Four Middle Level Books I Read Instead

On the eve of the summer, I posted about four middle level books that I had planned on reading during my time away from the office. I think it is important that all educators who teach and promote literacy know the literature that we are teaching and promoting.

Instead, I read these four books:


This book was hard to put down. I would read a few chapters aloud every night to my son, but then he would read on after I left. This meant that I would have to quickly catch up the next day! Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets The Westing Game. This book would be a great recommendation for reluctant readers.


This informational text was highly recommend by my friends on Goodreads. Moonbird is that rare book that entertains as much as it informs. The author chronicles one breeding cycle of a red rufa knot, B95. He is the oldest known shorebird of his species. The challenges B95 faces, both natural and manmade, bring a lot of suspense to the topic. I found myself cheering for the researchers who kept persisting in their inquiries about why the red rufa knot’s numbers are dwindling. It could serve by itself as the primary resource for a unit of study. You have got geography, history, environmental science, biology…and that is just the content areas.


My son started reading these books and was constantly giggling. I had to find out what was so funny. A misfit (Dwight) finds his niche when he decides to fashion a paper finger puppet that resembles Yoda. He then dispenses sage advice to his peers through this origami puppet in Yoda language. Or is it Dwight? The main character, Tommy, struggles with this question, as to whether Origami Yoda is actually real and not just a channel for Dwight’s imagination and his desire to be accepted.

Beyond the humor, this book actually has a lot of heart. You can see the characters develop over the course of the book. Themes such as bullying, tolerance, and courage run throughout the story without coming across as preachy. I actually think this would make a terrific read aloud, with the help of a document camera to highlight all the doodles and comments in the margins. It would also serve well as a mentor text when teaching perspective.

imgres-2This story, about a toy rabbit who travels between different owners through a lifetime, will make for a good read aloud in the intermediate classroom. In fact, it is one of the choices for The Global Read Aloud. The themes of loss and love are pretty deep and will require some extended discussions.

I still plan on reading the middle level books I had initially listed before the summer. But I have learned that while we should pick the books we want to read next, sometimes the books pick us.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

2 thoughts on “Four Middle Level Books I Read Instead”

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Robin. If I was still in the classroom, this title would be on the top of my list of books to read aloud to my students. Did you and your son email the author the answer to the puzzle in the back? He writes back… 🙂


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