As a librarian, I wear many hats. Not only am I simply the librarian at a junior high campus with 500 seventh and eighth graders, but I am also the iPad guru, the keeper of the 3D printer, the administrator of the district’s Accelerated Reader, the Canvas chaos coordinator, and I still find time to teach research and conduct daily book talks! On top of my campus duties, I also present at Region XI and TLA annual conference; and I’m a member of the Texas Library Associations Lone Star Reading Committee.
For those of you not from Texas, the Lone Star list is a list of twenty books chosen by librarians for students in grades 6-8. I have been reading the books on the Lone Star list for over ten years, as long as I have taught in a middle school setting. I think the best way to get students to read is to talk about books that they would read. So in this post, I’m going to give a quick rundown/my personal opinion of my Top Ten from this year’s list. Because even if you don’t live in Texas, or promote the Lone Star list, it is still a good place to get ideas for good books to purchase for your school library!
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Scary story about a girl who had a near-death experience and can now cross the “veil” between the living and the dead.
This book is perfect for guys and girls and I read an article that says the CW is planning a new series based on the book (loosely based, they’ve made Cassidy a college graduate). Book two is called Tunnel of Bones and will be released September 2019.
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Romance that takes place through letters between strangers that are left at a grave.
It is a really great romance that will have you falling in love with the characters and shedding tears over them as well. There is a sequel called More Than We Can Tell about Declan’s best friend, Rev.
Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter
An action adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat. The story involves the president’s son, Russian kidnappers, a snowstorm, and a kick-butt heroine to save the day!
I might be a little biased because I received a signed copy and personal note from the author, but my students absolutely love this book!
In the Shadow of the Sun by Anne Sibley O’Brien
Adventure story that takes place in North Korea, where an American brother and sister must escape after their father, an aid-worker, is arrested.
This book is so eye-opening to the real life oppression that is currently taking place in North Korea. Just Book Talking this title in my library led to so many great discussions!
Ghost Boys by Jewell Rhodes Parker
When twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer while playing with a toy gun, he comes back as a ghost and the only person who can see him is the daughter of the officer that killed him.
This book is a great middle-grade substitution for fans of The Hate U Give or All-American Boys. It also brings in a historical element because the ghost of Emmett Till helps Jerome cope with the afterlife.
Nevermoor: Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crowe is doomed to die on her eleventh birthday. That is until a stranger rescues her from the hell hounds and whisks her off to the strange world of Nevermoor, where Morrigan will endure trials to be allowed into the prestigious Wundrous Society.
Have that student who loves Harry Potter and thinks no other book will ever compare? Give them the Nevermoor series! There are a lot of parallels, but I will admit, I love them both. Book two: Wundersmith is already out!
Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau
A bomb has gone off in the high school and the six students trapped inside need to survive long enough to figure out which one of them is the bomber.
Even though this book is about high school students, it is appropriate for middle school. It is a fast-paced thriller, but also delves into real-life drama like prejudice, stereotypes, suicide, and LGBT.
Restart by Gordon Korman
Chase falls off his roof and loses his memory. When he returns to school, he doesn’t exactly like the person he used to be, and tries to make up for it by joining the AV Club.
A great book for middle grade about bullying and it never being too late for a restart.
After Zero by Christina Collins
Elise has always been homeschooled and sheltered, but now that she is starting public school, she can’t seem to do anything right. It gets tot he point where maybe it’s better to not to speak at all. But when her silence begins to affect her friendships, can she really go back?
Mental illness is an important topic for students to be exposed to, but hardly ever is there a book written at a middle grade level on the topic. Christina Collins does an amazing job of showing how bullying and social awkwardness can lead to more serious problems.
Everless by Sara Holland
In a world where time is currency and your blood is taken straight for your veins to pay the kingdom’s taxes, the rich can live for centuries, while the poor can drain their lives just making rent.
Great fantasy novel for fans of Red Queen and it also reminds me a little bit of that Justin Timberlake movie, In Time . Book two: Evermore was just released!
There are so many amazing books on this list, that I could Book Talk every single one of them, but I really made myself stick with my Top Ten only. If you would like to see the entire list, and all of the resources that the committee has to offer, visit TLA’s Lone Star website.
Want to see more of my book recommendations? Follow me on Goodreads and Happy Reading!