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 Tests Turn Deadly October 7, 2013

Can’t get enough of The Hunger Games? Well then the next book on your list should be The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.  I have to admit I was so involved with this book that I stayed up  late to finish it because I just could not wait.  Now that I have said that, I’m ready to be a little bit critical.  This is another YA dystopian novel- I’m not sure how original you can get, but this one is very similar to The Hunger Games (they aren’t even trying to hide it- just check out the cover!).  This can be looked at as a positive or negative thing, because after all, THG was a huge success.  The Testing is a well written fast paced read; so get past the cover and give it a chance.

The main character Cia is chosen upon graduating for the privilege of taking the test to go to university in the capitol, Tosu City.  She has dreamed of following her father’s footsteps and going to university for her entirelife, but when she is accepted her father tells that his specific memories were erased but lingering nightmares from his own testing still haunt him.  These words foreshadow the rest of the novel as the stakes could not be higher- her life.



Female heroine who is nice but NOT boring!!! January 27, 2013


Before I begin this post, I would like to preface by saying I love all sorts of characters, and this is a fantastic time to be a young adult book heroine.  There are incredibly strong, brave, self-sacrificing heroines like Suzanne Collins’ Katniss or Kristin Cashore’s Katsa.  There are the brilliant, resourceful, daring girls such as found in Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series.  There are   a multitude of dreamy, passionately romantic leading ladies such as Lauren Kate’s Luce or Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl’s Lena.  Even the snarky, Upper East Side Princesses Serena and Blair from Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl series are so much fun to know as characters.  So, I could go on and on!!  But, outside of the novels of Sarah Dessen, it can be difficult to find books to recommend to teen girls who just want a nice female leading character.  Not boring, not one-dimensional… just nice.  That is why, in addition to being a gorgeously written, goosebump-inducing, fantastically-woven mystery/ghost story, Brenna Yovanoff’s new novel, Paper Valentine, is so wonderful.  Her leading lady, sixteen-year-old Hannah Wagner, is an extremely nice, compassionate, polite person.  She is the kind of character many middle school and high school girls are friends with, are on sports teams and clubs with, and actually are!  Hannah has a good relationship with her mom and stepdad; loves her sister Ariel and enjoys hanging out with her.  She is artistic- she sews or enhances all of her own clothes with findings from her mom’s secondhand shop.  She helps out in her cousin’s photography shop.  She enjoys sleepovers, pool parties, laughing with friends.  She considers other people’s feelings, and if she says something cruel or stuck-up or just insensitive, she recognizes and apologies!  Hannah is not a boring or poorly drawn character. She is just a smart, sweet, thoughtful girl with varied interests and complex emotions.  Oh, and she just happens to be able to see and talk to the ghost of her dead best friend, as well the ghosts of other middle school and high school girls who have been murdered by a potential serial killer.  But that is another story!!! 🙂