• Celebrate Pride Month with These Inclusive Middle Grade Books


    June is Pride Month, and to celebrate inclusion here are five great middle grade novels, all available at the Barrington Area Library.

    Zenobia July
    Lisa Bunker

    Zenobia just moved across the country to Maine, and everything feels different: she's making new friends, she doesn't want to stay cooped up in her room all day, and, perhaps most importantly, nobody calls her a boy.

    As she settles into her new life and community, Zenobia is shocked to discover that someone has been posting hateful memes on the school website. Using her skills as a coder and hacker, Zenobia must team up with her newfound friends and figure out who is trying to hurt her.


    Too Bright to See
    Kyle Lukoff

    It's the summer before middle school, and while Bug would prefer to spend it having fun with Moira, Moira has different priorities -- buying new clothes, honing her makeup skills, and talking about boys. But Bug doesn't have time to worry about Moira's changing personality: there's a ghost in Bug's house...

    Too Bright to See is a heartfelt exploration of grief, the complexities of friendship, growing older, and what it's like to grapple with one's gender identity.


    Martin McLean, Middle School Queen
    Alyssa Zaczek

    When you look at it objectively, Martin shouldn't have any trouble expressing himself: his mother's an artist, his uncle's in theater, he's surrounded by quirky, outspoken personalities... but Martin just can't seem to find the right way to be himself. That is, until his uncle introduces him to the world of drag.

    And thus, Lottie León is born!

    Martin loves dressing in drag, loves the confidence boost, but he can't bring himself to open up to his friends about it. What if they make fun of him? What if the magic of Lottie León goes away? And that's not even mentioning Martin's new crush, Chris. Martin's content to keep his double life a secret, until a scheduling conflict between his Mathletes club and his first-ever drag show forces him to reveal his true self to his friends.


    Answers in the Pages
    David Levithan

    Donovan's a huge fan of The Adventurers, a story about two boys trying to thwart an evil genius. Donovan's mom, on the other hand, isn't wild about the book, especially when she becomes convinced that the two main characters are gay.

    The whole town works itself into a frenzy as Donovan's mom tries to get the book banned from school. Caught in the middle are Donovan, who doesn't understand why the adults are making such a big deal out of the book; as well as Gideon and Roberto, two classmates who are assigned to work on a book unit together.

    Told in three interwoven stories -- Donovan's, Gideon's and Roberto's, and the plot of The Adventurers -- Answers in the Pages depicts a very real, very pressing issue in the world of literature and education.


    Ellen Outside the Lines
    A.J. Sass

    Ellen Katz prefers it when things fit into easy categories. When plans work out and life makes sense: attending temple with her parents every weekend, hanging out with her best (and only) friend Laurel, etc. Ellen, who is on the autism spectrum, relies on Laurel to help her navigate the turbulent waters of middle school life. But now Laurel's making new friends, her interests are changing, and she doesn't seem to have as much time for Ellen.

    The two friends plan to fix their friendship during their Spanish class's trip to Spain, but things don't work out as they planned. Ellen is assigned to a different group, and finds herself without Laurel for the first time. Included in her new group is Isa, a nonbinary student whose identity challenges Ellen's way of looking at things.

    Ellen Outside the Lines is a heartwarming, sweet, and often silly celebration of those moments where life doesn't go exactly according to plan.


    Looking for recommendations? Fill out our form to get a custom list of reads or a Book Bundle for pickup.

      Youth Services Librarian Chris 


  • Summertime Journal Prompts for Middle Schoolers


    Looking for something to do when the summer heat's got you beat? Looking to take a break from video games? Here are some journal prompts to keep the old brain stimulated while school's out!

    By the way, don't worry about word count or anything like that -- express yourself how you want, as much as you want. And there are no real rules here -- you can do as many or as few of these as you like.

    1.Describe your perfect summer day, from start to finish. It doesn't have to be a real day, just something that sounds perfect to you.

    2. Describe how you feel now that school's ending. Do you feel happy? Sad? A little bit of both?

    3. If you had the magical ability to make it one season forever, which season would you pick, and why?

    4. Write a haiku about a memory from a past summer.

    5. Who are you most excited to spend time with this summer?

    6. Are you an indoors person or an outdoors person? Or both? Why do you think that is?

    7. List three things you'd like to accomplish this summer.

    8. What's your favorite summertime treat? Ice cream? Watermelon? Something else?

    9. Do you like to stay up late during the summer? If so, what to you do? If you don't like to stay up, describe why!

    10. Take a little walk outside -- make sure it's safe first! -- and describe the world around you, focusing on your five senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel?

    11. If you could have a picnic with any person, alive or dead, who would it be, and why? What would you take with you on your picnic?

    12. Take some lyrics from five of your favorite songs and use them to write a poem.

    13. Imagine you're a tour guide for your town or community. What sights do you point out? Why are they important to the community? Why are they important to you?

    14. Write a short story about an exciting event that gets interrupted by a sudden rainstorm. How do things change? How do people react?

    15. If you could go on vacation to any fictional location, where would it be and why? What kinds of things would you need to pack?

    16. Next time you're out in nature, take a photo of something that interests or excites you -- a cocoon, an old tree, a fish, etc. Now write a story based on the picture you just took.

    17. Write an acrostic poem about your favorite ice cream flavor. If you don't eat ice cream, use candy. If you don't eat candy, use fruit or another snack!

    18. Write a review for the movie you most enjoyed watching this summer.

    19. Now write a review for the movie you least enjoyed.

    20. As summer draws to a close, reflect on the time you had. Are you sad to see summer end, to go back to school? Or are you excited? Maybe a little bit of both?


    Looking for recommendations? Fill out our form to get a custom list of reads or a Book Bundle for pickup.

      Youth Services Librarian Chris 


  • Staff Favorites from the 2021 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award

    We librarians love a book list, especially when it’s chock full of excellent books! Here are some of our favorite titles that made the cut for this school year’sRebecca Caudill Nominees, the reader’s choice award for Illinois students in grades 4-8.

    Alyssa recommends...

    Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

    11-year old Ollie’s class field trip to a farm takes a grim turn when the bus breaks down on the way home. Her teacher tries calling for assistance but there’s no cell service out in the cornfields. He orders them to stay on the bus with the driver while he walks back to the farmhouse for help, which means that Ollie and her classmates are now stuck in the middle of nowhere. Already uneasy and with night falling quickly, Ollie’s digital watch begins to display a warning in flashing letters—RUN—prompting Ollie and two of her friends to flee the bus. They head into the woods as the sky grows dark and eerie, pursued by haunted scarecrows. In order to survive the night, Ollie and her friends must avoid large areas and stick to the small spaces instead. Small Spaces is the perfect autumnal read for those who like stories with extra thrills and chills.

    Stefanie recommends...

    Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

    Melly is feeling a lot of different emotions as she and her best friend Olivia head to Camp Rockaway for two weeks of music camp. As an introvert, she is already being forced way out of her comfort zone by playing her drums in front of complete strangers (not to mention just being in a camp full of complete strangers), and on top of that, her parents just told her that they are getting a divorce right before she left home. When Melly and Olivia are assigned to different bands, Melly’s life is turned upside down, but maybe, in the best way possible. Full of heart and spirit, this book is all about believing in yourself and persevering, finding love where you least expected to, navigating friendship when your best friend seems to take you for granted, and processing really hard and scary emotions when your world feels like it’s falling apart. And there are a lot of music puns!

    Demitra recommends...

    Resistanceby Jennifer A. Nielsen 

    Just wow.Resistance tells the story of Chaya Lindner, a Jewish teen that looks just aryan enough to get past authorities with forged papers as she moves through the ghettos of Poland to smuggle food and weapons in and perhaps smuggle people out. The tension in the story is palpable and you will find yourself reading at a breakneck pace to find out what happens next. Though the book is historical fiction, it incorporates real instances of the bravery, resilience and determination of the Jewish people as they fought to survive a force of people and beliefs that was set on seeing their utter destruction. If you are looking for your next WWII read, this is it.



    Allison recommends...

    A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée 


    MaryJo recommends...

    Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 

    Will witnesses his own brother Shawn’s death right in front of him. Gunned down by someone, and Will thinks he knows who. He also knows the rules of the neighborhood, one of them being, if someone kills someone you love, you have to get revenge. Will grabs Shawn’s gun, and takes the elevator down to follow the rules.  But, on each floor, William is visited by ghosts of his past, and they all share their stories of gun violence. Will begins to contemplate his decision, and the rules of the neighborhood. Should he follow the neighborhood rule and avenge his brother’s death, even if that means there is no future for him? The entire story that takes place all in a 67 second elevator ride, and is a powerful, thought provoking story to tell. Readers will not be able to put this novel in verse down once they start.

    Ann recommends...

    Nightbooks by J. A. White


    Chris recommends...

    Front Desk by Kelly Yang

    Looking for some personalized selections? Fill outthis form and you’ll receive a customized list direct to your inbox!