One of the most common questions, I get when talking to teachers about planning book clubs is ‘What are the best books to use for a successful round of book clubs?’ The best answer to this question is – books you know will interest your students. There’s no magic set of books or right list of books to use, it is simply about the books you know your students will enjoy. Choose books that work for your students, books your students will find entertaining.
Choose books that have a variety of content and topics to appeal to different student interests and backgrounds. Make sure to give students a variety of choices so they can select something they will enjoy reading. With some guidance and careful selection, you can create a successful book club experience for your students.
Be sure you have enough copies of them. You will need a minimum of 3-4 books per title depending on how many book choices you are going to offer. You will want each student in the group to have their own copy of the book. This way the students can interact with the text and engage more deeply.
Looking to incorporate book clubs in your class? Grab this checklist to help you plan your first successful round of book clubs!
Below are a few of the books I have offered for book clubs in recent years. Please use this list as a starting point for creating your own list of books. Remember the most important thing about choosing books it they must be books that are of interest to your students!
Three families go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge—each encountering seemingly insurmountable obstacles along their respective paths. But they are all united by one thing: hope—hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Though separated by time and space between continents spanning decades apart, Josef, Isabel and Mahmoud soon discover unexpected connections tying their stories together in an extraordinary way that will leave readers moved and inspired for years to come.
The Cross Over by Kwame Alexander
Josh and Jordan Bell are twelve-year-old twin brothers who excel at basketball, but Josh has something extra – he has mad beats that tell the story of his family through verse. When on the court, Josh and Jordan are an unstoppable duo; the energy is electric and their opponents quiver in their wake. Their talent is undeniable, but they must also come to grips with the fact that growing up means more than simply developing their basketball skills – it also means learning when to abide by the rules and understanding that not following them can have serious consequences.
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life and dreams of attending an art school to nurture his creativity. However, instead of realizing this dream, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academic excellence. Riverdale Academy Day School is located far from Jordan’s home in Washington Heights, New York and he soon discovers he is one of the few students of color in his grade. With no common ground between the two different worlds – one filled with wealth and privilege and the other with modest means and urban culture – Jordan finds himself stuck in the middle. He struggles to fit into his new environment while not losing touch with his old friends or himself.
Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper
Ever since she was a baby, it seemed as though Elyse had some kind of special power: whenever someone described her with a word – whether it be “cute,” “adorable,” or anything else – that word would instantly appear on her arms and legs.
Now twelve years old, Elyse is starting middle school and facing all the new challenges that come with it. To make matters worse, she’s also watching helplessly as her former friends slowly begin to drift away from her. One day, however, she receives an unexpected note from an anonymous sender which reads: “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” Determined to solve the mystery behind this mysterious note, Elyse embarks on a journey of self-discovery in order to accept who she is and become the best version of herself possible. Along the way, Elyse learns more about herself than ever before while also unlocking the truth behind who sent her the note in the first place.
Twelve-year-old Amal had big dreams of becoming a teacher one day, but her plans are abruptly halted when she unwittingly insults a member of the ruling family in her Pakistani village. As punishment, she is forced to leave her heartbroken family and go work at their estate. Despite feeling distraught, Amal musters up the courage to begin navigating the complex world of being a servant, filled with jealousies, pecking-order issues and even more insidious measures taken by the Khan family to remain in control over the village. It’s clear that if things are ever going to change for them and everyone else, someone needs to take a stand against them. Determined not to let this be in vain, Amal devotes herself to uncovering all the secrets and manipulations that keep the Khan family in power in order to prove they’re unfit rulers. With bravery and resilience, Amal begins her journey of combating injustice so that she can save her village – and realize her original dream of becoming a teacher one day.
Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known – running away from his father, who terrorized him and his mother when he was little. Despite causing problems for those around him, Ghost is blessed with an incredible natural talent for running. When he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic medalist, the potential is unlocked and a path toward success is opened up for him. If Ghost can stay on track, both physically and metaphorically, Coach believes that he could become the best sprinter in the city. But with a troubled past constantly looming over him and threatening to derail his progress, it seems that it might be too tough a challenge for Ghost to overcome.
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
When Miranda and her family witness a meteor crashing down to Earth, they are filled with dread, knowing the devastation it will bring. With worldwide tsunamis wiping out coasts, earthquakes rocking continents, and volcanic ash blocking the sun, their home is soon stormed by an Arctic winter. In order to survive and keep hope alive, Miranda and her two brothers join forces with their mother and retreat to the one place their remaining resources can withstand the cold—the sunroom.
With limited food supplies, water, and heat provided by a wood-burning stove, Miranda must turn her fear into courage as she embarks on a journey of survival. She records everything in her journal entries as she struggles to hang on to optimism in an increasingly desperate environment. Through it all, Miranda learns how resourceful she can be in times of crisis as she uses her wit and strength of mind to help her family survive this life-altering event. The story speaks volumes about the power of resilience in even the most uncertain of circumstances.
Book clubs are a great way to engage your students in meaningful discussion and foster their love of reading. By choosing the right books that will appeal to their interests, you can create an enjoyable book club experience for your students.
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