From the Mouths of Babes

At the end of each school year, I sit down with students and solicit their feedback on what worked, what didn’t work, and what we could have done that we did not do. I appreciate how honest students are with feedback. They always provide me with a great deal to think about over the summer as I plan for the upcoming year. I also ask students to write me a letter about their three favorite books from the year. They must write about books they chose, not books we read as a class. As I read student’s letters and constructed the list today, I was struck by something particularly enlivening.

Of the 86 books that made their way onto the list, I had book-talked 45 of them.  Roughly 52% of the books that made students’ top three lists were book-talked in class. Of the 86 books, I had read 57. I think this is a vitally important piece of evidence in favor of facilitating a reader’s workshop. If I don’t read the books I believe my students will enjoy, I can’t book-talk them, and they can’t read them. In a sense, it’s a symbiotic relationship.

The list I constructed as a result of my students’ top three book letters it shown below.  Numbers in the parenthesis indicate the number of students who listed the book in their top three. Titles in bold indicate books that have been read by Mr. Klein-Collins (57 of 86 on list). Asterisks (*) denote books that were formally “book-talked” during a reader’s workshop lesson (45 of 86 on list).


13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (10)*

41 by George W. Bush

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (3)*   

Are You Experienced by Jordan Sonnenblick

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg*

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman*

Character Driven by David Lubar (2)*

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (2)

Eagle Blue by Mike D’Orso

Eden West by Pete Hautman*

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell*

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (3)

Epic by Conor Kostick

Every Day by David Levithan*

Every Day Series by David Levithan (3)

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick*

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon*

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Flip by Martyn Bedford*

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller (6)*

Godless by Pete Hautman (2)*

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (2)*

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker (2)*

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Heartless by Marissa Myers

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (4)*

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (2)*

Life is Not an Accident by Jason Williams

Looking for Alaska by John Green (3)*

Memory Boy by Will Weaver*

Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

More Than This by Patrick Ness

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan (2)

Numbers by Rachel Ward (3)*

Numbers Series by Rachel Ward*

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt (2)*

Paper Towns by John Green

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2)

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (2)*

Second Impact by David and Perry Klass*

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles*

Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes (2)*

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson*

Station Eleven by Emily Mandel*

Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2)*

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow*

The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman*

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (3)

The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong*

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (7)*

The List by Siobhan Vivian*

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg*

The Novice by Taran Matharu

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Selection by Kiera Cass*

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass*

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (4)*

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall*

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan*

The Wall by William Sutcliffe (2)*

The Watch Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf

To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (2)*

Vampirates by Justin Somper

Violent Ends by Beth Revis and others

What Light by Jay Asher (2)*

When We Collided by Emily Lord

Whither by Lauren DeStefano

Winger by Andrew Smith (15)*



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