Top Ten Novel Study Books

It is not actually Tuesday, but this week I am working on posting my Top Ten Lists exploring the 84 books I read this semester.  This post features my…


Top Ten Novel Study Books

Since I am hoping to work with middle grades readers, I thought I would reflect on the novels I have read and find the 10 I would most want to include in my reading lessons.

1. Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary

This is one of my favorite books from my childhood.  When I teach this book as a novel study, I will be sure to tie in writing lessons.  It would also be really fun to have my students write to their favorite authors.  Maybe some of these authors would even be willing to Skype-visit with us!

2. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

I thought that this book was really interesting and would be great to teach to higher readers.  I would have them look at the imagery and try to incorporate art lessons with the novel.  It would be really fun to have students illustrate their favorite scenes as part of a plot diagram lesson.

3. Nothing But The Truth, by Avi

This is one of the first novels I read this semester and it has left a lasting influence on me.  I would love to teach this novel alongside a civics lesson.  It would be fun to have students even act out portions of this book in a classroom readers theater.

4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

This book may seem intimidating to some, but the illustrated novel by Brian Selznick would be a fun book to explore with some of my lower readers.  I think they would get a self-esteem boost just from reading something SO large!  I would tie lessons that explore how the illustrations move the story along into teaching this novel.

5.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling

The first in the Potter series would be fun to teach.  I could use this novel to teach the steps in the Hero’s Journey or the idea of characterization.  Students could chart how Harry learns who he is in his world.  I would also tie in writing lessons where students write their own hero’s journey story.

6. I Lived on Butterfly Hill, by Marjorie Agosin

I really loved this novel, especially as it explored the culture of the main character.  I would tie in cultural studies into lessons with this novel.  It would be also fun to do cultural and food studies tied in with a Life Skills class.  Everyone likes yummy food!

7. Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater

This was a fun and silly book.  I would teach this book as a novel/movie study.  I have not personally seen the Jim Carrey film, but it make for an interesting comparison.  I would also tie in lessons about animals (penguins, of course) and Antarctic explorers.

8. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg

This novel would be an excellent introduction to Renaissance art.  We could look at examples of Michelangelo’s painting and sculptures, while discussing museum curation  It would be very fun to incorporate creation of our own sculptures through integrated art lessons.

9. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

This is a great novel to explore imagination and creating fun and exciting worlds.  I would tie this novel study into narrative writing.  I would have them write a story set into their own world – complete with illustrations!

10. The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

I am taking a page from this class and would teach The One and Only Ivan as a Newbery study.  This would be a great way to introduce literary awards, Newbery criteria, and set up our own Mock Newbery.

These are the 10 books I would use for novel studies in my future classroom.  Which books did I leave out?  Are there other lessons I can tie into the novel studies?  Let’s talk below…

8 thoughts on “Top Ten Novel Study Books

  1. Great compilation of novel studies books! Hugo is one of my favorites, as well. My daughter’s 5th grade class studied this book this year, about the same time I was reading it. We had lot of good discussions at home. Great blog, I’ve really enjoyed your posts and comments this semester!


  2. I teach high school now, but I would eventually like to teach at the middle school level. I would adore teaching Harry Potter and The Graveyard Book. My list would also include The Giver (I read it in the 6th grade, and it was my favorite book) and The Outsiders (8th grade, and I will never forget it).


    1. I came to all of those novels as an adult. I never got the big deal about The Giver. There is so much dystopian fiction out there and I thought that it didn’t leave me loving it.
      I’ve not read The Outsiders – another to add to my TBR list!


    1. I’m glad we are doing this so close to Christmas. That means if Santa doesn’t bring them, I know where to spend my Christmas money….the bookstore!


    1. I remember reading the book in the 5th grade (WAYYY before the movie came out….like 1993). Would you recommend the movie? I haven’t seen it yet.


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