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 http://www.buzzsprout.com/229361 and enjoy!

Lions of Little Rock Review by 7th Grader Litzy May 9, 2018

LIn the book The Lions Of Little Rock By Kristin Levine, Marlee is at school when a new student named Elizabeth comes to her school. Elizabeth is African American but everyone thinks that she is white because her skin was lighter. Then Sally, one of their classmates, tells everyone Elizabeth’s secret that she is not white. Now almost everyone does not like Elizabeth except Marlee and Little Jimmy. They can’t hang out together because their parents won’t let them and it could be dangerous. They send letters to each other and hide being friends.

In honesty I liked the book –  it is very good and it has good parts and sad parts. At times when the good parts happen, it gets boring. So it goes on and off so it is good at times and boring at parts for me. But over all the book is very good. What I liked about this book is that no matter what got between them or what tried to separate Marlee and Elizabeth, they still are friends.

 

Forget Me Not May 14, 2017

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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.

 

An Escape to Space: Starflight November 22, 2016

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — ghahn2012 @ 11:23 am
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Have you ever wanted to escape your problems?  Solara Brooks has the perfect solution.  Her life on earth is nothing worth keeping- so she plans to escape to the fringes of space where she can start over working as a mechanic.  In the fringe she will be valued for her skills and it won’t 9781484723241_p0_v8_s192x300matter that she has no family, no money, and a criminal conviction.  The only problem is that she can’t afford to get there.  Solara decides to indenture herself to someone for the length of the journey and unfortunately, the only person willing to take her is her tormentor from school.  Solara is a survivor though and through some brilliant twists and turns in the plot, she shows just how strong she is.

Starflight by Melissa Landers is science fiction at its best.  Space pirates, new frontier, and adventure all help make this story memorable.  But the part that will leave you wanting more is the characters.  Luckily, this is the first of a series.

 

The Last Place on Earth August 18, 2016

Have you ever thought about what you would do if there was a plague in the United States?  Would you run?  Try to escape it?  Just give in?

Daisy and Henry are best friends.  They do everything together and hang out ever51SOWRv9jWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_y day.  Then one day Henry is gone- just gone.  Daisy goes to Henry’s house to investigate and no one is there, but she finds a note that says, “Save me.”  Daisy convinces her brother to help her follow the clues on a rescue mission into the mountains where everything gets even crazier.  Daisy unknowingly falls into Henry’s biggest secret- a fallout shelter.  Daisy always knew Henry’s family liked camping on weekends, but it turns out they are full out survivalists who have prepared for the end of the world.    People have started getting sick at home and Henry’s mom has decided that THIS is the big one, so they have gone off the grid.

The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow is a fun novel that takes a different take on the end of the world theme.  Daisy is a sarcastic story teller who the reader really connects with as she describes this alternate life style.  There are a lot of interesting characters, a little bit of romance, and just enough twists and turns to keep the story moving.

 

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.

 

And Then the Sharks Came April 24, 2015

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:22 pm
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They were trying to get to their parents. In the final days of WWII, the Pacific Ocean and the islands by the Philippines were devastated from bombings and all the fighting. Caught in the armies crossfire were civilians and others native to the islands. Patrick and Teddy had been having bad luck ever since the Japanese invaded the Philippines. Their parents, in an attempt to save them, sent them away to another island, not knowing the two boys would end up in grave danger there as well.

imgres-1Once the Japanese were driven off the island of Guam, Patrick has the idea if he can only get back to the Philippines, he can find their parents and be re-united with them after four long years. However, the only way for two young boys to get there is by becoming stowaways. It turns out they pick the wrong ship. With the help of a marine named Benny, they are smuggled aboard a ship called the U.S.S. Indianapolis.

This proves to be a fateful move however, since the Indy is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sinks in under 13 minutes. Benny, Patrick and Teddy make it into the water, but Benny is severely hurt in, and Teddy is basically no help. So Patrick must try to keep them alive even as the waters churn with sharks, ready to take them down, deep into the sea.

Into the Killing Seas by Michael Spradlin is a great historical fiction look at the sinking of this ship during WWII, and the worst encounter between humans and sharks ever recorded.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.

 

When the Ball Hits, Hard January 27, 2015

imgresLuke Wallace is the kind of kid you want to hate, because he’s so good at everything. He makes friends easily, the teachers all love him (even though he isn’t the greatest student) and he is fantastic at any sport he tries. Football, basketball, and especially, baseball. But here’s the deal – you might want to hate him but you can’t, BECAUSE he’s such a good guy.

Wallace and his team from Oak Grove High School are starting early in the season against their rivals – Compton – and everyone is excited to be getting into the game. Compton has a fabulous pitcher, one who is so good that a scout from a college is in the stands watching the game.

But something goes horribly wrong at the game. Wallace’s life and those around him are changed forever. Beanball by Gene Fehler takes a look at how people’s lives can change in an instant and the way different people react to a tragedy.

Recommended for readers 6th grade and up who enjoy a fast paced book, told from multiple perspectives about the game of baseball.

 

You Can Run, BUT Can You Hide? January 20, 2015

Growing up in Honolulu in the late 1930s is a good life for Zenji. He is surrounded by good friends and a great family. The only dark spot on his life is the fact his father was killed in an accident at Pearl Harbor before he was 10. It was hard growing up without a father, but his older brother Henry is always there for him.

imgresZenji has just finished high school and is trying to decide what to do with his life when he gets an unexpected visit from his high school JROTC officer. Colonel Blake says he has a proposition for Zenji because Zenji is so good with speaking and reading Japanese and being very proficient in English as well. While Zenji’s mother is totally against him going into the army, Zenji isn’t, and wants to see the world beyond the islands. After exhaustive testing, Zenji is admitted into the army as a CIP or member of the Corps of Intelligence Police. Basically, he will become a spy for the army.

His first assignment is to go by boat to the Philippines and stay at a hotel in Manila where a lot of Japanese business men like to stay. At first, Zenji isn’t sure how he’ll be able to help his country by spying in a hotel on Japanese businessmen. But as he spends more time in the city, he begins to realize that the tensions between the United States and Japan aren’t going away, and war might be coming faster than anyone expected.

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury is a fascinating look at the spying involved in World War II in the pacific theater. Zenji knows if he is captured by the Japanese they will look at him as a traitor to their country, even though he isn’t a Japanese citizen. If they know he is a spy, he’ll be killed. Zenji has to walk a fine line to stay live.

Recommended for students who enjoy reading books about World War II and a look at something other than combat. Due to torture scenes in the book, it is recommended for mature 8th graders.

 

New Best Friend Needed January 12, 2015

What do you do when your best friend disappears…right before what was supposed to be the best summer of your imgreslife? Emily goes on a quick vacation with her family and upon her return sends message after message to her friend, Sloane. Only to realize Sloane isn’t answering, even after a week of phone messages and texts. Nothing. After going to Sloane’s house and seeing that no one is there anymore, Emily is almost to the point of desperation.

Right before she is going to tell her parents that her best (pretty much only friend) has disappeared, Emily receives a letter in the mail from Sloane. It is much like other lists that Sloane has sent her over the last two years they’ve been friends. Emily becomes convinced if she does the things on the list, she’ll figure out what has happened to her friend. She’s not sure how “kiss a stranger,” or “ 55 S. Ave. Ask for Mona,” will help her, but she decides she will spend the summer completing all thirteen things on the list.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is a book you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to read because once you start you won’t want to stop. As the summer goes on, Emily finds help for her list in some unlikely places and with some unlikely people!

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

Bad Time for a Walk in the Woods December 9, 2014

When the three of them met up, they had no idea this would end that way it does. After all, Alexis, Ruby and Nick are teen volunteers for the Portland County Search team and don’t have much experience. They are still taking the classes and haven’t become certified yet. Even so, when they meet up to look for an autistic man who has gotten lost in one of the many area forested parks, they don’t think they’ll be in the middle of anything much.

imgres-1It is Alexis who finds the girl’s body. Even though they were all instructed to stay together, Alexis, Ruby and Nick all get spread out along the trail. Alexis thinks at first it is the man they are searching for, but when she gets closer, she realizes it is a teenage girl and she’s dead. Ruby and Nick come at her whistle, and Ruby confirms the girl is indeed dead.

Without realizing it, they have all stumbled upon a murder, a murder they all want to help the police solve. They realize they might have seen the killer on the trail, and if they did, could he be coming after one of them next?

April Henry‘s newest mystery, The Body in the Woods won’t disappoint her fans. Told from multiple perspectives, including the killer, this book will have you up reading late at night to finish.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.