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!

Learn About Far Away Places and People September 26, 2013

Filed under: Historical Fiction — bhomel @ 2:43 pm
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Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy describes what life has been like for many females in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. Zulaikha is a young Afghani girl who was born with a cleft palate – a facial deformity. Her mouth and teeth are not shaped correctly and she hates not feeling and looking normal. Some of the boys in her village tease her and call her donkey face.

Zulaikha does not go to school. As a matter of fact, none of the females do. Their jobs are cooking, cleaning, going to the market, and taking care of younger brother and sisters. Zulaikha follows the grueling orders of her stepmother but wants something more for herself.

While American soldiers are stationed nearby, one of them notices Zulaikha. This soldier, with the help of his commanding officer, finds a doctor to help fix Zulaikha’s face. She knows this surgery will change her life – she could be pretty like her older sister and then find a husband some day.

Unfortunately Zulaikha faces several obstacles in becoming pretty, with her family, and figuring out what would make her life happier. Words in the Dust was written by a soldier, Trent Reedy, who spent time in Afghanistan while in the military. His story is based on real people he met and his experience there. This book inspired me to want to learn more about Afghanistan because of how different it is from the life we know in America.


In a War Zone…Hope September 19, 2013

imgresMatt only knows that his best friend has been taken away to live in a detention center. He doesn’t understand why after 6 years living in England, his good friend Aman and Aman’s mother are suddenly considered a threat and must return to Afghanistan. A country they fled in terror years ago.

Turns out, Matt doesn’t really know much about his good friend. As Matt works with his Grandfather to help Aman and his mother out of the detention center, his Grandfather hears the story of how Aman and his mother were forced to live and hide in caves to avoid the Taliban. How a little dog showed up at their cave one night and became Aman’s best friend. This dog, whom he named Shadow, assisted Aman and his mother through enemy areas, always on the look out.

 Shadow by Michael Morpurgo is a quick read, and a great book for animal lovers. Sometimes war stories focus so much on the soldiers, it is easy to forget all the civilians whose lives are changed tremendously because of the conflict.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.