Three for Thursday

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Thanks to Fuse #8’s list of the Top 100 Children’s Novels, I had an especially delightful class with my 6th grade students yesterday. This is a group of eight very enthusiastic and avid readers so I knew they would enjoy looking at the list and counting (somewhat competitively) how many they had read.

I copied the list of 100 titles for each student and then saved a few minutes at the end of class to share it with them. Okay, I lost a bit of control at that point.  The next few minutes were somewhat chaotic as they checked-off, gave recommendations to their friends and compared totals.  After a few minutes, I just sat back and let them go because it struck me how truly amazing the scene was. The students were in a “zone” over a list of books. They were asking friends what to read next, asking me for recommendations and suggesting that by the end of the summer, they would have read any title they had missed. I have to say that it was wonderful.

With that class in mind, I will suggest three books that these kids seemed especially excited to see on the list:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

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The Top 100 Children’s Novels

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Like many of my colleagues in the children’s book blogging world, I’ve been following Fuse #8 closely for the past few months.  Fuse #8 is written by Elizabeth Bird, the best and most well-known of the bloggers about children’s books.  She is a children’s librarian at the Children’s Center at 42nd Street of the New York Public Library system and has served on the Newbery Award committee.

Elizabeth has been conducting a poll of the top 100 children’s novels and announced the results ten at a time.  Through her blog on the School Library Journal web site, she asked readers to submit their favorite middle grade novels of all time.  This list does not include young adult novels or picture books.  The list is now complete, and as I hoped and expected, Charlotte’s Web was number one.  Here is the full list:

#1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

#6 Holes by Louis Sachar

#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry

#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

#12 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl

#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riodan

#22 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

#27 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett

#28 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne

#29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland /Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

#30 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager

#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

#34 Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling

#36 Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

#48 The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements

#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl

#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene

#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

#65 Ballet Shoes by Noah Streatfeild

#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

#70 Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

#72 My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton

#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

#77 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

#80
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

#84 Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander

#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary

#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

#93 Caddie Woodlawn by C. R. Brink

#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

#97: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

#98 Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

What Makes a Great Book?

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I finished reading a book yesterday that, although it is not a children’s book, brought children’s books to mind. The book is Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton.  Near the end of the book there is a discussion about what makes a classic work of art, and this passage caught my attention:

Great art is essentially work that has proven inexhaustible in terms of the value it gives to those who pay attention to it.  It says, “I am in the present tense despite the fact that I was made five or fifty years ago.”

I have been looking at a list of the Top 100 Children’s Fiction Chapter Books compiled by the most well-known children’s literature blogger, Fuse # 8. ( Fuse # 8’s blog appears on the School Library Journal web site).  And, it occurred to me that this quote applies to every book on the list.  Think about why kids still read:  The BFG Charlotte’s Web, The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time, to name 4 out of 100.  Inexhaustible is the best word to describe them.

When Fern asks” Where’s Papa going with that ax?” the scene is urgent.  I hear kids talk about how funny Roald Dahl is every day.  Older students understand that The Giver is asking them hard questions about their own lives.  And Meg Murray is alive for every child who has read A Wrinkle in Time.  For the kids who love them, these books are in “the present tense” regardless of their publication date.