After reading all the first round middle grades books for the Cybils awards, I am overwhelmed by the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade books I want to include in my Saturday posts. Here are just a couple of the outstanding recommended books for the first round readers:

Catch Me When I Fall by Bonnie Graves.  This middle grades historical fiction offering describes “circus life in its heyday.” It’s twelve-year-old heroine, Emma is a “gutsy girl,” who doesn’t know who her father is, and her mother refuses to tell her. After finding an old photo of Fillipo, The Flying Wonder, in her mother’s dresser drawer, she disguises herself as a boy and runs off to “join the circus” and find her father. What she finds and discovers about herself in the process is a coming-of-age tale any middle school reader will be enthralled with.

Another twelve-year-old heroine in Extraordinary Birds, a puzzling novel by Sandy Stark McGinnes, is a girl named December who bears strange scars on her back. At the beginning, December feels she is secretly a bird, and the scars are the places that will one day sprout wings.  The true story of the scars is something she has blocked out of her memory.  Confronted by the “mean girls” at her school, and protected by her best friend, Cherylynne, December faces the truth about herself and comes into her true identity. This is a powerful story that will be remembered by its readers for a long time.

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."


  1. It will just be a few more days and then the Cybils finalists will be announced. It is always a happy time for me. I feel like I read a lot, and yet I’m always astonished to discover all the wonderful new books I have somehow missed. Middle grades are an important time for readers, I think, and the stories have to be powerful and compelling for those children.

    Liked by 1 person

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