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!

Hoax or Reality? November 25, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 9:36 am
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Everyone is seeing the videos on YouTube and hearing the reports, but really, zombies? How true can it really be? B is just trying to get along. After all, with a father who is clearly a racist and a mother who is trying to survive domestic violence, B knows to duck and cover when things start to get heated between them. B also knows not to let on that B has a friend who is black and has for many years. As B goes to school and keeps hearing more about the supposed zombies, life just goes on. However, B starts to question the racist beliefs that have been such a part of B’s upbringing. After a visit to a historical museum, B really begins to question things. Particularly, what does Be really believe? Is it an act to be a racist or what B really believes?

Then, zombies appear at B’s school and all bets are off. Can B survive this Zombie apocalypse, or is B doomed to go down with the rest of the world?imgres-1

 Zom –B by Darren Shan shows he is back with what appears to be the start of another horror series. With a twist I didn’t see coming and an ending that will leave you gasping you will be hungering for the next.

Recommended for 8th grade and up because of lots of gruesome violence – we are talking zombies after all!



$300 Or Your Life November 18, 2013

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:41 am
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imgresIn the midst of the Civil War, a young girl named Claire, is about to have her safe, comfortable world shaken. Lincoln has announced the beginning of a draft. However, if you could pay $300.00, basically the equivalent of a working person’s year salary, you could avoid it. Or get a substitute to go for you. The working class of New York City had no way to pay that kind of money, or pay someone to go for them.

Claire is biracial – her mother is an Irish immigrant and her father a free black man.  They have plans to buy the inn they work in, hopefully soon in the future. However, when we first meet Claire and her family, there is unrest in the city streets. Irish immigrants, worrying of the possible influx of free blacks from the south who will compete for the few jobs there are, and feeling the unfairness of the draft policies, begin rioting against any wealthy or black people they see walking on the streets.

For Claire, who has had both Irish and black friends growing up, the first time someone comes at her because she is mixed is a shock to her. She begins to question how her family has gone on as they have and wonders what will happen when the riots are finally put down. Will things ever go back to the way they were?

Riot by Walter Dean Myers looks at the beginning of segregation in New York City, and the seeds for divisions between races and class. Told in a screenplay style, this novel is a quick read about a very tumultuous time in our country’s history.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Caught Between Two Worlds November 5, 2013

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 2:17 pm
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Jamie wants to fit in – which means having blonde hair and blue eyes, and hopefully getting noticed by the popular crowd at school. Jamilah wants herimgres father to understand she needs to get out of the house sometimes and that not having her mother has been hard, and struggling to find her place growing up can be wonderful and hard at the same time.

What do Jamie and Jamilah have in common? Each other – they are the same person! Jamilah has invented the person she is at school (Jamie) to counter any stereotypes she worries people will put on her because she is Muslim and Lebanese. Stereotypes that are rampant at her school.

While she struggles with an over protective father, she also has to deal with friendship issues at school. Plus why is she somehow drawing the attention of the most popular guy at school, who just so happens to love spouting off racist comments constantly? When Jamilah is able to be herself with someone she meets online she thinks finally she has a friend she can count on. But then again, when do things work out so well?

Finding out who you are and trusting that who you are is good enough for those who really care about you is something we all must face as some point in our lives. Jamilah/Jamie has just come to that place. Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah is a great, fun book set in Australia. Don’t miss this one!

Recommended for students 7th and up.


Do YOU Believe in Fairies? October 30, 2013

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:36 am
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Almost a hundred years ago, two girls, one 9 and one 15, began an adventure together. Frances, who was 9, went with her mother to live with her aunt and uncle while her father was offimgres fighting in the Great War (World War I). Her older cousin, Elsie, showed her the beck, or glen behind the house they were living. As the weather got nicer, Frances would spend more and more time investigating the flowers, trees and animals that lived around the little waterfall and stream that ran through the area behind the cottage.

At one point, Frances began to notice little men around the trees, and later, she saw fairies. At one point she mentioned this to her mother, and aunt and uncle, who immediately said she was making things up and began to tease her. When Frances asked Elsie if she ever saw fairies, Elsie said she had. One day, Elsie asked if she and Frances could borrow father’s camera to take a picture of the fairies. Her father reluctantly agreed, and only gave one plate for them to use. When Elsie and Frances were far away from the house, Elsie brought out little paper fairies she had drawn on paper, painted and carefully cut out. They used long hatpins and gum to keep the fairy pictures up. Thus began one of the longest running hoaxes in modern times…all perpetrated by young girls.

The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure is a great little book showing how one afternoon changed the lives of many people in England and even in America. What is amazing is how the whole story didn’t come up for so many years.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


The Monster Within October 22, 2013

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 11:08 am
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What if you had something inside you that was destroying you? Alex has a brain tumor that she and her aunt have been trying to “kill” for almost 2 years. Nothing is working, not special treatments, not chemo, not radiation. Time is almost out for Alex and she knows it, even if her aunt doesn’t.

imgresSo rather than continue with treatments that aren’t working and in fact, make her sick, she ops out. As in no more treatments. As in she knows her life is ending, so she wants it to end on her terms. She has been putting off for years taking her parents ashes and spreading them in Lake Superior, as was their wish. Her parents died in a helicopter crash and it was shortly after this that she was diagnosed with the brain tumor. Alex decides she is going to go hiking and take her parents remains along to finally disperse them in the lake. However, before she can accomplish this mission, something catastrophic happens in the woods and later she realizes, around the world.

A harsh pulsing, dreadfully painful feeling grips Alex while she is in the woods, along with a man who has just come along the trail with his granddaughter, Ellie. The man, Jack, dies very quickly, and now Alex must pull herself together and get her and Ellie out of the woods. However, on their trip to a ranger station, they encounter two other teens, but something is horribly wrong with them. Alex now realizes that whatever that pulse of pain was, it has affected some people in terrible ways.

Alex and Ellie must struggle to survive in a world that appears to have turned upside down and people can’t be counted on at all. How will they make it back to civilization, and the questions becomes, should they even try?

Ashes by Ilsa Bick is a fast paced, what would you do, story that will pull you in. However, be prepared to read more because this book ends with a total cliff hanger. This book is the first book in a trilogy.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


The Road Less Traveled October 17, 2013

Are things really as bad as they seem? Radley in Safekeeping by Karen Hesse doesn’t know.  She left the orphanage in Haiti she was volunteering at when sheimgres heard the United States was under Marshal Law. Things were falling apart after the assassination of the president, and Radley just wanted to get home to be with her parents.

 The problem is, things are much worse than she anticipated when she arrives back in the states. There are now travel restrictions and she is forced to walk to her home. Upon arrival she is in for more surprises, and not pleasant ones. She becomes afraid of the police who start knocking on her door day and night, and what has happened to her town. Where are all the people? Who can she trust?

 Radley finds herself in a situation none of us want to be in – suddenly forced to grow up without the aide of friends or family, and in a hostile world that feels out of control. This is a journey she must face, at times on her own, and at times with help, but still, she must make life decisions.

 Safekeeping is a quiet book with a ton of punch. Radley moves through her new alien world with grace and strength. A powerful read.

 Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.  


In a War Zone…Hope September 19, 2013

imgresMatt only knows that his best friend has been taken away to live in a detention center. He doesn’t understand why after 6 years living in England, his good friend Aman and Aman’s mother are suddenly considered a threat and must return to Afghanistan. A country they fled in terror years ago.

Turns out, Matt doesn’t really know much about his good friend. As Matt works with his Grandfather to help Aman and his mother out of the detention center, his Grandfather hears the story of how Aman and his mother were forced to live and hide in caves to avoid the Taliban. How a little dog showed up at their cave one night and became Aman’s best friend. This dog, whom he named Shadow, assisted Aman and his mother through enemy areas, always on the look out.

 Shadow by Michael Morpurgo is a quick read, and a great book for animal lovers. Sometimes war stories focus so much on the soldiers, it is easy to forget all the civilians whose lives are changed tremendously because of the conflict.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


A Magic Stone August 31, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 6:37 pm
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imgresWhat if your coming had been prophesied, and that you would be called upon to do something great and might lead to the ultimate sacrifice…your death? What kind of pressure would you feel? Elisa is just such a chosen one in the book The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. However, she is a very reluctant chosen one. She is the second daughter of a king, and feels she is the last person who should have been chosen to have a Godstone, a jewel in her stomach, which foretells of her as one God is counting on to do something heroic.

Elisa is set to marry a king of a distant land, a land that may soon be at war. Elisa may be overweight and not value her own counsel, but she is well versed in the language of war, and has been studying since she was a small child. After her marriage, Elisa realizes her husband, while charming and handsome, is at heart, weak. Soon after her marriage she is captured and taken to a land she never thought to see. It is in this barren place she begins to realize her possible purpose and how she can fulfill her destiny.

Looking for an adventure with elements of fantasy and devotion? This is the book for you.

Recommended for students in 7th grade and up.


Love? As IF! August 16, 2013

imgresSo what do you do when you are surrounded by people who want to make a big deal out of your birthday, when it already IS a big deal? As in, it is Valentine’s Day. Who wouldn’t love to have Valentine’s Day as their birthday? Piper, that’s who. She is anti romance, and she has her mother’s two failed marriages to back her up.

What does romance get you but a big headache? After all, just ask Piper’s friend Claire, who seems to not realize her boyfriend, Stuart, is about to dump her. Jillian, Piper’s other best friend, is determined to get them all great dates for the BIG day this year. However, Piper is doing everything she can to fight against this plan. Yet as the day gets closer, and Jillian’s plan, however strange and bizarre, seems to actually be having results, Piper has to decide if romance and love are really so horrible, or if she and those she loves, might actually have a shot at it

Love? Maybe. by Heather Hepler is a sweet (pun intended) book about a girl growing up and having a hard time doing it. Certainly a great book to pick up and enjoy!

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Motley Crew of Teens July 23, 2013

They were all different in some way; different enough to be “labeled” at school as the problem students. Kids you didn’t want in your class. But Jim and his friends do have something imgresthey are really serious about. That would be paint ball. They have started an unofficial tournament in the sewer tunnels of their city where they compete against teams from other schools. They are really good, better than good. They are undefeated.

However, with the addition of a new member, Carter, the team seems to be facing some growing pains. Namely, Lisa, a founding member and awesome paintballer, is having the pains. She clearly doesn’t like or want Carter on the team, but won’t say why. It all comes down to a dangerous game in the tunnels.

What lengths would you go to if you disliked someone? In Sewer Rats by Sigmund Brouwer, you have a chance to see what lengths some will go to. Up to you to decide if it was right or wrong.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.