Must-Have Books for Classroom Libraries

After seeing a search term directed to my site looking for must-have classroom library books, I realized I’ve never put together any sort of list of this type. This is in no way a comprehensive list, but just my thoughts today.

Books to NEVER BUY FULL-PRICED. They are at every Goodwill imaginable.

  • Any Newbery award-winning book published after 1950 and before 2000.
  • The Chalk Box Kid
  • Poppy, by Avi (unless you’re looking for a class set)
  • Junie B. Jones books
  • Magic Tree House books
  • Captain Underpants
Books that are always checked out of my classroom library.
  • Guinness Book of World Records
  • Books of lists
  • Books of facts
  • Scary stories (either the series or just scary books in general)
  • Any graphic novel ever written.
  • Book adaptations of movies or TV shows.
  • Anything we’ve just done as a read aloud (Moral: BOOK TALK EVERYTHING)

Books that are new-ish and you might not have heard of before.

Not to go all hipster cat on you, but unless you obsessively follow book blogs and tweets, you might want to check out these pretty great books you probably haven’t read yet. (Why not?!?! They’re so amazing! It’s OK, I know you’re busy.)

  • Sidekicks, by Dan Santant
  • Books in the Squish or Babymouse series, by Jennifer and Matthew Holm
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
  • Marty McGuire, by Kate Messner
  • Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

Author Studies

These aren’t necessarily going to go on your shelves for students to check out and read independently, but these authors make for GREAT shared reading and read aloud texts. They have the added benefit of often being under-checked-out in school libraries, so an author study can boost their circulation. I’ve starred authors whose books are often available at library book sales and thrift stores.

  • Tomie DePaloa
  • Steve Jenkins
  • Gail Gibbons*
  • Gerald McDermott
  • William Steig*
  • Kevin Henkes
  • Jan Brett*
  • Patricia Polacco (I honestly always had some reservations because although she’s awesome, I also thought she was a little cheesy, but I haven’t found a single student or teacher who doesn’t like her)

Feel free to add any other titles in the comments!

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