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!

Running Blind September 14, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 1:18 pm

For Parker Grant, many things have happened to shape who she is. Many, many things. And she’s just 16 years old. When she was seven, she was in a car accident with her mom. Her mother died and Parker was left permanently blind. Her father became the rock in her world. Along with her father and some close friends, Parker was able to take back control of her life, as best she could. When she was in 8th grade though, Scott, who was her closest friend and for a little time – her first boyfriend – betrayed her in a way that she has never recovered from. If her best friend could devastate her, what could the rest of the world do to her? Luckily, she and Scott ended up going to different high schools.

But starting her junior year, the town has decided to combine the two small high schools, and so Parker must contend with a whole new group of people who don’t understand the girl with the blindfold on in the hallways, and Parker gets a new “guide” at school; a girl named Molly. While Parker is trying to adjust to life among the new students, she has forgotten about one person. Scott.

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He is in one of her classes and Parker begins to question many of the things in her life. Especially ever since her father died of a supposed overdose three months before school started and her aunt’s family came to live with her. Parker begins to realize that everyone has secrets – ones that even if she could see, she wouldn’t know about. She found out things about her father after he died she never suspected. Could she be wrong about other things as well?

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom is a wonderful, powerful look at how we can think we understand a situation or a person, and realize we truly know nothing.

Recommended for everyone because it is just that good. Or 7th grade and up.

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Bad Business August 7, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:20 am

Lindy was super excited! She’d been accepted into an amazing summer program that took students to the Arctic to learn and do projects AND see polar bears in their natural environment.

The only problem is that it costs a huge amount of money. She was able to get a scholarship to cover part of the cost, and if she turns in her money early, that will knock off another $2,000, but the problem is the early bird date is approaching fast and while Lindy does work, she isn’t sure she’ll be able to make the deadline.

Lindy works for seniors in her neighborhood doing odd chores for them. One of her best clients, Mrs. Naulty, is wonderful, but Lindy has begun to notice that she’s getting confused sometimes and forgetful. The only thing that isn’t great about Mrs. Naulty is she download-1doesn’t pay very well. However, just when Lindy thinks she’ll never be able to make her money deadline, Mrs. Naulty gives her $200! Usually she only gets 10! Lindy knows this must be another time when Mrs. Naulty is confused but she doesn’t feel she can turn down the money.

Bad Business by Diane Dakers gives us a situation where we are rooting for Lindy and when a supposed friend puts Lindy in an even worst position we aren’t sure how it will come out.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.

 

Short Life of a Shorty August 2, 2017

Filed under: graphic novel,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:03 am

downloadThey called him Yummy because he loved sweets. He slept with a teddy bear and stole kids’ lunch money, broke into houses, cars and anything he could get his hands on. He was eleven years old when he killed a girl. He was elven years old when a 14 and 16 year old killed him.

His real name was Robert Sandifer and he lived in Chicago in the mid 1990s. It was there that he got an education in the darker side of life. What is a boy to do when his father is locked in jail and he has been taken away from his mother because of abuse. His grandmother loved him, but she had up to 20 other grandkids to look after as well. Often Yummy would take off for days and only return when he wanted some love and a safe place to sleep.

The Black Disciples – a gang in Chicago – liked to recruit young kids. They couldn’t be tried as adults and as such could do a lot of things without being locked up for the rest of their lives. The gang used this to their advantage and had the younger kids, or shortys, do a lot of their dirty work.

One afternoon, Yummy came across some rival gang members and pulled out his gun. But instead of shooting the gang members, he killed a 14 year old girl named Shavon Dean. Thus began a huge manhunt in the city of Chicago for an eleven year old boy.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri is a powerful fictionalized graphic novel account of what went down in the hot summer of 1994. The reader is faced with the question, was Yummy the victimizer or the victim?

Highly recommended for grades 7th and up.

 

Lightning Made Her, Or Did It? July 20, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 7:05 am

Nothing much happens on the The Hill of Dust, the name of Teo’s town in Mexico. His family of indigenous people, the Mexteco, are used to being marginalized in all areas of their life. So when a caravan of roaming Romani (more commonly known as Gypsies) download-1show up, it is cause for everyone in Teo’s town to sit up and take notice. Everyone except for his mother however, who has been lost in her own world ever since Teo’s twin sister died the year before. Teo understands. After seeing his father killed years before, and not being able to save his sister, Teo feels like being sucked under with grief as well. Only his grandfather seems to be able to keep him afloat.

Until he meets Esma. Esma is a force unto herself. She is a Romani girl with a personality to light up the night sky! She has the most amazing voice and Teo finds his life linked with hers over a fortune read one night.

Teo and Esma know theirs is an improbable friendship. The Romani doesn’t trust outsiders and Teo’s people don’t understand the Gypsy way of life. However, something draws Esma and Teo together, despite these differences. The only question is, how can their friendship thrive in such a difficult world?

The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau is a powerful read on life beyond our borders and a glimpse into a time and way of life almost lost.

Recommended for anyone who likes powerful, quiet reads. Appropriate for grades 6th and up.

 

All Your Secrets OUT, for the World to See July 17, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 6:46 am

Sammy has the typical concerns. She’s worried about the four AP exams she’ll be taking in a few months, along with her driver’s license test and the SAT. PLUS, the prom is coming up, and she’s desperate for a promposal (the over the top prom proposals that get downloadrecorded for the world to see – although after seeing one in the cafeteria she decides she’d prefer the old fashion way of someone just asking her in private) from Jamie, the star lacrosse player at her school. She thinks he likes her, but it could be he only likes to copy her math homework. It’s all so much pressure on a girl. Plus, even though she’s always been a “good kid” her parents won’t let her go into the city to see her favorite band because a parent isn’t going along.

She decides that the concert is too important and devises a way to sneak with her best friends to see the show. But of course, it doesn’t all go as planned. She’s worried how she’ll cover up the fact that her mom’s sweater got vomit on it and how to clean it without her knowing!

All that changes when her father, who runs a world famous bank, divulges to the family that some protesters have hacked into secure information not only from the bank, but from their family. All their texts, emails, and to Sammy’s horror, her personal journal that she kept on her computer, are all about to become public for the world’s amusement. Sammy knows that she’s said some not so nice things about a lot of people in the journal, including her best friends, her infatuation with Jamie, AND the fact that she snuck out to the concert. She’s terrified of the consequences of her journal becoming public.

It turns out she has more than just her journal to worry about though, as a secret her parents have been keeping from her and her brother becomes public.

In Case You Missed It by Sarah Littman takes an honest look at all the pressures parents and society put on teens these days, from SATs to prom proposals, and lets the reader see what truly matters.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

Recruited in 8th Grade! July 13, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 1:53 pm

downloadTravis thinks the only thing worth anything in the world is football. He spends all his time thinking about it and playing it. His older brother has set a great example by getting a scholarship to a Florida college to play football for their team. Travis is stoked when the coach comes and talks to Carter, Travis’ older brother about the offer. And Travis can’t pass up the opportunity to show off a bit for the coach – who is impressed!

Taking the coach’s offer up to send him some of his game footage, Travis is completely floored and shocked when the coach offers him a verbal commitment to Travis for when he graduates from high school to come play at the Florida school. Travis can’t believe it! After all, he’s only in 8th grade.

After getting the verbal offer, Travis sees his life change. His brother Carter, has a hard time seeing all the attention that his little brother is getting, especially as he’s trying to make it himself in the college scene.

But all that changes after one event brings things into perspective for Carter and later for Travis.

Top Prospect by Paul Volponi tells of an unusual situation, although not unheard of, where students as young as middle school have been made offers by colleges that are looking to have them in their sports program when they are older. The question is, does this put unreasonable pressure on these student athletes and their families? Can kids really keep performing at that level for so long?

This book is a great read for anyone interested in the world of football and some of the pitfalls of being really good at any sport.

 

Thirteen and a half years of memories– wiped out in one instant! June 4, 2017

Chase Ambrose wakes up in a hospital bed, with no recollection of who he is, why he is there, or what happened in his life leading up to this point. He is told that he fell off of his roof and the resulting injury to his head caused amnesia. Thirteen and a half years of life– wiped out in one instant! While he doesn’t remember

anything about his life, Chase thinks he has a pretty good idea of who he is from pictures he finds on his phone– he’s a football star, a popular student with lots of friends, and a brother. However, as he begins to pick up on other people’s reactions to him (his four-year-old half sister is terrified of him; students at school cower in fear when he walks down the hallway; a girl dumps a whole bowl of frozen yogurt over his head), he realizes that he might have been a bully. “New Chase” doesn’t feel like a bully though. He truly enjoys his (court ordered) community service at the senior center, hanging out with the video club, and creating a relationship with his arch-enemy Shoshanna. Now Chase is torn– can he go back to his old life now that he has seen the person he could be? Even though this book’s topic is serious, it is executed in Korman’s signature hilarious style. Crazy stunts meant to turn viral on YouTube, pranks, a cranky Korean War veteran, and more will keep middle school students laughing until the happy ending.