Sep 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Should be Required Reading/Contemporary-Classics Pairings

Now that I'm back in school mode, it's good to be thinking about the educational value of the books I push on recommend to students.  So for this week's Top Ten Tuesday:

Books that Should be Required Reading

1. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

This one has already popped up in a number of school syllabi which is fantastic.  There's so much in this novel that students can work with: perspective, heroism, setting, etc.  It's also an incredible read that I recommend to everyone (my Aunt just finished...).

2. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

I think this novel lines up well with a lot of the anti-bullying rules that schools are now (hopefully) enforcing. The multi-perspective novel shines a light on what people may experience on account of being different and how "normal" people react to said different people.

3. The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

Okay, this is just one of my favorite books ever, so I'm being biased.  But I read this in school and it was the best unit ever. It's a great book for putting clues together, searching for foreshadowing, and examining character motives.  Plus, it is amazing.

4. Monster, by Walter Dean Myers

Some students don't respond to novels, so it's useful to bring other formats to the table. Monster offers a lot of literary techniques, and it could be the source of a classroom debate over who is guilty.

Contemporary Books Paired With Classic Required Readings

5-6. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

If there was ever a dystopia that I would recommend for school assignments, Unwind would be it and I think it would pair well with Frankenstein.The Gothic classic deals with the questions of who is to blame for crime (the creator or the creation?) and what happens when man plays God (bad things)? Unwind tackles similar problems through the ownership over a person's life and organs.

7-8. Dodger, by Terry Pratchett and Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

It makes sense because Dodger comes from Oliver Twist and Dickens himself is a character in Pratchett's novel.  It would make for fun classroom activities to note the connections between the two novels.

9-10. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead and A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

I mean, Wrinkle plays a pivotal part in When You Reach Me, so it only makes sense that the two should be paired together.  Plus, think of the complex time travel papers those 5th graders could write as a result!!

Check out more books at The Broke and the Bookish!


  1. I like the pairings you made. I did the other challenge. Please check out my TTT | Jorie’s Read’s by Starry Night Elf.

  2. Excellent choices! I like the anti-bullying one and forgot about Monster, a powerful book. Thanks for sharing these.

  3. I just started Oliver Twist and I like Terry Pratchett, I'll have to see if I g=can get a copy of Dodger. Great list!

  4. Good list, I love The Book Thief as well.