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!

The Lone Survivor by 7th Grader Alex M. December 9, 2016

One day, Brian goes on a trip to his dad’s since his mom and his dad were divorced. Before going, his mom gives Brian a hatchet which was his gift. A pilot flies a plane to Brian’s dad’s place, but after a while the pilot suddenly had a heart attack and lost control of the plane. Brian knew he had to do something that the pilot had taught him, so Brian made the plane gain back its control in order to fly. The plane had run low on gas which made the plane go down crashing through a forest near a lake. Brian is now on his own in the forest finding everything he could to survive with only a hatchet and himself.

Image result for hatchet book

In the book Hatchet by: Gary Paulson, a boy named Brian survives in a forest with only a hatchet and his own experiences. I would rate Hatchet a four and a half stars out of five because it is a good read for people who like adventure and survival. I like this book because it shows how Brian survives in many unique ways by using what he only has for a very long time.


Based on True Events November 30, 2016

On March 11, 2011, a catastrophic earthquake hit Japan. Minutes later, a wall of the Pacific Ocean came slamming into the coast of Japan from a massive tsunami.

Leza Lowitz, the author of Up From the Sea, noted, “15,889 people died, 6,152 were injured, and 2,601 people are still missing.” She was inspired to write this story because she was in Tokyo when this happened – she saw the devastation and death first hand.

Up from the Sea is a novel in verse. Kai, a fictional character, tells his story of survival and loss. At school, Kai thinks he’s part of just another routine earthquake drill Japan often has. This time the drill is real! After the earthquake, Kai seeks higher ground b2Q==.jpgecause a tsunami is coming. The tsunami destroys everything in Kai’s life – his home, his school, and his family. Kai’s story portrays the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan and how many people’s lives were changed.

If you like reading novels in verse, easy books, books about natural disasters, stories about survival, or just good stories – I recommend Up From the Sea by Leza Lowitz



The Last Place on Earth August 18, 2016

Have you ever thought about what you would do if there was a plague in the United States?  Would you run?  Try to escape it?  Just give in?

Daisy and Henry are best friends.  They do everything together and hang out ever51SOWRv9jWL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_y day.  Then one day Henry is gone- just gone.  Daisy goes to Henry’s house to investigate and no one is there, but she finds a note that says, “Save me.”  Daisy convinces her brother to help her follow the clues on a rescue mission into the mountains where everything gets even crazier.  Daisy unknowingly falls into Henry’s biggest secret- a fallout shelter.  Daisy always knew Henry’s family liked camping on weekends, but it turns out they are full out survivalists who have prepared for the end of the world.    People have started getting sick at home and Henry’s mom has decided that THIS is the big one, so they have gone off the grid.

The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow is a fun novel that takes a different take on the end of the world theme.  Daisy is a sarcastic story teller who the reader really connects with as she describes this alternate life style.  There are a lot of interesting characters, a little bit of romance, and just enough twists and turns to keep the story moving.


Children Always Suffer in War July 14, 2015

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 5:51 pm
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As a young boy, growing up in rural southern Sudan, John only knew the good things in life. He enjoyed hearing stories of his relatives, braving the lions that roamed close to their village, and at 13 was looking forward to the day when he, too, would complete the ritual that would recognize him has a man in his community. However, one day, his village was attacked by the government forces. While there had been rumblings for years of possible war coming, until it arrived at his door step, John was able to push his fears aside. After the attack, he and a group of other boys and some adults, were forced to move from place to place, trying to survive.imgres

While John was going through this in the countryside, the major cities in the south were not safe either. Martha was only six years old, and her younger sister only three, when their parents decided it was too dangerous to stay in the main southern city and moved the family to the country. Martha was surprised by life in the country. It was very different than what she was used to. However, not long after this move, the village Martha and her family were in was also attacked. Her parents were in a neighboring village at the time, so Martha and her sister, along with other children were taken by a woman and they ran from the village.

What neither Martha nor John knew that first night, was this was not going to be something that would end quickly and they would be re united with their families. Both John and Martha found themselves traveling long distances, often without food or water, only to encounter hostilities at every turn. John found himself in a massive refuge camp, in charge of hundreds of younger boys, and in the position of trying to keep everyone going, while Martha struggled to find a place for herself and her sister.

Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan by John Dau and Martha Akech is an amazing true story of how these children used their wits and ingenuity when things were at their worst.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Here Come the Sharks! February 10, 2015

So the vacation isn’t starting off the way he, Davey, is hoping or imagining it would. Even though they are in “paradise,” Davey is stuck in a room with his parents and younger, obnoxious brother and, well, the room is getting pretty funky. Soimgreswhy not just slip out with his book and get some reading in while the rest of the family sleeps on?

It sounds like a good idea, but even that early in the morning, there are people wandering around the resort. So Davey keeps going till have finds a little alcove with a beautiful beach. It has a no swimming sign posted, but the water is calm and shallow, and so warm that Davey puts his things under a bush and decides to wade in a bit. He doesn’t realize that the ocean has other plans for him and he gets taken out in a rip current before he even realizes what has happened to him.

Before long, he is floating in the ocean, with no land in sight, and no one knows where he is. Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop is a heart pounding, fast paced book about missed opportunities, mistaken identity, and what happens when everything that can go wrong, does.

Recommended for grades 6th and up who like survival stories.


When it Really Counts August 14, 2014

What do you do when you hurt your best friend? Diamond Willow is struggling to find herself as she grows up in the middle of Alaska, in the middle of her family, in middle of a crisis…a crisis of her own making.

Diamond Willow begs her parents to let her take the sled dogs on the 12 mile trek to her grandparents. It is a trip she’s done plenty of times with imgresher dad, and she thinks of all the reasons they will say no, and has a counter for each. However, when her mom and dad give her permission, she is pleasantly surprised. She takes off with three sled dogs, including their best dog, Roxy, and Diamond Willow’s true best friend. The trip to her grandparents is uneventful and she loves spending time with them. It is the return trip where things go wrong, so quickly. In the blink of an eye, Diamond Willow finds her best friend terribly injured and when her parents talk about making the ultimate and final decision for Roxy, Diamond Willow runs away with her to save her life.

All through Diamond Willow by Helen Frost, relatives of the characters are among them as spirit animals, helping their human relatives to make the better decisions and subtly guiding them. This element to the story lends a feel of fantasy but also a glimpse into the Native American culture of Diamond Willow’s family.

This quick novel in verse read will definitely appeal to animals lovers as well as those who feel a little lost even in a loving family. When Diamond Willow learns of a secret that has been in her family since she was born, it is a chance for her to connect with others in a way she never imagined possible.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


Looking for 60-year-old Skeletons? Fun! July 29, 2014

After his father died two years ago covering the conflict in Darfur as a photojournalist, Dylan can’t seem to connect with anyone or anything. He is hostile, angry, and just plain unpleasant to be around. His mom doesn’t seem to know what to do with him, and that is just fine with Dylan. After all, she doesn’t seem to blame his dad for going off and getting killed in some far off place hardly anyone even thinks about, so Dylan will be ticked off at the whole world enough for her too. One night he lands in jail after joy riding through a field in a stolen car. He doesn’t see what the big deal is, but his mom and the courts sure seem to have a problem with him.

imgresEnter his dad’s brother, Uncle Todd. Uncle Todd has some crazy idea to go find the Bomber plane his dad, Dylan’s grandfather, flew in during World War II. It was shot down in Papua New Guinea (PNG), and his grandfather was the only one of the crew who made it out alive, two weeks after the plane went down. For some reason, Uncle Todd thinks he can find the plane in the jungle after over 60 years, and that Dylan will become enlighten by the journey through bug infested foliage! Dylan thinks his uncle is nuts. No way does he want to tramp through some stupid jungle looking for a plane no one will be able to find anyway.

Contrary to all of Dylan’s best plans, he does end up in the jungles of PNG, and not long after arriving, he finds himself fighting for his very life, all because of his own actions.

Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen takes a kid who hates the world and gets set down in a situation where the world couldn’t care less. It is up to Dylan to decide if he really doesn’t care, or if there is something more to life.

Recommended for readers who enjoy survival stories and reading about characters who get their just deserts! For grades 6th and up.




The Angels are Coming…RUN! June 24, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 11:52 am
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imgresIt has only been six weeks. Six weeks and everyones lives have been turned upside down, and flipped and well, Penryn can’t even count all the ways her life has gone to hell…or should we say, to the Angels. Six weeks ago, the apocalypse began with Angels coming down to earth…and killing humans and destroying cities around the world.

Penryn is 17 years old in the book Angelfall by Susan Ee and trying to keep her small family together after this momentous change on earth. Her mother, at the best of times a lucid caring mother, and at the worst of times, a woman haunted by demons she believes are real, hasn’t had her medication for paranoid schizophrenic for some weeks now, and it is showing. Paige, Penryn’s disabled younger sister of 7, is in a wheelchair ever since her legs were injured in an accident years before. But how do you outrun an Angel? Or Angels as the case may be?

As Penryn and her small family begin to make a run for the hills outside of Silicon Valley, CA, they encounter not one Angel, but six. Five of them appear to be attacking one, one with snowy white wings, wings that Penryn watches being cut from his body as she and her mother and sister huddle behind an abandoned parked car. Paige’s small gasp of empathy for the wingless Angel draws attention to them and as Penryn attempts to help the downed Angel, another snatches her baby sister from her wheelchair and carries her away.

Her mother has run off, her darling baby sister has been taken by an Angel, and Penryn realizes her only hope of finding her again is to take the bleeding, dying Angel from the street and get him to talk, by any means necessary.

Of course, this appears to be the first book in a series, but I have to tell you, this is one that I’ll pick up the second book, because this first one was a great nonstop read.

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up.



7th Grade Guest Blogger – Alex B. April 7, 2013

The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong is one of my favorite books of the year. It is a survival story about three boys and their dad. They go out to sea to travel the world after their mom dies. Their dad falls into deep depression. Soon their dad goes missing.

Did he throw himself overboard; just because he could not live with himself? What will happen? Can they live? How will they pull together and fight for their lives? Would you be able to handle the the sea and it’s fury?

I picked this text because I love any book that has to do with teamwork and survival. The best thing about this book is all of the teamwork and family. Anyone can read it! I think everyone will love this book. I really think you should give it a try even if you don’t like survival stories!


Guest Blogger-7th Grader Alex B. March 19, 2013

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition  by Caroline Alexander is a heart pounding, non-stop survival story about the crew of The Endurance. They were stuck all alone in the Antarctic wild with low food and supplies. This book states how the groups come together to try and survive. How will they do the hardest task of all time? By working together!

I picked to read The Endurance because it sounded like a good book that I would like. It really left a huge hole in my heart for more books about survival. Because of this book, any story about adventure and survival- I have to read it. I think the best part of this book was that the way they worked together was amazing. I think anyone who likes books with adventure and survival would love this book. I think anyone can read it. I did not find it difficult to read.