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!

Fastest on a Bike in the World! October 17, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 11:58 am

As a young boy in the late 1880s, Marshall didn’t see himself becoming a world championdownload at anything. Growing up one of eight children to parents whose own parents had been enslaved in Kentucky before the Civil War, he didn’t have much chance for opportunity, even living just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. That all changed when his father took a job with a white family as their coachman. Marshall came along to help exercise the horses and met the family’s only child, a boy named Daniel. The boys were both eight, and Daniel’s parents encouraged a friendship between the boys. So much so, that they even invited Marshall to live with them for a time. Marshall got a taste of life that not many poor blacks got – good food, nice clothes and Marshall also played with Daniel’s white friends as well. Because the white family was very well off, they bought both boys bicycles – the new rage that was sweeping all of America.

Marshall took to riding a bicycle right away. Soon, he was coming up with tricks to perform as well as riding it all over. When the Southards left Indianapolis and moved to Chicago four years later, Marshall’s mother wouldn’t let him move with them. The Southards gifted Marshall with the bike they had purchased for him. Because of that bike, he was able to get a job as a paper delivery boy and it was during one of his rides his life changed again. He needed a repair on his bike and so took it to a shop where he then showed some of his tricks. The owner was so impressed, he told Marshall he would pay him to do tricks outside his store to bring in customers. It worked! It was that store owner who started him on the road to success as a bicycle racer and world fame at a time when it was difficult for many African Americans to even find decent paying jobs.

Marshall “Major” Taylor: World Champion Bicyclist, 1899-1901 by Marlene Targ Brill shines a light on a little known story in American history. Taylor rose to the height of his sport, even though many in America didn’t want him to succeed and worked hard to keep him from winning races, sometimes through politics and other times through actual physical violence. All because of the color of his skin.

Recommended for 6th grade and up. A really fascinating and fast read.

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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.

 

Can You Escape Your Life? August 28, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:45 am

downloadXing Xing is the unwanted daughter from her father’s first marriage. Her father’s second wife had a daughter named Wei Ping and when her father dies, Xing Xing becomes a servant to the second wife. When her father was alive, he shunned the idea of binding young girls feet, in the common tradition. He felt women should be able to walk and move about, but once he is dead, the second wife can only think of making a fine marriage for her daughter Wei Ping. So even though she is much older than normal to bind feet, the mother does it.

Xing Xing is left to do all the work, since Wei Ping can no longer walk with her feet, and the Stepmother continues to treat Xing Xing horribly. Xing Xing’s only solace is escaping and talking with a fish she believes is her mother reincarnated and practicing her calligraphy when she can.

Then comes the cave festival in their town, but this year it will be different. For a local prince will be attending since he has yet to take a wife. Xing Xing only cares there will be a chance to recite a poem she creates. Yet, even with something exciting coming, it looks like she might not make it to the festival after all.

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli will become familiar to readers as a telling of another country’s Cinderella. Set in China at an indeterminate time, readers will understand Xing Xing’s frustrations with her limited world and root for an ending that will prove as wonderful as she is.

Recommended for 6th 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.

 

It Started with a Bus Ride August 5, 2018

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 2:50 pm

It seemed like another ordinary day for Eddie – in the ordinary village of Wellcome download-3Valley located in the middle of nowhere England. But when his school bus stops to pick up a new student – a girl named Scarlett – something in the day seems to shift. For reasons that Eddie can’t fathom, Scarlett is interested in him – well, interested in what happened to his mom, who died when he was just an infant in a car accident. Yet, when Eddie tries to ask Scarlett anything about her life, or why on earth her family is in Wellcome Valley, she shuts him down and tells him she can’t talk about it. Mystified and captivated, Eddie decides to accidentally run into her one day when he’s out riding his bike – in the rain – just in case she’s where she said she’d be. And she is! But she’s hiding behind their history teacher’s house and when he asks what she’s up to, she shushes him and they watch as the teacher digs up part of the backyard, buries a book, then digs it back up moments later in another part of the backyard!

Clearly, something is going on, and Scarlett knows what, but she won’t tell him! Quickly, though, Eddie finds himself caught up in a world he can’t fathom –  let alone realize he and his dead mother (or is she dead after all) might play a pivotal role in!

No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones takes the reader on a wild ride, through time and back again, snapping us quickly between them so that what is truth and what isn’t become increasingly  blurred. Great book for looking at different perspectives and playing with the idea of if there are alternative time paths, how can you determine which one is the real reality?

Recommended for 8th graders and up due to the complexity of the book.