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Recommendations for middle school readers

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I'm teaching a literature class to a group of middle schoolers (6th-8th)  and have discovered that many of my award-winning choices have death as a theme. Does anyone have any fun recommendations that will still provide opportunity for in-depth discussion and literary analysis? Thanks for your help!
#1 - August 05, 2013, 09:36 AM
EXTRAORDINARY ( Skypony Press  May 2015)
CALL ME SUNFLOWER (Skypony Press May 2017)
EMILY OUT OF FOCUS (Skypony Press May 2019)

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One that comes immediately to mind is Good Enough by Paula Yoo. Here's a link to IndieBound with more info, but one of the review snippets says this:

“Patti’s convincing narration [is] filled with laugh-out-loud lines, but it’s the deeper questions about growing up with immigrant parents, confronting racism, and how best to find success and happiness that will stay with readers.”
-ALA Booklist

A light read, but you'll have lots to discuss with students about parental expectations, fitting into more than one culture, etc.
#2 - August 05, 2013, 01:43 PM
FLYING THE DRAGON (Charlesbridge, 2012)
A LONG PITCH HOME (Charlesbridge, 2016)

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Geeks, Girls & Secret Identities, by Mike Jung  (superheroes come in unlikely packages)
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban (MC wants a real organ, has to make do with a low-end chord organ instead; copes)
Rules and Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord (autistic sib, foster homes)
Chains and Forge, by Laurie Halse Anderson (hist fiction: The American Revolution wasn't all that great for blacks in the North)
Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong (hist fiction: Life in a refugee camp's almost as back as what the family escaped)
The Book of Everything, by Guus Kuijer (hist fiction: Dark secrets from WWII haunt a family in The Netherlands)
The Voice of Thunder by Mirka Breen (hist fiction: life in a Mideast war zone]
Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams (hist fiction: flu epidemic after WWI)
Sugar on Ice and Eye of the Storm, by Kate Messner (competitive skating, climate change)
The Summer Before Boys, by Nora Raleigh Baskin (MC's mom is deployed overseas)
Mamba Point, by Kurtis Scarletta  American ex-pat kid in Liberia
The Cabinet of Earths, by Anne Nesbet. Fantasy, gorgeous writing.
The Wednesday Wars and OK for Now by Gary Schmidt. Some MCs have to survive truly dyfunctional parents.
#3 - August 05, 2013, 02:39 PM
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 03:12 PM by AnneB »

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Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (MC with autism)
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (3 different POV)
The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee Frazier (biracial twins)
#4 - August 05, 2013, 03:50 PM
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 03:51 PM by yarnspinner »

Oh, the Wendy Mass recommendation got me thinking! I love her Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, and it could be really fun to do with middle school students and get kids debating about what the meaning of life IS (and what Mass seems to be saying it is).

Bigger Than A Breadbox by Laurel Snyder deals with divorce and ethics around stealing and class, so that would be another good discussion book.
#5 - August 05, 2013, 04:05 PM
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 04:14 PM by annemleone »

GREEN GLASS SEA by Ellen Klages - historical fiction about a young girl living with her father at Los Alamos when what they were building there was a secret
BRUISER by Schusterman - contemporary about a boy who takes on the pain of anyone he grows close to, told in 3 POV, one of which is in verse (may be more 8th grade than 6th)
#6 - August 05, 2013, 04:08 PM

 So many great ones mentioned already! I loved The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell and The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas
#7 - August 05, 2013, 04:48 PM

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Any of Donna Gephart's books: As if Being 12-3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President; How to Survive Middle School; and Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen.
#8 - August 05, 2013, 05:22 PM
Katie L. Carroll

Pirate Island - MG adventure
Elixir Bound, Elixir Saved - YA Fantasy

Wow, so many great recommendations! I've read quite a few of these but lots more that I need to put on my list.  :thankyou
#9 - August 06, 2013, 10:19 AM
EXTRAORDINARY ( Skypony Press  May 2015)
CALL ME SUNFLOWER (Skypony Press May 2017)
EMILY OUT OF FOCUS (Skypony Press May 2019)

So many great recs! Here are a few of my faves that fit that age group and would lead to great discussions:

WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
BLOOMABILITY by Sharon Creech
STARGIRL by Jerry Spinelli
LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld

And I second Laurie Halse Anderson's historical fiction!
#10 - August 06, 2013, 01:43 PM
« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 01:48 PM by Lwrites »

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When I led the middle school book club a few years ago, the favorite of most of the boys and girls was The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman. There are interesting issues of identity and friendship to discuss.
#11 - August 07, 2013, 12:19 PM


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