My Top Ten Most Important Books

When I volunteered to create a “Top Ten” list for the Nerdy Book Club, I mulled over the possibilities. Many different lists popped into my mind, but it was in reading with my youngest son, Liam, that the idea firmly took hold. I wanted to create the Top Ten Most Important Books to me. (Disclaimer, this is my Top Ten Most Important Books – as of 11:03 pm on 1/10/12. These things change as you find new books, but as members of NBC, you already knew that)

1. Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban

This was the book my parents gave me at the age of two and again at four when a sibling was enroute. I poured over this book, the entire series in fact. At the age of 37, almost 38, I still remember that Frances favorite food was bread and jam – something I tried to copy to be more like her.

2. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

I think this is the book that made me a reader and a teacher. It was the first time I realized that they way I read a book mattered to others. I could make them laugh when I wanted. I could make kids beg to hear it again. (Oh, the power!) I adored this book and still love sharing it with students and my own children.

3. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret? by Judy Blume

Man alive, I am surprised my copy of this book didn’t just fall apart. I lost count of how many times I read it from second through fifth grade. Upon rereading it this summer after twenty-six years away, I knew immediately that Margaret borrows a yellow swimsuit from her friend. I remembered the clothes she wore to the party. And I still remember asking my mom why Margaret was so worried about punctuation when I first read it in second grade. Life lessons, I tell you.

4. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

So anyone who knows me in real life might know that I can be stubborn. I was often grounded from TV when I was growing up. I heard, during ninth grade, that a mini-series was going to be on TV and it was based around a famous book. I’d do anything to watch TV at that point so I created a persuasive paper (my dad’s a lawyer) detailing the reasons my parents should lift my grounding. I won and watched the amazing mini-series. I then bought the book and read it multiple times. One of my most memorable reading experiences from high school.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I still remember watching The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1999 when she talked about this series. The first three books were out and I immediately bought them. To say I devoured the series is a serious understatement. I credit these books for bringing me back to children’s literature (I was just becoming a teacher). I still haven’t watched the last movie, although I own it, because I don’t want the experience to be over, yet.

6. Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

I plan on writing a retro review – either here or at my own site for this book so I won’t say too much. What I will mention is that I read this book in my first year of teaching and made a HUGE mistake. I did not read the book before assigning it to my class. And so, on the final day of the unit, I began reading the book in a circle with my students. I reached a certain point – and if you are familiar with the book at all you know what I’m talking about – and I let out a gasp and began to sob. The ugly kind of cry you don’t want to do in front of students. Fortunately my cousin was in that first class. He picked up a box of Kleenex and told me to keep going.

7. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

We’ve talked about this book so much, on Twitter and on personal blogs. What I love about this book is that it shows exactly what I think all great books can do, bring people together. I think of my Twitter friends each and every time I read this book to a class.

8. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Simply put, this book is important to me because it is the first book I read to my children. I knew it by heart so on those nights where you were too tired to do anything else, I could recite it from memory. It exemplifies my belief that reading is important when children are small because I know I read it the first week of each of my boys’ lives.

9. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This book stands out for many reasons. It is one of my favorite read alouds to my students. Even more than that, my son, Luke, loves this book. We traveled six hours round trip to see Rick Riordan speak. We’ve seen the movies together, read the books together. It is what made him love reading.

10. Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

And with this book, I come full circle. My son, Liam, is six years old. Reading has been a struggle but in the last two months he has taken off. Just the other night I brought Biscuit home. In his room I went to read it to him and he said, “Let me try.” He did and I could see the pride in his eyes. He told me that book made him feel like a reader, and for that I am grateful. And on my trip to the library today he asked for more.

And there you have it! Ten books that mean a lot to me. How about you? Anything familiar here or share your favorites in the comments.

Katherine Sokolowski

Katherine 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: