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!

When it Really Counts August 14, 2014

What do you do when you hurt your best friend? Diamond Willow is struggling to find herself as she grows up in the middle of Alaska, in the middle of her family, in middle of a crisis…a crisis of her own making.

Diamond Willow begs her parents to let her take the sled dogs on the 12 mile trek to her grandparents. It is a trip she’s done plenty of times with imgresher dad, and she thinks of all the reasons they will say no, and has a counter for each. However, when her mom and dad give her permission, she is pleasantly surprised. She takes off with three sled dogs, including their best dog, Roxy, and Diamond Willow’s true best friend. The trip to her grandparents is uneventful and she loves spending time with them. It is the return trip where things go wrong, so quickly. In the blink of an eye, Diamond Willow finds her best friend terribly injured and when her parents talk about making the ultimate and final decision for Roxy, Diamond Willow runs away with her to save her life.

All through Diamond Willow by Helen Frost, relatives of the characters are among them as spirit animals, helping their human relatives to make the better decisions and subtly guiding them. This element to the story lends a feel of fantasy but also a glimpse into the Native American culture of Diamond Willow’s family.

This quick novel in verse read will definitely appeal to animals lovers as well as those who feel a little lost even in a loving family. When Diamond Willow learns of a secret that has been in her family since she was born, it is a chance for her to connect with others in a way she never imagined possible.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


When an eight-year old is abducted… February 15, 2014


By: Helen Frost


This novel in verse intertwines the perspectives of young ladies- Wren and Darra. It begins when eight-year old Wren happens to be in a car that was stolen by Darra’s father. Luckily, when the car is taken back Darra’s house, Wren is able to escape and hide in an empty boat next to the family garage. During this time, Wren overhears Darra’s parents discuss the matter, after having seen a missing person’s report for Wren on the News. Darra secretly discovers Wren’s hiding place but keeps it a secret from her parents, while trying to bring the scared and hungry Wren food and necessities while in hiding. When the coast is “clear” Darra had a plan of escape for Wren, but she is already gone.

The story doesn’t end there. The girls’ paths will meet again when they are teens going to an overnight camp. See what happens when they come together again, and figure out who one another really is…