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!

$300 Or Your Life November 18, 2013

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:41 am
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imgresIn the midst of the Civil War, a young girl named Claire, is about to have her safe, comfortable world shaken. Lincoln has announced the beginning of a draft. However, if you could pay $300.00, basically the equivalent of a working person’s year salary, you could avoid it. Or get a substitute to go for you. The working class of New York City had no way to pay that kind of money, or pay someone to go for them.

Claire is biracial – her mother is an Irish immigrant and her father a free black man.  They have plans to buy the inn they work in, hopefully soon in the future. However, when we first meet Claire and her family, there is unrest in the city streets. Irish immigrants, worrying of the possible influx of free blacks from the south who will compete for the few jobs there are, and feeling the unfairness of the draft policies, begin rioting against any wealthy or black people they see walking on the streets.

For Claire, who has had both Irish and black friends growing up, the first time someone comes at her because she is mixed is a shock to her. She begins to question how her family has gone on as they have and wonders what will happen when the riots are finally put down. Will things ever go back to the way they were?

Riot by Walter Dean Myers looks at the beginning of segregation in New York City, and the seeds for divisions between races and class. Told in a screenplay style, this novel is a quick read about a very tumultuous time in our country’s history.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Picturing What War Must Be Like April 1, 2013

Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers, Collages by Ann Grifalconi is a very short picture book about one soldier’s experience in the Vietnam War.

According to the book jacket, “Walter Dean Myers joined the army on his seventeenth birthday, at the onset of American involvement in Vietnam, but it was the death of his brother in 1968 that forever changed his mind about war.”

This soldier Walter Dean Myers write about in this story was in “the land of my enemy.” He describes what it was like for soldiers to move into this unknown land and risk their lives. The soldier is in continual search for the enemy while being afraid to actually encounter this enemy. The American soldier finally meets the enemy he’s been on the hunt for. He’s shocked to discover how young his enemy really is. Both soldiers are forced to face each other and the realities of the war.

The illustrations in this picture book are unique. They are collages made from both drawings and real life photos. This book is a great resource to use while reading and learning about the Vietnam War.


25 Books on Bullying for Teens November 5, 2012

At DGPL, I was getting alot of questions from both parents and students about books focusing on bullying.  I decided to put together a list of great books on bullying for teens, with both fiction and nonfiction titles.  It was a sort of depressing last month of reading going through all of the titles, but I think I definitely have a much better understanding of the physical, verbal, and virtual bullying that some students encounter on a daily basis.  And how we as librarians and educators can help to combat it.