This is a copy of a blog by and with the kind permission of The Teaching Booth. More of the Teaching Booth’s blogs can be read here: https://theteachingbooth.wordpress.com/blog/
Two or three years ago I spent a weekend thinking about what books I would want my class to read. I whittled it down to 100, threw it onto a very basic document and shared it in case anyone wanted it. They did, and it’s been madness to see it shared up and down the country and committed to displays. The list feels much bigger than just me now, and it’s always been editable (as is the new version), so people can take their own creative control over it for their class. That said, I have made a few changes. Two older fiction books, three newer fiction books and a newer non-fiction book.
I’ve been uncomfortable for almost the entire time since I made it that The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is on the list. It’s well documented that this is a historically inaccurate novel, almost to the point of being offensive. Some argue that we should show it to primary school children and contrast with what actually happened, but I don’t believe any Year 6 children across the country have the depth and breadth of knowledge about WW2 to accurately make the comparison without embedding a plethora of misconceptions. I took it off the list and replaced it with Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. No need to explain why, frankly I’m not sure how I omitted it in the first place, but I’m only human.
I’ve also taken A Monster Calls off. This won’t be a popular decision, but there are so many people who just use the resource without (understandably) having read all 100 books, and this isn’t a book to just hand to anyone. It’s emotionally fraught and heavy going and I can only think of 3 or 4 readers over the last few years I’d have been happy to hand it to. I replaced that one with Kick by Mitch Johnson, a brilliant new book, about football on the surface (a great hook), but with a much deeper, funnier and more meaningful story about family, poverty and aspirations. In a similar vein, I only included Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Girls with the intention of it being for a very select few readers. This seems pointless now, so I’ve replaced with Sophie Anderson’s sensational new folklore tale The House With Chicken Legs, as I think there are so many things that can be done with this book and it’s a great way of getting children into old fairy tales and the like.
Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is still sensational, but two years down the line I can’t overlook how much better than it I think The Graveyard Book is, so I simply swapped them around. I don’t repeat authors in the list, hence not including them both.
I also thought that Kieran Larwood’s The Legend Of Podkin One Ear was in desperate need of inclusion. Thinking back to which books from the list had been returned the most without being finished, sadly The Diamond of Drury Lane lost its place, but this is still a fantastic book that I encourage you to read.
Finally, I had got a lot of messages about which version of The Diary Of Anne Frank to use, and it’s so complex for so many Y6 readers that I thought instead I would include the fantastic Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls. While I wish the book had a better title, I do think it’s a really important piece of recent non-fiction work.
Anyway, the list is downloadable below, it’s editable as always and completely free. I hope someone finds it of use.