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!

A Sweet Read December 5, 2016

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — bhomel @ 1:32 pm
Tags: , ,

Image result for love and gelato

In the book Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch, Lina’s entire life changes! Her mom’s dying request was for Lina to go to Italy and live with the mysterious Howard. During her seventeen years of her life, Lina has never met Howard and she presumes he’s her long lost father. A new country and a new dad are a lot to take in!

Once in Italy, Lina meets Ren – who happens to be half Italian and half American. Lina and Ren become friends quickly and he agrees to show her the sites of Italy. Lina is given an old diary written by her mother. As she starts reading the diary, she discovers secrets about her mom! Lina and Ren trace her mom’s adventures from when she lived in Italy a short time before Lina was born. The secrets lead Lina to finding out more about her father and it’s a huge surprise!

Along the way, Lina finds a love interest in Italy to make her trip even sweeter than gelato! (Get it?!) Love and Gelato is a good read for people who like to read stories that have lots of ups and downs in life and romance fans. Lina’s life is full of adventures and that kept me reading – I had to find out what was going to happen to Lina, Howard, and Ren. The ending was great and I was very happy. I would love to read a sequel!


Reads Like a Rap Song February 9, 2015

Crossover: When an offensive player dribbles the ball from one side of his body to the other, as if he is going to move in that direction, then switches the ball back to the other side of his body to catch the defensive player off balance (


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander definitely catches a few characters off guard and takes them for a spin. Josh Bell is a junior high basketball star. Basketball talent runs in his family – his twin brother, Jordan, is on the team and their father is a retired professional player. Josh faces several challenges in his game and family.

You don’t have to be a basketball pro to read this book – written in novel in verse, it’s a fast paced read about family and growing up to be the best person you can be.




If something is Gone, is it Lost? December 3, 2013

Essie’s life is hard, but it is all she knows. She would love to start her own hat making shop, but that would require way more money than she could probably save in ten years. She has the responsibility of raising her younger sister, Zelda, and keeping her brother, Saulie, out of trouble. Her father died when she was only ten and her mother, after giving birth to Zelda, has to go to work full time. Essie was left to raise little Zelda, whom she loved instantly. Their mother always feels Essie lets Zelda get away with too much, but Essie can’t refuse her little sister anything.

When Essie gets older, she goes to work for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, making shirts each day. There, she meets a woman named Harriet, who imgresappears to be lost. Essie is drawn to Harriet, who is a bit of a mystery. Why would someone who seems to come from money be working in a factory?

Lost by Jacqueline Davies is set in bustling New York City right around the turn of the century. Essie’s family is a typical working class family of the day, and the book portrays the struggles that each individual faced daily. Any history savvy reader will know the horrific events that befell the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and of course Essie and Harriet can’t escape this incident.

Lost is more about the relationships Essie forms with her family, a young man, and Harriet, than the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It shows how just because something or someone is gone, it doesn’t mean they are lost.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


A Book and a Movie! June 15, 2013

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — bhomel @ 7:58 am
Tags: , , ,

Tiger Eyes was first published in 1981. Judy Blume was a popular author in the 80s-90s. Her books were the kind you read secretly and told your friends about because Judy Blume wrote about growing up and had occasional curse words. Judy Blume’s books were a little edgier than most books you read in middle school.

Fast forward to 2013 and Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes is now a movie! When I heard about the upcoming movie release, I decided to read the book.

Tiger Eyes is about a girl named Davey. Davey’s father is killed in a robbery at his store. Davey’s mom decides a change of scenery is needed after the tragedy. Davey, her mom, and younger brother head to New Mexico to stay with her aunt and uncle. Not only does Davey feel like she’s lost her dad, but her mom slowly starts to fall into depression. Davey feels alone in a new place. Her aunt and uncle try to  pick up the pieces and take control of the family. To help escape, Davey begins to explore Los Alamos by riding her bike to the canyon and climbing down the rocks. It is here where she meets Wolf – he not only helps her back up the canyon but teaches her how to climb. There’s something about Wolf that makes Davey feel like he’s a true friend. After spending time in New Mexico and with Wolf, Davey finally learns how to face the tragedy of her father’s death and her sadness.

Tiger Eyes is about losing someone close to you and finding the strength to move forward. It is recommended for mature readers. The movie has several differences than the book so I recommend reading the book first and then catching the entertaining flick. The movie is rated PG-13.


7th Grade Guest Blogger – Kora M. April 7, 2013

The book I read is Love, Aubrey by Suzanne Lafleur and it’s 262 pages and the genre is realistic fiction.

This book is about a girl who loses her sister, Savannah, and her dad in a car accident. Luckily, she and her mom were lucky enough to survive, but with some mild injuries. As months pass, her mom is dealing with depression because of the loss of her husband and she decides she can’t take it anymore. Because of this, Aubrey’s mom walks out on her one early morning without a warning, note, or even a phone call. Eventually, Aubrey’s grandma comes to her house one day and finds her alone in the house. Aubrey continues her life at her grandma’s house and as you read, you see that Aubrey has to live a completely different life. It’s already put enough stress on Aubrey having to deal without her family, getting used to a new school, and making new friends. The last thing she needs is for her mom to show up at her grandma’s house one night, out of nowhere, after all these months of just forgetting about Aubrey.

Aubrey has to make a huge choice, will she stay with her grandma or go with her mom? You’ll just have to read this book to find out!

I chose this book because it’s a book I really enjoyed, and in some ways I can relate to how Aubrey feels about losing these important family members, because of the loss of my great-grandma when I was in 4th grade. This book really kept me reading and I liked it because it could be intense in some ways and I like books that I can relate to. My favorite part about it was seeing all the choices Aubrey had to make and watching her progress and get used to a different life.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes unexpected twists and intense feelings. Even though a girl stars as the main character, I would recommend this book to boys, girls, and even adults. This book may be a quick read, but it’s a book that anyone could enjoy.


Have you ever felt invisible? March 19, 2013

Well, that is exactly how Fern feels within her constantly-on-the-go family in See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles. At first the story captures you with the connection you instantly build with Fern, a middle-schooler who doesn’t feel like an important part in her family. Someone who tries to help her high school brother that is grappling with decisions about his sexuality and much bully


ing at school; along with someone who tries to make her dad happy while running their restaurant, even if that means her having to be in some silly commercial. I looked at Fern as the glue in the family; though we all know that just because the glue is there to help “things” stay together, not everyone always knows about its presence.

I really liked this book because I felt it had many layers just waiting to be shed as the book progressed. As you learn more about the family, their dynamic and how the individual characters are feeling in their given situations- a traumatic incident occurs, one that I did NOT see coming in the slightest. Will Fern be able to help her family stick together? Or will she fall apart, thus leaving her family to do the same? This was a tear-jerking book that I just could not put down. It gives you a very realistic account of what happens when tragedy hits a family and how friends and family have to pull together to get through it.

A definite must-read to all my middle schoolers- boys and girls! It’s got a little bit for everyone- drama, tragedy, humor, romance, typical high-school problems, identity issues and family & relationships dynamics!


Don’t You Dare Read This… March 14, 2013

Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey By: Margaret Peterson Haddix

imgresThis was a quick little read that had a lot of punch and power. We meet Tish, what seems to be your average teenager who thinks writing in a journal for class is stupid and definitely not worth her time.   She and her classmates have discussed how their teacher, Mrs. Dunphrey, allows students to write “Don’t Read” at the top of their entries that they want to be more private. Typical teenagers then think: What if I just wrote the same few lines over and over again?  What if I had some really juicy information and then my teacher started treated me differently? They would have her caught. Moving past the “what ifs”, the entire book is told through Tish’s entries and quick responses from Mrs. Dunphrey, most of which pertain to quick praise for the amount she has written and asking if Tish will ever allow her to actually read her entries, which happens sparingly throughout the novel.

Tish is a powerful and relatable character that Haddix develops well throughout, in a meaningful way. I think a lot of students can connect to her feelings about school, her family, some of her classmates, but I didn’t quite expect to hear about how difficult her life had been and had become throughout her entries. She continues her downfall and has to figure out how to be a teenager who acts like everything is okay, while she becomes the head of her household and in charge of her younger brother, all while keeping up with these stupid journal entries. Who knows, maybe those entries weren’t so stupid after all?


Comics Count As Reading! February 19, 2013

Filed under: Humor — bhomel @ 2:04 pm
Tags: , , , ,

If you are looking for a book to give you a few laughs then AAAA! A FoxTrot Kids Edition by Bill Amend is for you!

FoxTrot is a popular comic strip about the Fox family. FoxTrot stars:

  • Jason (10 year old brainy little brother who loves to get on his sister’s nerves with the help of his pet iguana Quincy)
  • Paige (14 year old sister who is very girly girl)
  • Peter (16 year old brother who is into sports)
  • their parents – Andy & Roger Fox

Middle schoolers (and even adults) will enjoy the Fox family antics while these three kids drive each other and their parents crazy. The FoxTrot comics cover topics like school, dreaded homework, baseball and other sports, school crushes, and the everyday life of being in a family.

AAAA! has laughs for everyone and you will laugh out loud!


A Novel for Artists February 13, 2013

It’s funny how sometimes books can be both loved and hated, liked and disliked. Recently our middle school book club, Book Buddies, chose to read Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff. Several students did not enjoy the book and I had the opposite reaction.

Hollis Woods is an orphan. She was abandoned as a baby in Hollis Woods and that’s how her name came to be. Part of her story is told through flashbacks described through the pictures Hollis draws. She’s a skilled artist who has an eye for color and detailed drawings.

Hollis runs away from the only real family she’s ever had and ends up in another foster home. This time she’s placed with Josie, who is also an artist. Hollis likes living with Josie but if Social Services discovers Josie’s mental health is getting worse, Hollis will be forced to leave. All the while, Hollis can’t seem to forget the Regan family – the one family she felt was real. She’s torn between staying with Josie to help care for her and wanting to be back with the Regan family.

The book switches back and forth between Hollis’ pictures (her memories) and her time with Josie. I thought this book is a good reminder about how important family is.

Book reviews and recommendations are great but you’ll never really know if you like or dislike a book until you read it for yourself.


Guest Blogger 8th Grader Ariana A. January 29, 2013

Imagine you didn’t know anything about your own mom! What if you didn’t know some of the words she was saying? Imagine not understanding what she was saying or wanted to say to you.

In the book So B. It by Sarah Weeks, Heidi doesn’t know much about her mom. She wants to find out the meaning of the word her mom keeps saying, “soof.” Heidi’s mama is named So B. It.
Bernie is their next-door neighbor. Bernie takes care of mom because Mama’s brain is having trouble. Bernie is more like a nanny to them because she teaches them how to open food cans, how to cross the street, and how to tie their shoes. Then one day Bernie finds some pictures and shows them to Heidi. Heidi thinks that her mom and grandma are in the picture. Heidi has never met her grandmother.
Heidi and Bernie call Hilltop, the place where the pictures were taken, in New York. What Heidi decides to do is to go to Hilltop by herself. When she gets there, she meets a man that knows the word “soof”, the word that her mom says and the word that brought her to Hilltop. She tries to find out the information she needs about her mom and family.

I liked this book because it has some mysteries and a little bit of adventures. If you like finding clues like Heidi does, you will like reading So B. It.