This blog post was written by NCTE staff member Sarah Miller. This post is part of Build Your Stack®, an NCTE initiative focused exclusively on helping teachers build their book knowledge and their classroom libraries. Build Your Stack provides a forum for contributors to share books from their classroom experience; inclusion in a blog post does not imply endorsement or promotion of specific books by NCTE.
In October, for the second year in a row, the Middle Level Section Steering Committee partnered with the Build Your Stack® Committee to talk about texts, focusing on middle grade readers. Build Your Stack webinars (and blog posts) help teachers to grow their professional knowledge and grow their classroom libraries. Middle grade readers often have unique reading needs and tastes, so an event homing in on the needs of that age range always provides a unique variety of titles to learn from. If you missed the event, learn more about the titles below, see what educators said, and check out the full event video for yourself.
Author Aida Salazar kicked off the night discussing not only her recent books, but others that address important tween and teen topics related to puberty, menstruation, and coming of age. Her book The Moon Within and the anthology she coedited, Calling the Moon, were the two she highlighted first. Then she introduced antecedents like Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, Planet Middle School, and The Porcupine Tree.
Former middle school teacher Alex Corbitt’s stack covered some older MG/YA titles, such as Lobizona, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School, All My Rage, and Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Middle school teacher Kasey Short talked about the reading experience of books with multiple narrators (including animals!), like Wildoak, Pax, The Lost Year, Team Chu and the Epic Quest, and A Place at the Table.
Who wants to read about a neurodivergent 12-year-old superhero? Probably everyone. Author Shawn Peters’ The Unforgettable Logan Foster and The Unforgettable Logan Foster and the Shadow of Doubt are two can’t-miss reads. Shawn also shared other books in his stack that lean into empathy and compassion for those who may otherwise be misunderstood.
Former middle school teacher Sarah Bonner said, “Let’s Hear it for the DISRUPTERS!” with her stack, sharing books that advocate for a deeper understanding of others’ points of view. Wishing Upon the Same Stars, Mascot, and I’m Still Here are all timely stories that address multiple difficult topics that students and adults alike struggle to reconcile. Since this event took place two weeks before Halloween, middle school teacher Jen Vincent leaned into the scaries. She shared mild horror and suspense tales from her young reading days along with a few new titles that fly off her classroom shelves, including Witchlings.
Rounding out the evening was Vanee Smith-Matsalia, an eighth-grade English teacher, who, in her own words, let out her “inner nerd” with her stack.
She shared webtoons like The Blind Prince and Vixen: NYC, DC Comics (even though she’s a professed Marvel fan!) like Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, and novels like Take Back the Block.
By the end of the evening, everyone had filled up their library and Libby request lists and was inspired to go read some new books. We know you will be too after reading about these titles, watching the video, and checking out this bookshop.org list!
Sarah Miller is Senior Coordinator with the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Center.
It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.