Middle School to Young Adult Books

Theme: The World of Music and the Arts

Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance - (ISBN: 978-0471211525)

by Jim Haskins, Eleanora E. Tate, Clinton Cox, and Brenda Wilkinson

Featuring biographical details about 24 of the most accomplished artists from the Harlem Renaissance, this book is one of a series of “Black Stars” books that inspire and educate readers about the accomplishments of African Americans. Learn about famous and also less well-known musicians from this breakthrough time!

Chasing Vermeer - (ISBN: 978-0439372978 )

by Blue Balliett

Two eleven-year-old adventurers meet on a field trip to an art museum and soon get caught up in the chase for a stolen Vermeer painting. Clues in finding the masterpiece include plenty of puzzles, pentominos (mathematical puzzle pieces), and a mysterious book. Readers can help solve the crime along with the protagonists.

Crazy Vanilla - (ISBN: 978-0330303408 )

by Barbara Wersba

Two troubled teenagers come together after discovering a shared love for wildlife photography. While pursuing this art, the more naïve boy of the pair learns coping techniques from the more worldly girl, and their family problems recede.

King of Shadows - (ISBN: 978-1416905325 )

by Susan Cooper

An aspiring young American actor, hoping to perform at the Globe Theater in England, wakes up at the Globe all right, but in 1522. Find out what happens with this young man who has unwittingly time traveled and exchanged places with another adolescent infected with bubonic plague. After becoming mentored by the great Shakespeare himself, our hero revels in the poetry of this great playwright, learns about the art and times of the original Globe Theater, and comes to terms with a mystery in his own life.

The Diary of a Drummer Boy - (ISBN: 978-0761313885 )

by Marlene Targ Brill

In this fictionalized diary of a real Civil War youngster, readers follow Orion from the time he begins drumming at church until he is a regular member of the Union army, playing his drum to inspire men to join and fight for the North. Startling paintings and portraits accompany the text to help the history of this time period come alive.

The Mozart Season - (ISBN: 978-0439163095 )

by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Young Allegra is a typical adolescent trying to balance her family life with her personal interests in playing in the Mozart violin competition while enjoying summer and figuring out the mysteries of growing up. Though her life gets more complicated by the end of the book, her determined spirit and the book’s beautiful writing style carry readers to an astonishing conclusion.

Where We Are What We See: Poems, Essays, and Art from the Best Young Writers and Artists in America - (ISBN: 978-0439736466 )

by David Levithan, ed.

A truly inspirational collection of artistic and literary accomplishments of the younger generation, this book showcases works from middle school and high school students. It offers freshness, creativity, and promise of further future achievements, all set in a beautiful and well-arranged setting.

Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate: Looking At The Harlem Renaissance Through Poems - (ISBN: 978-0805034943 )

by Nikki Giovanni

The Shakespeare Stealer - (ISBN: 978-0141305950 )

by Gary Blackwood

The Slave Dancer - (ISBN: 978-0440961321 )

by Paula Fox

The Wright 3 - (ISBN: 978-0439693677 )

by Blue Balliett

You Are Here This Is Now: The Best Young Writers and Artists in America - (ISBN: 978-0439376181 )

by David Levithan, ed

Activities for this Theme

Check out more of the “Black Star” titles about famous African Americans.

Find and attend free concerts offered by high schools, colleges, and universities in your area.

Volunteer to work behind the scenes when your teenager’s middle or high school is putting on a play. Interested teens can try out for parts in the play, the orchestra for a school musical, or as part of the stage help.

Many communities offer “Shakespeare Under the Stars” nights when a Shakespeare play is performed outside for free. Read the play and attend its performance.

Visit art galleries and museums in your own town or city. Many such places are small and do not advertise, but they often open their doors to the public at no charge. Look under “Museums” in your local phone book to find this great cultural opportunity!

Look in the newspaper and on bulletin boards at your library for poetry readings or open-mike performances at area cafes. Go together and stop to talk to the poet or musician about what he/she does.

Try taking photos of unusual things with a digital camera. Make a slide show on your computer and guess what the objects are.

At the holiday season, watch the newspaper for Messiah singalongs and take the family. Share the joy of making music together or seeing other amateurs enjoying themselves!