One of the things that I love most about teaching is the opportunity to put good books in the hands of kids. There is something so awesome about finding the right book for the right student. I have worked to build a pretty extensive classroom library filled with quality, engaging books. Here are some books that my students have been loving lately:
Holes by Louis Sachar is one of my absolute favorite books, and it has quickly become the favorite of my students as well. Many of them have seen the movie but I am always quick to let them know that the book is way, way better! The writing in this book is absolutely superb and engaging. The first line draws you in – There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. I also think that the rag-tag band of campers and Stanley’s own journey draw the students in. When students are finished with this book, I often recommend Small Steps (a companion novel to Holes), Freak, the Mighty (a book focusing on another boy friendship) or the Gregor the Overlander series (for the adventure factor). I have found that Holes really does appeal to all readers!
Another book that I can’t keep on my library shelves is Wonder. I had heard about this book on Twitter (a great way for teachers to network) and on several blogs that I follow. Seeing that it had multiple starred reviews, I knew that I had to read it immediately. I was blown away by Auggie’s story. Inspired, in part, by Natalie Merchant’s song Wonder, as well as a personal experience of author R.J. Palacio, this book shares the story of August Pullman. This soon-to-be fifth grader is pretty typical – loves to hang out with friends, fan of Star Wars – except for one thing: he has a severe facial deformity. Told from multiple POVs, this book is amazing and speaks to the power of courage and kindness. When I get new books in the classroom, I often book talk them and then read an excerpt to whet their appetites. After I did that for Wonder, every students’ hands shot up to read this book. I highly recommend this for your students.
If you are familiar with Dan Gutman’s books, you know that they have great kid appeal, are hilarious and are full of adventure. His latest book, The Genius Files: Never Say Genius is no exception. The first Genius Files book, Mission Unstoppable, has been an extremely popular book in my classroom – so much so that I had to purchase additional copies AND reserve it at the public library to get it into as many hands as possible. Needless to say, many of my students had a countdown for Never Say Genius (and many had pre-ordered it themselves). This book continues the story of Coke and Pepsi McDonald, twins who may be joining a secret group of child geniuses. Not before they escape danger first, though! Coke, Pepsi and their parents continue their long distance road trip with the twins working to thwart the evil Archie Clone. My students love following the journey on Google Maps and the pictures of the different attractions. This book is a fun, fast-paced and accessible read.
When I think about purchasing non-fiction books for my classroom, I keep two goals in mind. First, I want to expose my students to new ideas, concepts, and topics. I want them to learn about outer space, weird animals, important moments in history, etc. Secondly, though, I want some books to meet them where their interests lie. I have a lot of students who play and watch football so this next book was a perfect choice for them. Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey is the young readers version of Tim Tebow’s adult bestseller. The students love reading about his early life and college years. This book also has a poster as well.
I am really excited about some books that I just ordered for my classroom. One of my favorite books growing up was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was thrilled to find out that Ellen Potter had written a new book called The Humming Room inspired by this classic story. While it has some modern updates (the main character, Roo, has drug dealers for parents, and she is orphaned when they are murdered), I have read that it shares the same heart with the classic. I love modernizing of classic stories (Briar Rose by Jane Yolen is one of my all-time favorites), and I cannot wait to get my hands on this one and share it with my students.
My students are also huge fans of author Kate Messner. We were so excited to find out that she had written a sciency dystopian called Eye of the Storm. When we Skyped with her last year, she shared with us the cover (amazing, dark and twisty) and an excerpt from the book. As we loved books like The Line by Teri Hall, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, I thought that this would be a perfect fit for our library. There is even a discussion and teaching guide if you want to use it as a small group or class read.
I would love to know what classic, new or up-coming books you are excited about for your classroom. I always am looking for different books to add to our classroom library!