Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Middle School Books I Love / Hate

My kids' school library got a huge load of discarded books from the public library, and I get to help "preview" them.  Basically that means that I read the first chapter and flip through the rest, looking for anything that might be inappropriate.  (Can I just say that I think I've found my new calling in life?  I love reading first chapters.) 

The books for elementary age kids are always great.  But the books for middle school readers are a bit spotty.  Here's what I love about some of the middle school readers:

  • Main characters from other cultures.   I think it's good for middle schoolers to see things from another culture's vantage point.
  •  Main characters who are trying to make the world better.  I read one book (Acceleration by Graham McNamee) about a teen who discovers a serial killer's diary.  Even though the book has violent elements and a few swear words, I like that the boy steps out of his selfish world to become a hero.  (I recommended it for grade 9 and up.)
Here's what I hated about some of the middle school readers:

  • Main characters who rebel against the rules and don't learn their lesson.  I read one book about a shoplifter who didn't feel guilty and never got caught.  That really bugged me because I know a lot  of  kids who've gotten caught shoplifting.  (And yes, I'm happy to report that I threw the book in my trash can, where it deserves to be.)  If you're writing for adolescents and you want to cover a subject like drugs or shoplifting, at least show the consequences.
  • Coming of Age stories written for an adult audience but marketed for teens.  Just because kids understand it doesn't mean they should be reading it.
Middle school is tough.  And books can be a great coping mechanism.  When I was that age, I was a huge fan of L.M. Montgomery's books (Anne of Green Gables, etc.)  What did you like to read in Middle School?

4 comments:

  1. Middle school? Do I even remember middle school? I have always loved the Anne of Green Gables books too. Classics!

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  2. Excellent post! I agree about showing consequences. If a child misbehaves, there must be repercussions.

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  3. You're the second person to suggest acceleration. I'll have to check it out.

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  4. I hate it when publishers want to catch a fad so they slap a YA label on something that probably isn't.

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