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!

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.

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Girl in the Game! September 25, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 2:40 pm

downloadTessa and Caleb have been friends for a while. They live on the same street, play on the same flag football team, and next year will be going to the same high school. Tessa is a possible rising star for the cross country team, and Caleb is hoping to get onto the high school football team.

But at the end of their last flag football game – a game that Tessa feels she lost because she didn’t catch a pass – she feels like she isn’t quite done with football. The only game that is left for her would be tackle football and the tryouts for the high school team will be coming up. Before that happens though, there is a football camp over the summer to get players ready. Tessa starts thinking maybe she’d like to be one of those players.

Caleb has realized that he likes Tessa as more than a friend, and she reciprocates his feelings. However when Tessa starts talking about playing tackle football, Caleb worries. Not only how it might impact his new relationship with Tessa, but the reactions he gets from his guy friends are troubling.

The Football Girl by Thatcher Heldring takes an issue and looks at it from all sides. Tessa struggles with figuring out the “empty feeling” she had after her last flag football game and wonders if it is because she isn’t done with the game. Caleb thinks Tessa is a great football player, but isn’t sure he wants her on his tackle high school team. As a reader you will feel the struggle of both teens and wonder where it will all go.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.

 

What Happens Online…Never Stays Online September 18, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:25 am

She is famous. Not just in her own mind or in her own school, but seriously, FAMOUS. At downloadleast in the online world of YouTube. Torrey Grey has her own channel talking about fashion, style and all the things in between. And for being a teenager, she has a huge amount of people following her channel. One thing though, is that her sister doesn’t particularly share her zest for clothing and all things fashion, but sometimes Torrey needs Miranda to film things for her videos. One day, while filming Torrey and her friend shopping, Miranda decides she’s had enough and leaves the store. Moments later, tragedy strikes when Miranda is killed by a drunk driver.

Now, online is the last place Torrey wants to be. Strangers are passing judgement on Torrey and many are blaming her for her sister’s death. Torrey knows her parents might be harboring similar thoughts as well. So the family decides to pick up and move across the country to start over. Torrey now struggles to make new friends and wonders how she’ll be able to tell if they are true or not.

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner looks at guilt and how much we can ever really be responsible for someone other than ourselves. When is it time to accept life and figure out a way to move on, or not.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

An Illegal Alien August 16, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:11 pm

Jasmine has to be perfect. She needs to get the right grades, she has to be involved in extracurricular activities, and she needs to take her cheer team to Nationals this year, and win! If it means sacrificing having a lot of friends, or any meaningful social life, so be it. After all, her parents didn’t come from the Philippines to give their kids a better life only to have those kids squander it, right? So Jasmine is out of her mind with excitement when she finds out she has been awarded a National Scholarship award which will give her a full ride to whatever college she chooses. She knows this is amazing, because her family would have struggled to put her through college. But when she excitedly shares the news with her parents, she learns an awful, horrible truth. Jasmine, along with her whole family, have no legal right to be in the United States. Suddenly, everything Jasmine has worked her whole life for dissolves. Who is she really, without all her accomplishments? Do they go away because she finds out she is considered an illegal – a term she hates?

As Jasmine has to figure out what her new life might look like, she mets a boy named Royce who at first seems to be everything that she’ll never have. Royce is rich, has his future set AND just happens to be the son of a Congressman who is against illegal immigrants. Yet, Jasmine and Royce are drawn to each other, even though the odds are clearly stacked against them.

Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz is a great book for understanding the constant uncertainty that someone in the United States lives with as an undocumented immigrant. Especially seeing how children who thought they were in the country legally might feel, only to find out, they aren’t. And the romance is good too!

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

Battling Everyone July 31, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 2:11 pm

downloadDarwin feels like he can’t catch a break. Like how his dad is in prison and his mom thinks if he attends a fancy school out in the suburbs, Darwin won’t end up following in his dad’s footsteps. But when the history teacher at his new school questions whether he actually wrote his paper himself, or when the kids all whisper when they see him, or when a kid approaches him to join a fight club, Darwin knows life is never easy.

Tap Out by Sean Rodman is a quick read and pulls the reader in to the big dilemma facing Darwin. Should he keep fighting and winning to earn money for his mom, or is the fighting only making life harder for him; to fit in, to move on, to feel good about himself.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

Never Ending Loss July 26, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:14 am

At first he thought he was having a nightmare, that he was dreaming his apartment had been hit by bombs, like so many others in his city and that he would wake up and everything would be fine. But Tareq was living the nightmare. His apartment had been bombed, and his younger sister and brothers all killed, along with his mother and his grandmother. Only one sister and his father escape alive. Now they have to make a decision. Get out of the country they have loved, or face more death, even though there are no guarantees of safety if they do leave.

downloadTareq’s father decides they must leave Syria and journey to Turkey as the first step in fleeing their war torn country. However, they need money for this and they travel to a part of Syria that is controlled by Daesh fighters and there Tareq witnesses things he never thought to see in real life. And they haven’t even left the country yet.

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi is a hard and compelling look at the realities facing many people in the world today. What do you do when the country you love is fighting against itself and taking down the citizens? Where is safe in a world where many are scared of the refugees seeking asylum? This story is told by Destiny, and he/she looks at the world and knows the lives and struggles of the people and wonders how we humans can do such awful things to each other. This is a powerful book, and the story of Tareq and those he meets on his journey will leave the reader with a broader understanding and hopefully empathy for the plight of others in this world.

A strongly recommended read, but for students in 8th grade and older for the complexity of understanding Destiny is telling the story, as well as the nuances of the politics involved in this situation as well as some of the graphic violence.

 

Once a Liar, Always a Liar? July 10, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 12:50 pm

Kay has a close knit group of friends at her boarding school, a school where she escaped after tragedy struck her home years before. A tragedy she can’t help feeling a part of…because of a series of lies she told. At Bates, the boarding school, many of the studentsdownload-1 appear to have a golden life, but as a student there on scholarship, Kay has to walk a fine line and keep her grades and her place on the soccer field perfect, or it can all slip away.

One night, as Kay and her friends are about to have their annual skinny dip in a pond on campus after a Halloween party, they make a grisly discovery. A girl has beat them to the pond, but she won’t be coming out on her own. She is dead. Quickly, rumors of a suicide turn into rumors of murder. When Kay gets a mysterious email that sends her to a website, she knows that her time might be up. Basically, if she doesn’t force other members of the school out, her own terrible secret will be out. Kay has limited knowledge of computers and hacking, so she turns to a girl named Nola to help her before time runs out and her secret is revealed.

As Kay and Nola begin to unravel the pieces of the website, it quickly becomes clear that lots of others at Bates have things to be weary of, and as Kay works to save her own skin, she begins taking down members of her own group of friends. The question becomes, who is next? And could the website be setting Kay up to take the biggest fall of her life?

People Like Us by Dana Mele is a book that most readers will enjoy. I was a little confused at times by Kay and her romantic indecision when it came to some of the people in her life. Kay’s secret also seemed a bit much, but other readers will be able to forgive that if they enjoy the rest of the story.

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up.