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!

Can Small Acts Of Good Really Make a Difference? October 3, 2014

Summer is stretching out in front of Nina as one long event, with not a lot going on to break it up. Her parents are super consumed with a big trail case they are preparing for, her older brother Matt is getting ready to head off to college by pulling further away, and her best friend and neighbor Jorie seems more different than ever. So what’s a girl to do?

imgresLying in the hammock in her family’s front yard, Nina sees a neighbor with a broken leg struggle to plant her flowers and then give up. She knows her neighbor always plants marigolds, but clearly she can’t with a broken leg. It is in that moment that Nina gets an idea. An idea that her grandmother, who died the year before, talked to her about many times. It’s the idea of Simple Truths (STs), that sometimes it’s the smallest things that end up meaning the most.

In that instant, Nina decides she will take each day that remains of summer, and do one small act of kindness for someone. She will focus on her neighborhood first.

The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz will have you cheering for Nina and hopeful for her neighborhood, her family and her friends. This is the kind of book you want to rush through, but when it ends, you are sad. Take time to enjoy this fun, poignant gem.

Recommended for grades 6th and up with appeal to much older students.


Not your typical Summer romance… July 6, 2014

We Were Liars By: E. Lockhart

This is a great read for summer, as the majority of the book takes place on an island near Martha’s Vineyard, where various families have come to spend time with one another. A group of four children, calling themselves the liars, become close, inseparable, and eventually as the time progresses they become teenagers.

imgresWith the passing of their grandmother, things on the island start getting tricky and difficult for the kids, as their parents, namely their mothers, are constantly putting the kids in the middle of their fights about land, houses, and opportunities for the family fortune. These liars decide they want to do something about this and decide to take action. How far will they go to save their families and regain their cherished summers?

There aren’t a lot of times that books come around that leave me speechless, but not only the plot line itself caught me off guard, but the way in which Lockhart writes is simply poetic. The format has some differences, as well as the language she uses paints beautiful pictures in the reader’s mind. The idea of our main liar, the narrator of the story Cady, also having an accident that she doesn’t recall, help us to see the true problems on the island and with the family that may not have come to a head before.

Definitely a book I’d recommend to read soon!


Growing Up Is Hard to Do June 22, 2013

Out of the Blue by SL RottmanIn Out of the Blue by S.L. Rottman, Stu is an Air Force brat. He has moved around the country because both of his parents are in the Air Force and have been assigned to different bases over the 15 years of his life.

Stu says his current move to Minot, North Dakota feels different than all the other moves. Stu’s brother, Ray, will not be coming along this time because Ray is starting college. Stu and Ray’s dad decides not to go to Minot with the family – he’s going to go to Las Vegas to take care of his ailing mother. Stu and Ray put the pieces together and figure out that their parents are spending some time apart, as in a separation. Stu moves with his mom who happens to be the new commander of the base.

Upon moving, Stu meets Billy, a young neighbor boy. Billy has an older brother close to Stu’s age – Curtis.

Curtis is nothing but trouble! He’s into smoking, drugs, and hanging out with the wrong people. Stu gets mixed up into some of that trouble trying to help Billy.

A big part of growing up is figuring out the right things to do. Stu is forced to face some tough choices and makes a few mistakes along the way.

This is a good book for mature readers who enjoy realistic fiction about some of the struggle teens face.


Fantasy, or Reality? April 23, 2013

Ever think it would be cool to have a clone? Someone who could do all the things you don’t want to do? What if that person was your identical twin? Would you consider that person a clone? What makes you an individual if another person in the world shares your exact DNA? Brendan is struggling with finding his own identity in The Shadowed Unicorn by Sheila Kelly Welch. Being a twin is hard enough, but being the responsible twin gets old at times. Nick never seems to care what others think, and it’s Brendan who feels he needs to worry about everything. When the family moves to a small farm in the countryside of Pennsylvania after their father is killed, Brendan’s sister Ami seems to be coming apart at the seams. Brendan begins to question her grasp on reality as she becomes swept away in a fantasy world.

imgres-1As Brendan moves through his life, worrying about his sister, his mother, and even his twin brother at times, the reader is drawn into his world. How can he keep everyone safe and moving forward after the devastation of losing their father? And what will happen if he can’t control everything and everyone around him. The Shadow Unicorn gives you a fantastic look at a family trying to survive and move beyond a crisis and shows how each member of a family can deal with pain and loss in their own personal way.

Highly Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Planet Middle School November 3, 2012

This post is dedicated to Kashyia – I think this might be a book you enjoy.

Planet Middle School is a great book for 7th & 8th grade girls. It’s written in a series of poems (novel in verse) and is a quick read. You can finish this book in a day, no problem! This would be a great read during POWER time at O’Neill.

ImageI was drawn to this book because it is written by Nikki Grimes and it’s a novel in verse. (Yes, I am obsessed with novels in verse) I read Bronx Masquerade last year and I had to see if this book was just as good. Well, it is!

Joylin was a tomboy who always hung out with the boys and wanted to shoot hoops. Middle school brings some changes for Joylin. All of a sudden she starts noticing cute boys, makeup, and new feelings. With all these new experiences, Joylin is trying to figure out who she really is.