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!

When Good Enough…Isn’t December 12, 2013

Beth knew it was totally unlikely, and after pining away for Salva for over 5 years, she knew it wouldn’t happen. So when, out of the blue, Salva actually seeks her out and asks for her help in passing their AP English class, she is stunned and doesn’t think she should take him up on the offer. After all, if she has to see him every week, that will just make her crush that much worse, right? What if she actually falls for him more? How awful will it be when he still doesn’t even pay attention to her?

imgresSalva can’t believe it! Why is the principal making him take AP English? Who knew that taking freshman English in 8th grade would come back to haunt him. What a ridiculous rule that you had to have four years of English IN high school. If only he’d known. And to get stuck with the hardest English teacher in the whole school, also not fair. As if he doesn’t have enough pressure from being the star quarterback on the school’s football team, being the president of student council,  and trying to be the first in his immigrant family to go off to college and be successful. He feels tremendous pressure from his dad to do well in school and to live up to the expectations of his dead mother.

On the surface, Beth and Salva couldn’t be more different, but as they spend more time together, Salva is struck by how much Beth gets what he’s going through, and how she keeps pushing him to go further than he ever thought he could. But what if she pushes to much and makes him feel too much and makes him long too much? Can Beth and Salva ever really have a relationship?

Salvation by Anne Osterlund is everything you want in a high school romance. Try it, and you won’t be disappointed!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Not Your Typical Cancer Book October 9, 2013





Hazel Grace is a sixteen-year-old with terminal lung cancer.  She is content with a quiet existence spent reading, watching America’s Next Top Model, and attending the occasional cancer support group meeting.  Then she meets Augustus Waters.  Energetic, witty, sensitive Augustus, aching to leave a permanent mark on the world, will show her that every day can be filled with an astonishing amount of magic and heartbreak.  Interwoven with mythology, poetry, and video games, this is not what Hazel refers to as “the typical cancer book”.


Can a 2 Year Old be a Murderer…Twice? October 6, 2013

imgresIn the book If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney, a family has been torn apart by the youngest member. First, when Tristan was in-utero, their mother found out she had cancer. She made the decision to forgo treatment until after his birth, leaving her little time to fight the cancer, and ultimately to her death. The older three siblings have varying feelings about Tris, however, they all pitch in and try to help their father keep life going on.

Enter Aunt Cheryl, who isn’t really anyone’s aunt, but their mother’s halfhearted stepsister for about two years. However, Aunt Cheryl is determined to find her way into the heart of the family, or the house, since she seems more concerned with how things look than how things are. Unfortunately for the children in this family, another tragedy befalls them as their father is killed, and it appears by the very son who, in some ways, is responsible for the death of their mother.

Each child reacts in a different way. The youngest daughter, Smith, removes herself completely from the family by going off to boarding school. The oldest sibling, Madison, goes to live in another town with her godparents. Jack is the only one to stay with Tris and Aunt Cheryl, doing his best to keep things normal for the little boy the newspapers say is a double murderer.

The anniversary of their father’s birthday, or what would have been his birthday has all the siblings thinking, and one makes a startling discovery. Something that has her replaying her father’s death and looking at it with a new light. What did happen in the driveway that day?

As all three of the older children come back together, they begin to put aside their own troubles and focus on the youngest member of the family. Is he really responsible for the deaths of both of their parents? Or might someone else have had a hand in at least one?

Fast paced suspense story good for students grades 6th and up.


5 Stars for The Fault In Our Stars December 30, 2012

I am a pretty tough book critic. It takes a lot for me to rate a book 5 out of 5 stars. At first, I wasn’t even sure if I would like The Fault In Our Stars by John Green so I didn’t read it right away. I was hearing a lot of buzz about the book from students, other teachers, and online. I saw this book on several top 10 book lists. It was calling my name just like Twilight and The Hunger Games. When I hear a book title over and over again, I have to read it.

There’s a pretty good reason why I was hearing about The Fault In Our Stars (TFIOS) so much…it’s an awesome story!!!! This book is getting 5 out of 5 stars from me! I am even going to go as far as to buy my own copy (the one I read was from the library) and read it again. I may even highlight my favorite quotes or parts.

Hazel Grace Lancaster, 17, has cancer. She doesn’t go to school and has to push around an oxygen tank to help her breathe. She wants to sit at home and watch TV but her mom nags her to be a teenager and go out. The only place Hazel usually goes to is a cancer support group to make her mom happy. At a meeting, Hazel meets Augustus Waters. Once you meet Augustus, you will fall in love with this character, just like Hazel does. Augustus changes Hazel’s life – that’s all I can say because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. As a matter of fact, I knew nothing about the book when I began reading it. I think that made me appreciate the story so much more.

I will tell you this: you will laugh as Hazel, Isaac, and Augustus sarcastically take on cancer and being sick. You will also cry – this story is beautifully tragic. This book is about friendship, love, heroes, and overcoming challenges in life. There are some mature parts so I recommend this book for mature readers.