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!

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.


Rebound Book Review by 7th Grader Evan May 9, 2018

RBRebound by Kwame Alexander is about a kid named Charlie who always talks back to his mom and gets in trouble a lot. He talks back to his mom because his dad died. Charlie’s mom said we are going to Disney World because he felt sad. He said no, so he went to his grandpa’s house and he learned how to play basketball.

One night, Charlie, his friend Skinny, and Skinny’s cousin Ivan were going to a convenient store. They saw these cans on an old lady’s porch and Skinny had an idea. His idea was to take the cans and turn it into money so they took the cans and turned it into money and they went to the convenient store to get junk food. Charlie spends the whole summer at his grandparent’s house. If it wasn’t for his grandpa, he wouldn’t have learned how to be a basketball player. This book is called rebound because Charlie is good at rebounds.

This is a good basketball book and interesting book but you should read The Crossover first before you read Rebound.



Taking Life’s Punches

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:13 am

Levi feels like all his life his mom and older brother, Timothy, have watched over him so much that it can be hard to breathe sometimes! Ironically, that is the actual problem with him. Levi, when he was an infant, had a trachea that was compromised and it made it hard to breathe and eat and he was very sick for a long time. Now that he’s older though, he feels he can do much more, more than his brother and mother think.

Levi’s dad seems to see the potential he has, and encourages him to take up a sport. When Levi throws out the idea of boxing, his dad laughs, but goes along with it. What neither of them expects, least of all Levi, is that boxing turns out to be his sport! But it has to be kept a secret because there is NO WAY his mom will let him box, not with his history of medical problems. So how do you tell a mother and brother that you love, it’s time to let go, just a little bit?

Knock Out by K.A. Holt is the sequel to House Arrest and gives the reader Levi’s life as a teenager. If you haven’t read House Arrest, you don’t need to, although, it is a great book so you should! Levi learns some hard lessons about who you can really count on when the going gets tough; a lesson we all learn at some point in our lives.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves Novels In Verse and good stories. For grades 6th and up.


Solo Book Review by 8th Grader Jimena May 7, 2018

soloIn Solo By Kwame Alexander Blade is a kid that is being lied to a lot by his father Rex and he’s just trying to make sense of all his problems in his head. Blade finds a horrifying truth about him and his family and doesn’t  know what to do next so he runs. Blade runs to Africa to find someone important to him that will change the way he sees life. Blade will find someone equally as important or maybe more important who will give him the answers to all his questions so he can make peace with himself as well as with his family. He doesn’t know who he is and his whole life he has been judged because of his father and has been compared to him as well. Blade has been told that he will do alcohol and drugs like his dad without people giving him the benefit of the doubt. When Blade finds out about his family’s secret, he can’t believe all the things he had to go through, like embarrassment and the comparison to his dad. When Blade left, he left to find answers and to find out who he really is. Will he finally find the answers to all his questions.

I considered this book to be fantastic because it makes you more aware of the people around you. I feel like it also teaches you to choose the people who you want in your life wisely because they can end up stabbing you in the back. In my opinion, Solo shows you to appreciate the life you have and the people you have in your life because while you have it bad, there might be someone who has it even worse.



A Local Author’s First Novel! May 2, 2018

AT Alone Together is Sarah J. Donovan’s first novel and she’s just around the corner from my school! I was able to get my hand on a book before it was released. (Thanks Sarah!)

Sadie Carter is one of eleven girls in her family. She is never really alone but she feels very alone on the inside.

Some of her older siblings have left to live on their own. Despite there being less mouths to feed, Sadie still has to steal pop tarts to make sure she gets one before everyone else takes all the good stuff. Her family doesn’t have a lot of money because her dad is out of work. Sadie’s mom works two jobs and even Sadie works after school. She works at the pizza place after school because she really wants to save up enough money to buy a car and find her freedom one day.

At her job, Sadie meets Sam and a crush blossoms. She really likes him and meets another suitor too. Sadie also has a teacher in her corner as well. She finds people outside of her family to make her feel not so alone. At the end, Sadie has to stand on her on and make decisions that make sense for her life.

Alone Together by Sarah J Donovan is a novel in verse. If you like to read novels in verse, this is a must read! Sadie’s story is sad but by the end, I was happy for the path Sadie chose for herself. I could really relate to Sadie’s struggles even though I come from a small family. I liked how the author repeatedly used the idea of being alone even when together with others.


House Arrest Book Review by 7th Grader Alexis April 26, 2018


In House Arrest by K.A Holt, Timothy is a good kid who did a bad thing. He is caught stealing. Now he’s under house arrest for a whole year. Timothy can only go to certain places like school and home. He has to check in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, he keeps a journal, and stays out of trouble. But then he must take drastic measures to help his little brother Levi who breathes through a trach tube that frequently clogs. Staying out of trouble proves more difficult than Timothy ever thought it would be.

This book is pretty complicated and a good twisted story. When I first read this book, I enjoyed reading this book. Once I got to the middle, it got boring for a little while, but once I got into more of the story, I really liked it. I recommend anyone who is reading this blog post to read this book immediately!!!


First Crossover, Then Rebound April 4, 2018

Rebound by Kwame Alexander is the prequel to the book The Crossover.  Rebound goes back in time to tell the story of Charlie “Chuck” Bell and how basketball became his life before he grew up, settled down, got married, and had Jordan and Josh Bell, the main characters in The Crossover.

RBCharlie Bell is hit hard by his father’s sudden death. Anger and confusion change Charlie’s outlook and his relationship with his mom. Things at home get bad and Charlie’s mom decides to ship him off to his grandparent’s house for the summer. Grandpa Bell is ready to put Charlie, or as he calls him – Chuck, to work! Charlie just wants to read comics all day but Grandpa isn’t having that! Aside from hard labor, Charlie tags along to the Boys and Girls Club (similar to the YMCA) with his Grandpa and Roxie, his cousin. Roxie is a dedicated basketball player. Charlie doesn’t even like basketball, in fact, he’s terrible at it! Charlie is coerced into filling in a spot during a 3 on 3 game and that is the beginning of his new found interest in the game. Over the summer, Charlie learns a lot about basketball, his family, and himself. Chuck turns things around and is able to rebound on the basketball court and in his life.

If you’ve already read The Crossover, this is a must read! I read The Crossover several years ago but it all came back to me as I read Rebound. I was able to make connections between both books. When I got to the end, there was a great surprise waiting that I did not expect! I loved The Crossover and LOVED Rebound even more, and I’m not even a basketball fan!

The author, Kwame Alexander, mixes up this novel in verse by throwing in some comic strip pages throughout the story. Get your hands on this book because it will not disappoint!