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!

Sometimes taking a risk can change your life… February 15, 2014


By: Jessi Kirby

I was hooked during the very first few pages of this text! Wrapped with hints of Robert Frost metaphors and questions connecting to our lives, I knew this romance was going to capture me whole, and it didn’t disappoint. We start our story with Parker, a studious, rule-follower, who takes pride in her choices and her hard work. As a senior TA for an English teacher whom she admires, she is given the task to postage and send out senior journals that were written 10 years ago. This teacher gives the assignment each year for his seniors to compose entries in a black composition notebook about what they will make out of their lives and the various plans they have and foresee, and then will send them to his former students ten years later. When Parker discovers a particular journal, she can’t help but read it- the first risk she’s taken in her life, upon taking it for her own viewing pleasure.

This special journal that she took was none other than the seemingly perfect Ashley, whom actually was reported missing, and presumed dead, when she and her equally perfect boyfriend, Shane, took a terrible spin during a bad snow storm a day after graduating. Their car was found in shambles, as were their belongings, and that was how their love-story ended. As Parker initially wants to read the journal because of her fascination and assumed thoughts for a perfect love story, she begins to uncover new ideas that she never had dreamt about Ashley or Shane’s relationship. As she begins to discover these new ideas around her life currently, Parker seems to piece together a different puzzle that she has indeed become infatuated with.

This story really connects with taking chances, self-discovery and taking risks. But will there be the “happy ending” that Parker desires, like in her Nicholas-Spark fantasy romances? This is definitely a must-read for all romantics out there, and those that are willing to take time to think about many messages that come about through the contexts of this journal prompts, and with help from Robert Frost of course. Stay Golden…


How far will you go to seek revenge?

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

By: Karen Finneyfrock


I think we’ve all had a Sandy Firestone in our lives- a person who seems to go out of their way to try and make your life miserable. Well, that is exactly how Celia has felt towards Sandy since their middle school years. And now that they have reached their freshmen year of high school, Celia thought that maybe Sandy would find a new victim in a larger school, but unfortunately for Celia, that just didn’t happen.

When Celia finally reveals just the amount of tormenting she received from Sandy and her minions, I think all readers can connect in some way. Luckily, as her freshmen year continues, Celia meets Drake, who comes with a slew of secrets himself, but stands truly as a best friend to Celia during difficult times. Celia finds herself writing poetry to help clear her mind and get her emotions out, but what happens if that poetry falls into the wrong hands? What happens while her parents are going through tough times, her best friend moves away, and she tries to help Drake uncover his secrets?

A smart, well-written book that I couldn’t put down!


How far can love take you? April 28, 2013

Falling for You

By: Lisa Schroeder

imgresI could not have been more excited when this book came out. I have read all of Lisa Schroeder’s fabulous novels in verse and could not wait to get my hands on her newest installment. First and foremost, I was plenty surprised by the book’s format. Though not a traditional  novel in verse told only through poetry, there were indeed sporadic poems from the main character spread throughout. These poems really help you get a deeper understanding of the main character’s complexities, her struggles, her triumphs, her feelings and how she is dealing with everything around her.

Our main character Rae always seems to run away from opportunities that are presented before her, especially when it comes to relationships. When Nathan comes into the picture, everything seems to good to be true and finally, with help from her friends, she is urged to break through the walls she’s had up for so long. But usually when things seem too good to be true, they probably are. It doesn’t take long for Rae to see some different sides of Nathan and begin questioning herself and her relationship. All the while, she is struggling with the constant battle of her stepfather taking her money, treating her like garbage, and stealing her mother’s love away. When will all of this be too much for Rae? Will she ever actually fall for someone worth falling for? This book keeps you wanting to read more and captures Rae’s story, character, and realness flawlessly! I would recommend it definitely to all my students looking for a nontraditional and triumphant love story!


Two Reviews In One! December 24, 2012

Filed under: Novels in Verse — bhomel @ 4:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech was the first novel in verse I ever read. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know what novels in verse were when I read it many years ago. I went back and read it again because I also wanted to read Hate that Cat, which is the follow up novel to Love That Dog. I figured the story would make more sense if I went back and reread the first book.


In Love That Dog, Jack’s class is reading and writing poetry. Jack thinks he can’t write poems because he is a boy and he’s not good at writing poetry. He can’t even make sense of the poems his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, is making his class read! As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. The more Jack practices reading and writing poetry, the better he gets at it and he actually starts to like it! Jack becomes a fan of the author, Walter Dean Myers, who visits Jack’s class. Jack is inspired to continue writing poetry from Walter Dean Myers and his teacher encouraging him. I don’t usually give spoiler alerts to books but for this one I must: there is a sad part in the book. It made me very sad so I feel I must let readers know, you might feel teary eyed during a part of this book.



Hate That Cat continues Jack’s story. Jack is back for another year with Miss Stretchberry and his class is reading and writing poetry again. This time around, he is trying to avoid a mean cat in his neighborhood who he does not like! Jack learns about new poets in this book. He begins to write poems inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and a few other poets. Jack also learns a very valuable lesson about cats from that fat, black cat he hates so much.

If you are looking for a quick, easy, and GOOD read – these books are the right fit!