My 7th graders wrapped up their final week of English by making a list of their Top Ten Books read this school year. It was no easy task, since many of them have read more than fifty great books since September. But they flipped through their reading letters and literature circles logs, negotiated with me ("How about if I list the whole series and that counts as one spot on the list, okay?"), and came up with a top ten. I promised them I’d use those lists to come up with a Team Top Books Extravaganza, which they could take to the library and bookstore this summer, give to their grandmothers or anyone else who wanted to buy them a present, and generally use to guide their summer reading.
Here’s how it works. I gave a book one point for appearing on a top ten list or two points for appearing in the top three. I should also say that certain books we read together are not on this list; I asked the kids to talk about their independent reading, so when you see great books like WHEN YOU REACH ME and others missing, that’s why. Here are the books my students included, listed in order of points received. Comments from me are in blue, because some of this list fascinated me and I have things to say.)
HUNGER GAMES & CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins (30 points)
These were, hands down, the most popular titles in my room this year — the books that the kids said, "You HAVE to read this." Loved equally by girls and boys.
WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson (25 points)
When I first read this book, I loved it but thought it would likely be too old for most of my 7th graders. After seeing a few check it out of the library, though, I included it as a selection for literature circles. The group of four girls and one boy who read WINTERGIRLS loved that book so passionately that they have been recommending it to anyone who will listen all spring. And they are not quiet kids. The result has been a big group of kids — mostly girls — who read it, loved it, and talked a lot with one another and with me about body image and mental health. I’m thankful for this.
ALABAMA MOON by: Watt Key (21 points)
Loved by boys and girls, this is one of those survival stories that I put into a lot of hands throughout the year. The companion novel, DIRT ROAD HOME, is coming out in the fall and is excellent, according to two of my readers who devoured the ARC I brought home from IRA this spring.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID SERIES Jeff Kinney (14)
You’ve heard of this one maybe?
CRACKER by: Cynthia Kadohata (13)
This is one of my go-to books for reluctant readers — a great story about a military dog and a young man in Vietnam.
CRANK by Ellen Hopkins (11)
This group of 7th graders reads up in terms of content more than any group I’ve ever taught, and Ellen Hopkins was one of their favorites. Two of my creative writing class kids are writing novels in verse of their own now, thanks to Ellen and Lisa Schroeder, who are their heroes.
PERCY JACKSON SERIES BY RICK RIORDAN (10)
Most kids have read this before they get to me; otherwise I suspect it would have gotten even more votes, as it’s one of their favorite series.
THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY & IT’S NOT SUMMER WITHOUT YOU- Jenny Han (9)
These books took the top two spots on two of my girls’ lists; they are dying for the third novel in the trilogy to come out!
RESCUE JOSH MCGUIRE by Ben Mikaelsen (9)
Another great survival story; this is one that my reluctant readers enjoyed.
HARRY POTTER (8)
Like Riordan’s series, I suspect this would have gotten more votes if we were doing all-time favorites instead of favorite books read this year. Most have already read Harry before they reach 7th grade.
TOUCHING SPIRIT BEAR by: Ben Michalson (8)
Another great, sometimes gory survival story that both boys and girls like a lot.
MAXIMUM RIDE SERIES-BY JAMES PATTERSON (7)
This didn’t make anyone’s top three, but a bunch of kids liked the fast-paced series enough to keep it in the top ten.
SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr (7)
This wasn’t a book that tons of kids read, but I think it was on the top ten list of every girl who picked it up. That made me smile; I loved it, too.
Many more books were listed on multiple top ten lists, and they’re grouped together below. And yes, you’ll probably notice that some of these have managed to get a vote or two without having been released yet. I bring back ARCs from my conferences, and the kids love to help spread the word about them.
THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary Pearson ******
ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen ******
BURNED by Ellen Hopkins ******
COPPER SUN – Sharon Draper ******
FEVER 1793- Laurie Halse Anderson ******
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Pfeffer ******
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS SERIES – Sara Shepard ******
LIFE AS WE KNEW IT TRILOGY – Susan Beth Pfeffer *****
NOTHING by Janne Teller *****
WAITING FOR NORMAL by Leslie Connor *****
BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver ****
CIRQUE DU FREAK SERIES by Darren Shan ****
CODE ORANGE by: Caroline Cooney ****
HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT- NATALIE STANDIFORD ****
NEED and CAPTIVATE by Carrie Jones ****
SCAT by Carl Hiassen ****
TRICKS by Ellen Hopkins ****
WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW series by Sonya Sones ****
ABSOLUTELY MAYBE by Lisa Yee ***
ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART TIME INDIAN – Sherman Alexie ***
CHASING BROOKLYN by Lisa Schroeder ***
CITY OF THE DEAD – Luke Perry ***
CLIQUE series – Lisi Harrison ***
DREAMLAND by Sarah Dessen ***
ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin ***
HARMONIC FEEDBACK by Tara Kelly ***
HOW TO STEAL A DOG ***
IDENTICAL by Ellen Hopkins ***
RIGHT BEHIND YOU- Gail Giles ***
SPEAK – Laurie Halse Anderson ***
TWILIGHT series ***
WINGS- Aprilynne Pike ***
WINNIE’S WAR by Jenny Moss ***
BASEBALL GREAT by Tim Green **
CENTER FIELD- Robert Lipsyte **
CHILD CALLED IT by Dave Peltzer **
CROSSING THE WIRE by Will Hobbs **
DIRT ROAD HOME by: Watt Key **
DUNE by Frank Herbert**
FABLEHAVEN BY Brandon Mull **
FIRST LIGHT by Rebecca Stead **
GLASS by Ellen Hopkins **
HATCHET by: Gary Paulson **
IMPOSSIBLE, by Nancy Werlin **
NUMBERS-Rachel Ward **
ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES- Sonya Sones **
OPERATION YES – Sara Lewis Holmes **
PAPER TOWNS- John Green **
PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES by Cecilia Galante **
POINT BLANK by: Anthony Horowitz **
PURGE – Sarah Darer Littman **
REDWALL SERIES – Brian Jaques **
REVOLVER by: Marcus Sedgwick **
SEPTIMUS HEAP SERIES BOOKS 1-3 – Angie Sage **
SUGAR AND ICE by Kate Messner**
SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH – Walter Dean Myers **
THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak **
THE LOVELY BONES, by Alice Sebold **
Note: There were about a million books that were on one top ten list, and I’ll have to share these in another post because this one is already crazy-long. But I hope it gives a sense for the huge variety of what 12 and 13 year old kids choose to read when they’re choosing for themselves.