My Favorite Chapter Books of 2016

My Favorite Chapter Books of 2016

It is with great trepidation that I make this list. Inevitably a book will be left off or I will somehow screw this up. But…these books have shaped my year. These books with their worlds, their heart, and their dreams have made me better. Have offered me solace on long winter nights, have lulled me to sleep on airplanes and in hotel rooms. When work has been too hard and life has been too busy, these books have kept me afloat. So how can I not praise them? (Thank you Goodreads). While are new this year, some are not, but all were new to me.

Please read them. Please love them. Please share them with others. After all, books may just be the very thing that brings us all together.

It is always exciting when I discover a new series and The Reader by Traci Chee did not disappoint. While it took me a few days to read, my confusion was rewarded at the end when everything made sense and I was left with a longing to read on. PG13 and up.

I had heard of Gene Luen Yang before he was chosen as National Book Ambassador but his new title led me to discover more of his work. While I loved all of his that I read American Born Chinese was definitely my favorite. This is a must add to any middle school classroom and up.

It is hard not to love Pax by Sara Pennypacker. This book was the Global Read Aloud choice for elementary and up for 2016 and I still think it is one of the most powerful reads of the year. This story of a fox and his boy will simply stay with you for a very long time.

I thought I knew a lot about hurricane Katrina but after reading Drowned City by Don Brown, I realized how little I actually knew. Sparse, powerful, and haunting is the best way for me to describe this graphic novel nonfiction book. Must add to middle school and up.

It is hard to not admire Kate Messner and her formidable brain, she epitomizes to me what it means to be creative. I love her new series, Ranger in Time, geared toward early readers and have brought the books in to my own 7th grade classroom as well. What a wonderful way to discover history.

This was my very first read of the year and it was oh so good. In fact, I think Shadow and Bone from Leigh Bardugo was the series feeling I chased all year. Magic, action, love, this series has it all for our PG13 readers.

It is hard to describe the sadness that overcame me as I read the graphic novel Yummy – the Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri. After all, this is the story of an actual child, this is the story of something that actually happened. This is the story of a child who got so lost that he ended taking the life of another child and then losing his own. PG13 and up.

I teach using the Notice and Note signposts, and a A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is one of the texts used. I knew I had to read it when I saw how it captivated all of my students. This story of the Lost Boys of Sudan is one that many students throughout the year has also gravitated toward. This could be placed in the hands of the right 5th grader who was ready for it.

There is always something bittersweet when you realize a book you loved and booktalked is missing in your library. This is the case of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I loved it, I book talked it, someone snagged it to read and poof it has disappeared. This is a graphic novel tale I will gladly re-order though.

I wonder how many times I have booktalked Gym Candy by Carl Deuker this year? This is the book I reach for when I am running out of options for my resistant readers. This is the book that I found myself sucked into as I ignored my family on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. This is one of those books that becomes a magic weapon when we try to help students love reading more. PG13 and up.

With the 15th anniversary of 9/11 we saw a slew of powerful books being published about the events. While I read almost all of the ones published, Eleven by Tom Rogers is still the book that for me captured the day in the most powerful way. 4th grade and up but my 7th graders devour it as well.

I came across Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins as I booktalked poor covers. My librarian told our class that while the cover might leave something t be desired, this was a really popular series. I therefore promptly took t home to read it and boy was she right. Love, action, magic, yes please. Great middle school and up series.

Another fox book? Yes please! Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee is a powerful story of loss and discovery. Of a family seemingly torn apart. Of a fox that knows that it plays an important part in the healing. This book is beautiful and for 4th grade and up.

This was the year i started to re-think my hatred of dog books and Maxi’s Secret by Lynn Plourde played a big part in that. While yes the dog dies (it is told to us in the first chapter) this story is bigger than that of a dog. It is about friendship, finding your place, and finding yourself. 4th grade and up.

I was told to read The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid this summer by a friend because she thought it would be one of those books that I could not wait to share. She was right. The Diabolic is a masterful piece of work; challenging science fiction that still is a page turner. PG13 and up.

I don’t know how I missed A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness for so long but I am so glad that I now have many copies of it in my classroom library. This is one of those books you hand to those kids that say that they don’t like reading much. I, along with many students, are eagerly awaiting the movie adaptation that is coming out in January. Middle school and up.

Another book recommended to me by a trusted friend was Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart. This book is needed in our libraries, especially as we focus on creating windows, mirrors, and doors into the lives of others. Middle school and up.

I love complex fantasy, ones that have deep story lines where I need to find the time to fall into its pages and forget about life for a while. Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon is just the right kind of fantasy book. Beautiful language and a story line that mesmerizes, I am glad this now a part of our library. 4th or 5th grade and up.

How amazing of a storyteller is Kate Messner? I loved The Seventh Wishso much that it got it’s own stand alone review on this blog, and I stand by those words. This book belongs in our classrooms, in our libraries, and yes even with elementary children.

Hands down one of the best non-fiction autobiographies I have ever read. Melissa Sweet’s Some Writer! about E.B. White is a masterpiece in visual layout as well as text. I have ordered another copy to house permanently in my classroom and will be using it to teach writer’s craft. I cannot wait for children to fall into the delight of these pages and to be inspired to write more themselves.

I have loved the genius of Jenni Holm for a few years now and her new book Full of Beans is a delight. This is one of those perfect books that will make for a great read aloud, especially in our 4th and 5th grade classrooms. This is also a Global Read Aloud contender for 2017.

I started my summer with The Best Man by Richard Peck. Spurred on by my friends’ love of this book and by the sad fact that I had never read a Richard Peck book before, I was glad to start the summer with this one. I was delighted, surprised, and ever so wonderfully tangled into the story and have loved booktalking it to students. This one is great for middle school and up, or even a 5th grader.

How I have managed to go these years without falling in love with The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefwater I am not sure. This has been one of my most recommended books this summer because I dropped everything just to read this whole series in a week. Now that that the whole series is out there is no reason to wait to get this for your classroom library, I would recommend middle school and up.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is still one of the best books I have read all year. This is the book I hope most of my students discover. This is the book I keep recommending. A masterpiece in story-telling that I could not put down and neither could those I have handed it too. This debut author has taken everything that is right about a great YA and put it into a book. I cannot wait for his next book.

I was handed Fenway and Hattie by the author herself, Victoria J. Coe, and read it the very next day. Delightful, fun, and imaginative I have recommended this book to many people since. I love how Victoria Coe writes it from the perspective of a dog and will be using this to show perspective writing with my 7th graders. While this is geared toward a younger audience, I think some of my 7th graders will enjoy it as much as I have. This is also a contender for Global Read Aloud 2017.

Loving Vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Shadra Strickland is a must add to your library. This text sheds light on the landmark case of marriage equality and is riveting in how it unfolds. You fall in love with the Lovings and their simple fight to simply be allowed to be married. (Note: Available for pre-order now).

What an incredible book Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk is. In fact, I would be surprised if we did not see this book receive awards later this year. Unlike anything I have read in a long time, Wolf Hollow draws you into a world that speaks of simpler times and yet the story unravels in a way you would not expect. From 4th grade and up, this book is also a must add in middle school.

I loved the scary tale and the beautiful language of The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. I rooted for the main character Corinne as she fights for her father and the rest of her island, protecting them from the supernatural beings that live in the forest. For kids that love a great scary story, I cannot wait to book talk this, and even better; there is a sequel coming.

I had the incredible honor of seeing Erin Downing, the author of Moon ShadowMoon Shadow, at NCTE. This book is a must read in 2017 (our in May!). With its creepy yet deep story, it promises to be a book that many middle grade kids will want to read, discuss, and share.

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson is the book I keep telling people to read, keep telling people to pre-order (out in February). This powerful story is one that simply needs to be experienced and then placed in the hands of our middle schools and up. Powerful, eye opening, and also just a great example of wonderful story telling.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell is a book I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. I had heard from others that it was a great title and yet whenever I picked it up, I just didn’t quite fall into the appeal of it. Its tale of honor, family, and yes, wolves left me mesmerized from page 1. This is the best of books; nature and survival, historical fiction and fast paced adventure. This is a must for 4th grade and up.

One of these days I might write an entire post about how much I admire the talent and work of Jacqueline Woodson. The conversations she invites us to have in our classrooms are profound and I am so thankful I finally discovered her book If You Come Softly. While the story is set in high school it is not high school langue which makes it even more accessible to many students. This book about race and love and growing up is one I won’t forget. I also read, and loved, Behind You, the follow up novel.

I cannot imagine the painstaking work it must have been for Allan Wolf to write The Watch that Ends the Night. This is the Titanic story like I had never experienced it before. Middle school and up.

Can Jennifer A. Nielsen do no wrong? She once again had me hooked from the early pages of The Scourge, what a great story of mystery, survival, and also devious means to fight back. 4th or 5th grade and up.

I am not sure I have enough words to publicly declare how much I love the brain of Dav Pilkey and his new series Dog Man. This one book has completely transformed my daughter’s life, who is 7, but is equally loved by my 7th graders. This is what great books are made of.

Another book I was surprised I had missed until now. Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate is her other master piece. This book with its free verse formand heart wrenching story is everything great books are made of. This is also GRA contender for 2017.

I don’t know how Jason Reynolds manages to crank one book out after another but I am thankful that he does. His latest book Ghost is the beginning of a series, thank you! It is a Global Read Aloud Contender, and it is oh so good for middle grade and up.

I finally settled into my new reading chair and fell in love with The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. It is always such a delight when simple language brings us deep reading experiences. This is also one of those books that I know I can hand to many kids and they can have a successful reading experience with it. 4th grade and up, but 7th graders love it too.

I always have room for a great creepy book and Janet Fox’s new book, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, is just that. Mysterious, creepy, and suspenseful will keep readers tuned in from 5th grade and up.

I tend to steer away from WWII books simply because I have oversaturated myself in the genre, but for The Plot to Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick, I knew I would make an exception. What is crazy about this story is that it is true, and also one I had not heard of before. This was book-talked once in my classroom and I have not seen it since. Perfect for middle grades and up.

I think My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and JodI Meadows is one of those books where you either love it or hate it. I loved it with a capital l. This felt fresh, funny, and of course I had to read just one more page to see what would happen. Perfect for middle school and up.

I can be very hit or miss when it comes to historical fiction, I feel that I either love it or really do not like it. The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats is a book that I loved reading. I loved the can-do attitude of or female protagonist and also how it provided me with a glimpse into the settler time period. This gem comes out at the end of February and is not to be missed for middle grade and up.

Argh, cancer books. I am terrible with you and yet I also feel myself drawn to their pages. Love, Ish the new book by Karen Rivers is one that will take you for a ride whether you wanted it to or not. Powerful storytelling brings us right there with Ish. Out on my birthday, March 14th, this is a great book for middle grades and up.

There were so many other books that I loved this year but I tried to stick to a little bit of a shorter list. To see all of the books I read and rate follow me on Instagram or on Goodreads. Which books did I miss?

8 Comments

  1. Joanne Palin
  2. ANNETTE BURNS

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