Are you already thinking about which novels you will use for novel studies next year? Which novels for for whole class instruction, which ones for small groups, which ones for individual reading? There are so many great choices, and each one that you pick means leaving out another one!
Here are some of my favorites – some that I came back to year after year, and some that just stick in my mind. I’ve written blog posts about each one. Many of them have lists of questions for class discussions, and others have ideas for follow-up activities and links to free resources. All are favorites, one way or another. I’ll start with one that I always think of as summer approaches, but it’s good anytime!
Because of Winn-Dixie
What’s not to like about this story of Opal and her scruffy, lovable dog Winn-Dixie? Kids and teachers alike love this classic! Winn-Dixie the dog, who basically adopts Opal, is a natural discussion starter with kids. Here are some ideas for class discussion questions. They include background and prediction questions for before reading, questions for after certain events in the novel, and after reading questions. You can read all the details in the blog post.
And here are more Winn-Dixie resources. This link will take you to the post with all the details about my novel study; the novel study includes all the basics like chapter questions plus additional activities like the fun, whole-class Winn-Dixie I Have Who Has game. From the post, you will also be able to download my freebie for this novel (There is a freebie for every novel that I’ve done a novel study for in my TPT store!).
Great for the beginning of the school with its football theme, Crash is another popular pick among both teachers and students, but there is lots more to it that just football! Themes addressed in the novel include bullying, friendship, grandparents, and the environment. Here you will find discussion questions for these and other themes in Crash.
And here’s a fun yearbook activity to follow up with:
Bud, Not Buddy
If you like to incorporate history along with your novel studies, Bud, Not Buddy is one great choice for the Great Depression or the Jazz Age. I’ve collected some ideas for non-fiction articles to pair with the novel study in this post.
And here are some discussion questions that you might like to use.
The Van Gogh Cafe
A short novel that is easy to fit into a busy schedule, The Van Gogh Cafe is just as engaging as the longer ones. The elements of fantasy mixed in with a sweet, realistic story make this one a favorite! You can read more about some of the stories that make up this fun read in these two posts.
Stepping on the Cracks
This novel, set in the United States when it was the Homefront during World War II, provides lots of points of comparison to current events, whether it is a war going on somewhere in the world right now or another modern global events. Check out the topics suggested in this blog post for ideas for related activities while your class is reading Stepping on the Cracks.
Here are some discussion questions, divided into categories by themes.
This post included a free figurative language resource using metaphors from Schooled, which is about an eighth-grader who was raised by his grandmother on a 60’s-style commune and who suddenly must enter the world of public middle school. (He does amazingly well there and becomes the most popular kid in school, using his own unique style!) The freebie is a one-page activity sheet that gives examples and then asks students to explain metaphors from the novel, find additional metaphors in the novel, and list cliches that they have heard at school.
Here are some topics that could be used for follow-up activities including essay writing, a class discussion, poster making, and more.
There are blog posts with activities and resources for additional novels on my blog. Just so that you can see which novels there are activities for, here are links to one of the posts for each novel. You can find links to additional posts at these pages and in the Reading Skills section of the blog.
I hope that some of these posts provide helpful activities that you can use in your classes or maybe even provide ideas for new lessons. If you do have an additional idea for an activity to go with any of the novels that you would like to share, please do!
If you are looking for a complete novel study for any of these stories, you can find it in my TPT store, Classroom in the Middle. This is where you will also find the freebie for each novel!