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Best Books to Encourage Thinking in the Classroom

By Ryan Crawley,

24 Jan 2020

More educators are starting to go with using actual books in the classroom for teaching purposes instead of the textbooks that have been used for decades.

Regardless of the subject area, there are novels that can become a staple of classroom learning for your students that perhaps you have not thought of yet. In my own classroom, I have gone away from using textbooks as the main source of information.

I look at textbooks as just supplying supplemental information to lessons, but they are definitely not the end all and be all of what should be taught in the classroom. In fact, it only took me two years of teaching before I turned my back on most textbooks and brought in novels that helped guide the students into deeper thinking.

Plus, if you choose the right books, it is easy to incorporate all subject areas into the learning.

It is more of a total approach to learning where all areas are integrated together.

It really brings an authentic approach so the students can see how all subjects are tied together. Listed below are a few novels that you can use for various grade levels and ways to promote learning in many of the subject areas. Counting By 7s This novel is perfect for middle-grade students all the way through early high school.

It is about a girl that feels like an outsider like most kids do at some time in their lives.

Willow loves nature and learning about medical conditions (both of these areas are great for learning about Science).

After a tragedy happens, she must figure out how to handle grief the best way she can.

With social and emotional learning an important topic in today’s world for students, Counting By 7s could help students realize that we all are facing our battles.

Being able to tie in writing assignments relating this book to each student should be an easy thing to do and also provide deep thinking skills. To Kill a Mockingbird The classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird is perfect for junior high students and all the way through high school as well.

In fact, this was the first novel that I can remember reading in school from back in the day.

Not only do you have all the elements of a great novel, but the history of the time period that it was written for will have your students thinking how drastically times have changed.

In addition, have the students write a biography on the mysterious author Harper Lee.

Why was this highly acclaimed novel basically the only thing she ever wrote? Lee could have had a huge career as an author simply by building off her first book To Kill a Mockingbird, but instead she went the opposite way and dropped out of sight. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe With new novels being published yearly that deal with sorcery and fantasy, the Chronicles of Narnia books are often forgotten nowadays.

This is a shame since C.S.

Lewis wrote the masterpiece The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe almost 70 years ago and it still not only holds up to the test of time, but should be the bar for all other types of these books.

Of course, this novel is perfect for Language Arts, but also Social Studies and History.

This book would be great for third grade all the way through junior high. Absolutely One Thing (Charlie and Lola) One common complaint about finding novels for integrated studies in the classroom is that there is not enough of them that deal with math.

However, if you search hard enough and keep an open mind, you will find some great ones. Absolutely One Thing is not quite a novel, but a smaller book for kids in early elementary.

The concepts covered in this book will be very relatable to all young students as a brother tries helping his sister with number sense as they figure out what she can and can’t get at the store. These are merely just a few novels that you can bring into your classroom where more than just one subject area is touched upon.

Taking an authentic approach to learning, meaning subject areas are not completely kept separate from one another, is the best way to encourage thinking in the classroom.

Besides these books, what other novels do you use in your classroom that you believe other teachers will benefit from?