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!

Ready for Anything??? January 15, 2014

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 2:26 pm
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imgresI’m a HUGE historical fiction fan. I know that isn’t typical for most readers, but I love history. In a time of so many series, there are a few that I believe have been overlooked. Once such is the series about Mary ‘Jacky’ Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer.

Mary is feeling beyond hopeless. When she loses both her parents and her sister in a matter of two days to a dreadful disease in London, 1797. Luckily, for Mary, she is accosted after she runs out of the only home she’s ever known, and right into the hands of Charlie’s gang. Charlie’s gang is a misfit group of children lost to the streets. Her life continues on with the gang for some time until one night, things go badly for Charlie. Mary sees a chance to change her life forever. The question is, can she pull it off, will she be strong enough, and if she does take the chance, what happens if she is discovered?

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer is the first book in this fast paced, exciting, swashbuckling adventure. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to laugh and gasp at this incredible character.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.


What if someone else had your name? July 14, 2013

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 11:41 am
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imgresWhile one Wes Moore was growing on the East coast in New York City and in Baltimore, Maryland, there was another Wes Moore. However, one ended up being a Rhodes Scholar, graduating from John Hopkins College and the other was put in prison for life after participating in a robbery that killed an off duty police officer. How could two young men, both with many of the same struggles, end up with two very different lives?

This is the question Wes Moore asks in his book Discovering Wes Moore. When he was in South Africa on an exchange program during his final year in college, his mother told him someone with his name was being sought for murder. It began to haunt Wes. He wanted to know more about this other person with his name who was accused of something very wrong and tragic.

As we follow the life of Wes Moore, the author, we see his life had many ups and downs, and at no point in his early childhood did things look good for him. It wasn’t until he was in his early teens that things began to make sense to him a bit and his life did indeed change.

This is an incredible book for all the what ifs?

Recommended for grades 7th and up.



The Lesser of Two Evils March 24, 2013

When none of the options looks good, what do you do? Calvin in Nowhere to Run by Claire J. Griffin is a runner, or actually he is a sprinter. He is starting his senior year of high imgresschool in Washington, D.C. and is looking forward to winning the 100 meter dash in the District Championship. What he doesn’t count on is getting caught up in the life of his best friend Deej whose cousin who happens to be running a lot of shady deals.

Struggling to stay in school when most of his classmates don’t seem to care about showing up, and a lot of the teachers appear to only be passing the time, Calvin has a goal, and that goal is to make it to spring and go as fast as he ever has before. His friend Deej plans to be there every step of the way, and even helps to coach Calvin. Yet, just when things seem to be falling into place for Calvin, who begins dating a girl with the nickname of Junior and feels he is in love for the first time, Deej becomes distant. One night Deej asks Calvin to do something Calvin knows might jeopardize everything he has worked so hard for both with his running and in his personal life. But how do you say no to your best friend?

Nowhere to Run gives you a sense of the conflict we all face growing up. How do we make those hard decisions on our own, and even more difficult, how do we live with them once we’ve made them.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Can You Escape Your Past? Do You Want To? January 31, 2013

imgres-1When Socko (short for Socrates) is told by his mother they are moving out of the only home he can remember to take care of a great-grandfather he’s never met, he wants no part of it. Not that things are great where Socko lives in Summer on the Moon by Adrian Fogelin. He and his best friend live in fear of the local gang, the Tarantulas. Their leader, Rapp, seems determined to take them both out. Socko doesn’t feel near as brave as his friend Damien, but he knows Damien’s mom can’t help him out at all and Socko doesn’t want to leave him behind.

When Socko and his mother make the move to a basically deserted new housing development called Moon Ridge he feels they might as well be ON the moon for all the people there and how empty it feels after the bustle of the city life. His great-grandfather turns out to be a cranky, demanding old soul, who seems to live to torment Socko and his mother. Or so he seems at first glance. He sends Socko on recon missions in the neighborhood and it is on these missions Socko’s life begins to change as he meets his only neighbor. Just when things appear to be moving in a forward direction, Socko, can’t seem to leave behind his past in the city and when it comes looking for him, he has to decide to either continue looking back, or finally turn and look the other way.

Socko is a kid that reminds me of a younger brother I have, who, as a kid appeared tough and kind of scared at the same time. I’m sure he’d love to know I thought of him that way, but now that he’s older he would probably agree with me! While Summer on the Moon takes a bit to get going, once it does, it is hard to put down as you want to know what decisions Socko will make and which ones will be taken out of his hands.

Recommended for grades 6th and Up.