2016 Contenders

I am amazed at how many great books there are in the world!  As I furiously read as many as I can, I will update this list as well. If you would like to suggest books, go here.

If you are an author or publisher and you would like to suggest your books, go here.

Picture Book Author Study:

Early Grades:

Middle grades:

Middle School:

Young Adult:


57 thoughts on “2016 Contenders

  1. I love seeing Gary Schmidt on this list! I’ve been reading Lizzy Bright as my final read aloud for the past two years because it simply is a work of art, so beautifully written. I cry with my students when we find that Lizzie dies. Haven’t read Orbiting Jupiter, but will do so soon!

    I can’t thank you enough for starting the GRA! What a BRILIANT idea! This is my first year participating and my classes are on fire!!! We have already skyped with a school in Vancouver, set up a shared Google Classroom with Saudi Arabia, and are in the process of adding a school from Malaysia! Seriously, I’m sitting here on a Saturday morning wishing it was Monday so we can get back to reading FIAT:)

    • This was my first experience with Global Read Aloud and I am hooked! The children have loved every minute of it. We connected Skyped with and created a joint class book that was inspired by I Wish You More….what I am still looking for is other classes across the globe to work with. Mason, any suggestions. It sounds as though you have connected across the globe…any advice would be . I teach 1st & second grade in Western New York. Thanks!

      • I read Orbiting Jupiter this week. Wow. Just wow. Great read, but I would not feel comfortable sharing this as a read aloud with my sixth graders. I really enjoyed Crenshaw and would likely have my grade six students read that instead.

      • I think “The Nest” and “The Thing About Jellyfish” are too mature for 4th grade. We’ve always read the upper elementary books, but we might have to do the early elementary next year. Regardless, I love the experience my students get with GRA, so we’ll pick one and do it! 🙂

      • I haven’t read any of the upper elementary yet, but everything I’ve heard about the Nest leads me to believe it is too high for 3rd and 4th graders. Just my thoughts.

      • I know that this is an ever evolving list, which does make it so great and it helps me decide what I want to read. I would also agree that The Nest and The Thing About Jellyfish are too mature – I would not feel comfortable reading them to my 3rd and 4th graders. I just started Pax and think it could be a great contender and am anxious to read Raymie. I’ve read and enjoyed Crenshaw and Circus Mirandus, but am not crazy about them as read-alouds.

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  3. Have you looked at The Boy in the Black Suit for the high school read? It’s by Jason Reynolds one of the authors of All American Boys. (I really liked All American Boys too, but loved The Boy in the Black Suit)

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  5. How about something by Brian Selznick? His books are wonderful for upper elementary grades (4 to 8)…full of pics and more intricate stories….great for making inferences. “The Marvels” is his new book. I have it…haven’t read it yet though. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2015/08/13/how-brian-selznick-created-a-delightful-book-trailer-for-the-marvels-exclusive-video/
    I’ve read “Wonderstruck” to my last two grade 6 classes using a document camera and they loved it.

  6. My first time in the New Zealand read aloud and as a teacher I was thrilled at the buy in and engagement with my year 8 students. This book kept them wanting more and our critical thinking skills and focused discussions were mind blowing. At an age where many, especially boys, are becoming disengaged from texts, Night Vision was the hook I needed to revive a passion for reading. Thanks Ella West for your amazing book, Night Vision. Look forward to many more coming into our school library. 🙂

  7. Please, please, please consider The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read. A bold statement, but truly how I feel. The characters and story he created through his masterful use of free verse is simply amazing. I could feel the rhythm of the story just as you can feel the rhythm of dribbling a basketball. I can definitely see why this book was the Newbury winner.

  8. I LOVE GRA, and my students and I have really enjoyed the connections we’ve made through participation.I’d love to see the inclusion of more non-American authors or titles that address global issues. Fish this year was a great step in that direction.

  9. I read Clementine to my class last year and they loved it! Loved the characters – great discussions. Couldn’t wait to read another one – so we did!

  10. I love that the process of checking out the contenders means I get exposed to new books and authors. I just put a long list on hold at the library, including books that are out of my classroom age range – just because I am excited to read them! Winter break & many wonderful books, here I come!
    We just finished our second year of GRA with my mixed-age class of grades 4-6, and we look forward to participating again in 2016.

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  12. Have been reading during break…
    House Arrest: Incredible. Great for discussion. Appropriate for 4th-5th. Loved it.
    Orbiting Jupiter: Excellent read, but definitely too mature for 4th-5th grade. Better for young adult.

  13. Still reading!
    Crenshaw: Great for reading aloud, excellent for awareness of being homeless. Loved it. Wonderful choice for grades 4-6.
    Circus Mirandus: Fun read. Enjoyed it, but less compelling in terms of discussion & social issues compared with other upper elementary contenders.
    Night Vision: Compelling. Great for middle/high school.

    Going to read Pax by Sara Pennypacker next. Not on contender list, but sounds great.

      • Yep, just saw after I posted. Yay! So excited to read Pax!
        Forgot…also read The Nest. Creepiness. I think about 75% of my 4th/5th graders would handle it fine, but I think the other 25% might have difficulty coping with the story and graphic descriptions. Interesting one.

  14. I am so excited to dig into reading these contenders. I had this thought that I would have my grade 7 students read the contenders for the middle grades and have them weigh in on what books they think should be part of GRA next year. We are just about to focus on an inquiry around what makes a good story. We will watch the video that was created for last year’s announcements to harvest and build criteria that we can use to help focus our reading and discussions. We participated in 2015, and read FIAT. By happy circumstance they have also had previous year’s books read to them. Their experience with previous GRA books will allow for natural connections as we develop the criteria that they will use to think critically about the choices. My students loved the opportunity to use Caldecott criteria to select their Caldecott winner and this is an extension, except this time the criteria will be theirs. The goal is to read the books and select our favorite before they are announced!

  15. Reading Pax to my fourth graders and we are loving it!…half way and no one has asked what Pax means or where that name comes from 🙂

  16. I thought that Pax was a very powerful story with rich themes, and would recommend it as a middle grade read aloud. Our Grade 4 book club just finished Crenshaw, which provided a nice balance of humor with a serious subject. We also discussed how this book enhanced our empathy for others.

  17. My votes would go to Crenshaw and The Nest. Both books have great deep thinking for students to stretch their minds in new directions and human elements to them that will teach them empathy and to think beyond themselves. If we get to vote those would be my number one and two choices to read as a class

  18. I would like to have Clementine as a third grade teacher. It would work well with our study on character traits. Thanks for all you do!

  19. The Nest is too graphic and scary for that age group. I loved it but was completely scared. I am really looking forward to Raymie, Crenshaw and Pax. I will likely read a middle grades selection with my grade 3s… Billy Miller last year didn’t have enough “meat” in it for good discussions… The year we read Edward Tulane with the grade 3s was THE BEST as it was complex enough to really sink our teeth into… I’m hoping a title with lots of potential for discussion is chosen 🙂

  20. I am not sure what I am teaching next year but probably gr 2 or 3. Leaning towards the early grade read alouds…especially Kate Messner’s book. She was fantastic when we read her other chapter book during the GRA. She skyped us and answered our questions on her blog. I think Kenna Ford looks good too..just thinking of my kiddos for next year. The Roald Dahl one says it has a movie coming out. I wonder if it will be out next year for students to go see and compare. That might be interesting too.

  21. Loved reading the contenders this year! So many great books. I have been reading the middle grade contenders, as these fit best with my grade 6 group. I taught grade 7 this year and they loved FIAT. The middle school books are usually too advanced, with themes that are above my groups in the fall. I have liked them all, and “The Thing About Jellyfish” was my fave. The only one I haven’t read at that level was “Raymie”. My concern is, if I was teaching grade 4 or 5 next year… which I may…Few of these novels seem great for that group. I love Kenneth Opell, but “The Nest” didn’t speak to this age group. My fave novel for grade 3/4 was always “Silverwing”. Even before I knew GRA existed I read my classes “Tuck Everlasting”, “The miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane”, and “The One and Only Ivan”. I loved that Tuck was 20 years old and a book kids never found on their own. I would love more GRAs like that.

  22. I am loving Zeena Ford and the Second Grade Mix-Up since I do teach 2nd grade which my students loved The Year of Billy Miller and I like that it has a Culture aspect since I do work in a high African American population. I can’t wait to do it again next year!!!

  23. Greetings from Finland!
    I´d love to see BFG by Roald Dahl be the book for year 2016. This book is translated in Finnish so we could take part this year too. In my school we have taken part in GRA in 2014 with Edward Tulane (in Finnish) This book is absolutely wonderful, all students loved it. Last year we read Amy Krouse Rosenthal´s books. I ordered them from Amazon´s and translated them myself. They are GREAT!
    Could it be possible that every year there would be a book that is translated in several languages?

  24. Eleven by Tom Rogers is one of the most favorite books my students have read. It is a fabulous story about a boy turning age eleven on 9/11. It introduces 9/11 in age appropriate ways and there is so much to discuss. Much like Fish last year, the kids love finding clues to figure out who is the man in the white shirt. It lends itself to lots of activities. The author did a visit to our school, and I’m sure he would be willing to Skype and/or tweet with classes. I strongly encourage people to give it a try you won’t be sorry. Ms. Ripp had a great write-up about the book on the GRA site. I agree with everything she said. It is just one of the best books. I hope enough teachers in the grades 4 – 6 range choose it so that we can match up in the fall.

  25. My vote is definitely for ‘Eleven’ by Tom Rogers. The author also Skyped with my class and his insights on his creative process and how he built the character of Alex were invaluable. My class really also appreciated and engaged with the ‘growing up in one day’ aspect of the book, something so relatable to middle school kids. I teach in an international school and many students are not American; however, they loved the book because of the universal themes of growing up, sacrifice and family.

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  27. I don’t know if there is still a need for books, but here are a few suggestions that are more for middle school grades because of content.

    Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool- Reading Level 5.2.
    At the end of World War II, two boys share an incredible quest on the Appalachian Trail, where they deal with pirates, buried secrets, and extraordinary encounters. (When I listened to it – after reading – one character was portrayed as an autistic boy. This brought about a change in how I viewed the whole book.

    Night by Elie Wiesel – Reading level 4.8, This book chronicles the true and terrifying story of the author and his life as a Jew under the Nazis. Great male view point when teaching Anne Frank.

    Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel – Reading level 5.5. When Maisie gets into a terrible accident, her face is partially destroyed. She is lucky enough to get a face transplant, but how do you live your life when you can’t even recognize yourself anymore? Who are you? Who should you be?

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