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Libraries alive with middle-school readers, who reveal book trends

By BY KAYLA BELL AND ISABEL MCCAN - KBELL@VICAD.COM
Jan. 14, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 14, 2012 at 7:15 p.m.

Randall Gregory, eighth-grader at Howell. Book: "The Roar" by Emma Clayton. "I like it because she's very good when she describes things. It's full of action, drama and suspense and full of things you wish you could do, but you can't."

There's an ancient oasis - a place where ideas flow and minds meet in shared craze.

It's not silent - not at all - as lore would suggest. Rather it swells with discussion, debates and kids at the edge of their seats, unable to stop from interrupting each other as they reveal plot twists that have them on an imagination high.

It's the middle school library.

There are plenty of regulars at Victoria's four middle school libraries, who recently gathered to chat about the books and genres that keep them turning pages.

They're having at least as much fun as the librarians, who serve as enthusiastic shepherds to the kids' reading experience.

The librarians at Victoria's middle schools - Phyllis Malone at Patti Welder, Darla Fox at Cade, Clyde Beyer at Stroman and Jeanne Frontz at Howell - said they keep an ear to the wants of their students, which means constantly being on the lookout for interesting books and collaborating to rotate series through each of the schools.

With students bursting to discuss stories and characters with their friends, it's not surprising that a few trends have caught on in Victoria.

Of course, the "Twilight," "Harry Potter" and even the 20-year-old "Goosebumps" series are popular with students. Books turned into movies and scary stories are some of the most commonly requested, in fact.

But in the last few years, graphic novels have also caught on. Fantasies - whether it's zombies or kids with super-human powers - are a favorite, too.

Non-fiction? Not so much, unless it's "Guinness World Records," "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" or sometimes biographies.

Books that are part of a series particularly keep drawing students back into the library, which leaves librarians with a somewhat welcomed dilemma.

Take, for example, the "Bone" series of graphic novels.

"These never stay on the shelves. Kids like to read them in order, so they come in going 'Where's No. 4? Where's No. 9?'" Fox said.

That reminded one of her avid readers at Cade Middle School, Marshall Parsons, who chimed in.

"Mrs. Fox, I'm kind of looking for No. 7," he said.

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