Cybils Logo 2018 - MasterI have been so busy reading middle school books as a first round reader for the Cybils awards that I have not have time to share them with you. To remedy this, I offer three excellent reads I came across last week:

Pie in the Shy by Remi Lai — I am a softie for a good immigrant story, but when it is a story about an immigrant kid, I melt into a little puddle. Jinqwen, whose hobby in his homeland is baking, finds that it helps him cope when he comes to America and struggles with English and making friends in general. Pie is a humorous middle school novel that not only amuses, but touches the heartstrings.

And talk about tugging at heartstrings, Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard does just that. Rain, a young track star, who recently lost her brother in a tragic accident, deals with a mother who stays compulsively busy in order to not deal with things and a father who is clinically depressed. Her family is disintegrating, and there’s little she can do–but run, and run, and run. The one year anniversary of her brother’s death brings the big track meet and a ray of hope for a new beginning.

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly is a beautiful story of Iris, a middle school deaf girl whose empathy for a whale whose song is “different” from all others leads her to take daring chances and reach out to help. This enables her to make some hard decisions that will change her life forever.

I have been so blessed by this “project.” In my twenty-odd years of teaching 5th through 8th graders, I never felt closer  to this unique demographic than I do after reading these books/novels I have read so far. Although I am totally fulfilled by my teaching assignment at the university, these books make me want to “return to my first love”–middle school



Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 plus years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."


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