How Do I Select Books for Elementary?

Selecting books for the classroom is an important investment that I take very seriously. In my classroom we have a 30 minute read aloud with discussion every day for the entire six years of elementary, and we also have literature circles that meet 2-3 times a week for discussion. I want to ensure that the books we read are worth our time!

Engaging

First and foremost, the book should be an enjoyable page-turner. A dull book that meets all the other criteria, is a slog that no one enjoys. Part of this is ensuring that the book is developmentally appropriate. Not too hard, not too easy.

Deeper Meaning

Underlying themes that lead to rich discussion. The book should have an impact on the child’s life and should have ideas that are widely applicable.

Enriching Style

The books should be well written, with interesting language, technique and style. Dialogue should be engaging, descriptions should be rich, action should be exciting! Only use unabridged versions.

Inspiring

These books have heroes (and villains!) with agency. Characters that make hard decisions and fight for what is good and true. The characters should show children what life can be like and how people can achieve greatness.

The three kinds of reading…

  • Read Aloud: These are the most challenging books in the class, and require the most scaffolding from the adult. The language and themes may be more complex or the discussion needs particular guidance from an adult. As the reader, I use character voices, model prosody, and introduce the students to vocabulary that is just out of their reach. This is universally my students favorite part of the day, and honestly it might be mine too.
  • Literature Circles: These are books that the child reads independently (this is the only homework we assign in our class), and then comes to class to discuss the book with the guidance of the teacher and their peers. This is nearly identical to how book clubs work for adults. Books for read aloud and literature circles can often be interchanged.
  • Independent Reading: These are books the child reads without any classroom support and just for fun (and they make great gifts). I only provided a few selections for independent reading, heavily based on books I enjoyed as a child. These suggestions should be heavily supplemented by books the child freely chooses. Remember, the public library is a great resource!

Bookmark this page, as I read more books, I’ll add good ones to the list!

I have included an Amazon affiliate link to every book on this page. These are for your convenience. I do receive a small percentage from every purchase without any increase to your price.

Lower Elementary

Books marked with * are exemplar pieces of literature, but should be read by the adult first. Some of the content may be intense for your particular children.

First Year Books

Read Aloud

Literature Circles

Independent Reading

Second Year Books

Read Aloud

Literature Circles

Independent Reading

Third Year Books

Read Aloud

Literature Circles

Independent Reading

Upper Elementary

Fourth Year Books

Read Aloud

Literature Circles

Independent Reading

Fifth Year Books

Read Aloud

Literature Circles

Independent Reading

Sixth Year Books

Read Aloud

Literature Circles

Independent Reading

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