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!

House Arrest Book Review by 7th Grader Alexis April 26, 2018


In House Arrest by K.A Holt, Timothy is a good kid who did a bad thing. He is caught stealing. Now he’s under house arrest for a whole year. Timothy can only go to certain places like school and home. He has to check in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, he keeps a journal, and stays out of trouble. But then he must take drastic measures to help his little brother Levi who breathes through a trach tube that frequently clogs. Staying out of trouble proves more difficult than Timothy ever thought it would be.

This book is pretty complicated and a good twisted story. When I first read this book, I enjoyed reading this book. Once I got to the middle, it got boring for a little while, but once I got into more of the story, I really liked it. I recommend anyone who is reading this blog post to read this book immediately!!!


Walking the Line… In War March 2, 2015

Ashe is used to living in a war zone. After all, his parents are only together because of him. His dad was on his way to getting a job with the NFL after college, but he had to drop out after Ashe’s mom got pregnant. While it is clear both his parents love him to death, they don’t share the same affection for each other. Most of his life has been spent in a cold war situation.

With the real war in Vietnam heating up, Ashe realizes just how far apart his parents have become. His dad is imgrescompletely supportive of the war while his mom begins to attend rallies to end the war. In the middle of this, a new girl begins to attend his school and he quickly becomes entranced with her. Her brother is off already fighting in the war in Vietnam.

Things really begin to fall apart when Ashe’s mom does something his father just can’t, or won’t, forgive. Ashe is being asked to choose between two people he loves dearly, but who are pulling him in opposite directions.

Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris Crowe is written as a novel in verse and is a fast and engaging read. Seeing Ashe struggle between knowing what his mother did was wrong, but understanding why she did it as well as seeing how his father can feel. It also gives the reader a view into a very tumultuous year in our history – 1968.

Recommended for 8th graders because of the subject matter.


A Dream Too Big To Be Contained December 1, 2014

21241751AS a young girl living in Haiti, Serafina has a big dream. She wants to be a doctor. Her little brother died at just a few weeks old, and she wants to be like the doctor she and her mother went to for help. It was too late. Ever since, Serafina has wished to become like that doctor, so she would have the chance to help others before it is too late.

However, this seems like such a far off dream. To be a doctor, she knows you have to go to school. And Serafina has never been to school before. She knows that it costs a lot of money, money her family doesn’t have. Plus, her mother wants her to stay home and care for things there. When Serafina finally works up the courage to ask her father if she can attend school, he tells her she must convince her mother.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg looks at what life was like for many before the massive earthquake in 2010 and what it must have been like for those living during the earthquake. While that is not the main focus of the story, it certainly comes into play.

This novel in verse is a great choice for a quick read about a girl searching for her place in the world and how some of us have to struggle much harder than others to make our dreams come true.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


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.


How Much Can You Lose? January 2, 2014

Growing up in southern Sudan while the civil war raged was difficult to say the least. Viola doesn’t even remember her father, and her mother and grandmother struggle to keep the soldiers at bay in their small home which becomes a gathering place for many other widowed women in the community. Viola hasn’t been able to attend school since the northern Sudanese took over, but she does try to keep things going at home with her younger brother Francis.

imgresBut how can you live when even a boy trying to protect you soldiers on the street can be killed in front of your eyes? Something horrible happens to Viola, and her mother realizes they must leave. After a few false starts, Viola, her mother and little brother begin the flight to America. After much trauma, Viola is able to begin a new life, however, nothing is what she thought it would be.

The Good Braider by Terry Farish is a harsh, realistic look at immigrants and the situations that can bring people to America. It shows the huge adjustments that immigrants are forced to make in order to assimilate to a new country and culture.

Due to the realistic situations Viola and her family encounter, this book is recommended for mature 8th graders and older.


Being Chased By Ghosts June 22, 2013

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder is the companion novel in verse to I Heart You, You Haunt Me. In Chasing Brooklyn, Brooklyn and Nico tell their sides of the story – a very sad story. Both have been affected by the death of Lucca – Lucca was dating Brooklyn and he was Nico’s older brother.

Lucca died in a car accident. Brooklyn and Nico are facing the struggles of losing someone important to them. Gabe, Lucca’s friend, survived the accident that killed Lucca. Distraught by the accident, Gabe overdoses on drugs and dies. Brooklyn was struggling with her feelings over missing Lucca and things just became worse. Now Gabe seems to be haunting her in her dreams and she is afraid! Another ghost is lurking around too – Lucca. Lucca is trying to send a message to Nico. Lucca wants Nico to help Brooklyn by making her feel safe and happy.

Nico and Brooklyn become friends quickly – they bond over what they have in common – Lucca. Pretty soon, Brooklyn and Nico aren’t sure if their strange feelings for each other are ok.

Chasing Brooklyn is a romance and ghost story told in novel in verse.


Evil Iceberg Sinks Ship! November 27, 2012

If you are a Titanic fan, then you need to read The Watch That Ends the Night, Voices From the Titanic by Allan Wolf.

Not only is it about a famous historical event but this book is also written in verse!

The tragic events leading up to the sinking of the Titanic are told in poems by various people on the ship. Allan Wolf does a great job sharing the voices of both the first class and third class passengers while showing the difference sailing was for them on this grand ship. Even the Ship Rat tells his tale of scurrying among the captain, crew and passengers of the doomed ship. My favorite character has to be the evil Iceberg plotting to meet the Titanic and seal it’s disastrous fate! How clever of Allan Wolf to turn the iceberg into a villainous character.

The book is a bit lengthy with over 400 pages to read but some of the poems are short. If you sat through the 3 hour Titanic movie, you can make it through this book!
At the end of the book there is extra information about the characters who were real people, facts about the ship, and resources on the Titanic.

This book will not disappoint Titanic fans & history buffs.