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!

New Best Friend Needed January 12, 2015

What do you do when your best friend disappears…right before what was supposed to be the best summer of your imgreslife? Emily goes on a quick vacation with her family and upon her return sends message after message to her friend, Sloane. Only to realize Sloane isn’t answering, even after a week of phone messages and texts. Nothing. After going to Sloane’s house and seeing that no one is there anymore, Emily is almost to the point of desperation.

Right before she is going to tell her parents that her best (pretty much only friend) has disappeared, Emily receives a letter in the mail from Sloane. It is much like other lists that Sloane has sent her over the last two years they’ve been friends. Emily becomes convinced if she does the things on the list, she’ll figure out what has happened to her friend. She’s not sure how “kiss a stranger,” or “ 55 S. Ave. Ask for Mona,” will help her, but she decides she will spend the summer completing all thirteen things on the list.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is a book you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to read because once you start you won’t want to stop. As the summer goes on, Emily finds help for her list in some unlikely places and with some unlikely people!

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


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.


The Lesser of Two Evils March 24, 2013

When none of the options looks good, what do you do? Calvin in Nowhere to Run by Claire J. Griffin is a runner, or actually he is a sprinter. He is starting his senior year of high imgresschool in Washington, D.C. and is looking forward to winning the 100 meter dash in the District Championship. What he doesn’t count on is getting caught up in the life of his best friend Deej whose cousin who happens to be running a lot of shady deals.

Struggling to stay in school when most of his classmates don’t seem to care about showing up, and a lot of the teachers appear to only be passing the time, Calvin has a goal, and that goal is to make it to spring and go as fast as he ever has before. His friend Deej plans to be there every step of the way, and even helps to coach Calvin. Yet, just when things seem to be falling into place for Calvin, who begins dating a girl with the nickname of Junior and feels he is in love for the first time, Deej becomes distant. One night Deej asks Calvin to do something Calvin knows might jeopardize everything he has worked so hard for both with his running and in his personal life. But how do you say no to your best friend?

Nowhere to Run gives you a sense of the conflict we all face growing up. How do we make those hard decisions on our own, and even more difficult, how do we live with them once we’ve made them.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.