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!

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.


Feeling Alone June 7, 2021

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Aza has a power that not many people do anymore. She has full magic. That means she has more power and abilitydownload-2 than most everyone else – but with power comes a price. When she uses her full magic, she hurts, and so does the earth. Hundreds of years of casters using full magic has been destroying the earth, so full magic casters are against the law – or at least they aren’t supposed to use full magic because of the damage it causes.

Still, Aza doesn’t see a way to NOT use her magic. Her older sister, Shire, died using her full magic and when she died so did the major source of income for the family. Her parents are struggling to keep their tea shop going in Lotusland, and Aza knows it is only a short matter of time before the gang lord who controls their sector of the city comes asking for payment. Payment that Aza knows her family can’t come up with.

As Aza is searching for ways to help her family, she comes across a tournament where full magic casters are competing against each other for a major monetary prize. She realizes she has to try to win for her family’s sake, especially after she learns of a tie her older sister Shire had to the tournament. What she doesn’t know is if she can pay the the ultimate price the competition will have on her.

Caster by Elsie Chapman is reminiscent of quite a few books out there – Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent – to name a few, but if that is what you are looking for, and with magic to boot, check this book out. If you enjoy this book, Aza’s story continues in Spell Starter.


Aging Out May 24, 2021

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

downloadMuiriel was named after the hospital she was abandoned at. To be precise, the John Muir Medical Center in California. And since she was a girl, well, they tried to keep it close. And when her social worker, Joellen, gave her a book about her namesake for her 8th birthday, it, in many ways changed the direction of her life. If she had any say in it, that was. Because John Muir was a famous naturalist, who spent most of his life outdoors and trying to protect the wilderness we have today – places like Yosemite. Still, to a little kid of 8, probably not the best gift, or so she thought at the time.

Now Muir is about to embark on her last placement in foster care, because she is 17 and will be aged out of the system when she turns 18. And then she will truly be on her own. But her rules have been carefully in-place for herself for many years, and she believes she will survive this placement as well as she has the others. Don’t make any friends or connections, don’t cause trouble and always be ready to leave.

However, almost as soon as Muir sets foot on the only place Joellen can find to put her – a small island off the coast of Seattle, Muir begins to break her own steadfast rules. Her foster mother, Francine seems almost too good to be true, she makes a friend almost immediately and then she meets Sean at a dream job. What is happening to her well planned out life? Muir feels herself moving in a totally different direction and she’s not sure how to stop or if she even wants to.

What I Carry by Jennifer Longo is an amazingly good book about a subject that everyone should know about and most don’t even think about. What happens to all the children who never get adopted and “age out” of foster care? Where do they go, who can they depend on and what will their lives be like? Truly a wonderful book.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Is it Fair? May 10, 2021

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

Have you ever been embarrassed? Like so embarrassed that you had trouble talking? Olivia has a moment like that download-2when she’s being yelled at by her principal, all because she is wearing a tank top and won’t put her sweatshirt on. But she has a reason for not putting her sweatshirt on, a very good reason.

Molly witnesses Olivia’s moment and she knows WHY Olivia won’t put her sweatshirt on. And pretty soon, she decides to point out the inequities in the current dress code at her middle school. It is a dress code that seems to only go after the girls, and the boys don’t have to deal with it. Is that fair? Nope, not in Molly’s eyes. So Molly begins a podcast to expose the injustice she and others see, with their dress code.

Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone is a great book and deals with the very real issue of how dress codes have been made to make students feel uncomfortable at a time when they already do! A wonderful story about an issue that is on the minds of most students who attend a school that has strict enforcement of often times old and archaic ideas of what students should dress in and how they should look.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


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! 🙂


Hidden Darkness February 23, 2021

Filed under: graphic novel — lpitrakbromiel @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

Emma, Norman, and Ray are orphans, but they still have a seemingly-beautiful life. They live at Grace Field Orphanage, where they are protected, sheltered, and loved by the woman who runs the orphanage, whom all call “Mom.” Their only real rules are that they must never leave the gate surrounding the orphanage’s property– for their own safety, of course. All orphans are adopted by the time they reach the age of 12, and Emma, Norman, and Ray are 11. They cannot wait until they are adopted by kind and loving families! However, their story takes a dark turn when their friend Conny leaves her beloved stuffed bunny behind on the day she is adopted. The three friends break the rules and leave the orphanage gates in order to bring it back to her. What they find is horrifying, and makes them realize that none of the orphans have ever found a happy life. Rather, all who have been “adopted” have suffered a gruesome fate. Emma, Norma, and Ray are determined to get themselves, as well as all of their other friends, away from Grace Field Orphanage for good. To do, so, however, they will have to battle demons, witches, and their very scary “Mom.”

This amazing manga series has also been adapted as an exciting t.v. show, available on both Netflix and Hulu!


What Has Changed? February 22, 2021

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-1Ashley lives in her nice house in the Los Angeles suburbs where the most people worry about is when the wild fires come down and houses burn. Well, that is what people think. But just like most places and with most people, it doesn’t take too long looking under the surface to see issues. Like Ashley’s older sister, Jo. Jo has become a huge source of conversation at their household, and mostly because their parents don’t know what to do with her. Ashley feels like that has taken some of the pressure off of her, but really, how much pressure can be removed considering she’s a young black girl, growing up in Los Angels in 1992?

What Ashley doesn’t realize is that an event that happens not too far from her house (relatively speaking) is going to change how she views many things – her parents, her sister, her friends and most of all, herself. Rodney King was beaten savagely by police officers and it was caught on video tape. Ashley and her friends are shocked when riots break out across the city after the officers are acquitted of any wrongdoing at their trial. Ashley, who has been sheltered from some things because of her well to do parents and the life they gave their two daughters, often feels apart from the other black kids at her private school. Ashley has three close white girlfriends that she’s grown up with. Now, with the riots, Ashley, her friends and even her family are all coming up against ideas they have long held and are having to decide if they can still live with those thoughts.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed is like a look back in time and a look back to last week. Never does the author make the point of how little has changed when it comes to police brutality and people of color – or how this country, almost thirty years after the Rodney King event, are still grappling with issues of race. However, it is impossible as a reader to not see how little has changed. Children are still struggling with where they belong and who their friends are, really, and our society still hasn’t figured out how to move on from the legacy of slavery. This is a really great read.

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up due to content.