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Game On: Book-Inspired Apps, Middle School Edition

There are loads of book-inspired apps and some are downright addicting. While you won’t want to run these apps during class time, they would be great fun to introduce during an afterschool program or an extracurricular book club meeting, especially if some of them are titles under discussion. Either way, be sure to have the copies of the books on hand for students who would like to borrow them.

If you don’t remember how awkward adolescence sometimes felt, I have a book and an app for you. In Meg Haston’s How to Rock Braces and Glasses (Little, Brown, 2011), an eye infection and a rolling rink accident result in a pair of thick glasses and a set of braces for the reigning queen of Marquette Middle School, Kacey Simon. Soon Kacey’s status plummets, a YouTube video mocking her goes viral, and the girl loses a part in the school play. For blunt-to-the-core Kacey this change in social standing has a few positive aspects (including a guy) and leads to (some) self-awareness. The app (same title) offers the first four chapters of the book and a “Brace Yourself” activity. To play, a viewer centers his or her face and a toothy smile over a pair of glasses and braces and snaps a photo. There are a number of specs to choose from (red frames, purple shades, etc.), but no matter which pair is selected, the odds are against a flattering photo. It’s irresistible silliness that can be shared with friends via email.

At the start of Heather Brewer’s ‘Vladimir Tod’ series, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites (Dutton, 2007), readers are introduced to Vlad, a half-vampire, half-human teen who hungers for blood. In the High School Bites app it’s Pac-Man-like creatures that are out to devour game pieces. Players progress from one level (or grade) to the next until they reach high school graduation. They can set the speed and level of difficulty, turn the sound effects on or off, and record high scores. While the thirst for vampire stories may be waning slightly, this app is an addiction in the making, even for someone who graduated from high school way back when.

Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate needs no introduction with kids. He debuted as a comic strip character and now stars in a series of books. Peirce’s next title, Big Nate Goes For Broke (HarperCollins), is due out in March. In the meantime, fans of can draw their own panels featuring the irrepressible sixth grader, his friends, and classmates with the Big Nate Comix by U! app. Viewers have multiple options as they create comics including “story starters” that offer a variety of classroom scenes populated by characters from the series–Nate, Gina, Teddy, Mrs. Godfrey, Spitsy, and others. Or, if they prefer, they can begin with blank panels, adding background colors, props, dialogue, figures, and sound effects. For each character a number of  poses are available. When completed, the comic strip can be stored in a gallery and/or emailed to a friend. The possibilities are endless.


  1. […] talks about expanding the world of your novel to keep readers interested; Daryl Grabarek lists some book-inspired apps for middle school kids; and Rachelle Gardner gives us 5 reasons to embrace the brave new world of social media instead of […]