Welcome to the latest installment of “Hot Books in My Classroom”. For those of you who may be reading this for the first time, HBIMC is a feature I run every month or so, highlighting the books that are currently the most popular in my 6th grade classroom. Every class is different, every year is different, and every month is different. But one thing always stays the same- my students’ enthusiasm for reading!
We recently finished our Holocaust unit in Language Arts. During the unit, my students worked in book clubs reading books about different aspects of WWII and the Holocaust. One of the most popular choices was the verse novel T4 a novel by Ann Clare LeZotte. Although we finished the unit, this one hasn’t been back on my shelf yet. The combination of the subject matter (Hitler’s Action T4 program, which dictates that doctors euthanize the mentally ill and the disabled as “unfit to live.”) and the simple verse format attract my dormant and underground readers alike.
For the last year I have been on the lookout for a novel similar to Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but with a female protagonist. While the girls in my class read and love Diary of a Wimpy Kid they always ask for another book like it, but “with a girl!” Well, this month I found not one, but two perfect read-alikes. Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone by Margie Palatini was an ARC I picked up at a publisher’s preview last year. One of my students found it on the bookshelf before spring break, read it over a few nights, and hasn’t stopped raving since. She passed it on to a friend, who did the same. Every day or so I see our classroom copy on someone else’s desk! And when they aren’t reading Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone they are laughing and giggling over Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell. Even more similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life is told in a journal format complete with illustrations and comics. The girls in my class are already asking for a sequel.
Then there’s Patrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek. The fever surrounding Skeleton Creek reminds me a lot of the fever that surrounded Diary of a Wimpy Kid when the first book came out. My students are constantly discussing the book and videos. When any one student sits at the computer to watch a video I can see the other students in the room leaning back in their chairs and discretely watching behind their classmate’s head. The only problem? They inevitably scream and jump into the air when something scary happens. It makes me laugh every time!
And in the area of non-fiction, DK Eyewitness books are always popular in my classes. This year, many of my boys are very interested in WWI, WWII, and the armed forces. Right now, a few of my boys are reading Soldier. They are experts on weapons, let me tell you!
Finally, one of my more dormant readers can not put Nancy Werlin’s The Rules of Survival down. She begs for independent reading time each day and every morning brags to me about what page she is on. She is a realistic fiction fan but has a very hard time finding books that hook her. The Rules of Survival had her from the first page. Needless to say, I am thrilled. I’ve already bought Killer’s Cousin by Werlin for her to read next. I love when a student finds an author and book they love!
Those are some of the most popular books in my classroom. What are your kids reading?