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!

Have you ever written a letter to an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend? April 26, 2014

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Beforeimgres

Jenny Han

Jenny Han certainly doesn’t disappoint in this realistic fiction story of three sisters and father, who continue to make their family dynamic after having lost their mother many years ago. As Margot, the oldest, gets ready to go across the world for college, that leaves Lara Jean to be the woman in charge. Despite starting off on a rocky foot, while attempting to take over her sister’s duties, Lara didn’t think it could get much worse. However, letters she addressed to her old boyfriends or simply boys she had crushes on in her past, got sent. To who? None other than each gentlemen she had addressed it to.

Can you imagine writing a letter to help get over a break-up and rid yourself of the negativity and heartbreak you were feeling, and having it sent to that very person years later? Well, that is exactly what happens with Lara Jean. As the story continues, we see her try to dig her way out of the mess that has been created, finding and forming new relationships, while also helping to find herself through it all!


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.



What if Everyone Else’s Different is Your…Normal? March 13, 2013

imgresSometimes what the outside world views as different is the norm for you, yet you can feel like an outsider in your own home. Such is the case for Jade. Jade can hear. Her sister, Marla, can’t. But Marla resents that Jade can hear, not BECAUSE she can hear, but because Marla feels that Jade is less in some ways because she doesn’t understand how strong Marla is when she is surrounded by all deaf people. Marla feels Jade makes the family weak, by not BEING deaf. Both of the girls’ parents are deaf and have been their whole lives, so the outsider in this home is Jade, who is the only person with hearing.

Some sisters have a bond that can’t be broken…stretched, but never broken. In Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh, Marla and Jade don’t have much of a bond at all. Jade resents the fact that Marla gets to go to a residential school for deaf children and where she seems to have a fabulous time, while Marla can’t stand how Jade seems to always be annoying her on purpose and constantly refers to Jade as a “baby” even when there are only two years between them. The vast gulf that separates these girls is immense. The parents seem to miss how truly frustrated and mean the two girls can be to each other, and offer guidance in little, and sometimes, useless doses.

I found this book to be fascinating, not only for the tense and turbulent relationship between Jade and Marla, but for the glimpse into the deaf culture, and specifically, into the world of Strong Deaf culture. This was a book I couldn’t put down because I struggled to see where the author would take these two very different girls, and wondered, if they could ever see things from each other’s perspective.

Highly Recommended for students in grades 6 and up.