Our school district has a summer reading intervention program, and buys some PermaBound books for this program every year. I am fortunate that they are housed in my library, because many of the titles are good for struggling middle school readers. They do consult me about what to buy, but usually only a few days before they need to place an order, so I am not able to be as careful about suggestions as I am about books I purchase. Here are a few of the titles that we recieved this year.
Codell, Esme Raji. Sing a Song of Tuna Fish. This was alarming from my perspective, because it is a memoir, and I think Raji is younger than I am. An interesting picture of a particular time and place, and Raji's struggles with being young and dealing with her eccentric family. I'll have to see what the students think. LeUyen Pham's illustrations are always something that bother me-- they seema bit fuzzy and I always try to adjust my glasses.
Gutman, Dan. Nightmare at the Book Fair. I liked this one-- just sort of goofy. Trip doesn't like to read, but gets caught by the librarian to help with book fair, gets hit on the head by a book, and travels through a variety of nightmares about different types of stories. Gutman has a huge following, and this has clever moments, such as when Trip comes back to consciousness ala Dorothy Gale and parrots the lines in The Wizard of Oz (movie version). I was a little alarmed that Gutman, a sports writer, would state at the beginning of the book that although Trip was in 5th grade, 5th grade was no middle school and he could be on a sports team. Maybe things are different in his state, but even our sixth graders aren't allowed to play sports.
Moss, Marissa. Amelia's Guide to Gossip. I don't care much for these heavily illustrated, slim volumes, but the girls do. Amelia does experience many of the problems endemic to 5th and 6th grade girls, and the books are constructively informative, so well worth the purchase for this younger audience. There is another of these on bullying, and both give good information on difficult topics.
Marsh, Carole. The Mystery at the Roman Colosseum. Eh. Had great hopes for this series, but was disappointed. This is number three-- perhaps I should reserve judgement until I can read the first two. I was a little wary because of the blurb on the front "Includes Five SAT words to know!"; readers at the level this book would indicate do not care. This one struck me as a bit wooden, but as I said, the first two books may help.
Bryan, Nichol. Somali Americans. We have a large Somali population, and I think that this book will be a good introduction to the culture of that country and the problems that have caused so many people to leave. A mere 32 pages, it is also appropriate for ESL students who may be struggling with language.