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. Enjoy!

Thirteen and a half years of memories– wiped out in one instant! June 4, 2017

Chase Ambrose wakes up in a hospital bed, with no recollection of who he is, why he is there, or what happened in his life leading up to this point. He is told that he fell off of his roof and the resulting injury to his head caused amnesia. Thirteen and a half years of life– wiped out in one instant! While he doesn’t remember

anything about his life, Chase thinks he has a pretty good idea of who he is from pictures he finds on his phone– he’s a football star, a popular student with lots of friends, and a brother. However, as he begins to pick up on other people’s reactions to him (his four-year-old half sister is terrified of him; students at school cower in fear when he walks down the hallway; a girl dumps a whole bowl of frozen yogurt over his head), he realizes that he might have been a bully. “New Chase” doesn’t feel like a bully though. He truly enjoys his (court ordered) community service at the senior center, hanging out with the video club, and creating a relationship with his arch-enemy Shoshanna. Now Chase is torn– can he go back to his old life now that he has seen the person he could be? Even though this book’s topic is serious, it is executed in Korman’s signature hilarious style. Crazy stunts meant to turn viral on YouTube, pranks, a cranky Korean War veteran, and more will keep middle school students laughing until the happy ending.

 

 

Sloan has been bra-napped! May 24, 2017

In this light and funny novel, sixth-grade Becca Birnbaum thinks her life is over when a wild volleyball serve breaks the arm of the coolest, most popular eighth-grade girl. Sloan “Selfie” St. Clair has a huge group of friends, a walk-in closet of designer clothes, a country club membership, and a vacation home in Switzerland. Rumors are that getting on her bad side is social suicide. But, as Becca is soon to find out, Selfie is friendly, kind, and fun– and sometimes more than a little irresponsible. When Becca and Sloan are caught in a hilarious mix-up involving the principal’s missing bra, they have to work as a team to stop the school year’s biggest prank. Complementary illustrations in the style of hand-drawn doodles add a laugh-out-loud component to this endearingly off-the-wall beach read.

 

 

The Last Place on Earth August 18, 2016

Have you ever thought about what you would do if there was a plague in the United States?  Would you run?  Try to escape it?  Just give in?

Daisy and Henry are best friends.  They do everything together and hang out ever51SOWRv9jWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_y day.  Then one day Henry is gone- just gone.  Daisy goes to Henry’s house to investigate and no one is there, but she finds a note that says, “Save me.”  Daisy convinces her brother to help her follow the clues on a rescue mission into the mountains where everything gets even crazier.  Daisy unknowingly falls into Henry’s biggest secret- a fallout shelter.  Daisy always knew Henry’s family liked camping on weekends, but it turns out they are full out survivalists who have prepared for the end of the world.    People have started getting sick at home and Henry’s mom has decided that THIS is the big one, so they have gone off the grid.

The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow is a fun novel that takes a different take on the end of the world theme.  Daisy is a sarcastic story teller who the reader really connects with as she describes this alternate life style.  There are a lot of interesting characters, a little bit of romance, and just enough twists and turns to keep the story moving.

 

School Has Been Taken Over September 28, 2014

imgresWhat would you do if your school had been taken over by a reality TV show? At first, Ethan doesn’t really think much of it. He wasn’t picked to be one of the contestants vying for the grand prize of a scholarship to an Arts college of his choice. He likes the fact that one of the contestants is a senior named Maura, so he can watch her without feeling creepy. After all, all of America is watching her on the TV show, and this show gives him the opportunity to do just that, in addition to feeding his fixation during English class, which he has with her also. Maura is the girl of his dreams, in that he’s never actually talked to her, but has had a crush on her for three years.

So while most everyone at school is just going along, Ethan is surprised when his best friend, Luke, begins to really pitch a fit about the show. He gets his other friends, Elizabeth and Jackson, riled up too. They all decide they will publish Luke’s scathing long poem about the vileness of the show, For Art’s Sake, which has taken over their school. With the assistance/ non assistance of their English teacher, BradLee, their poem creates a stir within the school and within the show, For Art’s Sake.

However, it quickly takes a turn none of the original four expected. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer is a funny, serious, thoughtful look at growing up without knowing where you are going or how to get there. This has to be one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Recommended for mature 8th graders with a fabulous vocabulary and up. Enjoy!

 

Not Your Typical Cancer Book October 9, 2013

 

 

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Hazel Grace is a sixteen-year-old with terminal lung cancer.  She is content with a quiet existence spent reading, watching America’s Next Top Model, and attending the occasional cancer support group meeting.  Then she meets Augustus Waters.  Energetic, witty, sensitive Augustus, aching to leave a permanent mark on the world, will show her that every day can be filled with an astonishing amount of magic and heartbreak.  Interwoven with mythology, poetry, and video games, this is not what Hazel refers to as “the typical cancer book”.

 

Survival is the Name of the Game May 23, 2013

imgresImagine, being alone with your 7th grade teacher, every Wednesday afternoon, all school year. Horrifying, right? Well, that is what Hollis Hoodhood is faced with in 1968 when he begins 7th grade. See, everyone else leaves school on Wednesday afternoons in 7th grade for religious studies. Everyone except for Hollis because he is Presbyterian, not Catholic or Jewish. Quickly, Hollis realizes Mrs. Baker has it out for him, first by trying to get him killed by sending him outside to play football with some juvenile delinquents, and then secondly, by sheer boredom by forcing him to read Shakespeare.

In The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, Hollis runs the gamut from trying to outsmart the 8th graders at school, his teacher, 2 rats that have gone rouge in the school, and then his own father at times. All this is set within the turmoil over the escalating violence in Vietnam, and hearing how more and more soldiers are being killed each day. Issues arise in Hollis’ own family with his sister and father constantly butting heads over politics and how to live one’s own life. Hollis has to make some pretty big decisions for himself over how much he will let others dictate his life and how much he wants to control it himself.

Parts of this book were laugh out loud for me, but to truly get this book you’ll need to be a reader with some knowledge of the climate of the 1960s. A book worth enjoying but not a light read.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

Have you ever felt invisible? March 19, 2013

Well, that is exactly how Fern feels within her constantly-on-the-go family in See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles. At first the story captures you with the connection you instantly build with Fern, a middle-schooler who doesn’t feel like an important part in her family. Someone who tries to help her high school brother that is grappling with decisions about his sexuality and much bully

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ing at school; along with someone who tries to make her dad happy while running their restaurant, even if that means her having to be in some silly commercial. I looked at Fern as the glue in the family; though we all know that just because the glue is there to help “things” stay together, not everyone always knows about its presence.

I really liked this book because I felt it had many layers just waiting to be shed as the book progressed. As you learn more about the family, their dynamic and how the individual characters are feeling in their given situations- a traumatic incident occurs, one that I did NOT see coming in the slightest. Will Fern be able to help her family stick together? Or will she fall apart, thus leaving her family to do the same? This was a tear-jerking book that I just could not put down. It gives you a very realistic account of what happens when tragedy hits a family and how friends and family have to pull together to get through it.

A definite must-read to all my middle schoolers- boys and girls! It’s got a little bit for everyone- drama, tragedy, humor, romance, typical high-school problems, identity issues and family & relationships dynamics!