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!

Peace or Revolution? March 19, 2019

Set in 1968 Chicago, this beautiful coming-of-age novel highlights the rise of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party. Sam and Stick Childs are the son of Roland Childs, a devoted father and a Civil Rights Movement advocate for peaceful protest. Roland is a personal friend to Martin Luther King, Jr., and his sons have grown up attending marches and speeches for black equality. Recently, however, Stick has been spending

rockandrivermore time with the local Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party; he is inspired by the Party’s free breakfast program, support for impoverished neighborhood families, and rhetoric about fighting violence with violence. As the younger brother, Sam has always looked up to Stick and followed his lead in all things. However, joining up with the Black Panthers means directly opposing his father’s commitment to non-violence and peaceful protest. Sam feels caught between loyalty to his father and to his brother, or between “a rock and a river,” with any choice he makes seeming to be a loss. Can Sam find his own moral compass and voice as he struggles to grow up in one of the nation’s most turbulent periods in history?


What to do when the odds are stacked against you… February 15, 2014

Standing Against the Wind

imgres-3By: Traci Jones

A rather quiet book that can be relatable to many. It all begins with the bullying that 13-year old Patrice from the boys that live in her Chicago-neighborhood building. We find that Patrice’s mother is in jail, and was put there just a short time after moving Patrice from her wonderful location of Georgia, where she resided with her grandmother. Patrice has always been a girl who keeps to herself, does what she is asked and tries hard in school.

Things begin to change for her when her principal urges her to apply for a scholarship for an esteemed-boarding school for young African American students. She runs into a problem when in order to apply she needs to get her mother to sign-off on the paperwork. During the time that Patrice is filling out the application, writing her essays, taking care of her siblings, and tutoring Monty’s (a friendly neighbor of hers) younger brother, Patrice begins to figure out some of the more important things in life. After continually getting bullied by Monty’s supposed “friends” Patrice finally seeks Monty out for support, and a relationship begins to bloom.

All in all, a very cute and quiet story, with a heartfelt message. In order to find out what occurs with Patrice, her scholarship, her mom and even Monty, read this book!


Ever Want a Do-Over? January 24, 2013



What if one day you looked up and saw someone watching you, like they knew you? But the next moment they were gone? Anna is mystified in the book Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
when this happens to her one early spring morning while she is running. A boy appears to be sitting in the bleachers at the track, but the next moment gone. When she goes up to investigate, the snow on the bleachers is undisturbed…except where the boy was sitting. Adding to the mystery, she goes to school and meets the very same boy, although he acts like he’s never seen her before, and denies being at the track that morning.

Quickly, Anna, realizes there is something strange going on with Bennett. He is at first friendly, then cold and harsh. Anna has no idea what is going on with him, but honestly, the truth is far stranger than anything Anna could come up with on her own. Bennett has the ability to travel through time and has to make decisions that will affect many peoples lives, including his own and Anna’s.

If you are looking for a romance that will keep you on your toes wondering how the pieces of the puzzle will fall, this is a great book for you. As with most time travel books, I felt like there were a few areas that were unclear, or didn’t totally make sense, but this is a fantasy after all, so some..okay, a LOT of suspension of belief is needed. I don’t think that will deter most readers though who are looking for a fun escape.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.