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!

All Your Secrets OUT, for the World to See July 17, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 6:46 am

Sammy has the typical concerns. She’s worried about the four AP exams she’ll be taking in a few months, along with her driver’s license test and the SAT. PLUS, the prom is coming up, and she’s desperate for a promposal (the over the top prom proposals that get downloadrecorded for the world to see – although after seeing one in the cafeteria she decides she’d prefer the old fashion way of someone just asking her in private) from Jamie, the star lacrosse player at her school. She thinks he likes her, but it could be he only likes to copy her math homework. It’s all so much pressure on a girl. Plus, even though she’s always been a “good kid” her parents won’t let her go into the city to see her favorite band because a parent isn’t going along.

She decides that the concert is too important and devises a way to sneak with her best friends to see the show. But of course, it doesn’t all go as planned. She’s worried how she’ll cover up the fact that her mom’s sweater got vomit on it and how to clean it without her knowing!

All that changes when her father, who runs a world famous bank, divulges to the family that some protesters have hacked into secure information not only from the bank, but from their family. All their texts, emails, and to Sammy’s horror, her personal journal that she kept on her computer, are all about to become public for the world’s amusement. Sammy knows that she’s said some not so nice things about a lot of people in the journal, including her best friends, her infatuation with Jamie, AND the fact that she snuck out to the concert. She’s terrified of the consequences of her journal becoming public.

It turns out she has more than just her journal to worry about though, as a secret her parents have been keeping from her and her brother becomes public.

In Case You Missed It by Sarah Littman takes an honest look at all the pressures parents and society put on teens these days, from SATs to prom proposals, and lets the reader see what truly matters.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Recruited in 8th Grade! July 13, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 1:53 pm

downloadTravis thinks the only thing worth anything in the world is football. He spends all his time thinking about it and playing it. His older brother has set a great example by getting a scholarship to a Florida college to play football for their team. Travis is stoked when the coach comes and talks to Carter, Travis’ older brother about the offer. And Travis can’t pass up the opportunity to show off a bit for the coach – who is impressed!

Taking the coach’s offer up to send him some of his game footage, Travis is completely floored and shocked when the coach offers him a verbal commitment to Travis for when he graduates from high school to come play at the Florida school. Travis can’t believe it! After all, he’s only in 8th grade.

After getting the verbal offer, Travis sees his life change. His brother Carter, has a hard time seeing all the attention that his little brother is getting, especially as he’s trying to make it himself in the college scene.

But all that changes after one event brings things into perspective for Carter and later for Travis.

Top Prospect by Paul Volponi tells of an unusual situation, although not unheard of, where students as young as middle school have been made offers by colleges that are looking to have them in their sports program when they are older. The question is, does this put unreasonable pressure on these student athletes and their families? Can kids really keep performing at that level for so long?

This book is a great read for anyone interested in the world of football and some of the pitfalls of being really good at any sport.


Mystery Close to Home July 10, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 3:54 pm

She didn’t even really know him, at least not until she was asked to get him out of his downloadbasement laboratory in the school during a fire drill. That is when Mori meets Lock. Sherlock Holmes to be exact. His parents had a wicked sense of humor. Mori has enough at home to deal with, to not get too involved in Lock’s eccentric ways, but when he approaches her with a murder mystery, she is intrigued. After all, since her mom died, there certainly hasn’t been anything to get interested about there.

Things take a strange turn however, when Mori and Lock attend the memorial of the man who was killed, and Mori sees a picture of her own mother with a few other people and the deceased. What could her mother possibly have had in common with the man who was stabbed in the park? Mori doesn’t mention the picture to Lock, and instead begins to do some of her own investigating.

Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty takes place in England, but the writer appears to be American and at times it seems some of the English jargon is a bit jarring and out of place. As a reader, I struggled a bit with connecting to both Mori and Lock, and felt that sometimes things that should have been explained a bit more, or made more clear.

Overall, if you are looking for a fairly decent suspense book – the mystery isn’t that big of one since the reader and Mori figure it out pretty quickly who the murderer is – take a look at this title.

Recommended for 8th grade and up just because it tends to jump around a bit.



The Saboteurs July 5, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 9:23 am

After the Nazis invaded Norway, many of the citizens wanted to fight back. Some began small scale sabotage against the occupiers, while others fled to Britain to get trained in becoming serious spies as well as soldiers who could do real damage to the Nazi operations in their country.

In Sabotage by Neal Bascomb, we are introduced to a group of serious and committed men who wanted to take down the Germans in their country of Norway. At the same time there was a race on – a race to see who could take what had been learned in physics download-4about the power of splitting atoms and the energy that could be generated as a result. Whoever could harness this process in a way that would allow for a massive and destructive bomb could win World War II. The Germans were experimenting with a process that needed something called heavy water in which the hydrogen molecule carried a neutron in its nucleus as well as a proton. This is very rare in nature. However, a hydro power plant in Vermork, Norway created some of this water during the process of making electricity. At first, no one could really find a use for it, but with World War II and the Germans realizing heavy water could help them with their process for developing a bomb, the need for heavy water became intense. So did the Allies desire to stop the Nazis from getting this water because it could mean they would get a bomb before the Manhattan Project in the United States could be successful.

Thus begins a series of events that cost the lives of quite a few soldiers as well as civilians in an attempt to change the course of the war, all in a remote part of Norway.

This is a fascinating book, and anyone interested in World War II, or the creation of the first atomic bomb must read. Recommended for 8th grade and up due to scientific terms and historical context.


Dating Can be HARD! June 29, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:11 pm

It was when a friend told Josh that the girl Josh thought was his girlfriend was actuallydownload-3 the girlfriend of another guy that Josh realized he needed to figure somethings out. Because all that time, he’d thought he was the boyfriend! His friends however, knew the truth. Josh had been a friend, not the boyfriend! Complicated right?

So in his early 20s, Josh realized that he’d never actually had a girlfriend and with that realization comes the fact that he has no idea why. He wonders, secretly, if it has something to do with the fact that he had one of his legs amputated when he was a child because of cancer.

He decides to revisit all the girls that he thought had the potential to be his girlfriends, but something just didn’t work out. He wants to figure out what it was so he asks them!

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist is a heartwarming story for anyone who has ever struggled with finding that first perfect someone!

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


Escape Across the Mountains June 26, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 11:43 am

One morning, Tenzin woke up to find that his older brother, Pasang, had returned to their home in Tibet. He had been gone for five long years, having run away from the monastery where he had been studying to become a monk. Tenzin was beside himself with excitement, but he was quickly hushed by their mother. Pasang could get into a lot of trouble for leaving in the first place, since the Chinese, who controlled Tibet, wouldn’t be happy someone had gotten out. In a small village though, it’s hard to keep anything a secret and that night when Tenzin got home from school, the Chinese police were already there, giving Pasang a hard time.

Pasang said that he wasn’t going to leave and for a time, Tenzin believed him. But then, he sawdownload-2 his mother talking with Pasang late into the night and he began to realize that all was not well. One day on his way to school, Pasang and their mother insist that he ride the family donkey cart to school – which he never did. At that point, Pasang told him that he has been chosen to leave Tibet with Pasang and go to India for a better future and more opportunities. At first Tenzin was excited but then the realities of the huge undertaking quickly took over. Would he ever see his other two brothers again? Would he ever see his mother?

Pasang and Tenzin, who was only eleven at the time of their journey, had to overcome huge obstacles, including running out of money and food, as well as being captured by the Chinese police and beaten. Most daunting was when they realized in order to get out of Tibet they must cross the Death Pass – the highest mountain pass in the world, without the proper clothes, equipment or food.

Escape from Tibet by Nick Gray and Laura Scandiffio details the story of these two brothers as they strive to make it out of Tibet and into the new world of India. Told from Tenzin’s perspective, this story gives readers a clearer understanding of the desperation others around the world feel to be free.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


What Could Possibly Go Wrong? June 22, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:59 pm

We’ve all had those moments, when we either think everything will be just fine, and thendownload-1 it all falls apart, or conversely, we keep waiting for what looks like an inevitable tragedy lurking on the horizon.

What about your plane breaking apart over a jungle and you falling through the air in your seat, only to survive but have no idea where you are and if you have the skills to make it out alive? Or being trapped at your job – because you work in a mine and there has been a cave in? Or someone on your ship thinks there is a fire, and most of the crew jump out onto floating icebergs including your family, only to watch your ship sail away, NOT on fire?

All of the above harrowing stories really happened to young people. When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival by Tanya Lloyd Kyi will give you story after story of some amazing feats that humans have done to survive the precarious situations they have found themselves in – sometimes through no fault of their own.

If you like any kind of survival or adventure stories, this is the nonfiction read for you. Packed full of stories you’ve never heard of before and a few you might have, it will give you insight into what to do if you were to ever find yourself in such a position and how you might be able to actually survive!

Recommended for 6th grade and up.