Best of 2016 Booktalks

The end of the year is approaching, and in the spirit of best-books-of-the-year lists, I’ve gathered together 16 standout titles from my school booktalks in 2016. Out of the 75 titles that I shared with upper elementary and middle school classrooms this year, these are the titles that students were most often clamoring to read.

It’s not surprising to find thrillers by Gordon Korman and Margaret Peterson Haddix on a list like this, but my list also features three historical fiction, including one set in 1917 Russia and another in East Berlin. There’s a novel-in-verse about an accidental kidnapping, a mystery narrated by a boy with Asperger’s, and a middle-grade title that takes on human trafficking. Nonfiction subjects range from sharks to grave robbers, and the graphic novels give us a boy who fell out of the sky and a witch working in a school cafeteria.

I’ve linked to the full booktalk for titles that are already up on the blog, and I will be posting the others soon.



A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen. 2015. In a single night, East Berlin is cut off from the West by a wall—and Gera’s family is torn apart. What will she risk to get across?

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. 2015. In Russia in 1917, Feo helps captive wolves become wild again. When her mother is arrested, Feo and her pack set out to rescue her.

Tell Me by Joan Bauer. 2014. The town motto is “Nothing bad happens here,” but when Anna sees a girl trying to escape from an old van, she’s not sure the slogan is true.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman. 2015. Everything is perfect in Eli’s town of Serenity, New Mexico. Or so it seems until he tries to ride his bike beyond the city limits.

Under Their Skin by Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2015. Nick and Eryn aren’t allowed to meet their new stepsiblings. But why? Their mom acts like everybody’s life is at stake.

Hidden by Helen Frost. 2011. When Wren was eight, she was accidentally kidnapped by Darra’s dad. Now the girls are fourteen, and they meet at summer camp.

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. 2007. Ted and Kat need to find their cousin. He disappeared from a sealed pod on the London Eye, and the police are stumped.

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2015. Evacuated from London at the beginning of World War II, Ada and her brother are sent to the country. Ada has never been outside before.


Graphic Novels:

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova. 2015.

The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley. 2014.

Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick. 2015.

The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke. 2015.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. 2015.



Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin. 2012.

Super Shark Encyclopedia and Other Creatures of the Deep by Derek Harvey. 2015.

When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses by Rebecca L. Johnson. 2014.