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!

A Dream Destroyed January 17, 2022

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Ya Ta is the only girl in the family and her father and mother both support her desire to go to school. The only problem is, in Nigeria, you have to pay for schooling. So Ya Ta is very hopeful she will do well on a district test, earn a government scholarship and be able to go to a boarding school to further her education. If not, she’ll have to find a way to earn money to go.

Ya Ta is like many girls. She longs for a better life for herself and her family, she adores her older brothers and protects her little brother and even hopes for a marriage to the local pastor’s son, Silence. However, lurking in the shadows, never quite out of mind, is the threat of Boko Haram. They are a militant religious group bent on taking down the government of Nigeria. While Ya Ta is wary of them, she doesn’t think they will ever come close enough to her village for her to worry.

Until the day they do. She sees all her brothers and father killed, her best friends are rounded up with her and taken away to the dense forest. Her only hope is that she can hold out until help arrives, or figure out a way to escape.

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is fiction, but based on the accounts of many girls and women who have been taken by force by Boko Haram and indoctrinated into their beliefs or held for years against their will. The true horror of this story is that this group is still active in Nigeria and still holds many women and girls prisoner.

Recommended for grades 8 and up due the mature content and violence portrayed.


Taking Up Space…In A Good Way! December 13, 2021

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Ellie has had to live with a horrible nickname since she was 5 years old. That was when her older sisterdownload-1 called her Splash, after she canon-balled into their swimming pool. After that point, everyone seemed to be making fun of or disparaging her about her weight. She hadn’t thought anything of how she looked until that moment. But for every moment afterwards, it seems that is all she thinks about.

Now she’s about to start 6th grade and her best friend is moving across the country, away from Ellie. All Ellie can think is that she has no support for school anymore. What will she do? And her mom seems to be ramping up her quest to get Ellie in for gastric bypass surgery. Her only ally appears to be her father.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps is a quick read about the struggles we face in our own families and in the world at large. And how everyone has something they worry about or wish could be different. The hardest thing in life is to learn to accept who we each are.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Trapped at the Mall November 15, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Miranda didn’t want anyone to know her secret. But then again, Amina, Grace, Parker, Javier and Cole all have something to eitherdownload hide, or be concerned about. What they don’t know is that all of them are going to be faced with some horrible decisions that will change the rest of their lives, forever. That’s because, while they are all at the mall for different reasons that afternoon, it soon becomes apparent when gunmen open fire, no one will be safe.

Miranda finds herself hiding in a back storage room with four other teens who are trying to stay alive as other people have been killed and taken hostage. Being locked away from everyone, and not knowing how to get out of the mall and who to trust, all the teens begin to question each other. Why was everyone in the mall? Did they have an ulterior motive? Parker is stuck by himself for a while until he can find his little sister Moxie. Was she killed in the first bursts of gunfire, or did she escape?

As time ticks by, the teens, hostages and gunmen begin to get uneasy. Who can you trust? Who is working for the gunmen, and who isn’t? And at what point do you just have to believe in someone and something, regardless of the past?

Run, Hide, Fight Back by April Henry is a nonstop action and adrenaline book. Even as you and the characters begin to find out things about each other that you might not want to believe, it keeps things moving and you wondering, who will ultimately survive this horrible tragedy.

Recommended for grades 8 and up due to some mature content.


In Real Life… November 1, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-7Maya is looking forward to college as a place to dream big and follow her dreams – as in becoming a film maker. Ever since her father put a camcorder in her hands, she has been hooked. But the problem is, her parents see it as only as a hobby, not a career. With the school year winding down, and her parents clueless as to the fact that she wants to go to New York to study film, not stay in the Chicago area and be close to them, she has her work cut out for her.

To add to the complication of her life, a boy that she’s been crushing on for what seems like a long time, suddenly is paying attention to her. In fact, over their Spring Break vacation, they get super close. Or at least Maya thinks they are. But in the back of her mind, she knows he has a serious girlfriend, or at least they used to be serious. Maya isn’t sure about a lot of things anymore.

When tragedy strikes the nation, Maya and her family find themselves in the scary territory, being Muslim and Indian in a country that often blames immigrants for anything and everything that can and does go wrong. Can Maya convince her parents to overcome their fears and accept that their daughter is growing up?

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed is a book about a girl at the crossroads of feeling and being an adult yet still finding herself making at times childish decisions. How do you stay true to yourself, but honor those who have helped foster who you have become?

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


#mynewfavoritebook Review by Mrs. Homel October 18, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

All it took was one social media post to change Rachel and Kyle’s lives forever! Hiding behind her phone, Rachel secretly snaps a picture of Kyle looking all cute in his Burger Barn uniform. He’s so cute, she decides to send the picture to her friend on social media. One reflit (share) turns into another and another, and then Rachel can’t even keep up with her notifications!

After work, Kyle turns on his phone and he has no idea why he has thousands of messages. He finds his picture, which he had no clue was ever taken, plastered all over Flit! (Think fake Instagram or Snapchat)

One post has thrown Rachel and Kyle into the spotlight and they’re now famous…so famous a big talk show host has plans for both of them. Being suddenly famous does come with some perks, but it also brings out some haters and bullying, online and at school.

download-6#famous by Jilly Gagnon is great if you love stories about social media and the drama of having a crush, you have to read this book! It does have some mature content because the characters are in high school.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Bells are Ringing, In a Bad Way October 4, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:31 am

Football is what has kept him sane for years now, and without it, Isaiah can’t see how he will be able todownload-1 focus and function. He has become such a good player that he is being recruited by Cornell, but he hasn’t told his parents yet. And that is because of what happened to his sister years ago, and why Isaiah needs football.

All that changes though, when he gets hit, bad. So bad, that he hears witches screaming in his head and he doesn’t even remember getting up and going home that night. It scares him though. Because is this game, and it is a game after all, worth everything?

As Isaiah struggles to figure out who he is without the sport, he begins to realize maybe he isn’t anything without it. And if he is forced to give it up? What then?

Cracking the Bell by Geoff Herbach gives a very personal look at how tragedy can lead to some unexpected good things, and what to do when that good thing might be taken away. How do we redefine ourselves, without getting lost along the way?


Say Whaaaattt? September 13, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-2Liliana is floored when she is called to the office of her high school at the beginning of her sophomore year and finds out she has been accepted into the METCO program. The only problem is that Liliana has no idea what the METCO program is. So she goes to talk to her guidance counselor, who, it just so happens is a graduate of the METCO program. Liliana is shocked to discover that her parents signed her up for this opportunity when she was young and her name has final come up. The METCO program takes kids from the urban areas of Boston and puts them into schools in the surrounding suburbs. The white surrounding suburbs. Liliana, a proud Latina, isn’t sure she wants this “opportunity.”

But things are messed up at home. Her father has gone missing. Although, it soon becomes apparent that her mom knows where her dad is, but doesn’t want to share that information with Liliana and her younger twin brothers. Her mom is STRESSED out, understandably so, but Liliana has no idea how to help out since she doesn’t know what is really going on.

On top of all of that, her oldest and best friend Jade is so consumed with her boyfriend she never seems to have time for Liliana anymore – even when Liliana needs someone to talk to about this new school she’s going to in Westburg. The other METCO students at Westburg certainly don’t go out of their way to be welcoming, so Liliana finds herself floating in a world that she doesn’t fit in at all. Or so she thinks at first.

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon is a current and realistic look at how a person can be pulled in so many different directions and struggle to find themselves as the world keeps on spinning. This book does have some continuity issues – but overall is a good read and most readers won’t be bothered by those issues.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Who Was It? August 30, 2021

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

When she heard the news, it took her breath away. She was just getting to know Grant, and now, suddenly, he’sdownload-1 dead. Shot by one of his best friends on a hunting trip. But who did it and why? Kate, and everyone else, can’t wrap their heads around the fact that one of the most popular boys in their small community has died and no one is saying who pulled the trigger.

But people, especially Grant’s parents, want answers. What happened in the woods that morning where five best friends went out and only four lived to tell the tale. But that was the problem. No one was talking. Kate is in a unique position because her senior year internship has her working for the District Attorney’s Office and the lawyer she helps out has just been charged with figuring out who did pull the trigger.

Kate has her own reasons for wanting Grant’s killer brought to justice since she had been getting so close to him. So close that she was almost at the party the night before he died. But the closer she gets the more she uncovers about Grant, and he certainly wasn’t who she thought he was. Still, can she help find the killer before someone else dies?

This is Our Story by Ashley Elston is a really good read that will have some nice turns in it for you. While you might not guess who the killer was, in many ways it doesn’t matter, since the read to get there is so enjoyable!

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


Vanilla and Chocolate Make? July 14, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:03 am

downloadIt has been a while since her parents got divorced, but it doesn’t mean that things are easier now for Isabella (as her dad calls her) or Izzy (as her mom calls her.) See, they can’t even agree on what to call their own child! Every week, Izzy finds herself in a new home – either living with her dad or her mom. It is hard to feel like she truly belongs anywhere. And now that she’s in 6th grade, she is realizing there are some things harder than just knowing whose week it is, but how does she, a child of a white mother and a black father, fit in to the world around her.

Life just keeps seeming to get harder and more complex for Izzy. She plays piano and has a huge recital coming up that she is both excited for and a bit stressed out about and on top of that, something really horrible happens at school that makes her begin to wonder if she knows people at all or what they stand for. What does she believe and stand for? And her parents can’t seem to agree on anything, big or small and it is all becoming way too much for her to handle – why can’t they see that?

Blended by Sharon Draper is a great book for anyone. It shows how we all struggle, yet looks at the very real racial problems in our country and how our biases can have serious consequences.

Highly recommended for 6th grade and up.


Finding Yourself June 21, 2021

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

downloadAllie is struggling after witnessing her father being the victim of prejudice on an airplane flight to visit relatives. She has always known people are prejudice, but to see it happen right in front of her, was very hard. Her father was raised Muslim and still identifies as that, even though he isn’t religious and doesn’t practice it. Her mother converted to Islam when she married Allies father. Allie’s dad never bothered to teacher her Arabic, so she can’t talk with her own grandmother, and this has been bothering Allie more and more. Where does she fit into the world?

Allie decides she wants to pursue learning about her religion, Islam. She reaches out to some people at school and as she dives deeper into learning, she finds herself with more and more questions. She worries she is hiding too much. From her father, from her friends, and maybe especially from the boy she is beginning to like, a lot, named Wells.

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney is a fabulous read focusing on what it feels like to be on the outside of anything and wanting to be a part of something greater than yourself.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.