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TeachersFirst’s Reading Lists

Updated: 04/09/2002

Do you have "reluctant readers" in your classroom? These are the students who can read at or above grade level, but who can’t seem to find anything to read that they find interesting. There are one or two in every class, and suggesting the right book can often make the difference in these students’ performance. But what to suggest?

The book lists below contain suggestions to fit a wide variety of interests typical in middle and high school students. The works include literary classics as well as contemporary works. Find out what your reluctant readers’ interests are, and these lists can help you interest them in reading.

Banned Books Week – The start point for the American Library Association’s banned books week activities provides lots of resources on banned books for students, parents, and schools. A popular discussion topic this year is Harry Potter – a character sure to resonate with many students.

General Interest Lists:

The TeachersFirst Lifetime List – Editor Brenda Walton’s picks of more than 200 works. It’s a mix of classic and contemporary. Some selections work for middle schoolers; others – especially the philosophy – are better suited to adult level readers. Teachers will like some of these, too! The list includes links to appropriate resources from the TeachersFirst collections.

Good Books for Fourth and Fifth Graders – From Atwater’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins to White’s Charlotte’s Web, this list provides some great reading ideas for the 4th and 5th grade set.

Good Books for Middle Schoolers – A concise and helpful list of books for the Middle School grades from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

St. Charles Public Library Best Books for Young Adults 2000 – This annual list of fiction and non-fiction complied by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the St. Charles Public Library provides annotated suggestions for young adults ages 12 to 18.

Banned Books Online – The University of Pennsylvania provides an interesting listing of books that have been are " banned"– suppressed or censored by authorities. The site provides a short history of the books listed and give links to other sites with the same concern. This is a useful site for history and English teachers, and a great discussion- starter

A Recommended Reading List – This list, taken from Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren’s classic How to Read a Book, provides a comprehensive list of the great books of all ages. It’s a great reference list for a lifetime reading program.


Top Rankings:

Madison’s Top 100 List of Novels – Ever wonder what the people in Madison, Wisconsin (home of the University of Wisconsin) are reading? Here’s a helpful list of 100 Top Books complied by the Madison Public Library.

The Best English-Language Fiction of the Twentieth Century – An interesting list of best-loved books collected by Brian Kunde at Stanford University. Includes publication date.

Best of the Year for Young Adults – The American Library Association’s annual listings of the best young adult fiction and non-fiction. You’ll find listings for 2002 as well as several years prior. Find the good works here.


Specific Interest Lists

African American Reading List – The New York Public Library offers this extensive, annotated bibliography of books, poetry, and song by and about African Americans. Selections are grouped by readers’ age, and there are dozens of selections. Well worth a look if you’re in search of reading materials.

Baseball – From Jim Bouton’s Strike Zone to Mark Winegardner’s The Veracruz Blues, here’s a helpful list of books on America’s favorite past time to entice the baseball fans in your dugout.

Beyond Nancy Drew – A Guide to Girls’ LiteratureGrades 6-12 – More than a reading list, this is a scholarly annotated bibliography of books written for girls over the past 200 years. Organized by both theme and chronology, the site shows the change in emphasis on "proper reading" for young ladies. The more contemporary listings may also be of interest to today’s students.

Celtic Studies Reading Lists – Grades 9-12 – An interesting list of links to information on Celtic studies, with links and annotations.

Dog Classics – Even the most reluctant of readers will be forced to admit, "Yeah, I did like Where the Red Fern Grows." There’s just something great about a good dog book… Here’s a list–pages and pages– of really great books about dogs!

How to Change the WorldMiddle and High School – What can you do to make the world better, safer, cleaner, kinder? Here’s a list of books to help answer those questions.

It’s a Conspiracy! – Find suggestions for great political thrillers in this list compiled by the Kansas City Public Library.

Financial Fiction – A list of books about money, money, money, money!

Holocaust Bibliographies and Books – A thorough listing of links to booklists on the Holocaust.

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust – Links to Holocaust literature and reading list classified by elementary, middle and high school levels. Source: Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida

Books by Survivors – An annotated list of books written by Holocaust survivors.

Of Quests and Kings – Here’s a varied reading list of books related to the Arthurian legends.

Post Apocalypse – A great resource for end-of-the-world literature.

Star Cross’d Lovers – Here’s a whole list of love from Gone with the Wind to The Bridges of Madison
. Hankies suggested.

Tearjerkers – Laugh and cry with the titles on this list!

True Adventure – Lots of stories here classified according to survival tales, out to sea, hiking, rapids, mountain climbing and up in the air adventures. Compiled by the Bloomfield Township Library, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Vampires – A whole coffin-full of vampire tales.


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