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!

Now It’s In, Now It’s Out! December 2, 2012

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 7:00 pm
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Amazing how something so many people fought to change for the whole country could only last a little over a decade; something that had been in the works for many decades. I’m talking about Prohibition. In Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, andimages the Lawless Years of Prohibition, Karen Blumenthal  lays out the beginning of this vast movement and how over many years, the country’s opinion gradually changed on alcohol, which lead to a change in the constitution of the United States. Many students have no idea that for 14 years our country outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol except in certain instances. One of the most profound outcomes was the rise of organized crime. Since we are in a suburb just outside of Chicago, most have heard of Al Capone, and this book does a nice job of talking about how the outlawing of alcohol paved the road for crime to take a huge upswing and for it to turn deadly. One part I loved reading about was how warning labels on things like dried grapes would tell consumer in pretty exact detail what they shouldn’t do with the grapes because if they did, it would, gasp, result in alcohol! Wink, wink. What was a bit more shocking was how few people died from trying to make their own – most of the home brews contained some kind of poison that didn’t get siphoned off the finished product, not to mention how dangerous home stills were. Even kids got involved moving around this illegal product, sometimes for their parents.

Great nonfiction book for students in grades 7th and up.

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I Love Historical Fiction October 26, 2012

Historical fiction is not typically a genre that I run to, in fact I often forget how much I enjoy reading historical fiction until after I have been sucked into a great story.  Every year at Herrick, we organize a community intergenerational read in which senior citizens in the community are invited to read a common book with our students and have a book discussion with a small group.  It is a fantastic event and in the past we have been able to fill the entire cafeteria with readers.

One of my goals for this year is to read all of the books on the list so that I can really recommend them both to the students and seniors.  The first book from the list that I tackled was Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle.  

I started it unsure of how I would like it, but was quickly pulled into the story’s plot.  The story is told by Ruben as a flashback of  his childhood.  He was a young teen living in a small New England coastal town during prohibition.  Most of the locals made extra money by working on the side for the bootleggers.  Conflict arose when bigger gangs tried to edge out the smaller bootleggers.    The reader is pulled in when Ruben and his friend find a dead body.  When they try to report it, the body disappears. Ruben’s adventures with the gangsters and small time rum runners escalates as the story progresses.  I absolutely could not wait to find out what would happen to Ruben and you won’t either.

The thing that I really love about historical fiction is that the story keeps me turning the pages, but it also gives me specific knowledge about a time period.  When I finished, I wanted to read more about prohibition- and not fiction- the real stuff.  Historical fiction is a great way to get students interested in history and wanting to find out more.