And now, I present to you… my favorite books for middle school readers published in 2018!
(…that I’ve read so far. I’ll get back to you on the rest.)
Click a book cover to see its Goodreads page.
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
This is showing up on all the award prediction lists, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s an honest, vulnerable piece of realistic fiction with an engaging voice. I want to give Mason a huge hug. Recommended for grades 4 and up.
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
This funny, inventive adventure is full of powerful young women, growing friendship, and best of all, fascinating Hindu mythology. It’s sparked a big interest in the subject for me. I love that Rick Riordan is supporting Own Voices authors telling stories based in their own mythology to complement his Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse ones. Recommended for grades 4 and up.
Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald
This title has a ton of potential for reluctant readers. It’s a loving examination of football that also takes a serious look at some serious problems with the sport and its culture. And since it’s written in verse, it flies by. Recommended for grades 6 and up. (There is some mention of underage drinking, though it doesn’t occur “onscreen” and isn’t condoned.) Continue reading
Atmospheric horror with a wide age-range appeal and creepy dolls.
Recommended grade level: 6 and up
Pages: 298 (for ISBN 9780545941082)
Genre(s) and keywords: horror
Tone/Style: bleak, scary
Pace: moderate to fast
Topics: curses, ghosts, dolls, possession, death
Themes: aftermath of tragedy, grief, family
Summary: Dunvegan School for Girls has been losed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and the students are long gone. But they left something behind… Continue reading
Cute, inspiring, and photo-heavy, this feel-good title is great for browsing.
Recommended grade level: 4 and up
Pages: 128 (for ISBN 9780544879669)
Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, science, reluctant readers
Tone/Style: positive, encouraging
Topics: medical technology, prosthetics
Themes: different abilities, innovation, helping others, overcoming challenges
Summary: In Unstoppable, animals are both benefiting from and helping out the world of prosthetic science – including all species, situations, and science backgrounds. From the high-tech science of 3D printing, to inflatables, to toy wheels, this title has it all. Unstoppable is a perfect fit for science enthusiasts and animal lovers alike. (Source) Continue reading
What is it?
Using office supplies and instructions from the Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction book series by John Austin, create tiny catapults, bows and arrows, and other “weapons” then compete in challenges with them.
You may be able to find what you need among you existing office supplies, or solicit donations of materials. In this case, you could potentially run the program without buying anything. I had a healthy budget to work with and ended up spending about $50 on building materials.
Why do it?
There’s a little bit of every STEAM element—science, technology, engineering, art, and math—in this program. Not many activities hit on all that, particularly not ones with this high appeal for pre-teens and teens. It’s a great program for disguising educational elements behind a ton of fun elements. Continue reading
What is It?
Participants throw color powder (also called powder paint or Holi powder) at each other, trying to cover everyone with as much of their team’s color as possible.
About $500 for 60 kids.
Number of participants
As many as you can afford to supply with powder! Continue reading
What is it?
After the library is closed, middle schoolers can come play active games throughout the library building. I like to really play up the fact that they will have the library to themselves, and be allowed to do things we wouldn’t normally allow. Hence the “extreme”…though of course, it’s all perfectly safe and legal. 😉 This is the program description I use: “Zombie tag in the Library? An extreme scavenger hunt in the stacks? That can’t be allowed…but we’re going to try it anyway! We won’t tell if you don’t.”
Anywhere from free, to however much you want to spend. If your budget it low, plan activities that use materials you already own.
Why Do It?
When you’re doing something unconventional like this, it’s a good idea to prepare for the possibility that your reasoning will be challenged. Continue reading
What is it?
After the library is closed, invite middle schoolers to play laser tag in the building.
$300-$700, depending on the equipment you use.
Number of participants
This can vary a lot. If you rent equipment, most rental companies will offer 10 to 20 laser taggers at a time. It’s often cost-effective to have the equipment for a block of time. I like to get the equipment for three hours, and break it into three time slots; participants can sign up for one slot. Each one-hour slot has 20 players (10 on each team), so I get 60 total in one night. After all the instructions and suiting up, I’m usually able to give the participants 40 minutes of play during their timeslot, which seems a good amount of time to me. Continue reading