of their lives, they have been safe at home. Their mom chose to home school the twins to protect them from society but Tippi and Grace have to attend public school for the first time because of money issues. The twins friend two outcasts at school – Yasmeen and Jon. It’s the first time the twins have friends and have a life outside of each other.

As the twin’s social life begins to get better, Grace’s heart takes a turn for the worst. The twins must be separated to save their lives. It’s a risky operation but not having the surgery is even riskier.

One by Sarah Crossan is a novel in verse. I was interested in reading this book because I’ve never read a book about conjoined twins before. Grace and Tippi’s stories are definitely interesting. . You have to read and find out what happens in the end!

I would recommend this book to mature 7th and 8th grade readers.


Based on True Events November 30, 2016

On March 11, 2011, a catastrophic earthquake hit Japan. Minutes later, a wall of the Pacific Ocean came slamming into the coast of Japan from a massive tsunami.

Leza Lowitz, the author of Up From the Sea, noted, “15,889 people died, 6,152 were injured, and 2,601 people are still missing.” She was inspired to write this story because she was in Tokyo when this happened – she saw the devastation and death first hand.

Up from the Sea is a novel in verse. Kai, a fictional character, tells his story of survival and loss. At school, Kai thinks he’s part of just another routine earthquake drill Japan often has. This time the drill is real! After the earthquake, Kai seeks higher ground b2Q==.jpgecause a tsunami is coming. The tsunami destroys everything in Kai’s life – his home, his school, and his family. Kai’s story portrays the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan and how many people’s lives were changed.

If you like reading novels in verse, easy books, books about natural disasters, stories about survival, or just good stories – I recommend Up From the Sea by Leza Lowitz



Good Intentions, Bad Actions December 20, 2015

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:43 am

imgresHe was only trying to help his brother. But it all went wrong, really fast. Timothy’s younger brother Levi was born with a bad trachea. As a result, he needs a LOT of medical help. He has to have his airway held open by a tube that is inserted into his throat which can make things difficult for him to breath, eat, or make any noise at all. Timothy’s dad just up and leaves one day, which means now  Timothy and his mom must try to provide everything for Levi.

In an attempt to make things better, Timothy steals a wallet and uses one of the credit cards to purchase medical supplies for his brother. He is caught. His sentence is to be on house arrest for one full year. That means only going to school and being in his house. Also, he must meet with a counselor and his probation officer each week and keep a journal of his thoughts and feelings.

House Arrest by K. A. Holt is a quick and heartfelt read. Written as a novel in verse, be prepared to have one sitting to read this book because once you start you will want to keep going.

Highly recommended for grades 6th and up.


When Too Much, is Too Much November 30, 2015

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 3:10 pm

Daisy is the good girl. The fabulous trumpet player, the wonderful daughter, the dutiful sister. Or she has been. But something is changing and growing in the Meehan family, and his name is Steven. Steven is at the beginning and the ending of everything that happens in their household. Why? Because Steven is severely autistic and while it was hard when he was younger, it has become nearly impossible to have a semi normal existence with him now that he’s grown into a large thirteen year old boy. A boy who doesn’t understand that he can now hurt people when he gets upset. A boy that it is hard to talk to, and a boy who everyone loves dearly. Daisy, included.

So Daisy begins to lose it – after all the years of being perfect – and starts to slide somewhere she isn’t sure where she’ll end up. Only that she knows she can’t continue on as she has. Maybe Dave, a friend from years ago, but someone who has been classified by the town as a loser, has the answerimgres.

The question is, is he willing to share what he knows?

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe is an honest look at a family in crisis, trying to survive as best they can, while keeping what is best for everyone in mind.

Highly recommended. Good for mature 7th graders and up.


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.