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 http://www.buzzsprout.com/229361 and enjoy!

A World Away July 8, 2019

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:43 am

Jude loves where she lives – by the coast with her mother, father and older brother Issa. The only thing she doesn’t love is the smell of fish some days! She loves looking at the fancy hotels that the tourists come and stay at and dreams of someday staying in one herself, once she’s a famous actress. And she has lots of examples, since she and her best friend Fatima watch American movies on tape whenever they can, and imitate the actors and actresses endlessly! Even Issa used to get involved and sing along with them, but lately, all he can talk about is change. Change in their country’s political system and how he wants to help make it happen. Jude just wants to hang out at their dad’s little store and watch him sell candy, papers and other little items for prices way cheaper than at the big hotels.

download-2However, Issa’s wish might be happening. After all, Jude is amazed when she sees her country’s name, Syria, in the newspapers making headlines. Aleppo, a large city in Syria, is burning from all the fighting happening, and while that isn’t Jude’s reality where she lives, she knows that from all the whispers around town, that tourists won’t be coming much this year to their seaside retreats. The country is falling into chaos, and Issa seems to be part of it. Jude’s parents get more and more concerned about what the future might hold, and Jude is unprepared for the big change they decide for her.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga shows the struggle that many immigrants must go through – in feeling a loyalty to their former homes, a longing for the reasons why they left to disappear so they could return, and yet feeling hopeful in their new adopted country.  Jude has to deal with all these new things while just trying to be a teenager.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.

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Beanball Book Review by 8th Grader Luke June 4, 2019

Beanball by Gene Fehler is a book about a high schooler named Luke. Luke was the stardownload-4 player of his high school baseball team. Luke “Wizard” Wallace is up to bat in the last inning against their rivals. Luke sees the pitch coming and BAM he gets hit in the eye. Read to find out what happened after this tragic accident.

Beanball is a very short novel in verse. It is different from other books. It gives different perspectives of different people so you won’t get bored while reading this book. Overall, I liked this book. I felt like I was actually in the book because my name was the main character. I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Recommend for 6th-8th graders.

 

Polar Opposites January 7, 2019

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 12:23 pm

When Linc and Holly were little, it seemed nothing could pull them apart. But, now that they are in high school, it feels like nothing can bring them back together. Linc struggles with school, while Holly excels. Holly has many friends, while Linc has one. Being in the same grade doesn’t help matters out since it is easy to compare the two of them and their downloadmother does that all the time. Holly is adopted, Linc is not. And yet, Linc feels she doesn’t fit with the family. She sees the world in a very different light than her mother does, and it seems no mater what she does, her mother never believes it is enough. Linc finally thinks she has found a way to make her parents and Holly see that she has different strengths, and they don’t lie following the traditional path in school. However, the closer she gets to making her own dreams come true, the farther away everyone else seems.

The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen looks at a family and shows how little cracks in the foundation can shift the entire house. Linc wonders if she and Holly can ever regain the closeness they had a children, now that life and expectations – both internal and external – seem determined to keep them apart. Plus, Linc begins to imagine she’ll never be good enough for her mother.

Recommended for 8th grade readers and up due to some mature content.

 

To Make A Monster December 18, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 1:05 pm

We’ve all heard or seen or listened to something about Frankenstein. But do we reallydownload know much about the woman who created one of the most enduring creatures in the last two hundred years? Mary was the daughter of a famous writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, who is often linked as being one of the first writers to examine the rights of women, or the lack of rights for women. Unfortunately, just ten days after Mary was born, her famous mother died. Mary grew up with her older sister and her father, listening to famous poets and writers of the late 1700s and early 1800s talk about all kinds of interesting and thought provoking ideas. It wasn’t until her father remarried that Mary’s life took a dramatic change. No longer was it acceptable for Mary to listen to the conversations her father had, and the step-mother moved the family to the city and had Mary’s father run a bookstore that never did well. When Mary was a teenager, she was sent to live for two years with another family in Scotland, whom she grew to love and adore. Then her father demanded she return home to help work in the book shop.

Even though Mary wasn’t happy working in the city in her father’s book shop and to be back living with her step-mother and step-siblings, Mary was excited to meet a new young poet who had come by to speak to her father. Percy Bysshe Shelley was a married man of 21, and Mary was just 16, but their attraction to each other was instantaneous. They ended up running away together with Mary’s step-sister Claire.

Thus began years of Mary running with Shelley in an attempt to find a place where they could be accepted. In the process, Mary wrote one of the most famous books ever, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, which was published in 1818.

Mary’s Monster: Love Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lita Judge is a novel in verse with amazingly haunting black and white illustrations depicting the life of Mary until just after Shelley’s death. A fascinating read about one of the worlds most famous authors.

Recommended for mature 8th graders due to content.

 

 

At a Crossroads November 19, 2018

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:55 am

Garvey is struggling to connect with his father who only seems to want Garvey to dodownload-1 something athletic. But that is his older sister’s area of expertise. Garvey is more into music and reading than running around! It hurts him to hear his dad complain to his mom about him not being the kind of kid he wanted. Garvey finds himself slipping farther away from his dad and he isn’t sure how anything he likes will ever find favor with his dad.

One day Garvey starts talking with a new kid at school. A kid who has people making fun of him… a lot! The new kid happens to be albino and he tells Garvey you have to let the bad words people say go unheard. Garvey has been having trouble with this since he’s been gaining weight and that appears to be all anyone sees about him these days. But when a friend tells him he should try out for the Chorus, Garvey feels like he has finally found a place to call home. The only problem is, what will his dad think?

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes is a quick, sweet story about a boy looking for approval from his dad and his learning to live in his own skin.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.

 

To Touch the Moon October 23, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 9:04 am

Moving from Berkeley, CA to Vermont is enough of a shock for anyone, but for Mimi and her mother, joining Mimi’s dad at his new college professor position, Mimi finds herself being the only student at school who isn’t white. Mimi is biracial – a mix of her Japanese mother and her black father, and to many, she is a mystery. The most common question she gets, “What are you?”

downloadMimi isn’t sure the cold weather of Vermont hasn’t hardened the hearts of everyone who lives there – because at school the teachers look at her strangely, the students look at her strangely and their neighbor acts like he can’t even see them. Mimi isn’t sure how long she wants to stay in Vermont.

But as the year goes on, she makes one friend, whose mother isn’t sure she wants her daughter hanging out with a black girl, and there is a boy who sometimes is next door with their surly neighbor who appears to want to be friends. What will it take for people to change their minds about Mimi and her family, and does she want to put in the effort if no one else will? Then there is the fact that Mimi wants to be an astronaut, like John Glen, who has just touched the moon. But how can she if girls are only allowed to take classes like home economics and learn how to cook and sew, but never how to build anything?

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton looks at a time in our country when we were going through growing pains, in painful ways. Women and minorities were reaching beyond the limits that had been put upon them, and began to, like Mimi, reach for the stars. This is a wonderful book.

Highly recommended for grades 6th and up.

 

 

Dancing in a Temple October 8, 2018

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 6:08 pm

downloadWhen Veda, as a young girl, sees the God Shiva depicted dancing in a temple, she becomes captivated. Something in that moment connects her to the world and she begins to hear music everywhere and wants nothing more than to dance. In India, the classic form of dance is Bharatanatyam, and Veda is a star. She lives, breaths and thinks about dance, all the time. While her father and Paati (grandmother), her mother wants her to study hard and become an engineer. Veda can only see dance in her future.

When she wins a big competition, she thinks her way is clear – until a car accident on the way home from the event causes her to lose part of her right leg – her foot and calf. Her goal of dancing for life seems to be out of reach forever, especially when she tries to go back to dancing with her former teacher, only to have him reject her from class when she falls.

When her Paati suggests another teacher, one who focuses on the spiritual aspect of dancing, rather than competition, Veda isn’t sure that teacher will take her on either. Her dreams of dancing seem to be at a stand still.

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman is a touching look at one girl attempts to overcome what life has given her, and how even in the darkest moments, one can learn compassion for others. A great look at another country and shows how everyone around the world has dreams and hopes and struggles.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.