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!

Social Pariahs April 26, 2021

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

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

downloadRob and Meagan both have reasons to hate going to school. Rob’s is because of something his father did, and even a year latter all he wants to do is get in and out of school each day. What he has to deal with at home is more than enough. His interactions with everyone just seem too fraught with what happened and he wonders if everyone thinks he knew about it.

Meagan feels alone also, but it is because of something she did. She feels she has only her best friend left and that everyone is still mad at her for her actions and how they impacted others. Neither wants to have a partner for their math project, and as a result, they end up being stuck together. At first it is pretty rocky going, but soon they start to realize they have both misunderstood each other, and perhaps many others too. Can they find some common ground, and maybe help others in the process?

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer take a look at the idea that we all, in some way, feel that our actions must have huge consequences when sometimes they don’t and vice versa. How do we deal with the guilt of something we did, or how do we move past others perceptions when we actually didn’t do something? It can be complicated, but this is a such a great read and you as a reader will be pulling for both Rob and Meagan to figure it out!

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


To Be an Idol April 12, 2021

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

Candace can sing – like really sing! But the only people who know that are her two best friends because Candace’s parents (mostlydownload-1 her mom) don’t seem to approve of her singing. Her parents are both from South Korea and she knows they both had musical backgrounds. But they don’t do anything with it now in New Jersey. In fact, they own a connivence story – which seems to be about as far from music as they can get. While her brother seems to be fine with playing a sport, her parents would rather she be in orchestra playing a string instrument, like the viola. Which she hates, even if it makes them happy.

So when a large South Korean company decides to hold tryouts for a new K-Pop Idol girl group, she lets her two friends convince her to try out. After all, what are the chances she’ll get picked? Pretty good, it turns out! But at that point, Candace has no idea what kind of sacrifices she’ll have to make if she wants to be an Idol!  

K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee is a great look into a world that is perfect on the outside and designed to make you love what you see. But perfection comes at a cost. This is such a great book for anyone interesting the workings of the K-Pop industry and just what it takes to be an elite performer. 

Recommended for grades 7 and up. 


Be Aware All the Time March 29, 2021

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

Savannah is pretty sure she and her mom are going to be moving again. Because, once AGAIN, the man of her mom’s dreams download-2 12.45.11 PMhasn’t turned out to be the man of her dreams. And for Savannah, this move is going to be hard, because she likes it here. She is taking Kung Fu classes and loves it. She tries to get along with her mom’s boyfriend, but one night, just before she’s about to head off to Kung Fu class, she gets into a fight with Tim, and he takes her phone after accusing her of back-talking to him. Her mom is at work, so it is hard for Savannah to see how it won’t be just her word against Tim’s. And since they live in his house, she can only guess who her mom will side with.

At practice that night she worries so much about what will happen when she gets home, and when she and her mom will probably be leaving since the situation seems to be getting worse and worse by the day. She isn’t paying much attention when she leaves the studio.  And that turns out to be possibly the biggest mistake of her life.

The Girl in the White Van by April Henry is another great mystery from a great author. The perspectives that Henry gives the reader from all sides keeps the suspense and the storying moving at a break neck pace. Any reader who enjoys a good mystery and suspense book will inhale this story.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Does the Truth Matter? March 15, 2021

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

downloadAs the third year anniversary of her school’s mass shooting comes and goes, Lee is forced to relive the horror of that day when her best friend was shot and killed in the same bathroom stall with her. But now she’s hearing rumors that her friend Sarah’s parents are going to be putting out a book about her death. Lee knows the story of how Sarah died took on a life of its own after the shooting. And in that story is a lie. A lie that was repeated so often, it hurt one of the other survivors who was in the bathroom with them. Lee is faced with the dilemma. Is it sometimes just too late to speak up?

That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger¬†takes a deep look at what happens when we let one little thing slide by – something we think is little at the time, and yet how it can become something monstrous the longer we let it go. Yet the flip side is does the truth always have to come out?

Recommended for 8th grades and up due to content.
P.S. Notice anything interesting about the date of this release? Honestly, it just worked out that way! You’ll have to read the book to get it! ūüôā


What if No One Sees You? February 8, 2021

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

download-1Emmie used to talk, a lot, according to her family. But maybe having two much older siblings made her stop trying to talk because she couldn’t get a word in edgewise, or maybe when they went away to college and her parents were working so much, she had no one to talk to!In any case, now that she’s in middle school, she doesn’t have much to say…to anyone, except her best friend Brianna. Thankfully they’ve been best friends since kindergarten. If it weren’t for Brianna, who would she talk to? This year though, Brianna is in hardly any of her classes, because she’s in the gifted classes and Emmie, well, isn’t! Still, they are able to have lunch together, thank goodness, and on this day they decide to write love notes to the boys they have been crushing hard on for years. After writing their true love on the notes, it is time to leave, but unfortunately for Emmie, her note goes astray.

Could there be anything worse in middle school than a love note finding its way into the hands of the person you like?

Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson is a fun, funny, and super honest look at what school is like for many students. Not everyone has tons of friends, is great at sports or anything specific, but they are still making it through too. This is a book that everyone can enjoy and find something to relate to.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


On the Way Home from School January 25, 2021

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

download-1A lot can happen on the way home from school. Just ask any of the kids that traverse the 10 blocks around their school – from the “Low Cuts” due to their hair styles to Fatima Moss – who records everything to Bryson Wills – who actually got to stay home from school the next day because of something that happened on the way home from school.

Look Both Ways: A Tale told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds lets us in on the often goofy, funny, tragic, exasperating, silly and just plain weird lives of middle schoolers. This book just goes to show, unless you know someone you never really KNOW what is going on in their life. 

If you are looking for a quick read, with some unforgettable characters, check out this book. It reads like a book of short stories with some connections between the stories

Recommended for grades 6 and up. 



Time Is Ticking December 7, 2020

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

download-4Six students all walk into a high school, over a week before school is going to start for the year. Each one brings with them a backpack filled with important pieces that make up who they are. Or who they think they are.

Yet just after noon, the school is rocked by an explosion that shatters parts of the school. Diana, Frankie, Tad, Cas, Z and Rashid are all trapped in different parts of the school as explosion after explosion rips through their high school. Now, for some of them, their bags mean everything, and for others it will expose exactly who they are. As the students begin to pair up to help each other, it becomes known that one of them might be responsible for all the death and destruction. The question is who, and will the others be able to escape with their lives?

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau is a quick and exciting read that will have many guessing until the end.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


A Very Long Walk November 30, 2020

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

Misael and his family decide they can no longer live in the conditions thatdownload-1 are El Salvador. Either there are no jobs, or the kids will be taken in by the gangs. It is a hard choice to make, but one his parents don’t think they really have. They believe their only hope is to make the arduous and long trek North, toward America. But first they must traverse close to 2,500 miles – much of it on foot – to reach Tijuana, close to the Unites States border between Mexico and California.

Caravan to the North: Misael’s Long Walk by Jorge Argueta is a sparse and stark novel in verse about the trials of being an immigrant – moving through different countries, in search of a better life. The problem is, what if the other country doesn’t want the immigrant?

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Can Books Change Lives? November 9, 2020

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am
download-1       Clara is excited for the start of the school year Рher last year Рat Lupton Academy or LA as everyone calls it. She thinks it will be a great year and is excited for it to get started. But one quick glance at a computer screen changes everything when she reads an email meant only for the staff. Clara reads a confidential email listing 50 books that are not to be used in the curriculum of any classes and will not be allowed on the shelves of the school library. A library that Clara volunteers in and loves. When she sees the list of books, she is shocked that she has read many of the books. What could possibly be wrong with the books?
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Clara and the school librarian talk, and they come to the conclusion that Clara will remove the 50 books from the school library and put them in little libraries around the town – little libraries that she has already established and has up and running. Yet just as she’s thinking that will work, she decides to run an underground library with the banned books, from her school locker.
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† At first, Clara is thinking she just wants to get revenge against the administration, or more specifically the principal of LA, because after all he’s the one that is saying they can’t have the books. However, as time goes by, Clara struggles to understand exactly why she is running the UnLib, and if ultimately, it is a force for good or bad.
        Suggested Reading by Dave Connis brings home the importance of knowing yourself, or being willing to look for yourself, and how we can find the answers in many places, including on the pages of books.
Recommended for 8th grade and up.

They Had a Plan September 28, 2020

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

Chloe and Finn had been friends ever since Chloe moved next door. Now that is a bit relative, since they live in the country, so next door wasn’t quite as close as in the suburbs or for sure the city, but still, close enough. While Finn is pretty happy with life and how things are going, Chloe always seems to want more. And when a college counselor comes to the school and starts talking about how to get noticed by colleges, Chloe starts to get an idea. An idea that at first Finn things is a joke, but it turns out Chloe is serious.

downloadThe plan seems harmless enough, until things start to go wrong and then Finn begins to wonder just what Chloe’s plan was from the beginning. And if the part Finn thinks she was to play, is the same as what Chloe had planned for her.

Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan takes the idea of friendship and shows just how far someone will go to preserve it and how little another will go to lose it.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.