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!

Sloan has been bra-napped! May 24, 2017

In this light and funny novel, sixth-grade Becca Birnbaum thinks her life is over when a wild volleyball serve breaks the arm of the coolest, most popular eighth-grade girl. Sloan “Selfie” St. Clair has a huge group of friends, a walk-in closet of designer clothes, a country club membership, and a vacation home in Switzerland. Rumors are that getting on her bad side is social suicide. But, as Becca is soon to find out, Selfie is friendly, kind, and fun– and sometimes more than a little irresponsible. When Becca and Sloan are caught in a hilarious mix-up involving the principal’s missing bra, they have to work as a team to stop the school year’s biggest prank. Complementary illustrations in the style of hand-drawn doodles add a laugh-out-loud component to this endearingly off-the-wall beach read.

 

 

Forget Me Not May 14, 2017

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This novel about a girl trying to hide her Tourette Syndrome is written mostly in verse, with short prose vignettes interspersed throughout. Calliope Snow hates her last name– her father died in a car accident during a snowstorm, so being called “Snow” seems like a cruel joke. Because her grief-stricken mother has spent the last few years in a whirlwind of failed relationships, moving after every breakup, Calli is forced to begin at a new school each time and never has time to make a real friend. But this time (the TENTH!) might be a little bit different. Calli meets a kind, friendly boy named Jinsong, who might actually like her. However, because her mother and pediatrician told her not to tell anyone about her Tourette Syndrome, she can’t explain why she is often compelled to make strange noises, faces, and jerky movements. She quickly becomes the joke of her new middle school. Jinsong, who is more interested in this intelligent, quirky, kind girl every day, is torn between wanting to stand up for Calli and wanting to remain friends with the popular students who are bullying her. Terry writes intelligently and creatively, and though the ending is bittersweet, middle schoolers will love seeing Calli and Jin learn to stand up for themselves and each other.

 

A Fast Horse Can Only Take You So Far May 8, 2017

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:45 am

downloadHer mother dying left a hole in Raesha that nothing seems to be able to fill. However, if she can ride her horse, Fancy, in the coming rodeo season and place high enough to maybe win Nationals, like her mother did, maybe that will bring her closer to filling that hole up.

Rae knows that everything counts when you are racing the clock in barrels, and anything she can do to help her horse be faster and lighter will make all the difference. That is when she starts thinking about how she can be lighter. So much lighter that Fancy will have to be able to go faster.

Rae’s best friend, Asia, is the first to notice that Rae isn’t eating much of anything, if at all. Rae’s boyfriend, Cody, doesn’t seem to have any idea of what is going through his girlfriend’s mind, and things between them are only complicated when a new girl moves into town, named Kierra, and seems to threaten their once stable relationship.

The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene is a novel in verse that will capture your heart as you see how much Rae struggles to move beyond this growing despair she has in her life. The issue of eating disorders is portrayed in such a way that students will begin to understand how all encompassing this disease can become and how its impacts can be felt far and wide. An author’s note at the end will give readers even more perspective on how damaging and life threatening this can be to people.

Recommended for 8th grade readers and up due to the inferencing and text complexities of the text.

 

Chocolate Has a Dark Side April 3, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 5:05 am

Amadou thought that he was leaving Mali to hopefully be able to earn some money for his family. Drought over the years had left his area of the country badly impoverished, and he hoped to be like other children who had left and returned with money in their pockets. His little brother, Seydou comes with him. What Amadou can’t know is that the farm he lands on, isn’t one that will pay him. Instead, he’s been sold to a family that can’t afford to pay workers a wage, so they rely on children to work their cacao trees and repay them with harsh working conditions, beatings if the daily quota isn’t met and a miserable existence. Quickly, Amadou realizes that he isn’t going home at the end of the season with money is his pocket. In fact, he’s never seen a boy leave the farm…alive.

Amadou has spent the last two years of his life in this terrible situation, trying each day to keep his much younger brother alive and safe, with no end in sight or a way out that he can see. Until one day something strange happens. A girl shows up at the farm. No other girls have ever come to the farm and no other girls work with them currently. Wimgreshy would a girl show up and by herself, with no other new boys to work with the cacao pods?

Right away, the girl causes trouble, and somehow Seydou and Amadou are always right in the middle when it comes to her.

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan takes a subject about a little known event that is happening currently in the world and something that many of us take for granted. How does chocolate end up in our stores and in our lives? What is the price that others are paying for us to have that moment of sweetness in our mouths? Is it worth it?

Recommended for mature 7th graders and up. Very insightful story and important read.

 

See You in the Cosmos March 20, 2017

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng is an AMAZING novel told from the perspective of a space-loving eleven year old (who explains he is thirteen in maturity years :)). Alex Petroski loves space, and his idol is Carl Sagan. Just as Carl Sagan launched the Voyager Golden Records, which contain sounds and pictures of life on Earth, into space, Alex plans to lauSee You in the Cosmosnch his Golden iPod. This iPod contains Alex’s narration of his daily life, and he searches for people to interview who can explain the beauties and intricacies of what it means to be human for the alien life forms who will find his iPod after he launches it. This book follows Alex’s determination to build a rocket which will launch his iPod, his quest to find a “man in love” to interview, and his desire to unravel the mystery of why there is a record of a man with his deceased father’s same name and birthday living in Las Vegas. What follows is a roadtrip of epic proportions that will stay with you long after you close this book’s pages. Highly, highly recommended for any fans of realistic fiction!!!

 

 

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.

 

Not Much of a Secret February 14, 2017

Filed under: Humor,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 1:56 pm

Could life be any worse? Lincoln doesn’t think so. I mean, how many kids have to go to imgrestheir parents work after school? And how much worse that his mom works in a crazy home, or AKA – old folks home – or AKA a nursing home for dementia patients? Plus, Lincoln is having to deal with moving to a new school and a new apartment and having to deal with the school bus, which all pose their own problems.

Even though Lincoln has a lot to deal with, he moves through life with a journal in his backpack and lots of stories in his head. If he can only stay out of the way of Troy (who makes his life a misery on the bus) and Kandy Kain (seriously that is her name – a girl who won’t leave him alone at school) and various residents at Brookside Manor (one who periodically likes to take off her clothes!) he might be able to make it through the first months at school.

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones by Wendelin Van Draanen is a fabulous and funny look at a guy growing up and trying to find his way while staying true to himself. Lincoln begins to realize that while he’s an expert at turning in, he’s missing a lot by not looking outside of himself.

Recommended for 6th grade and up if you are looking for a fun and enjoyable book! Don’t let the boring book cover keep you from picking up this title!