Oldies but Goodies: Books You May Have Forgotten but Your Students Never Will - National Council of Teachers of English
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Oldies but Goodies: Books You May Have Forgotten but Your Students Never Will

This blog post was written by NCTE member Jodi-Beth Hazel. This post is part of Build Your Stack®, an NCTE initiative focused exclusively on helping teachers build their book knowledge and their classroom libraries. Build Your Stack provides a forum for contributors to share books from their classroom experience; inclusion in a blog post does not imply endorsement or promotion of specific books by NCTE.


As an educator my goal is to constantly increase student interest and access to books. I am always looking for new titles to discuss with students and teachers to ensure that we are providing consistent messaging about the importance of a reading life and the joy reading brings.

While new titles are always exciting and interesting to discuss and promote, I have recently started to think about the titles that my students were talking about amongst each other years ago. I remember hearing them discuss how they were looking forward to reading this title or that one when their friend finished with the copy available in my classroom library. I remember the requests for more copies of certain titles and long waiting lists for others. So, I thought, maybe it is time to bring these books back into the fold.

I have come up with a short list of titles that were making the rounds amongst my middle school and high school students ten years ago. However, a couple of them are making a comeback as streaming platforms create series and movies based on them.

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral—This book is a mix of different formats of text and images woven together to tell an interesting story. The interesting format of images and limited text allows for it to be read in one sitting, so it piques the interest of all kinds of readers.


Sweep series by Cate Tiernan—Follow the main character as she discovers her blood witch status and all of the history and secrets that come along with it.


Skeleton Creek series by Patrick Carman—This detective series is fast-paced and alternates between text and video, keeping readers engaged and curious. The websites and passwords throughout the book keep readers involved in the story from start to finish.


The First Part Last by Angela Johnson—This novel is short and powerful. The story of teen pregnancy and fatherhood provides insight for young adult readers as they watch Bobby struggle while doing the right thing.

She’s So Dead to Us trilogy by Kieran Scott—This series highlights the power of friendship and the idea of loyalty or a lack thereof in the face of scandal.


The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han—The story of Belly and her lifelong friendships with Conrad and Jeremiah unfolds beautifully in this well-written trilogy.


Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz—Students who are fascinated by vampire lore will enjoy this story of an elite society set in New York City.


Monster by Walter Dean Myers—This New York Times bestselling novel from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve’s own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how a single decision can change one’s whole life. Also available as a graphic novel.


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Jodi-Beth Hazel currently writes curriculum for a charter school system and provides professional development to teachers. In her sixteen years in education, Jodi-Beth has held many teaching positions, in eighth through twelfth grades. She has also spent years delivering professional development to teachers across South Texas. Jodi-Beth is looking forward to many more years of learning and growing with her fellow educators.

It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.