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!

Mystery Death? December 5, 2015



Suzy, aka Zu, loves science and random facts.  Do you know how many times a heart beats in a minute?  Or how many seconds pass between lighting flashes?  Or how many people are stung by jellyfish every year?  Zu does, and she is obsessed with gathering as much new information about the world as she can.  That is, however, before her best friend drowns. Zu is heartbroken by Franny’s death, made even worse by the fact that Zu betrayed her greatly right before Franny died.  When Zu sees an exhibit at the aquarium of a very rare, very tiny, very deadly jellyfish, she knows in her heart this is what truly caused Franny’s death.  But is she willing to travel halfway around the world to meet with this species’ leading scientist?  And even if she does, will anyone believe what she knows to be true?  The Thing About Jellyfish is a hilarious, heartbreaking, totally unique novel about relationships and forgiveness.  Most importantly, this novel explores the theme of how everything in the universe is interconnected.  Fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff, and Goodbye, Stranger by Rebecca Stead will love this book!!


How did you survive your first year of middle school? April 2, 2013


By: R.J. Palacio

I recently had a discussion about this book with a close colleague of mine and after finding out the age of the main character I was ready to side with her and dismiss the book altogether. Then, I had a student of mine give a book talk on it that instantly pulled myself and many students in the class under the “Wonder” spell. I knew that the book had a great message, but was pleasantly surprised with some other factors.

In this text, the author switches off between various characters perspectives.  Yes, some of them include 5th graders who are just starting middle school, but also vary between high school students, one being the main character’s sister. Since the main character, August (Auggie) is just starting middle school, I do indeed think that a lot of what he and his classmates face is relevant to our middle school students, despite the age difference.

Back to the storyline: August has a facial deformity and has undergone many surgeries throughout his lifetime, that have left his face and features unlike what most people would consider to be “normal.” You see Auggie’s struggle as he tries to overcome the stares, nasty comments, and the general drama that students undertake during middle school. All the while, you see how being friends and even related to Auggie has affected others around him.

I believe this book has a great message that many middle school students can connect to. It made me think a lot to put

imgresmyself in their shoes, not only of Auggie and all that he dealt with, but the other characters as well. The way the book was written really allows for a lot of self-reflection and discovery along the way.