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!

Many Wanted Hitler Gone February 27, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:34 am

One of the most surprising things about this book for me was just how early many high imgresofficials in the German government wanted Hitler gone or stopped. However, Hitler was very quick to put down anyone who spoke out against him and because of this, many plots had to go “underground.”

An area that doesn’t get much discussion in history classes is the role that the Church could have taken in trying to halt the progression of Hitler’s regime. A man named Dietrich Bohnoeffer was very aware that if the Church came out against Hitler’s policies of discrimination against Jews and others, it was possible that the general population would have followed suit and made things more difficult for Hitler and his men. Dietrich brought this concern to the Church leadership’s attention time and again. However, his pleas fell on deaf ears. This dismayed Dietrich so much that he even went as far as to start his own Church.

Interestingly, most of Dietrich’s family became involved in a plot to remove Hitler from his position as early as 1938. In fact, as a pastor, one of his brother-in-laws came to him with the moral question, was it okay to commit murder if it was to kill someone like Hitler? This was a question that Dietrich, as a pacifist, wrestled with. He believed that the work of Gandhi in India was the way to defeat Hitler and the Nazis. However, others believed that nonviolence methods could not work against Hitler. Finally, Dietrich came to the same realization and joined his one brothers and two of his brother-in-laws in their secret plot to assassinate Hitler.

The Plot to Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick is a fast paced thriller in a nonfiction package. As readers we find out at the beginning of the book that Dietrich and much of his family were caught in their plot to kill Hitler and executed, however, the amount of times that Dietrich could have saved himself but stayed his course were numerous. The tragedy of their family is that most of them were killed within a few weeks of the end of the war.

Recommended for anyone who is fascinated by World War II, Hitler, or what life was like in Germany during that time period. Grades 7 and up should enjoy this title.

 

The Power to Kill? February 22, 2017

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — lpitrak @ 3:04 pm
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This latest from Neal Shusterman imagines a world where human beings have conquered everything– the lack of environmental issues, disease, old age, accidents and poverty means people are literally living in a world without death. However, the Earth’s capacity to sustain human life has not increased, and without any natural deaths, the mortality rate must be stabilized… and this is the duty of the Scythes. To be chosen as a Scythe is an honor, as well as a huge responsibility. They are charged with “gleaning” the population– killing individuals to keep the population size stable. Highschoolers Citra and Rowan are both chosen as apprentice scythes, handpicked to be killers because of their morality and compassion. As they are soon to discover, though, not all Scythes have retained their sense of goodness and integrity. Can Citra and Rowan survive intense training, lies, secrets, and deep betrayal during their year as apprentices? And even if they can… what will happen once they are initiated? This newest by Neal Shusterman is a brilliant, action-packed book which questions what makes us human, and what meaning is contained in a life with no death.

 

A Father Changes Everything

Connor understands that his father is very depressed after the death of his mom. What he doesn’t realize is that his dad is thinking about a lot of things. It turns out that when his mother died, she left him with something that shook the foundation of Connor’s father’s life. In a letter, Connor’s grandmother tells his dad that the man he thought was his father all thes9780803733053e years wasn’t. At least not biologically. Turns out that when she was in Italy during World War II she met an American pilot and he is really Connor’s father’s dad.

When Connor’s dad shares this news with the rest of the family they react quite well. However, it is the ring and set of wings that came with the letter that captivate Connor and his dad’s interested. Could these be the key to finding out more about Connor’s biological grandfather? And is this something they should be digging into? What if it leads them down a path they realize they aren’t quite ready to tread?

American Ace by Marilyn Nelson is a quick and powerful read about a family coming to terms with learning biology can be a powerful thing, but not everything. And what if you find out something that you didn’t expect?

This is a great novel in verse story. I loved how the information was interwoven and felt the reactions to the revelations were authentic to real life. Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

 

Not Much of a Secret February 14, 2017

Filed under: Humor,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 1:56 pm

Could life be any worse? Lincoln doesn’t think so. I mean, how many kids have to go to imgrestheir parents work after school? And how much worse that his mom works in a crazy home, or AKA – old folks home – or AKA a nursing home for dementia patients? Plus, Lincoln is having to deal with moving to a new school and a new apartment and having to deal with the school bus, which all pose their own problems.

Even though Lincoln has a lot to deal with, he moves through life with a journal in his backpack and lots of stories in his head. If he can only stay out of the way of Troy (who makes his life a misery on the bus) and Kandy Kain (seriously that is her name – a girl who won’t leave him alone at school) and various residents at Brookside Manor (one who periodically likes to take off her clothes!) he might be able to make it through the first months at school.

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones by Wendelin Van Draanen is a fabulous and funny look at a guy growing up and trying to find his way while staying true to himself. Lincoln begins to realize that while he’s an expert at turning in, he’s missing a lot by not looking outside of himself.

Recommended for 6th grade and up if you are looking for a fun and enjoyable book! Don’t let the boring book cover keep you from picking up this title!

 

Return to Salem February 3, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 11:58 am

Mather. That is Sam’s last name. Not a big deal in any city in the country, except for Salem Massachusetts. Because in Salem, during the witch trials, Sam’s ancestor played a large role in the hanging and deaths of many of the people living in Salem. And to this day, the name is not popular.

Sam had never been to Salem, even though her grandmother had lived there till she died. Sam’s father never wanted to go back to that place after Sam’s mom died. So Sam never knew or even met her grandmother. But now Sam finds herself not only in Salem but in the house that her dad grew up in, and the house her grandmother had owned when she died. However, the reason they are back isn’t a happy one. Sam’s dad is in a coma and has been for the last three months. For some reason he won’t wake up, but Vivian, Sam’s stepmother, says they have to move to Salem because the hospital bills in New York were way too high to keep their apartment and care for her father.

Right away, students in school have a problem with Sam, and a group called the 514rynizsl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Descendants (who are ancestors of people who were killed during the witch trials) make it very clear they want Sam gone, and are willing to do almost anything to make her go.

Things get more
complicated  when a spirit named Elijah shows up and begins demanding she also leave. However, Sam is trapped in more ways than one, and slowly she comes to the realization that not only her family has suffered, but all the Descendants as well. Could it be that they are all caught up in a curse? A curse that only Sam can solve and break?

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is an interesting look at how the past of a place can totally impact the present and what happens when old bad habits repeat and repeat. Can a cycle truly ever really be broken?

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

 

Frenimes January 19, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 12:55 pm

Can a friend ultimately be an enemy or an enemy, a friend? Can you really ever truly be friends with someone you compete with?

Grace is friends with Leigh, or as much as she can let herself be friends with anyone, and Leigh believes she and Grace are true friends. But both of them want a spot on the USA Gymnastics team for the Olympics and only five girls will be picked to be on the team. For Grace this is the moment that her whole life has been moving toward. For her, she has to make this team, there is no other option. Her father is her coach and pushes her till she feels she might break. Her only friend is Leigh, the girl who leads a pretty normal life. Her parents insist that she attend high school. Leigh, however, wishes she could have Grace’s life where she could focus 100% of her time on gymnastics. Both girls have a secret; but only Leigh has shared hers with Grace. Grace has a hard time even admitting her own secret to herself.

And then there is Camille, returning to another Olympic Trials at the age of 20 for her imgresmother and feels the pull from her boyfriend to quit gymnastics completely. Camille isn’t sure what she wants herself. Wilhemina is going for her first Trials at the age of 19 because she was too young four years previous and has had to try to keep her body strong and injury free for the past 4 years. But to keep her body whole she hasn’t trained  the way the Head of the Women’s Gymnastics team believes the girls should train. The could come back to haunt Wilhemina in the end.

Finally, little Monica, still excited and thrilled to be at her first Olympic Trials with no dreams of going to the actual Olympics because she doesn’t think she has a chance. It turns out she might have the biggest chance of all.

And how can all these top competitors support each other, even as they hope to beat each other? Tumbling by Caela Carter is a fantastic books about what it REALLY means to be friends with someone. How can you care and want the best for someone when you want that same thing, and only one of you can have it? The complexities of the characters, under the pressure cooker of the Olympic Trials, makes for an amazing read, cover to cover.

You’ll find yourself wanting all the girls to win, but at times intensely disliking one and then changing your mind. Each
girl has their own story, and each one is just as important as the other. This is a book you don’t want to end.

Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

 

Founding Fathers and Slaves January 12, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:17 am

Lots of political arguments begin and end with the phrase “our founding fathers…” and yet, while we know a lot about these founding fathers (who were also some of our first presidents) not much is mentioned about how the majority of them owned enslaved imgrespeople.

In fact, four out of the first five presidents of the United States owned people they considered their “property.” From George Washington to Andrew Jackson, these men we often revere thought that owning a person was okay for most of, if not all of their lives.

In the Shadow of Liberty: The hidden history of slavery, four presidents and five black lives by Kenneth C. Davis is a powerful look at a part of our history we are still trying to make sense of and come to terms with – often without any success.

Davis looks at what it was like to live with and be owned by these powerful men in American history, and how many enslaved people played a large, but silent role in contributing to that image. From Billy Lee Williams who served with Washington for his whole life and perhaps played a large role in Washington granting freedom to his enslaved people after Martha’s death to Alfred Jackson, who was owned by Andrew Jackson and later his son ,until Alfred was freed due to the Civil War. Andrew Jackson considered abolitionists to be “monsters” and what they wrote “unconstitutional and wicked,” yet when Alfred was brought up on murder charges, Andrew Jackson paid for his defense.

Contradictions between how these early presidents felt about the idea of liberty for themselves from Britain, yet couldn’t quite see it extend to people who lived and worked for them shows how complicated and intertwined slavery was in the fabric of American life.

Recommended for all 7th graders and up to read as it is an important part of our history and one we can’t afford to ignore.