You shared, we listened! These are YOUR favorite books to teach in school.
Last year as a part of our Summer of Literacy program, we asked teachers to name their favorite books to teach in class. We received a list of more than 40 books teachers love to teach in school and after we shared the list on Facebook, even more recommendations came pouring in. So, we’re highlighting some of the most mentioned titles from this past school year in our new Teachers Pick list below! (See last year’s list here.)
The 15 most popular books to teach in school (2015–2016):
1. The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
The ordinary, everyday routines of the Watsons — an African American family living in Flint, Michigan — are drastically changed after they visit Grandma in Alabama during the summer of 1963.
“I teach in a predominantly white district, so our kids don’t really know or understand the Civil Rights Movement. I have created an entire unit that introduces the movement to my 7th graders before we begin the book. It is always one of the most successful, and moving, units of the year.” — Tamara Eckstein Miller, teacher at Pinconning Area Schools
2. The BFG by Roald Dahl
Sophie meets a giant who doesn’t want to crush her bones. Unlike Bloodbottler, who wants to eat little children like Sophie, the BFG is a lovable goofball that even helps Sophie stop the mean giants from going to England to eat children. Together, the brave little girl and friendly giant embark on a grand adventure.
Now a major motion picture! See what other popular reads have been adapted for the big screen here.
3. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Ivan is a captive gorilla that has been stuck behind a glass enclosure inside a shopping mall for 27 years. While the glass box is nothing like the jungle he came from, he adapts to it, learning to watch television, paint, and make new friends from within the box. His entire life changes when a baby elephant named Ruby brings a new, fresh perspective to his never-changing life.
“The best hands down.” — Kammera Rice, teacher at Sandusky City Schools
4. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Charlotte’s Web is a timeless tale for readers of 8 to 12 years of age. Following the story of a pig named Wilbur, his relationship with a clever spider named Charlotte, and a girl named Fern, this tender novel discusses themes of friendship, love, life, and death.
5. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
After 13-year-old Brian Robeson’s plane crashes, he finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present. He doesn’t have time for self-pity, anger, or despair. It will take all the determination and courage he has to survive.
6. Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
A classic work of fiction grounded in the history of North America, The Sign of the Beaver follows the story of Matt — a thirteen-year-old who must defend his home after his father leaves and his gun is taken away from him. He befriends a young boy named Attean, a member of the Beaver clan, and begins to learn how white settlers have affected the natives of the territory.
“Loved how it relates to Indiana history for pioneer background.” — Susan Ertel Patterson
“This is one of my favorites too. It is such a great story.” — Carolyn Webb Otto
7. Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. From ten-year-old India Opal Buloni’s point of view, the dog is the reason she begins to make friends and asks her father about her mother who left when Opal was three. In fact, everything that happens that summer after she finds Winn-Dixie happens because of Winn-Dixie.
8. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Marty will do anything to save his best friend, a dog named Shiloh. He hides the dog, protecting him from his original owner, Judd, who drinks too much, has a gun, and abuses Shiloh. But this secret soon becomes too big to hide and Marty’s entire family is exposed to Judd’s anger.
9. The Giver by Lois Lowry
When 12-year-old Jonas is assigned as Receiver of Memory in his uniform and seemingly utopian community, he begins to see what’s really going on in this “perfect” world.
This book was featured as one of our 15 Best Education Books of 2015!
10. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A dramatic and enduring work of fiction, The Outsiders is a heroic story of friendship and belonging, told through the eyes of a boy on the outskirts of regular society.
11. Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
First discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, this diary has become an internationally classic that reminds us of the horrors of war as well as the power of the human spirit.
12. Call of the Wild by Jack London
Kidnapped from his home, Buck — a half st. bernard and half shepherd — must learn to survive in the wild as a sled dog. But the greatest lesson he learns is from his last owner, John Thornton: the power of love and loyalty.
13. Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Mr. Terupt is the new 5th grade teacher at Snow Hill School and it isn’t long before he wins over his students with his engaging lessons and how he encourages each of them to do better. But one snowy day, everything changes.
14. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Tuck Everlasting is the story of a family that has been blessed with — or doomed to — immortality. The tale explores the age-old question: What if you could live forever?
15. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
This beloved classic about a boy and his dogs teaches two timeless lessons: that hope can grow out of despair and that the seeds of the future can stem from scars of the past.
“When I got to this part of the book, I’d ask the children what they thought a ghost coon looked like. We’d talk about it and I’d have them color pictures. The next day, I’d bring in [my] ‘ghost coon’ visual — their reaction was priceless!!” — Lisa Harper Hughes
What’s your favorite book to teach in class and why? Leave a comment below to share your story!
Find the perfect books to add to your curriculum!
Our 2016–2017 Education Catalogs have everything you need to find new books to incorporate in your classroom. Packed with over 100 title suggestions sorted by grade level, these guides highlight this year’s most popular and trending books for you to consider for your class, school, or school district. Get your free guides by clicking on the banner below:
This post was written by Elizabeth Lee, the marketing associate at BookPal. She is currently reading The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin and Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli.