Middle School Boys… UGH!

Aren’t middle school boys the worst? I mean they are almost as bad as middle school girls! LOL! But really… you know the type: they come in to the library with their arms crossed, telling everyone how much they hate to read. When they are asked to check out a book, they wander around the library (usually in groups of 3 or 4) and by the end of the class period they have blindly chosen a book off the shelf with absolutely no intent of actually read it.

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However, these students are not a lost cause! When I have a student (boy or girl) inform me that they hate to read, I see it as a challenge! I usually start by asking the student about their hobbies or favorite TV shows. I try to get an idea of what the student’s interests are before suggesting books, and I always suggest more than one! Give them three options, allow them to pick a favorite. If you hand a kid one book and tell them to check it out, what happens if the kid doesn’t want that book, or ends up not liking it; your credibility has just gone down the drain and they will never ask you for another book recommendation again. I always give them a few choices and if they don’t like the one they picked then it is back on them. I also make sure the students understands it is a “no pressure” choice. If they aren’t hooked by the first thirty pages then bring it back and I can help them find a different book. I tell my students over and over the worst mistake a reader can make is forcing themselves to finish a book. If you aren’t enjoying the book you have, then you need to abandon it, get rid of it, turn it in and find a new one. Now, there are always those situations when a student thinks they can abandon every book they check out because they just don’t want to read, and that is a whole other conversation!

Now if you have accepted the challenge to help these reluctant readers find a book then I’m here to help with a few of my favorite recommendations for those boys who hate to read. These books are popular with my junior high boys and always my first go-to when it comes to recommending a book. If you know of any other books that are popular with the middle school boys, let me know and I will make sure to add them to my library collection!

Ghost (Track, #1)

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

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Zom-B series by Darren Shan
From Darren Shan, the Master of Horror, comes the first book in the Zom-B series that will have you on the edge of your seat and questioning what it means to be a human or a monster.

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I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis
History’s most exciting and terrifying events are brought to life in this fictional series. Readers will be transported by stories of amazing children and how they survived!

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Vietnam and World War II series by Chris Lynch
Best friends Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck, having been either drafted or enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War, pledge they will come home together, and Morris, a sailor on the USS “Boston,” relies on that promise to stay strong while his courage and resolve are tested under attack.

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Shadow Squadron by Carol Bowen
Shadow Squadron hits the ground running in their first mission, operation SEA DEMON. When well-organized Somali pirates kidnap several V.I.Ps at sea, Lt. Commander Ryan Cross and his men are called upon to put these pirates down before innocent blood is shed.

Football Genius (Football Genius, #1)

Football Genius and Baseball Great series by Tim Green
Troy, a sixth-grader with an unusual gift for predicting football plays before they occur, attempts to use his ability to help his favorite team, the Atlanta Falcons, but he must first prove himself to the coach and players.

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Kwame Alexander’s novels in verse (The Crossover, Rebound, Booked)
Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

Phase One: Marvel's The Avengers

Marvel’s The Avengers series by Alex Irvine
Gathered together by S.H.I.E.L.D, Captain America, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye must protect the world from ultimate destruction. Join the action as these Super Heroes battle against Loki and his army for the fate of mankind as told in Marvel’s The Avengers.

Maximum Ride, Vol. 1 (Maximum Ride: The Manga, #1)

Maximum Ride: The Manga by James Patterson
Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it’s like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the “flock”—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time.

The Devil Made Me Do It: YA Reads For Those Who Like Horror

Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist
Greenwillow, 2018
Glory, Texas sits in the middle of the West Texas plains.  Full of dust and hard-living, Glory isn’t a town for the weak of heart or spirit.  In fact, no place is, not after the slow plague ten years ago that turned those infected into Shakes, not quite human creatures who are always looking for their next victim.  Glory and other town are able to keep the Shakes at bay with fencing and shake-hunters, rough men who go outside the safe boundaries to hunt them down.
Willie, aka Daisy Wilcox, is trying her hardest to make ends meet for her and her family.  Willie’s mother succumbed to the infection and she isn’t sure if Mother is dead or alive.  Her father, the local drunk, is never home except to steal the hard earned money she ekes out.  But then he goes one step further.
One day, Willie’s home is approached by some very rough shake hunters who are looking for Willie’s father and the money he stole from them.  Now, it’s up to her to find her father and return the money or lives will be at stake.  With the help of two young shake-hunters, Willie must travel to the next town over…across the plain riddled with Shakes…
Once forced out, she sees the reality and horror of life outside Glory.  With only two inexperienced shake hunters and unexpected visitors, Willie isn’t sure she’ll make it to the next town.  And then….
Berquist takes the setting of the Texas plains and weaves a dystopic tale where not quite zombie-like creatures can be more terrifying than the natural predators of the plains.  This will capture the attention of those wanting more horror dystopia set within a future Western.  What makes this book even more unique is the Western aspect of the novel itself, which is hard to find in current YA fiction collections.  Recommended 7th-12th grades.
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
2015, Harlequin Teen
Amanda and her family have lived their lives in the woodlands.  Her father, a trapper, maintained a decent living while she and her siblings helped her mother around the house.  The last winter was a bad one for the entire family, especially her mother, but Amanda has a lot to be happy about, especially her trysts in the forest with the love of her life.
But things change.  When Amanda finds out she’s pregnant, she desperately needs to hide the fact, especially after she is shunned by the one person she thought loved her.  Her father fears another brutal winter will further hurt the health of his family.  With that in mind, he decides to move his family to the prairie lands across the mountains.  A long drive, but perhaps this is what Amanda needed….a fresh start.
The entire family makes the drive to their new homestead, where Amanda’s father was told he could pick from several abandoned houses as his own.  Things look up for the family.  They pass other homesteaders who wave in the distance to them.  Mother is doing well taking care of the baby, who can neither hear or see, and her little brother and sister, while tired, are healthy and curious.
But once they find a home, the horror begins….little does Amanda nor her family know the house they selected has a gory past, and one that will quickly rise up to greet them.
Sometimes you can’t run far or fast enough….
Talk about CREEPY.  This was definitely a page-turner where the author left a crumb trail only to lead the reader right into the edge of horror, death and hauntings.  This is truly a novel for those YA readers who absolutely love true horror, not just supernatural.  Recommended 9-12th grades

Great October Reads and Activities

CaptureHalloween is nearly upon us and it’s a good time to cuddle up with a scary book on a long night…at least for some of us.  If you know a teen who loves great horror, try these books with them.  I mixed fiction series with stand-alones; non-fiction titles that reflect horror; and even graphic novels and story collections.

The PDF can be downloaded and made into posters, as a handout or used on a website.  There are links for the books with book trailers. The pdf can be found here

And if you’re one to do activities with teens, create a murder mystery party and open the library a little later than usual.  School Library Journal also has a great online article that feature Halloween programs for K-12

However your celebrate October, have fun and let readers know all holidays and seasons are a great time to start reading!