This Reading List Works with Kids Who Love Reading and Those Who Don't!


Reading list?!? 

You mean we have to endure yet ANOTHER list? 

I'm thinking that you'll agree with me--it's time-consuming to wade through all of the thousands of lists that we seem to encounter everywhere. 

To me, it all boils down to two questions. What will kids REALLY like? And, just importantly, which books will kids totally ignore? 

What follows on this page springs from a combination of personal experience as a teacher, suggestions from my colleagues, and a lot of trial and error over the years. 

I'm not claiming that this is the book list to end all book lists, but I AM suggesting that this is an excellent starting point for helping to get young people enthused about reading. 

Quick Links for THIS Page

You may use the following quick links to go directly to what interests you on this page. You may also scroll down the page manually if you choose to do so. 

Book Adventure

I think so highly of this site that this is probably the third or fourth time I've mentioned it on Daily Teaching Tools. 

Book Adventure is a FREE reading motivation program for children in grades K-8. Kids create their own reading lists from over 7,000 recommended titles, take multiple choice quizzes on the books they've read, and earn points and prizes for their literary successes. reading list

What I like best is the spiders that crawl this site. The kids take a reading and interest survey, and the spiders steer students toward books that they believe kids will like. The results, I have to say, are impressive. reading list

Even reluctant readers end up with books that they truly enjoy reading. reading list

And, even better, students have to actually READ the books in order to be able to pass a 10 point quiz upon completion.

The Goldilocks Test

This is a tool that may help to match the appropriate book with a particular kid. reading list

Although some kids are eager to read, many of them just simply don't want to. As I've mentioned several times on this website, students at Twin Lakes were expected to read 25 books in a school year. reading list

With that kind of pressure, kids would deliberately pick books for their reading lists that were much too easy for them to read. After all, that made the task much less formidable. The end result, of course, is that they WERE reading, but they weren't getting much benefit from it. reading list

That's where The Goldilocks Test comes in. reading list

Students ask themselves the following yes/no questions. Then, "Goldilocks" gives them some guidance on their reading list choices. reading list

Have you read the book lots of times before?
Do you understand the story very well?
Do you know almost every word?
Can you read it smoothly?

The book is too easy.

Is this book new to you?
Do you understand a lot of the book?
Are there just one or two words a page you don't know?
When you read, are some places smooth and some choppy?
Do you have to think as you read?

This book is just right.

Are there more than five words on a page you don't know?
Are you confused about what is happening in most of this book?
When you read it, does it sound really choppy?
Are you finding that you're just not enjoying this book?

This book is too hard.

The Goldilocks Test is a free download. There are two per sheet and they can be duplicated and given to your kids. 

Newbery Medal Winners for 2016

What better books to recommend for reading lists than the Newbery Medal Winners? 

The 2016 Newbery Medal winner is . . .

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin)

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby.

Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

The following are Newbery Honor Books for 2016: 

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin)

Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. 

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin)

For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead.

And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship.

As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl. 

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press/Scholastic Inc.)

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica. 

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives.

All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. 

Newbery Medal Winners for 25 Years Prior

2015 Medal Winner: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 

2014: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press) 

2013: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate(HarperCollins Children's Books)

2012: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux)

2011: Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc)

2010: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books) 

2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (HarperCollins) 

2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick) 

2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illustrated by Matt Phelan (Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson) 

2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins) 

2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster) 

2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)

2003: Crispin: The Cross of Leadby Avi (Hyperion Books for Children)

2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin)

2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (Dial)

2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte)

1999: Holes by Louis Sachar (Frances Foster)

1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Scholastic) 

1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (Jean Karl/Atheneum) 

1996: The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman (Clarion) 

1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins) 

1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry(Houghton) 

1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (Jackson/Orchard) 

1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum) 

1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Little, Brown) 

Caldecott Medal Winners for 2016

For more reluctant readers, the Caldecott Medal Winners are excellent choices for high-quality reading materials.

Yes, they DO have more pictures and illustrations than the Newbery award winning books. However, young readers are intrigued by excellent pictures and illustrations--kids WILL read these! 

The 2016 Caldecott Medal winner is . . . 

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, written by Lindsay Mattick (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war. 

Harry Colebourn's real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey--from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England... 

And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin. 

The following are Caldecott Honor Books for 2016:

Trombone Shorty, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Troy Andrews and published by (Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS)

Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest. 

Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music.

Waiting, illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)

What are you waiting for? An owl, a puppy, a bear, a rabbit, and a pig—all toys arranged on a child’s windowsill—wait for marvelous things to happen in this irresistible picture book by the New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes. 

Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected? 

Caldecott Medal Winners for 25 Years Prior

2015: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat (Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.)

2014: Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)

2013: This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press) 

2012: A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.)

2011: The Hello, Goodbye Window Illustrated by Chris Raschka, written by Norton Juster (Michael di Capua/Hyperion) 

2010: The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown and Company) 

2009: The House in the Night illustrated by Beth Krommes, written by Susan Marie Swanson (Houghton Mifflin Company) 

2008: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic) 

2007: Flotsam by David Wiesner (Clarion) 

2006: The Hello, Goodbye Window Illustrated by Chris Raschka, written by Norton Juster (Michael di Capua/Hyperion) 

2005: Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollinsPublishers) 

2004: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein (Roaring Brook Press/Millbrook Press) 

2003: My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann (Roaring Brook Press/Millbrook Press) 

2002: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin) 

2001: So You Want to Be President? Illustrated by David Small; text by Judith St. George (Philomel Books) 

2000: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback (Viking) 

1999: Snowflake Bentley, Illustrated by Mary Azarian; text by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Houghton) 

1998: Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky (Dutton) 

1997: Golem by David Wisniewski (Clarion) 

1996: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann (Putnam) 

1995: Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz; text: Eve Bunting (Harcourt) 

1994: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say; text: edited by Walter Lorraine (Houghton) 

1993: Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully (Putnam) 

1992: Tuesday by David Wiesner (Clarion Books) 

1991: Black and White by David Macaulay (Houghton) 

1990: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young (Philomel) 

Top 10 Graphic Novels for 2016

If kids are having a difficult time making a reading list, graphic novels may be an option. 

As you can imagine, these are EXTREMELY popular with young readers--especially the reluctant ones. 

Although I am not aware of any award medals going to artists and writers who produce graphic novels, I DO know that the American Library Association publishes an annual list of the top 10 graphic novels for teens. 

Here are the top 10 graphic novels for 2016:r

Awkward, illustrated and written by Svetlana Chmakova (Yen Press)

Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don't get noticed by the mean kids. 

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them. 

On her first day at her new school, Penelope--Peppi--Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she's already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the "nerder girlfriend." How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away! 

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, illustrated and written by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina's monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. 

One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality. 

Lumberjanes, written by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters. Illustrated by Brooke Allen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Five best friends spending the summer at Lumberjane scout camp...defeating yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons...what’s not to love?! 

Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

Ms. Marvel, Volume 2: Generation Why, by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Jacob Wyatt and Adrian Alphona (Marvel Comics) 

Nimona, written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen) 

Roller Girl, written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books for Young Readers) 

Sacred Heart, written and illustrated by Liz Suburbia (Fantagraphics) 

A Silent Voice, Volume 1, written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Oima (Kodansha Comics) 

Trashed, written and illustrated by Derf Backderf (ComicArts) 

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Ryan North and illustrated by Jacob Wyatt and Erica Henderson (Marvel Comics) 

My Kids' Favorite Books

I almost didn't include this on this page of reading lists, but I thought, why not?
reading list
Having been charged with the task of getting my students to read 25 books in a school year, I learned their reading preferences rather thoroughly.
reading list
Other than the Potter series and the Twilight series, the books in my classroom library that proved to be the most popular with MY kids were as follows (they're not presented in any particular order): 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Holes by Louis Sachar

Hoot by Carol Hiaasen

A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin

Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan

Esparanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The Cay by Theodore Taylor

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

My kids also enjoyed ANY books by the following authors: 

  • Avi
  • Gary Paulsen
  • Lois Lowry
  • Sharon Creech
  • Katherine Paterson
  • Jerry Spinelli
  • Walter Dean Myers
  • Madeleine L'Engle
  • C. S. Lewis
  • Karen Cushman
  • Richard Peck

Language Arts Presenter

I know that this is a shameful plug, but Language Arts Presenter contains two mini-lessons that are appropriate to mention here.
reading list
Introducing Literature (found in the Literature Bundle) contains an excellent, if I do say so myself, presentation on the value of literature and how the genres of literature are related.

Here is a fully-functioning free trial.

The Importance of Reading (also found in the Literature Bundle) makes it very clear to students why it is so important to value reading. The free trial may be downloaded here. 

Both of these lessons would serve you well, whether you're dealing with students who like to read or students who are reluctant.
reading list
Hey, if I can't plug my own products, who's going to do it for me?

PowerPoint Presentation for 100 Books

Somewhere in my cyber wanderings, I luckily stumbled upon a PowerPoint resource that I found for free. 

This presentation is called, Books, Books, and More Books: A Parent and Teacher's Guide to Contemporary Adolescent Literature compiled by Lu Ann Brobst Staheli. 

It features 100 books and includes the title, the author, the summary, photos of the front covers of the books, and an approximate age recommendation.

The most obvious benefit of this resource is the book recommendations for reading lists; however, I have used it for additional purposes. For example, I made full 8 x 10 color prints of the individual slides on card stock paper (with a minimum paperweight of 65 pounds) and used them for display purposes. 

I used them for my "Book of the Week" display right outside my classroom door, and I featured several of them on a special bulletin board across the hall labeled, "Books that Are Hot Right Now." 

If you would like a free copy of this PowerPoint presentation, you may download it here

Conclusion of Reading List

I'm guessing that it's more than likely that you are NOT charged with the task of getting your kids to read 25 books in the school year, as I was. 

However, I think we ALL agree that reading is critically important for kids--particularly in this, the Age Of Information. 

Finding books that they really want to read can be a challenge, but I'm hoping that the resources presented here will be of service to you and your kids. 

Return to Daily Teaching Tools from Reading List

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