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!

When is enough, enough? June 19, 2013

Keeping Holding On

By: Susane Colasanti

I love how this book sucks you right in during the first chapter where our main character Noelle is fumbling over her words with her serious high school crush, Julian. Of course as the story begins to unravel we see that Noelle doesn’t have your typical, happy teenage lifestyle. Noelle finds herself in very dark spots with an immense amount of bullying at school, a very harsh home life- where her mom tells her what a mistake she was, and not a lot of self-confidence. You really begin to feel for Noelle and will definitely find your inner-insecure teenager as you read along with her.

DownloadedFileThere are moments where things start to look up for Noelle just for someone, like the biggest school bully or her former best friend, to bring her right back down. As the story continues, Noelle begins to let in on her secret home life scenario with some people she deems as close friends and she begins to see how good it feels to reach out and talk to someone, though incredibly hesitant at first.

This is a great book that will definitely make you think about some of your actions and how your actions effect others. You will continue to root for Noelle, her high school crushes, and her ability to find herself as the story progresses, and things might just look up for her toward the book’s conclusion.


Had Enough? June 17, 2013

Ever posted something online and then thought, “Oh, probably shouldn’t have done that?” Well, Butter has that kind of a moment. But with Butter, he goes back and forth. Here’s the deal. Butter by Erin Jade Lange is about a junior in high school named Marshall, but he’s had the nickname Butter since the end of middle school. It isn’t something he is proud of, and doesn’t like how people call him that, but unfortunately for him, the moniker has stuck. Butter


is a big guy and has struggled with his weight for as long as he can remember. His only true friend is from a fat camp he attends each summer.

Butter feels like he leads a dual life. The life where he has witty online conversations with the girl of his dreams (only she doesn’t know he actually goes to her school – she thinks he is a kid at another school since he won’t post a picture of himself) and is a fantastic sax player. But his reality is complicated. He is the boy who needs a handicap parking space since he can’t walk the distance from the parking lot into school without being winded, the boy who needs an oversized seat in each classroom, the sarcastic guy who always has a quip for the band teacher who wants him for his talented sax playing ability. But Butter can’t see beyond his own weight for anything he might offer others or what they might offer him.

Butter makes a decision one night after reading something about him posted online. He is tired of carrying the weight, tired disappointing his mom, tired of his father who won’t talk to him, and tired of hiding who he is from the girl he wants to know in real life, not just online. So, he creates a website and states that on New Year’s Eve he will eat his last meal. It will be a meal so large it will kill him. He will air it live on his webcam.

So here is the question. Would you tell someone…or would you watch?

Recommended for students at the end of 8th 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.