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!

Forget Me Not May 14, 2017


This novel about a girl trying to hide her Tourette Syndrome is written mostly in verse, with short prose vignettes interspersed throughout. Calliope Snow hates her last name– her father died in a car accident during a snowstorm, so being called “Snow” seems like a cruel joke. Because her grief-stricken mother has spent the last few years in a whirlwind of failed relationships, moving after every breakup, Calli is forced to begin at a new school each time and never has time to make a real friend. But this time (the TENTH!) might be a little bit different. Calli meets a kind, friendly boy named Jinsong, who might actually like her. However, because her mother and pediatrician told her not to tell anyone about her Tourette Syndrome, she can’t explain why she is often compelled to make strange noises, faces, and jerky movements. She quickly becomes the joke of her new middle school. Jinsong, who is more interested in this intelligent, quirky, kind girl every day, is torn between wanting to stand up for Calli and wanting to remain friends with the popular students who are bullying her. Terry writes intelligently and creatively, and though the ending is bittersweet, middle schoolers will love seeing Calli and Jin learn to stand up for themselves and each other.


It Was Just a Prank…. July 29, 2015

Lara thought she was adjusting to high school pretty well. Sure, ninth grade had been hard, considering her once best friend and neighbor, Bree, seemed to totally brush her off when school started. But she’d survived and found a few close new friends. And she’s just made it onto the cheerleading team too! So when a cute boy named Christian friends her on Facebook, even though he doesn’t go to her school, she gets excited. After all, Bree and some of her other friends from her high school are friends with him.

imgresQuickly, Lara and Christian begin an online romance which looks like it is building up to Christian asking Lara to a dance at his school. Lara is so excited, especially after struggling with feelings of self worth in middle school. However, not long before his school’s dance, Christian attacks Lara on Facebook and others begin to chime in. Lara has no idea why he’s doing this to her, and all her previous feelings of not being good enough come to the front. Specifically when Christian says the world would be a better place without her.

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman takes on the current look at cyber bullying and how something starts out as one thing and begins to snowball into more and more, all the while the perpetrators seem to have no idea of the possible consequences.

Recommended for students in grades 7 and up.


A Phone Call You Can’t Ignore… January 6, 2015

imgresAt first Eric didn’t pay much attention to the call. It was strange and vague and didn’t make much sense. It was the email that really got his attention. An email that showed part of his room. How did someone get a picture of his room? Suddenly, the voice on the phone made Eric sit up and pay attention. The voice wanted him to do something that would get him into trouble, but for Eric, what the voice had on him was way worse if it should get out.

Cold Calls by Charles Benoit looks at three teens whose lives are changed by a voice on the phone. Each has a secret they want to hide, one that will change their lives if it gets out.

By a chance encounter, the three realize they are being harassed by the same person. They only have a limited amount of time to figure out who has their secrets before the secrets are exposed to the world. Can they stop the person before it is too late?

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


Can People Change? Really? July 12, 2013

imgres-1Jojo is back. And this isn’t something that the people in neighborhood are happy about. But since he has nothing better to do with a broken leg, Jojo’s neighbor sits and watches all from his porch. He sees how Jojo’s return affects Ardell’s family. After all, it was because Jojo put Ardell’s older brother in a coma that Jojo was locked up. He sees Shana, Jojo’s old girlfriend come by with their child, the child which started the whole situation that ended up with Ardell’s brother in a coma. And he sees how Ardell begins to launch a neighborhood campaign against Jojo.

However, he also sees Jojo taking care of his mother, and how he lights up when Shana comes by with their little boy, and he begins to wonder if people can change.

Back by Norah McClintock is a short, fast read that will haunt you with the choices the characters make. It will also have you asking yourself – can people change, for better or worse?

Recommended for students 6th grade and up.


Truth Be Told (Or Is It Really The Truth?) June 22, 2013 was a website middle schoolers Zebby and Amr started. As the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, Zebby wanted to write about the tough topics of her middle school – the new math curriculum, how student council was nothing but a popularity contest, and bullying. Zebby’s teacher would not let her write on any of those topics. Feeling censored, Zebby gets Amr to create a website, a website where anyone from Truman Middle School could post the truth anonymously.

Zebby and Amr posted a few articles about the worst teachers and what school rules they thought didn’t make any sense. Once the “in crowd” found out about the website, it grew in popularity. Pretty soon all the students at Truman knew about the site and posts were coming in!

One post got a lot of attention – it asked for nominations for biggest poser at school and mentioned Lilly, who happened to be a member of the popular crowd. Also posted was a picture of Lilly from 6th grade when she used to be overweight. Lilly kept that secret from her popular friends and her boyfriend, but now the “truth” was out.

More posts were made about Lilly, and her friends and boyfriend didn’t want to hang around her anymore. These posts were not even true but students at Truman believed them! Lilly became the victim of cyber bullying and her life was horrible.

The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillstad Butler is told from the points of view of several middle school students. Read about their different experiences with exposing and facing “the truth.”

Recommended for 6th grade and above.


When a Secret Becomes Too Big To Hide June 20, 2013

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:46 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

imgresEver wanted to go to overnight camp? Imagine how free it would be to not have to listen to your parents all the time. Amy in the book Camp by Elaine Wolf doesn’t want to go away for 8 weeks in the 1960s to a camp her uncle owns and runs. Why? She worries about leaving her little brother behind. He is different, and their mother doesn’t seem to know how best to deal with him. Amy fears what will happen to him if she leaves.

Much to her surprise, Amy’s mother relents and allows Amy to attend the camp in Maine, much to Amy’s dismay. Right away Amy feels like an outsider and the older girls at camp, one in particular named Rory, let her know she isn’t welcome. Even though some girls do reach out to Amy, they can’t stop the horrible initiation Rory has in store for Amy. Thus begins a miserable time for Amy at camp as she struggles to deal with the overt bullying of her bunkmate and her first taste of freedom from her mother’s overbearing and constant criticism.

As the summer unfolds so does the mystery surrounding Amy’s family, specifically, her taciturn mother. Can she confront her mother with all she has learned, or will she remain quiet and let the secrets go on?

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up.



3 Perspectives, 3 Life-Changing Moments June 19, 2013

Take Me There

By: Susane Colasanti

After a student of mine, Rose, checked out all the books by this author from the library, I knew I had to see what all the fuss was about. As my previous post about the same author’s book, Keep Holding On,  suggests, obviously I too was hooked. While listening to the audio version of Take Me There, it was interesting because it tells three different overlapping stories from the three main characters in the book. I originally thought that it was going to be some typical high school girly book, but all of a sudden when I heard a male voice come over my radio- I knew there was more to the story.

Susane does a fabulous job really getting you hooked into her books, as she has very relatable characters and concepts of what occurs in high school. What was interesting is that we started with Rhiannon who is devastated after a break up with her boyfriend. We see how she interacts with her two best friends, James and Nicole during this difficult time. Then, just as we are waiting to see what happens next withDownloadedFile Rhiannon’s story, Susane plunges into James and Nicole’s stories of that same period of time we just heard Rhiannon talking about. So it was really interesting seeing the three very different perspectives and perceptions of what occurred during that time. It made me think of how often people can witness the same event but have a completely different perspective on what happened and how it affected them.

As the story continues, Susane definitely surpasses your “typical” high-school romance and drama, while digging into high school bullying, how what definitely goes around comes back around, and even some inappropriate relationships that have occurred or may be occurring. I think though she pushes the envelope, she isn’t afraid to take risks and she does so in a tasteful way that will make it okay for me to have this book in my middle school classroom.

All in all, you will love this book and definitely won’t want to put it down!


When is enough, enough?

Keeping Holding On

By: Susane Colasanti

I love how this book sucks you right in during the first chapter where our main character Noelle is fumbling over her words with her serious high school crush, Julian. Of course as the story begins to unravel we see that Noelle doesn’t have your typical, happy teenage lifestyle. Noelle finds herself in very dark spots with an immense amount of bullying at school, a very harsh home life- where her mom tells her what a mistake she was, and not a lot of self-confidence. You really begin to feel for Noelle and will definitely find your inner-insecure teenager as you read along with her.

DownloadedFileThere are moments where things start to look up for Noelle just for someone, like the biggest school bully or her former best friend, to bring her right back down. As the story continues, Noelle begins to let in on her secret home life scenario with some people she deems as close friends and she begins to see how good it feels to reach out and talk to someone, though incredibly hesitant at first.

This is a great book that will definitely make you think about some of your actions and how your actions effect others. You will continue to root for Noelle, her high school crushes, and her ability to find herself as the story progresses, and things might just look up for her toward the book’s conclusion.


Had Enough? June 17, 2013

Ever posted something online and then thought, “Oh, probably shouldn’t have done that?” Well, Butter has that kind of a moment. But with Butter, he goes back and forth. Here’s the deal. Butter by Erin Jade Lange is about a junior in high school named Marshall, but he’s had the nickname Butter since the end of middle school. It isn’t something he is proud of, and doesn’t like how people call him that, but unfortunately for him, the moniker has stuck. Butter


is a big guy and has struggled with his weight for as long as he can remember. His only true friend is from a fat camp he attends each summer.

Butter feels like he leads a dual life. The life where he has witty online conversations with the girl of his dreams (only she doesn’t know he actually goes to her school – she thinks he is a kid at another school since he won’t post a picture of himself) and is a fantastic sax player. But his reality is complicated. He is the boy who needs a handicap parking space since he can’t walk the distance from the parking lot into school without being winded, the boy who needs an oversized seat in each classroom, the sarcastic guy who always has a quip for the band teacher who wants him for his talented sax playing ability. But Butter can’t see beyond his own weight for anything he might offer others or what they might offer him.

Butter makes a decision one night after reading something about him posted online. He is tired of carrying the weight, tired disappointing his mom, tired of his father who won’t talk to him, and tired of hiding who he is from the girl he wants to know in real life, not just online. So, he creates a website and states that on New Year’s Eve he will eat his last meal. It will be a meal so large it will kill him. He will air it live on his webcam.

So here is the question. Would you tell someone…or would you watch?

Recommended for students at the end of 8th grade and up.


Guest Blogger 8th Grader Nita A. January 21, 2013

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is about a girl named Wanda. Wanda is not popular and rich like every other girl. Wanda wears the same old dress every day. One day a girl named Maddie asked Wanda how many dresses she had and Wanda said, “a hundred dresses!” This obvious lie becomes a game and everyone starts teasing Wanda.

There is a lot more going on in this book! I really liked it because it’s about bullying and it kind of shows that it’s not all about how popular and rich you are. If you are nice and smart and just being yourself – that’s all that matters!