- Teachers and librarians play a pivotal role in helping students find what–and how–they like to read
- Let’s take a look at some of the most-read titles by grade level
- See related article: I work with struggling readers–here’s what’s standing in their way
About five years ago, my New Year’s resolution was to read all the books on my bookshelf I’d never managed to crack. While that resolution was a complete failure (I still have unread books on my shelf), it reignited my love of reading.
Each year, I document my #BritReads reading journey on my social media channels. This year, I decided to bring #BritReads to life with my close family and friends. In lieu of a Christmas present, I’m buying each of them four books a year – books I’ve read or those that are at the top of my list to read. Rather than a one-size-fits-all #BritReads Book Club, I’m curating books just for each of them. For example, my Christmas movie-loving, hopeless-romantic childhood friend will not get my favorite thriller or whodunit!
Just like my little book club, as librarians and teachers, I know you’re looking to connect students with their next favorite book, which means you need to be ahead of the trends and know about the titles emerging as the next generation of books to remember. So, let’s take a look at what students are reading in school libraries and classrooms across the country. Here are the top requested titles according to trend reports in our industry:
In lower elementary, the most popular book (and my #BritReads pick for the little ones) is a picture book called The Smart Cookie by John Jory. It’s the fifth picture book in Jory’s series teaching life lessons using food, accompanied by The Cool Bean, which also tops the list. In The Smart Cookie, the cookie realizes that while school can be tough, with hard work, anyone can be smart in their own way. From friendly food… to animals. In the nonfiction section, the Who Would Win series is also a hit. Students love to learn about various species of animals like sharks, reptiles, and birds and select which species survives.
In upper elementary, Dog Man, The Baby-Sitters Club, and the I Survived series continue to be perennial favorites. In the world of nonfiction, students are starting to learn about race and history through books like Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know, and Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You. My #BritReads favorite for upper elementary school is a throwback to my childhood. I read every single book in The Baby-Sitters Club series as a child, so it’s heartwarming to see these Ann M. Martin characters as a part of young lives all over again.
In middle school, books about middle grade students navigating the world dominate the world of fiction, such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Jerry Craft’s New Kid. In nonfiction, students and teachers are gravitating toward true stories about normal people who accomplish extraordinary things such as I Am Malala, Hidden Figures, and Undefeated: Jim Thorp and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team. My #BritReads pick is Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African American Women Who Helped Launch our Nation into Space. I read the adult version as part of #BritReads21, but this one has been adapted for a younger audience, giving students an opportunity to learn about a group of women who were well ahead of their time!
As for high school and adult-level titles, many of the books that students are reading are required as part of the curriculum including classics like The Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, and A Raisin in the Sun. But the classics sit alongside modern fiction hits like The Hate U Give and The Hunger Games series. I was pleased to see I picked some winners for the first #BritReads Book Club mailing. Each of my journalist friends got a copy of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, which happens to be on the top of the adult nonfiction list. My #BritReads favorite, The Catcher in the Rye, is one of the inspirations behind my 5-month-old boy’s name – Holden!
Across all age levels, teachers and librarians continue to seek titles written by diverse authors featuring multi-cultural characters with social and emotional learning lessons. If it happens to be a part of a series, or graphic novel or Manga form…even better! You can check them all out on Titlewave.