Betsy Bird revealed the top 10 books slowly, drawing out the anticipation. They are finally all revealed. And I two days after #1 was revealed have finally gotten around to posting this. There is not a lot I have to say about these books that hasn't been said by thousands of readers already, but I can't leave this unfinished. Also, I used almost every single one in my classroom when I had one. So here they are, links as always to Fuse 8's original posts.
10. The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
I have mixed feelings on this one. I loved this book as a child. I loved it when I reread it in my children's literature course in college. Teaching it changed that somewhat as I watched four years worth of fifth graders have lukewarm reactions to it at best. It is a wonderfully crafted novel (and short!), and while I have yet to personally encounter a modern young person who enjoys it I keep holding out hope they are out there somewhere.
9. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Now this book my fifth graders loved. I did this as a read aloud every year, letting the students play along with the characters trying to unravel the mystery. Many of them took notes to keep up with the clues. None of them ever figured it out. Which is, of course, the point. And the brilliance of the narrative. This book has a unique narrative, a vast range of characters, a murder mystery, and a contest to inherit millions of dollars. What's not to love?
8. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgromery
Oh Anne. My love for this book is vast. I read it so many times between the ages of 9 and 12. I haven't read it since though. I think I'm half afraid I won't like it as much now as I do in my memory so my memory is where I'm happy to leave it.
7. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This is quite possibly the perfect book to read with a group of 5th graders. The characterization is perfect. The sibling relationship is portrayed realistically. The plot is pretty much every child's dream runaway scenario.
6. Holes by Louis Sachar
This was the first novel my class read together every year. I introduced it on the second day of school. There is no better book for ensnaring a room full of 9-11 year olds into the joys of reading. I'm teaching it again this year for the first time since I left teaching in a traditional classroom. I couldn't be more excited.
5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The book that has had countless numbers of children hanging out in their closets desperately hoping the back would drop off at some point. It is magical in every sense of the word and opens up the imagination in extraordinary ways.
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry
Dystopian children's literature before it was a thing. In fact, one could argue (and many have) that all the currently popular dystopians owe much to this book. It is the best of the genre you will find. All the others, in my opinion, don't even come close. It is marvelous. It was a challenged book in the school I taught. Decisions to remove materials from our library came before a committee containing one teacher per grade level plus the librarian. I was the fifth grade representative, which was fortunate because I was the only person in the room that day who had read it and the parent challenging it had made it sound evil enough that the librarian had pretty much decided to pull it and was only showing it to us as a formality. I made that meeting a little longer than she expected it to be.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
I confess I didn't start reading HP until after my daughter was born and I was no longer teaching. We were not allowed to use the HP books in our classrooms for literature circles or read alouds. They could be in our classroom library, but even that was sort of frowned upon. There were so many books out there to read that I could use in the classroom I was busy with those. I was sort of thankful for that as I started reading the series after The Half Blood Prince was already out and so saved the years of anguish and waiting.
2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
This is the book that shaped my late elementary and middle school years more than any other. I wore out more than copy and read all the other books in the series as well. I can understand why it is #2 given what #1 is, but I really wanted it to take over that top spot. I'm a little sad it didn't. I also taught this book to my AG students and it was wonderful to witness how it sparked their imaginations. I had some really great discussions with those kids.
1. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Of course. Even if I was sort of hoping it would be unseated and drop a space, I fully understand why it still reigns supreme. It is a beautifully written story of friendship and life that appeals to people of all ages and generations and still speaks to children today.