8 great novels to use for novel studies in the classroom

novel studies
Nicole at Apple Tree Resources
8 great novels to use for novel studies in the classroom

Thinking about doing a novel study with your students in the grades 5-8 classroom but not really sure where to begin? In this episode, I share some of my favorite novels to use and what makes these books a great pick for your class' upcoming novel study unit. Tune in to learn more!


Resources Mentioned:  

5 Activities to Use With Any Story - Free Resources Click to download


Want to read instead of listen? Check out the podcast blog below.

Hey there, amazing educators! Welcome back to another episode of Let's Chat Teaching, the Apple Tree Resources Podcast. I'm your host, Nicole Sanders, teacher-turned-online Pro-D course creator. Today, we've got an exciting topic to dive into – the best novel study books for students in the grades five to eight classroom. So, grab your favorite cup of coffee or tea, find a cozy spot, and let's chat about some incredible books that will light up your classroom!

Before we jump into the book recommendations, let's talk a bit about the beauty of full-class novel studies. I'm a big advocate for reading novels aloud to your students. There's something magical about creating a shared learning experience, delving deep into a story, and building a sense of community in your classroom. Plus, when we read novels aloud, we model what good readers do, exposing students to new vocabulary and formal language structures that they might not encounter in everyday conversation.

Now, let's get into the heart of today's episode – novel recommendations for different grade levels. Remember, every class is unique, and the dynamics vary each year. So, use your judgment and adapt these suggestions to suit your students' needs.


For Grade 5: "I Survived" Series by Lauren Tarshis - Ever come across those reluctant readers in your class? Well, the "I Survived" series is the game-changer you're looking for. Lauren Tarshis weaves captivating tales around natural and manmade disasters, making history come alive. These easy-to-read, chapter books are not just engaging but also provide an excellent entry point for students new to novel studies.

Check out easy to use novel studies for this series HERE


For Grade 6: "The Breadwinner" by Deborah Ellis - Set in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, "The Breadwinner" follows the story of Parvana, a young girl who disguises herself as a boy to support her family. This novel serves as a powerful introduction to topics like women's rights, patriarchal societies, and life under a repressive government. It's a thought-provoking choice for sparking discussions on complex themes.

Check out the complete novel study HERE


For Grades 5-7: "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio - "Wonder" is a heartwarming story that tackles themes of empathy, friendship, and resilience. With its unique narrative structure, R.J. Palacio offers perspectives from different characters, allowing students to explore how authors convey character traits through writing styles. This one is sure to resonate with your students and provide ample opportunities for meaningful discussions.


For Grades 6-7: "Freak the Mighty" by Rodman Philbrick - In this tale of an extraordinary friendship, "Freak the Mighty" delves into the lives of two boys – one small but brilliant, the other big but perceived as slow. The novel explores themes of friendship, acceptance, and facing challenges. The character dynamics and the profound messages make it a must-read for middle-grade students.


Check out the complete novel study HERE


For Grades 7-8: "Touching Spirit Bear" by Ben Mikaelsen - "Touching Spirit Bear" takes us on a journey with Cole Matthews, a juvenile delinquent facing a unique form of justice – Circle Justice. Set against the backdrop of remote Alaska, this novel delves deep into themes of anger, reconciliation, and personal transformation. It's a gripping and thought-provoking read that resonates with students.


Check out the complete novel study HERE


For Grades 7-8: "A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park - This novel, based on true stories, intertwines two narratives set in Sudan – one in 1985 and the other in 2008. It explores the challenges faced by individuals in different times, shedding light on the struggle for water and survival. "A Long Walk to Water" is a poignant novel that sparks discussions on history, resilience, and the human spirit.


Check out the complete novel study HERE


For Grades 8 and Up: "I Am Malala: Young Readers Edition" - Malala Yousafzai's inspiring memoir is a testament to the power of education and resilience. This young readers edition allows students to explore Malala's courageous journey advocating for girls' education in Afghanistan. It's a compelling choice for older students, encouraging discussions on activism, human rights, and the importance of standing up for one's beliefs.


Check out the complete novel stud HERE




For Grades 8 and Up: "Resistance" by Jennifer A. Nielsen - Transport your students to World War II with "Resistance," a novel that follows teenagers involved in resistance movements against the Nazis. This gripping tale explores themes of justice, bravery, and the power of individuals to make a difference. It's a must-read for students interested in history and the resilience of the human spirit.


Check out the complete novel stud HERE


I hope this novel journey has sparked your interest and provided you with some fresh ideas for your classroom. Whether you choose to read these books aloud or incorporate them into your novel studies, the key is to create a shared experience that fosters a love for reading and meaningful discussions. Remember, you're not just teaching novels – you're guiding your students through a journey of discovery and understanding.

If you're looking for novel study resources, head over to Apple Tree Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. You'll find previews of various novel studies that can serve as a valuable resource for your classroom activities. Feel free to explore and adapt these resources to suit your teaching style and your students' needs.

Thank you for joining me today. Your time is precious, and I'm honored that you chose to spend it with me. Until next time, happy reading and teaching! If you'd like more free activities to enhance your story time, visit appletreeresources.com/storyactivities for a special gift.


Take care, and see you in the next episode!




If you want to get a pre-made novel study for most (sorry I don't have novel studies for all of the books mentioned) of the amazing books in the blog post then click on the image to see more!








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