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!

Being Popular Has a Price – Can You Pay? June 27, 2013

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 2:35 pm
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So, pretty much everyone has wanted to be popular at some point in their lives. Maybe at school, at a sport they love, at a job, or party. Jordan in The Prank by Ashley Rae imgres-1Harris is no exception. She’d like to be popular partly because the boy she has been crushing on for ever, Charlie, belongs to that group.

One day, completely out of the blue, Jordan gets an invite to hang with the popular crowd after school one day. She finds out they are plotting some pranks against their rival school before a big football game. At first Jordan feels a little weird and backs out at the last minute. Unfortunately, she gives them her bike to use and they leave it at the scene of the crime. Turns out, someone gets badly hurt during the prank, and no one is sure exactly how it happened. Charlie and Jordan get drawn more and more into pranks that at first don’t seem too bad, until right in front of their eyes a classmate dies. Is it all just some horrible coincidence, or is there something more sinister at work? Time is running out for everyone involved in the pranks as the clock ticks down toward game time.

This is a great fast read. Recommended for students 6th grade and up.



3 Perspectives, 3 Life-Changing Moments June 19, 2013

Take Me There

By: Susane Colasanti

After a student of mine, Rose, checked out all the books by this author from the library, I knew I had to see what all the fuss was about. As my previous post about the same author’s book, Keep Holding On,  suggests, obviously I too was hooked. While listening to the audio version of Take Me There, it was interesting because it tells three different overlapping stories from the three main characters in the book. I originally thought that it was going to be some typical high school girly book, but all of a sudden when I heard a male voice come over my radio- I knew there was more to the story.

Susane does a fabulous job really getting you hooked into her books, as she has very relatable characters and concepts of what occurs in high school. What was interesting is that we started with Rhiannon who is devastated after a break up with her boyfriend. We see how she interacts with her two best friends, James and Nicole during this difficult time. Then, just as we are waiting to see what happens next withDownloadedFile Rhiannon’s story, Susane plunges into James and Nicole’s stories of that same period of time we just heard Rhiannon talking about. So it was really interesting seeing the three very different perspectives and perceptions of what occurred during that time. It made me think of how often people can witness the same event but have a completely different perspective on what happened and how it affected them.

As the story continues, Susane definitely surpasses your “typical” high-school romance and drama, while digging into high school bullying, how what definitely goes around comes back around, and even some inappropriate relationships that have occurred or may be occurring. I think though she pushes the envelope, she isn’t afraid to take risks and she does so in a tasteful way that will make it okay for me to have this book in my middle school classroom.

All in all, you will love this book and definitely won’t want to put it down!


When is enough, enough?

Keeping Holding On

By: Susane Colasanti

I love how this book sucks you right in during the first chapter where our main character Noelle is fumbling over her words with her serious high school crush, Julian. Of course as the story begins to unravel we see that Noelle doesn’t have your typical, happy teenage lifestyle. Noelle finds herself in very dark spots with an immense amount of bullying at school, a very harsh home life- where her mom tells her what a mistake she was, and not a lot of self-confidence. You really begin to feel for Noelle and will definitely find your inner-insecure teenager as you read along with her.

DownloadedFileThere are moments where things start to look up for Noelle just for someone, like the biggest school bully or her former best friend, to bring her right back down. As the story continues, Noelle begins to let in on her secret home life scenario with some people she deems as close friends and she begins to see how good it feels to reach out and talk to someone, though incredibly hesitant at first.

This is a great book that will definitely make you think about some of your actions and how your actions effect others. You will continue to root for Noelle, her high school crushes, and her ability to find herself as the story progresses, and things might just look up for her toward the book’s conclusion.


Don’t You Dare Read This… March 14, 2013

Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey By: Margaret Peterson Haddix

imgresThis was a quick little read that had a lot of punch and power. We meet Tish, what seems to be your average teenager who thinks writing in a journal for class is stupid and definitely not worth her time.   She and her classmates have discussed how their teacher, Mrs. Dunphrey, allows students to write “Don’t Read” at the top of their entries that they want to be more private. Typical teenagers then think: What if I just wrote the same few lines over and over again?  What if I had some really juicy information and then my teacher started treated me differently? They would have her caught. Moving past the “what ifs”, the entire book is told through Tish’s entries and quick responses from Mrs. Dunphrey, most of which pertain to quick praise for the amount she has written and asking if Tish will ever allow her to actually read her entries, which happens sparingly throughout the novel.

Tish is a powerful and relatable character that Haddix develops well throughout, in a meaningful way. I think a lot of students can connect to her feelings about school, her family, some of her classmates, but I didn’t quite expect to hear about how difficult her life had been and had become throughout her entries. She continues her downfall and has to figure out how to be a teenager who acts like everything is okay, while she becomes the head of her household and in charge of her younger brother, all while keeping up with these stupid journal entries. Who knows, maybe those entries weren’t so stupid after all?


Kiss and Make-Up March 9, 2013

By: Katie D. Anderson

I must say, after some harsh reviews from a fellow colleague, I didn’t have many expectations when I began listening to this book. On the surface the premiseurl for this book- a girl who has this “gift” she notices when she kisses someone- was not the most enticing idea. BUT I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued throughout it’s entirety. We meet Emerson, a popular high-schooler who is into what most high school girls are into: boys, her image, and definitely not her school work. She seemed rather shallow and annoying at first. Yet again, I was surprised. About a quarter of the way through the novel I thought to myself, well this girl has got to have some qualities that make you want to root for her, that make her more than just some ditzy teenager, and sure enough she progresses, she changes, she makes you want to root for her. Those are the best stories in my opinion; where the author doesn’t give you everything up front, they test your patience as a reader, but make you want to look for that redeeming quality that has just got to be in there.

As Emerson moves through the story, she figures out about this gift that she has almost accidentally. The interesting part is the way that she uses this “gift” throughout the rest of the book. You see that there are many layers to the somewhat superficial face she puts on in front of others, while her home life was never perfect, she battles relationship issues with her older sister and best friend, and struggles with her feelings, whether real or not, about her first potential true love. All the while, charmingly struggling through some hilariously embarrassing moments that will make you laugh out loud. And the symbolism that the make-up plays throughout was something that I hadn’t expected either- but it was nice for me to question how it all tied together and it certainly did! All in all, I would definitely recommend this carefree yet deep book to all my seventh graders, though I would assume girls would appreciate it most!


Ever Want a Do-Over? January 24, 2013



What if one day you looked up and saw someone watching you, like they knew you? But the next moment they were gone? Anna is mystified in the book Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
when this happens to her one early spring morning while she is running. A boy appears to be sitting in the bleachers at the track, but the next moment gone. When she goes up to investigate, the snow on the bleachers is undisturbed…except where the boy was sitting. Adding to the mystery, she goes to school and meets the very same boy, although he acts like he’s never seen her before, and denies being at the track that morning.

Quickly, Anna, realizes there is something strange going on with Bennett. He is at first friendly, then cold and harsh. Anna has no idea what is going on with him, but honestly, the truth is far stranger than anything Anna could come up with on her own. Bennett has the ability to travel through time and has to make decisions that will affect many peoples lives, including his own and Anna’s.

If you are looking for a romance that will keep you on your toes wondering how the pieces of the puzzle will fall, this is a great book for you. As with most time travel books, I felt like there were a few areas that were unclear, or didn’t totally make sense, but this is a fantasy after all, so some..okay, a LOT of suspension of belief is needed. I don’t think that will deter most readers though who are looking for a fun escape.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


What’s Your Fixation? January 21, 2013

What happens when you find out your parents have been keeping a really big secret from you? Payton, in Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt, is shocked to find out her dad has M.S. and has known for about six months. Turns out everyone in her family knew, but her. She stops talking with her parents and they reach out to Payton’s school counselor. Payton is told to find something to focus on and study to take her mind off of the issues at home. And Payton decides to focus on Sean Griswold’s head. After all, she’s been staring at it for most of her school career since they both have last names that start with the letter G.


Once Payton decides on Sean’s head however, she realizes she knows next to nothing about the boy. What ensues is a funny read with some serious undertones. Payton’s home life isn’t without complications as she tries to come to grips with how her father’s illness will impact all of their lives and what it means for her future, with or without Sean’s head in it!

Recommended for grades 6 and up.