After fourteen years in the classroom, I know it’s coming. Towards the end of July my mind automatically begins to turn to the classroom. And as I set up the room, plan units and lessons, I also begin to plan the books I will share this year. Some titles have been shared before; some are new for this school year. All I am excited to share. The following is not an exhaustive list of the books we will discuss in my classroom this year, just the top ten I am excited about.
1. Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
This is a newer book to me. I enjoyed Wilson’s book Dragon’s Tooth so I picked up Leepike Ridge. Thomas is eleven years old and takes a ride down a river one night and ends up swept away with the current and sucked into a series of underground caverns with no means of escape. Tom finds a dog, a dead body, graves, and a new friend while in these caverns searching for a way home.
2. The Secret of the Fortune Wookie by Tom Angleberger
This is one of two books on this list that I haven’t read yet. Why would I feel confident saying I know I will share this one? Because Tom Angleberger doesn’t steer us in the wrong direction. First there was Origami Yoda and Darth Paper. Don’t forget Horton Halfpott or Fake Mustache either! My students read Tom’s books as fast as he can write them.
3. A Meal of the Stars by Dana Jensen
A friend sent me this book this summer. What a fun book of poems. Each page has a poem and you have to decide whether you read it down or up. My youngest loves it and I love that it requires him to ask, “Does this make sense?” as he reads. Great for comprehension.
4. Babymouse for President by Jennifer Holm
This is the other book on the list I haven’t read yet. However I adore the first 15 Babymouse books so I know this is one I will be sharing this year. Haven’t met a 1st-5th grader yet that doesn’t adore Babymouse. This is a must-read and must-share series.
5. Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
My students adore this picture book because it is fun. I love using it during writing workshop to discuss making “craft choices.” Whether it is in regard to punctuation (ellipses abound) or the placement of sentences, this is a wonderful book to share.
6. Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
I was introduced to Mattie in this wonderful novel last year. Quiet Mattie reminded me of another student in my class. In fact I usually have at least one “Mattie” each year. I left it on her desk in the fall with a note that said, “Read this, I thought of you.” She recommended it to others at the end of the year with the quote, “I knew Mrs. S saw me when she gave me this book. You might be a Mattie too.” This book lives in my heart.
7. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Wow. I read this at the start of 2012 and automatically knew students would love it. The format, free verse poetry, is a favorite for many of them. But living in Ivan’s head; seeing the world the way he sees it; and his love for Ruby, Stella, and Bob make it memorable. This is a book that will be shared for years in my classroom.
8. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
This book made my fifth graders howl with laughter. They quickly joined teams – team rabbit, team bear, team armadillo. (??) We discussed the ending over and over. And they squealed with delight upon seeing rabbit and bear in Extra Yarn. The companion book This is Not My Hat comes out this fall. I know we will discuss it as well.
9. Wonder by RJ Palacio
A book has not stolen my heart like Wonder in a long time. Auggie is such an amazing character, but I think it is the whole story, seeing into other characters’ minds; understanding even good people make mistakes; understanding the consequences of small actions that make this an amazing book to read. This is my first read aloud of the year.
10. What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan
This is my first read aloud of the year on the first day of school. It is also my last read aloud on the last day of school. I like the idea of talking about what we bring to the class on that first day and then talking about what we know that we are taking with us on the last day. It never fails to make me cry. I think it is the simplisticness of the text. I believe it is one of the most beautiful books ever written and I want my students to see the beauty of books to start and end the year with me.
So there you have it! Ten books that I know I will be sharing with my fifth graders this school year. How about you? Do you have any favorites you know you will be sharing? Please tell us in the comments.
Katherine Sokolowski has taught for fourteen years and currently teaches fifth grade. She is passionate about reading both in her classroom and also with her two sons. When not recommending books to strangers in the library or the bookstore, Katherine can be found writing at her blog: http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/. You can find her on Twitter as @katsok.