Novel Madness

Even though this is my first year teaching with Reader’s Workshop, my sixth grade students have gotten very excited about reading. I, too, read voraciously. They share books with me and with each other, and I share books with them. So to coincide with March Madness, although I’m starting rather later, I decided to have a novel tournament in my class.

Today, in teams, the students brainstormed the top sixteen novels. These could be old or current favorites. We compiled the team lists into one list. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be holding debates and voting on pairs of books until we have crowned the top novel of the year.

Here are their top sixteen, in no order:

Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Hex Hall by Rachel Hopkins

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Holes by Louis Sachar

Cinder by Marissa Meyers

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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

Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale

I am impressed by the diversity of titles. The students made an effort to represent their favorite series without overwhelming the list with multiple titles. So although they have both Hunger Games and its sequel, they only have one 39 Clues book (Maze of Bones), one Pendragon book (Merchant of Death), and one Harry Potter book. Two books that we read together in class are included, Al Capone Does My Shirts and Number the Stars, as well as books I discovered and recommended, like Cinder, and books that are new to me like Unwanteds and Wednesday Wars.

I know they had a limited time to come up with titles, but there are some missing that I know they love, like the Narnia series and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart. Overall, though, I think they did a good job.

Two students have been assigned to each book and are preparing their best persuasive arguments. They will know which book is competing against theirs and will also prepare some rebuttals to what they think the others will say against their books.


10 responses to “Novel Madness”

  1. Submitted on 2012/03/29 at 6:32 pm

    A WRINKLE IN TIME almost made it! Though one of my favorite books isn’t there, I agree that the selection had a variety ofworthy books. Go MATILDA and go debating!

  2. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 11:40 am

    I wish that the Hunger Games would have stayed. It’s one of my favorite books.

  3. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 11:41 am

    Some of these debates will be quite interesting. I was doing MATILDA and was amazed by how many people actually have read some Roald Dahl book. I am a also surprised by how many good books didn’t get on the top 16.

    1. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 11:48 am | In reply to Nitya.

      Which ones are missing, Nitya?

  4. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 11:43 am

    I was honestly disappointed by this list and by the following debates.
    Popularity partook a large part in this little tournament, and debates only mattered when popularity levels were assimilar, like Cinder and Holes.
    I could easily think of better such books, but less known, such as Ender’s Game/Shadow, or Temeraire.

    1. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 11:50 am | In reply to Albert.

      Almost all voting is popularity-based, Albert. You can’t get away from that. I think everyone had favorites that didn’t make the list, but everyone had at least one that did.

  5. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 12:26 pm

    I was hoping that Harry Potter would win, but there are some pretty good competition! Other than that, I think Maze of Bones and Lightning Thief are well off! They might win!

    1. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 12:29 pm | In reply to Julia.

      I hope Unwanteds go against Catching Fire. If Unwanteds go against Maze of Bones, Maze of Bones would totally dominate Unwanteds. : )

  6. Submitted on 2012/04/04 at 12:27 pm

    I wished Into the Wild made it into the top sixteen. I personally thought that it was almost as good as Hunger Games. But I liked most of the books that were chosen as top sixteen

    1. Submitted on 2012/05/09 at 8:54 am

      I agree with Sean about Into the Wild. It has so many details that sometimes I wonder whether or not the book even has any pictures! As soon as I start reading one of the books in the series, an image pops into my head. But what can I say, not too many people have even read this outstanding series! However, I do have to say that Hunger Games beats the Warriors series.

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