Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Back to School

db1d1-toptentuesdayIt’s Top Ten Tuesday Time! This week’s theme is pretty open: Back to School. My list: Top Ten Books Read in School. I went for the first ten that I could think of, since they’re ones that have stuck with me through the years. Enjoy my list, click on over to The Broke and the Bookish to see what everybody else is reading, and share your favorite (or least favorite) back to school books in the comments.

1. Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg. My third grade teacher Ms. Boland read this to us without showing us the pictures and had us guess what was happening / what the story was about. I’ve been reading it with Zoe in the last six months or so and trying to figure out how she did that. It was captivating and magical and fun.

2. The BFG by Roald Dahl. My fourth grade teacher Mr. Lownsberry read this out loud to us. He was probably 22 or so, and he laughed even harder at the fart jokes than we did. His enjoyment of the book made it even more wonderful for us.

Photograph of Lady Bird Johnson Visiting a Classroom for Project Head Start, 03/19/1966

3. The Wishgiver by Bill BrittainWe read this in fifth grade and I loved it. The magic and mystery drew me in to the stories of three young people who buy wishes from a mysterious man at the fair. The results are unexpected (and, for fifth grade me, super stressful). I could not put it down.

4. The Tripod Trilogy  by John Christopher. Probably the first science fiction I read (sixth grade). The story was so exciting (and again, stressful). I’ve reread the series several times and I still love it, even though it’s a little dated and there’s not enough for the female characters to do.

5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. My wonderful English teacher Mr. Harris introduced me to this book in tenth grade. It was different than anything I’d ever read. This is the book that really showed me the power of figurative language. A bee to a blossom, people.

Students and Teacher in a Classroom at Cathedral High School in New Ulm, Minnesota...

6. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. The amazing Ms. Julie Johnson taught the heck out of this book my junior year in high school. I was completely drawn into the world of New York society, and went on to read all the Edith Wharton I could get my hands on over the next few years.

7. Persuasion by Jane Austen. Okay. I never miss a chance to put this one on a list. It’s simply the best. But I first discovered it was the best in English Literature II, where the lilting Italian voice of Professor Chiara Briganti unlocked its wonders and depths.

8. Anagrams by Lorrie Moore. My most favorite book from one of my favorite classes (The Post Modern American Novel, back when we weren’t quite post-Post Modern yet). So funny, so heartbreaking, so true.

Passmore Edwards Room, 1993

9. Underworld by Don Delillo. A sprawling, epic, great American novel that starts with baseball and goes . . . well, just about everywhere from there. My two favorite English professors gave us the keys to this novel (and, it felt like, everything else) and helped us find our way around inside it.

10. The Book of Concordtranslated by Robert Kolb and Tim Wengert. What can I say? This hefty tome is chock full of Lutheran goodness. I read it (okay, much of it) in seminary and impressed / refuted my Anglo-Catholic colleagues during CPE. I still turn to this book when I’m preparing confirmation lessons, adult education, and evidence for my ecumenical friends.

Students Studying at Cathedral Senior High School in New Ulm, Minnesota...


What are your back to school favorites, or the books you loved to hate in school?

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