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!

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.

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When is Enough, Enough? November 12, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:12 am

Jake is coming home as a hero. At least that is what others are saying. In fact, he’s in line to get a silver star for his bravery and conduct in battle in the Middle East. He comes from a military family. His grandfather is an actual retired General from the Army, and his father has made a career in the military as well, although he never saw active duty.

Jake, however, doesn’t feel like a hero. He saw horrible things while serving. And did horrible things. Things he can’t forget about. How do you justify killing young children who are armed? Jake was injured in the line of duty and has a short visit home before heading off to rehabilitation at an army hospital. But he still has more time to serve on his tour. He’s beginning to wonder if he can actually go back into the combat zone.

While he’s home, he is confronted by a girl from his old school who points out all the issues with JROTC programs and how it seems to be a recruitment program for young people to go right into the Army. Jake knows that there were things that his own recruiter lied about when he signed up and so that adds to his conflicts. Plus, even though his girlfriend Aurora waited for him while he was deployed, is it really fair to ask her to continue waiting for him if he goes back? What if he comes back even more damaged, emotionally and physically, than he already is?

Price of Duty by Todd Strasser does an amazing job of showing the grim realities of war adownloadnd how we send over people who, in many cases, are completely unprepared for the mental and physical possible ramifications of the job. It also shows how even though the army is a volunteer army, it is mostly made up of those groups in society that already have limited options, like minorities and people on the lower socio-economic ladder.

Highly recommended book for 8th graders and up. Really powerful, accessible read and shines a spotlight on many of the issues facing veterans and those who are looking to join their ranks.

 

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.

 

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.