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!

Awkward Review by 8th Grade Joseph April 19, 2018

Awkward is a graphic novel by Svetlana Chmakova.  Joseph

The reason I like it is because of how the story is played out.

A girl named Penelope accidentally trips in the hall on the first day of middle school. A boy named Jamie tries to help her and soon everybody starts laughing at her and so she pushes him and then they all laugh at him. She is trying to apologize to him but she thinks he hates her so she can’t apologize. Meanwhile, the club she in is being denied a table at the club fair and the science club is getting it.  So, the art and the science clubs go to war over the club fair. People must stop it before it gets out of hand. Will she succeed or will she caught in war?

If you want to know, find out in Awkward.


Truth Be Told (Or Is It Really The Truth?) June 22, 2013 was a website middle schoolers Zebby and Amr started. As the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, Zebby wanted to write about the tough topics of her middle school – the new math curriculum, how student council was nothing but a popularity contest, and bullying. Zebby’s teacher would not let her write on any of those topics. Feeling censored, Zebby gets Amr to create a website, a website where anyone from Truman Middle School could post the truth anonymously.

Zebby and Amr posted a few articles about the worst teachers and what school rules they thought didn’t make any sense. Once the “in crowd” found out about the website, it grew in popularity. Pretty soon all the students at Truman knew about the site and posts were coming in!

One post got a lot of attention – it asked for nominations for biggest poser at school and mentioned Lilly, who happened to be a member of the popular crowd. Also posted was a picture of Lilly from 6th grade when she used to be overweight. Lilly kept that secret from her popular friends and her boyfriend, but now the “truth” was out.

More posts were made about Lilly, and her friends and boyfriend didn’t want to hang around her anymore. These posts were not even true but students at Truman believed them! Lilly became the victim of cyber bullying and her life was horrible.

The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillstad Butler is told from the points of view of several middle school students. Read about their different experiences with exposing and facing “the truth.”

Recommended for 6th grade and above.


Class Clown, or Class Savior? May 10, 2013

imgresAlways in trouble and loving it! That is how Donovan views his world in middle school. He sees something and does it without any thought to the future or the possible consequences of his actions. Such is the case one afternoon in detention for participating in a spitball war. Of course, Donovan was the only one caught, so he’s serving time alone. After being lured out of a window by his friends, he looks at a statue of Atlas holding up the world (a very old statue in front of the school) and thinks to take a whack at it with a stick. Gee, what could possibly happen, right?

Well, the “world” rolls off of Atlas and down the hill, in the process breaking the wall of the gym, destroying the gym floor and almost running some people over. The superintendent of the schools looks out and catches Donovan red handed and guilty. But that is when things get pretty funny and turned upside down in Ungifted by Gordon Korman because instead of being punished, by a fluke, Donovan finds himself going to the gifted school in his district and thinking he might be able to hide out for a while. But the question is how long can a really average kid hide among a group of geniuses and what happens when it all falls apart?

As with most of Korman’s books, humor is front and center. Donovan is a likable kid who, frankly just doesn’t think. He wrangles his very pregnant sister into the class of genius kids, turns their robotic team inside out and introduces one to youtube with hilarious results. I literally laughed out loud at parts.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


How did you survive your first year of middle school? April 2, 2013


By: R.J. Palacio

I recently had a discussion about this book with a close colleague of mine and after finding out the age of the main character I was ready to side with her and dismiss the book altogether. Then, I had a student of mine give a book talk on it that instantly pulled myself and many students in the class under the “Wonder” spell. I knew that the book had a great message, but was pleasantly surprised with some other factors.

In this text, the author switches off between various characters perspectives.  Yes, some of them include 5th graders who are just starting middle school, but also vary between high school students, one being the main character’s sister. Since the main character, August (Auggie) is just starting middle school, I do indeed think that a lot of what he and his classmates face is relevant to our middle school students, despite the age difference.

Back to the storyline: August has a facial deformity and has undergone many surgeries throughout his lifetime, that have left his face and features unlike what most people would consider to be “normal.” You see Auggie’s struggle as he tries to overcome the stares, nasty comments, and the general drama that students undertake during middle school. All the while, you see how being friends and even related to Auggie has affected others around him.

I believe this book has a great message that many middle school students can connect to. It made me think a lot to put

imgresmyself in their shoes, not only of Auggie and all that he dealt with, but the other characters as well. The way the book was written really allows for a lot of self-reflection and discovery along the way.


Comics Count As Reading! February 19, 2013

Filed under: Humor — bhomel @ 2:04 pm
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If you are looking for a book to give you a few laughs then AAAA! A FoxTrot Kids Edition by Bill Amend is for you!

FoxTrot is a popular comic strip about the Fox family. FoxTrot stars:

  • Jason (10 year old brainy little brother who loves to get on his sister’s nerves with the help of his pet iguana Quincy)
  • Paige (14 year old sister who is very girly girl)
  • Peter (16 year old brother who is into sports)
  • their parents – Andy & Roger Fox

Middle schoolers (and even adults) will enjoy the Fox family antics while these three kids drive each other and their parents crazy. The FoxTrot comics cover topics like school, dreaded homework, baseball and other sports, school crushes, and the everyday life of being in a family.

AAAA! has laughs for everyone and you will laugh out loud!


Read or read not. There is no try. January 17, 2013

Dwight doesn’t exactly fit in at McQuarrie Middle School. That might be because he has an origami puppet Yoda on his finger that talks!
Not only does Dwight, I mean Yoda, talk in a “Yoda voice” (Star Wars fans will get this) but he gives advice too! The students at McQuarrie Middle School just can’t figure Dwight and Yoda out. Yoda has been giving out some advice that actually helped. Tommy is on a mission to figure out what’s the real deal here – is Yoda real? Is it “the force”? Maybe Dwight is just a genius? Can Dwight or Origami Yoda predict the future?

If you are a fan of Star Wars, this book has some movie references for you. Laugh along as you read to find out the mystery of the Origami Yoda and if his advice can keep you from the dark side.

Recommended for Star Wars fans in grades 4-8!

The other books in this series:    


Reading a Scrapbook November 11, 2012

Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff is like no book I have ever read! I’m not so sure what category it even falls into – mixed media? graphic book? picture book?

I think the best description it comes closest to is a scrapbook!

Find out about Ginny’s year as a 7th grader as you take a peak into her personal belongings. Her story is told through poems, report cards, receipts, letters, IMs, and emails. You put the story together and find out what happens to her as you read things that could be a part of her real scrapbook. Someone once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  The author, Jennifer L. Holm, uses many pictures in this book that’s worth an entertaining story!

Once you’ve read that book you must read the next book to find out what happens to Ginny in 8th grade! I’m hoping Jennifer L. Holm let’s us know what happens to Ginny as she goes into 9th grade! I can’t wait to read more books just like these because they make reading fun!


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.