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!

It Was Just a Prank…. July 29, 2015

Lara thought she was adjusting to high school pretty well. Sure, ninth grade had been hard, considering her once best friend and neighbor, Bree, seemed to totally brush her off when school started. But she’d survived and found a few close new friends. And she’s just made it onto the cheerleading team too! So when a cute boy named Christian friends her on Facebook, even though he doesn’t go to her school, she gets excited. After all, Bree and some of her other friends from her high school are friends with him.

imgresQuickly, Lara and Christian begin an online romance which looks like it is building up to Christian asking Lara to a dance at his school. Lara is so excited, especially after struggling with feelings of self worth in middle school. However, not long before his school’s dance, Christian attacks Lara on Facebook and others begin to chime in. Lara has no idea why he’s doing this to her, and all her previous feelings of not being good enough come to the front. Specifically when Christian says the world would be a better place without her.

Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman takes on the current look at cyber bullying and how something starts out as one thing and begins to snowball into more and more, all the while the perpetrators seem to have no idea of the possible consequences.

Recommended for students in grades 7 and up.


Can a 2 Year Old be a Murderer…Twice? October 6, 2013

imgresIn the book If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney, a family has been torn apart by the youngest member. First, when Tristan was in-utero, their mother found out she had cancer. She made the decision to forgo treatment until after his birth, leaving her little time to fight the cancer, and ultimately to her death. The older three siblings have varying feelings about Tris, however, they all pitch in and try to help their father keep life going on.

Enter Aunt Cheryl, who isn’t really anyone’s aunt, but their mother’s halfhearted stepsister for about two years. However, Aunt Cheryl is determined to find her way into the heart of the family, or the house, since she seems more concerned with how things look than how things are. Unfortunately for the children in this family, another tragedy befalls them as their father is killed, and it appears by the very son who, in some ways, is responsible for the death of their mother.

Each child reacts in a different way. The youngest daughter, Smith, removes herself completely from the family by going off to boarding school. The oldest sibling, Madison, goes to live in another town with her godparents. Jack is the only one to stay with Tris and Aunt Cheryl, doing his best to keep things normal for the little boy the newspapers say is a double murderer.

The anniversary of their father’s birthday, or what would have been his birthday has all the siblings thinking, and one makes a startling discovery. Something that has her replaying her father’s death and looking at it with a new light. What did happen in the driveway that day?

As all three of the older children come back together, they begin to put aside their own troubles and focus on the youngest member of the family. Is he really responsible for the deaths of both of their parents? Or might someone else have had a hand in at least one?

Fast paced suspense story good for students grades 6th and up.


Motley Crew of Teens July 23, 2013

They were all different in some way; different enough to be “labeled” at school as the problem students. Kids you didn’t want in your class. But Jim and his friends do have something imgresthey are really serious about. That would be paint ball. They have started an unofficial tournament in the sewer tunnels of their city where they compete against teams from other schools. They are really good, better than good. They are undefeated.

However, with the addition of a new member, Carter, the team seems to be facing some growing pains. Namely, Lisa, a founding member and awesome paintballer, is having the pains. She clearly doesn’t like or want Carter on the team, but won’t say why. It all comes down to a dangerous game in the tunnels.

What lengths would you go to if you disliked someone? In Sewer Rats by Sigmund Brouwer, you have a chance to see what lengths some will go to. Up to you to decide if it was right or wrong.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


What if no one believes you? June 22, 2013

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:24 am
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imgresIn a car. After a party. Two boys, one girl. Only survivor and witness to a double homicide. The girl. In the book She Said/She Saw by Norah McClintock Tegan was in the backseat of her friend Clark’s car when an unknown assailant kills both Clark and Martin, another boy, in the front seat. Tegan is left in the backseat untouched. She keeps reliving the horror of seeing her friends killed in front of her.

Now though, to make matters even worse, no one – from the police to the parents of the dead boys to her friends – believe she didn’t see who pulled the trigger. As Tegan plays that night over in her mind, and questions herself again and again if she did see anything, her younger sister Kelly begins to piece together what happened the night of the murders. Some things Tegan has said don’t make sense with what Kelly knows to be true. Others start casting more and more suspicion on Tegan and put more and more pressure on her till she makes a desperate decision.

What would you do if no one believed you?

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Do You Dream in Cotton Candy? March 27, 2013

Too Much PINK! That is how Grace feels when she is first put into The Land of Golden Butterflies to save her sister’s life. What? Okay, so in Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde, Grace is called out of school by her mother and a game designer and a lawyer who say Grace’s older sister has altered a virtual reality game she was helping to design and now can’t be “retrieved” from the game. It appears she wants to stay in the game, and in reality, lose herself completely. Grace is an experienced gamer and finds her sister quickly with the help of the gaming company within The Land of Golden Butterflies, but is shocked when the older sister she has always loved and admired rebuffs her attempts to get her to leave the game. Grace realizes, as does her mother, her older sister’s life isn’t quite what they thought it was and now Grace has to figure out how to survive in the pink land of unicorns and dragons to find a way to bring both herself and her sister back to reality while they both still have enough time.deadly pink

I read Heir Apparent by this same author years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. The idea of trying to beat or figure out the game comes through in Deadly Pink and anyone who has ever dreamed of being lost in a virtual reality world will thoroughly enjoy this book. There is enough of a drama going on with Grace and her sister to know that things aren’t truly what they appear, whether in the virtual world or the real one.e in the pink land of unicorns and dragons to find a way to bring both herself and her sister back to reality while they both still have enough time.

Recommended for students in grades 7 and up.



Waiting Can Be the Worst Part October 31, 2012

Waiting can be the hardest part, especially if you are waiting to find out if your younger sister will come out of her coma. In Waiting to Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch, T.J. can’t believe that his life has brought him to just such a place, after all the times he and Angela survived living with their mother, and all her crazy boyfriends. To have Angela struggling to survive because of something he did, it is almost too much. When the book begins, T.J. and his sister have been adopted but T.J. has a hard time letting go of the past, specifically how he feels about his biological mother. This moving and fast paced book follows T.J. as he is forced to grow up long before he should, to protect his little sister and at times his mother, from herself and others she brings into their lives. Struggling to deal with the possible death of his sister, he relives everything that brought him to this moment in time, hoping for something positive in a life that has been short on happiness and security.

Why did I love this book? In a time when so many books are focused on dystopian/utopian societies, or fantasy and science fiction, this book is a nice addition because it is a contemporary fiction novel that appeals to both teen boys and girls. The situations T.J. finds himself in resonate for readers because it is so real, and you find yourself really hoping that things will work out for him. In my job as middle school librarian, I’ve recommended this book to both my 7th and 8th graders, in particular, those looking for realistic situations and traumatic family dynamics.
Highly Recommended for 6th and up.