4 Great Books for Middle School Counselors

Flashlight-ReadingBy Sabrina Bong — When I think back to my childhood, one memory stands out clearer than the others: me sneaking a book to bed and reading by flashlight.

My love for reading only increased as I got older; I would check out five or six books a week from the library and devour them in a few days. In high school, I was known for carrying a book with me for when I finished my homework. And now that I’m an adult, I am on the hunt for enough bookcases to fit my extensive collection of books (clearly, I just need a library in my apartment …)

When I am not enjoying Jane Austen or James Patterson, I am reading books to help develop my practice as a school counselor. These books are based on practices my district is emphasizing, and what happens to strike my interest.

If you are looking for an interesting read, take a look at these!

  1. Mindfulness: An eight week plan for finding peace in a frantic world (Mark Williams and Danny Penman.) I actually received this book when I took a class on mindfulness this past summer. This book provided some fascinating insight into how mindfulness can be beneficial in life, and also easy, simple steps to help you become more mindful in your daily activities. I found that by following some of their suggestions, I became less stressed, more organized, and was able to live in the moment. West Allis-West Milwaukee began an initiative to introduce mindfulness into their schools this past year, which will help students become better problem solvers and more able to regulate emotions and stress.
  2. Fires in the Middle School Bathroom (Kathleen Cushman and Laura Rogers). This book has such a bizarre name, but I couldn’t resist picking it up when I saw it at Barnes and Noble. Thankfully, this book has nothing to do with fire, or middle school arsonists. It talks about the challenges of middle school and offers thoughts and advice from middle school students. For me, one of the best pieces of advice from the book came from a student interview. The student said something to the effect of, “In middle school, we want to be treated like independent adults, but also want people to still see us as kids.” It really affected how I treat my students. I give them options so they can make choices like grown adults, but give enough guidance so they aren’t in the decision making process alone. When in the classroom, I make sure to mix “adult” talk with “kid-friendly” activities.
  3. Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others (Shane J. Lopez, PhD). West Allis-West Milwaukee is also beginning to introduce hope into the schools this year. It has been found that students who have hope are more successful in school, are usually happier, and are more able to overcome obstacles in their life. This book provides anecdotes, as well as thorough research about the benefits of having hope and how it can transform your life.
  4. The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School – Bullies, Brands, Body Image, and More (Haley Kilpatrick with Whitney Joiner). Who can forget their years in middle school? When I think back to mine, they were surrounded by drama – who was friends with who, who was “popular” and who was not, and the all-important who has a crush on who. The Drama Years discusses middle school drama from a middle school perspective. Kilpatrick weaves her own tales from middle school with anecdotes and advice from middle school girls who want to explain why the drama occurs. I think this is a great read for anyone with a girl, since drama can be an integral part of life, regardless of age!

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