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Summer Reading Recommendations for Middle Schoolers, by Librarians

Modern Realistic Fiction Your Middle School Aged-Child Will Love: Recommendations from Librarians.

The learning that takes place in the middle school years is second only to that which happens during early childhood, according to educators. Children have moved beyond learning to read and are reading to learn: to find information, to understand complex issues, and, of equal importance, to embrace the enjoyment of reading for pleasure. Perhaps the modern realistic fiction genre might resonate with them; if so, it is our pleasure to pass on a few suggestions offered by librarians.

Peter Friedman is a high school freshman, a talented photographer, and a star baseball player, until an unexpected injury ends his pitching career. Not only does he have to figure out whether there is life after sports but, his beloved grandfather, a professional photographer, has developed Alzheimer’s. Exploring multiple themes, including family, friendship, romance, and tragedy Curveball by Jordan Sonnenblick is engaging and entertaining.

Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is that she was born without them. When her parents take a job running a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves across the country, knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again. But after meeting Connor, a classmate who feels isolated because of his own disability, and their discovery of a secret room at the theme park, adventures ensue. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling is about friendship, facing your fears, and learning that maybe you can do it all.

While I Was Away is the story of Waka, a straight-A student living in rural Kansas. She is “the smart Japanese girl” at school. But when her parents realize that she cannot understand basic Japanese, they send her to live with her strict grandmother in Tokyo for the summer, where she is “the dumb foreigner.” Struggling to master reading and writing, being made fun of by her classmates, and navigating the relationship with her grandmother, Waka must manage her culture shock and the question of where is home. This memoir is the story of Waka T. Brown, and is a reflection of her own journey to reconnect with her family’s roots.

New Kid by Jerry Craft, is a graphic novel about seventh-grader Jordan Banks. Jordan loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life, and wants to go to art school. Instead, his parents enroll him at a prestigious private school known for its academics. Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his grade, and fitting in is a struggle. An engaging and compelling story about living in two worlds: retaining the neighborhood friendships of childhood while embracing a new community, all while staying true to oneself.

Clea knows that she needs to focus and that she cannot just blurt out whatever thought occurs to her, but she can’t help it – she gets distracted and can’t control her thoughts. She begins to feel that she is failing at everything. When her parents have her tested and she is diagnosed with ADHD, Clea comes to terms with what this means, and begins to appreciate that she is different, not damaged. Focused by Alyson Gerber takes the reader on a heartwarming journey of acceptance and understanding, and highlights that it is always all right to ask for what you need.

House Arrest by K.A. Holt is a novel in verse. Timothy has to stay out of trouble: he is a good kid who did a bad thing and he is on probation. He is required to check in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, and keep a journal for the entire year. But staying out of trouble proves challenging when he must take drastic measures to help his family, as they are struggling. Humorous, original, and touching, engaging even the most reluctant readers.

Isabella has often felt split, divided between two worlds, as the child of parents with different racial identities, but when they divorce, everything becomes even more complicated. Two houses, two nicknames, two identities, and perpetual fights that always seem to be about her– fights that only escalate as each parent finds a new partner. Can they ever see all of her if they only focus on this half or that? Blended by New York Times best-selling author Sharon Draper is an authentic story about racial identity and divorce.

Set in Karachi, Pakistan, A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi tells the story of two girls who seem to have nothing in common but have everything in common. Mimi has been sent to spend the summer with grandparents she’s never met, and secretly hopes to find her long-absent father. Sakina, the cook’s daughter, must improve her mastery of English if she is to be accepted at school, but worries about whether her family can manage without the money she earns. A heartwarming story of two girls sharing a summer of upheaval and hope.

Hello, Universe is Newbery Medal Winner Erin Entrada Kelly’s intertwining story is told in four voices, those of two girls and two boys who live in the same neighborhood. One day, disaster strikes after a prank goes wrong, and unexpectedly links them together: shy but kindhearted Virgil, Valencia, who is deaf and brave and lonely, self-proclaimed psychic Kaori, and Chet, who just wants to concentrate on basketball. Creative thinking, a sense of humor, bravery, and a little luck from the universe yield a rescue, shut down a bully, and spark unlikely friendships.

Life in a quiet town is disrupted when someone sneaks into the middle school and vandalizes it with a swastika. Everyone is stunned. Michael saw it first, and is the first suspect. Link is very popular, and everyone’s looking to him for guidance. And Dana is treated more like an outsider than ever as the only Jewish girl in town. When more swastikas begin to appear, the three start a project to bring the community together instead of allowing a heinous act to divide them. Linked by Gordon Korman follows the three as they seek to learn the truth about the crimes of the present–and those of the past.

Happy reading, and enjoy!

Annemiek Young is an Independent Educational Consultant based in Philadelphia. Once the Director of Lower School Admissions at The Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and formerly Director of Admission and Enrollment Management at Friends Select School in Philadelphia, Annemiek has more than a decade of experience in guiding families through the complexities of understanding a school’s curriculum, community, and program. She has worked with families from all around the world, offering them a framework with which to assess school options as they navigate an unfamiliar education system and determine which setting would be optimal for their child. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University School of Law, Annemiek completed her final year of law school at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and most recently has been accepted as an IECA associate member.

Bennett International Education Consultancy works directly with hundreds of families each year across the globe. We support families by helping them make informed decisions about the best-fit schools for their children; with our guidance, they secure placement in preschools, private day schools, public/state schools, boarding schools, colleges & universities, including schools with particular programs, such as special needs support.


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