Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Middle School Books

TOP TEN       Middle School Books

Okay, let me start off by reminding you that I am a Middle School Teacher. I teach 6th grade and for the most part I tried to stay away from books that I know are traditionally taught during middle school in many areas, but I couldn’t resist and some are on the list and I’ve included the others at the end, just as a reference.

I also attempted (and somewhat failed) at keeping away from super popular titles. It was hard, though, and there were important books I thought belonged here!

Now I realize that parents have different ideas of what is appropriate and what is inappropriate for their kids based on their child's maturity level. So if there anything "questionable" (sex, language, content) I've tried to note that. Then you can make your own decision based on your values and your child's maturity level. .

  1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio Okay, so I’m already breaking a couple of rules here. Wonder is not only a book I teach, but it’s pretty popular. It’s such an important book, though! Here’s the synopsis: August Pullman was born with facial differences and has never been to school before. Now he is going to start middle school, in a real school. August learns about himself and about friendship as he deals with bullies and making his way through middle school. Told through different perspectives (7 if I remember correctly), Wonder shows kids what it’s like to be different and what it means to “Choose Kind.” I’ve taught this for two years now and my students LOVE it. It’s how we start out our year and the overarching rule for our classroom: Choose Kind--Always. Please read it if you haven’t. It’s incredibly important for adults to read as well.
  2. Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan This is another story about a student who is different. She’s obsessed with nature, diagnosing diseases, and counting by 7’s. Beautiful novel! Check out my review of it!
  3. One Came Home by Amy Timberlake This one is a little darker, and you may want to read it for yourself, but there isn’t anything in appropriate. Georgie is a great character with a lot of confidence and knowledge, who is determined to figure out the mystery behind her sister’s death. Check out my review of it.
  4. After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick Bring your kleenex. You’ll figure that out after the first few pages when you find out that Jeffrey is in remission, his brother has gone off to Africa to drum, and he’s into a this new girl. Please remember, this is told from a teenage boy’s perspective and sometimes he talks about what all teenage boys think about, but there isn’t anything that happens. A lot of thinking about girls, but typical of teenage boy thought.
  5. As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins I loved this book! When Ry gets off a train that stops for minor repairs, he doesn’t make it back on and is lost in the middle of nowhere. He finds his way to a small town and from there, on an adventure back home. This was great, with interesting characters that keep surprising you with their quirkiness. It’s touching and adventurous at the same time. Great book for boys! 
  6. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli A new girl moves into town and she’s completely different from anyone Leo has ever met. He’s taken with this girl he’s met who calls herself Stargirl. But not many people like her and Leo has some choices to make.
  7. So B. It by Sarah Weeks Another great book! For as long as Heidi can remember, her mom has mentally disabled and they’ve lived in an apartment attached to Bernadette’s. Bernadette takes care of them, but she doesn’t know where they came from either and Heidi is ready to find out. She decides to take a journey to find out who her mother is and where they came from. I would suggest this for kids slightly older than 6th grade, depending on maturity level. I don’t want to give too much away, so if you’re concerned, let me know and I’ll give you some more information.
  8. Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel Ben has always been an only child, but then his mom and dad bring home a chimp. His father is a behavioral scientist and wants to raise the chimp as a member of their family, and Ben must also take part in this experiment by treating him like a brother. I found the interactions of Ben and the chimp interesting and compelling. The questions raised in this novel are great discussions with your kids as they start to form their own ideas about the world and what is right and wrong. Also, since it’s loosely based on real life experiments of this kind, you can find nonfiction accounts and articles about the same topic.
  9. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko So many of my students have read this series and enjoyed it. Al Capone Does My Shirts is the first in the trilogy and it definitely gives you a reason to read on. Moose Flannagan’s father gets a new job as a guard on Alcatraz and so they move onto the island, where all the guards live with their families. Moose’ sister needs to attend a special school, but until they can get her in, Moose is in charge of keeping an eye on her...while living on an island with criminals. No biggie. Funny, moving, mysterious. This is also a great boy book!
  10. Three Time Lucky by Sheila Turnage I started this, not quite sure if I was going to like it, but it turned out great! The characters in this book are so GREAT!!!! You’ll love them. Check out the review here!

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt *older readers
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen *I teach this, which is pretty common for 6th grade
The Giver Lois Lowry * often taught in school
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (all of them) * Seems obvious to me!
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank* A must! Many schools read this in 8th grade. In our state, they study the Holocaust in 8th and this is an obvious choice during this time.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner * Great series, interesting for boys

What are your ideas? Do you think I missed any important titles? 

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