The Official Student News Site of Westlake Middle School

The World of Books

March 16, 2021

“Read, read, read.” You’ve at least heard this once in your life — and you should! According to the University of Minnesota, reading not only makes individuals smarter but can also reduce stress. In fact, it’s a much better stress reliever than other relaxation methods as it can reduce stress by up to 68% — at least from a 2009 study at the University of Sussex.  The Yale University of Public Health also found that those who were reading more than 3 1/2 hours a week were 23 % less likely to die within the next 12 years than those who did not.

There are countless other pros of reading books, but all these results only happen when the reading is enjoyable. So, we compiled a list of book recommendations for you, given by some of our Westlake community.


But What Type of Book?

Some non-readers who responded to our survey explained that they don’t have time to read or rather spend time on other things than reading.

Then, I suggest audiobooks… at least for some occasions.

Cody Kommers, a Ph.D. student at Oxford explains it well, saying that audiobooks are handy when we wouldn’t engage in books otherwise, like while walking or exercising. However, difficult material may not work for listening, but in Kommers’ own experience, it’d be better than other options.

Other non-readers state that reading is boring and tedious. 8th-grade math teacher Mrs. Caroline Flowers suggests that non-readers should take up graphic novels. Not only do they help develop reading skills, but most are also easy to follow. As a comic reader myself, the art only adds to my engagement to a story. In addition, the “chortles” and “WHAM”s and “beep”s are fun. Just reading those onomatopoeias makes me chuckle.

One graphic novel I absolutely recommend is Space Boy by Stephen McCranie. It’s an ongoing sci-fi, drama, and mystery series revolving around the main character, Amy, who can taste/smell peoples’ flavors. After her dad loses his job in a space mining colony, Amy is sent off to Earth where she finds a peculiar student at her new school… and he doesn’t have a flavor. It’s an emotional gem that brought me so much warmth, thoughts, and happiness; I can’t stress how good it is!

Ms. Betsy Lyddon, a 6th-grade social studies teacher at Westlake, recommends Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper, a realistic fiction book and the first of the Hazelwood High Trilogy. “It tells the story of high school friends dealing with loss and tragedy in varying styles – diary entries, newspaper, clippings, character narratives.” But, she warns, it has some mature content.


Recommended Word Books

8th grader Kiana Wageman and Olivia Mraz became avid readers through the fantasy, drama, mystery series: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Kiana says, “When I was in second grade, I read Harry Potter, and that is when I started reading more. Harry Potter was one of the first very well-written books I read, and it made me want to read more.” If you don’t know this popular novel, the Harry Potter series is about an orphaned child of two wizards, navigating his way through Hogwarts, a school of magic, and his struggle against the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.

Forest McGill, another 8th grader at Westlake, suggests the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. “I would recommend this book because it is really engaging and full of action and well written. ” He says that when he read fantasy and action books, he “fell in love with reading fantasy with magic and battles and Greek/Roman/Norse/Egyptian mythology.” This series revolves around the Greek sea god’s son who tries to save other entities from an ancient nemesis.

6th grader Miles Keefauver proposes The Black Circle by Patrick Carman. This is the 5th book in The 39 Clues series and is a mystery and action piece revolving around “…a super serum that makes anyone who drinks it the most powerful person on the planet” according to Miles. He writes, “Since the mystery in the book series are related to the past it is much easier for me to understand the mystery, which makes it easier for me to solve, unlike other mystery books where the reader doesn’t have any background knowledge about a nonexistent world making it harder to solve the mystery.”

7th-grade language arts teacher Ms. Shannon Wilson recommends Watson’s Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis as it’s “a great book with history and humor!” It’s historical fiction and a coming-of-age book about an African-American family’s trip during the Civil Rights movement.

Mr. Terrell Price, the current Assistant Principal and the upcoming principal, suggests The Red Bandana, an informational book about “a young man’s life and keeping his legacy alive.” This inspiring story takes place during 9/11, the terrorist attacks that took down the Twin Towers.


Reading Tips

Megan Anderson, an 8th grader at Westlake, states that we should never give up reading until page 30. She says, “Once I figured out that I needed to get past Page 30 to be ‘hooked’ on a book, I became ‘hooked on reading’. On pages 1-10, I didn’t really care about the characters or their problems. I needed to have more time reading to begin to imagine them in my mind to care about them or their story.”

To reach page 30, I suggest that whenever you start reading, try to continue for as long as you can — or at least read it frequently. I find that if you stop, there might not be enough motivation to continue.  If there’s no motivation to continue, you’ll think about the book less often. Thus, it’s much harder to get back into the book.


Reader or not, hopefully we’ve given you some stories that will bring you some enjoyment!