This is my list of good reads that students might enjoy. Keep in mind that we all have different opinions of the books we read and what is good to one, might not be good to another. However, if you’re looking for a good book for your next independent reading novel, try one of these. With the exception of one, they all SHOULD be in my classroom library!
Malice – Chris Wooding (F/SF)
Part graphic novel, part chapter book, Malice is great fantasy/science fiction novel for boys (and girls too). It’s the story about a group of kids who get transported from the real world in modern-day England to the comic book world of Malice. Malice is a dark and dangerous place where the children must learn to survive against the crazy, deathly machines that prowl around in the dark. Behind the world of Malice is Tall Jake, a menacing character who can take the life of any lost soul. Very suspenseful and creative, Malice is part of a series. Part two, called Havoc, was just released.
The Boy Who Dared (NF) – Susan Bortolotti
You have to like history, particularly World War Two, to read this book. It’s the story of Helmuth, a boy living in Germany during the war and a member of the Hitler Youth. Helmuth lives under the watchful eye of the Nazi regime and follows Hitler’s rules obediently. However, when his older brother returns from fighting with a forbidden radio, Helmuth hears about the war from the British point of view. Very soon, Helmuth begins to question what Hitler and the war is all about. Before long, he finds himself arrested and standing trial for treason. It’s not a suspenseful read but the story is well told. In fact, I didn’t realize it was non-fiction until the very end (Helmuth was a real person and the book is based on his life). The ending was a shocker!
Gregor the Overlander (SF) – Suzanne Collins
I’m not one for sci-fi books very often but this is a good one for you non-science fiction readers. I hope and assume my copy is still in my classroom library (or check the school library). Gregor the Overlander is the first book in a series. It’s about a boy (Gregor) and his sister who accidentally falls into a world below the earth. It’s inhabited by both humans and various giant creatures like cockroaches, bats and rats. Gregor just wants to get back home but the humans of this underworld think he’s their saviour and draw him into their situation. It’s a well-paced book with some really exciting parts and chapters tend to leave you wanting to read more. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed. If you like it, you might consider reading the rest of the series (four more books follow this one).
The Last Canadian (RC) – William C. Heine
This is a long shot but I share it because it was the first book I could never put down. I read it in grade 11 and, as a reluctant reader in those days, it had me hooked. It’s the story of Gene Arnprior and his family, who flee to northern Quebec when a world-wide plague takes over North and South America. This airborne virus kills victims within seconds, though some do not die and become carriers of the virus. The story unravels as Gene tries to stay alive in a world that has almost completely collapsed. The ending was wild, to say the least. Before you go out and try to find this book, there are a few things you should know. First, it was written in 1974 and more for a teenage/adult audience. It’s a complex book to read so you have to be ready for a challenge at your age. Secondly, it has been out of print for a long time so you’ll only ever find a copy at used book stores or perhaps a yard sale. In fact, if you find it, get it for me, but feel free to read it first! If you should be lucky enough to find it, I’d love to hear what you think!
No Coins Please (RC) – Gordon Korman
Not my favourite Gordon Korman novel but certainly a lovable, laugh-out-loud book, “No Coins, Please” is the story of a group of campers traveling across the USA. Dennis and Rob are counselors on this cross-country trek but they’re constantly preoccupied by the kids in their charge, particularly a young boy named Artie. Artie is a budding entrepreneur/businessman at the young age of nine! At every stop, twist and turn, Artie is cleverly finding ways to make money on the side, including selling “Attack Jelly” on the streets of New York City! I read this novel to my grade sixes a number years ago and was laughing out loud while reading it. It’s certainly a humourous book worth a look.
53 & 1/2 Things that Changed the World (NF) – S. Parker/D. West
One of my favourite non-fiction books in my classroom library, for sure! Each page is devoted to a number of inventions that affect our daily lives. It’s filled with colourful cartoons, interesting tidbits, and some otherwise fascinating stuff that you probably never thought of before! My most favourite part of the book is the section about toilets – it’s quite a history, considering we’ve only had flushing toilets since the late-1800s! Like a lot of other non-fiction reads in the the classroom library, you can read it in stages because each section packs enough information without having you to read endless pages to get a break. Go ahead, you’ll be amazed by what you didn’t know!