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Book Club Novels

The list below indicates all the novels discussed in the Book Club program. You'll find lesson plans for all novels in the Store or by clicking the individual "Purchase Lesson Plan" links. The lesson plans appear in either a Book Club Novel Guide, in Book Club for Middle School, or in Book Club: A Literature-Based Curriculum. To learn more about the novels and read a summary, further reading material, reviews, and an outline of the lesson plan click on a title. You can order class sets of trade books by clicking on the "Purchase Novel" link.


Featured in Book Club Novel Guides


Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Fifth graders Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke become best friends and build their own peaceful, imaginary world together. Through his relationship with Leslie, Jess learns about imagination, self-respect, true friendship, and death.

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Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Set during the Great Depression, this book tells the story of ten-year-old Bud, a determined and resourceful boy who is searching for his father. His mother, who recently died, left him some flyers advertising appearances of Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band. With these flyers and some other precious possessions carefully packed in his suitcase, Bud sets out to find Calloway and the key to his family history.

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The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Shipwrecked on an island with a gentle and resourceful West Indian named Timothy, young Phillip must confront the stereotypes he has always held about black-skinned people.

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Holes by Louis Sachar
Stanley Yelnats is sent to a juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit. He and the other boys must dig a large hole every day. While serving his sentence, Stanley unearths many secrets about his family's history and about his own hidden potential.

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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Esperanza, an eighth grader, has just moved to shabby Mango Street. The novel unfolds in a series of short vignettes describing her working-class family and the people in her Mexican-American neighborhood. It ends with Esperanza's visualization of living alone in a quiet house, far from Mango Street, where she can realize her dream of being a writer.

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In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
After moving to New York City from Chungking, China, in 1947, Shirley Temple Wong has some trouble fitting in until she makes friends with the toughest girl in the fifth grade. Shirley becomes interested in baseball and listens to Brooklyn Dodgers games on the radio. Jackie Robinson inspires her to see America as a land of opportunity and herself as a person who can make a difference.

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Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Unintentionally left behind when her people leave their small Pacific island, Karana must draw upon all her knowledge and courage to survive. She shelters and feeds herself and makes weapons to fend off the wild dogs that roam the island. After many years of self-sufficiency, Karana finally leaves the island, yearning to hear the voices of her people once again.

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Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Twelve-year-old Jeffrey becomes a living legend when he wanders into the town of Two Mills, Pennsylvania. Kids on both sides of this segregated community are amazed by his athletic feats. But Jeffrey doesn't want to be idolized; he wants to be loved by a family of his own. In his search for a home, Jeffrey helps bridge the gap between black and white residents of Two Mills.

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Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
After her parents die, six-year-old Summer finds a loving home with Uncle Ob and Aunt May. When Aunt May dies six years later, Summer and Uncle Ob must help each other accept their loss and find happiness in their memories of May.

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The lives of ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen are disrupted by World War II and the Nazi occupation of their town in Denmark. When the relocation of Jews begins, Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be part of the family. Then Annemarie must find the courage to try to save her friend's life.

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Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Fourteen-year-old Billie Jo is the only child in an Oklahoma farm family struggling to eke out a living during the Dust Bowl. A tragic accident claims her mother's life and leaves Billy Jo's hands so badly scarred that she cannot play the piano, the greatest joy of her life. Billy Jo finally gathers the courage to begin playing again and to forgive herself and her father for everything that has happened.

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
In segregated Mississippi, the Logan family organizes a boycott to protest a brutal attack on three African American men. Ten-year-old Cassie sees her father's leg broken and her mother's job lost as a result. She also learns a lesson about courage when her father risks his life and the family farm to save a teenager from a lynch mob.

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Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Eleven-year-old Marty confronts a moral dilemma when he discovers that one of his neighbors is abusing a dog. His heart tells him to hide the dog from its cruel owner, but this means he must lie to his family. Naylor's book is a touching and intelligent story about integrity, responsibility, and love.

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Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell
O'Dell tells the story of the Long Walk, a forced relocation of American Indians in the 1860s, through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old Navajo girl. Before this event, Bright Morning endures kidnapping by Spaniards who sell her into slavery. She boldly escapes and returns to her home in Arizona, only to experience the Long Walk and its devastating effects on her people. Despite these hardships, Bright Morning maintains her optimism about the future.

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Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Having recently moved from Texas to Florida, Paul transfers to Tangerine Middle School, a school with a tough reputation. There, Paul forms strong friendships with fellow students and soccer players. As his self-confidence grows, Paul gains the strength to expose the painful truth about his football-star brother's role in the childhood accident that damaged his eyesight.

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The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Mrs. Olinski returns to teaching sixth grade after a car accident that killed her husband and left her in a wheelchair. The four students she selects for her academic bowl team not only exceed everyone's expectations in the competition, but also form a unique bond of friendship that nurtures each one. The narrative structure of this novel allows Konigsburg to tell her story through the eyes of all four main characters.

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Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
After thirteen-year-old Sal's mother leaves home, she and her grandparents set out on a car trip to try to retrace her mother's route. Along the way, Sal reveals details about herself as she tells her grandparents the story of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom, whose mother also left.

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The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Ten-year-old Kenny, his parents, his little sister, and his older brother—"an official juvenile delinquent"—are an African American family living in Flint, Michigan. In 1963, the family drives to Alabama to visit Grandma. The visit brings the family closer together as they deal with intense racism and traumatic events.

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A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Meg Murry and her younger brother Charles Wallace take a bizarre journey through time and space to save their scientist father, who has been captured by an evil force. Along the way they meet a collection of interesting characters and learn about themselves and the power of love.

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Featured in Book Club for Middle School


The Giver by Lois Lowry
Young Jonas lives in a world that is completely controlled. There is no fear, pain, or fighting. People have no choices—they are assigned roles in the community that they must fulfill. Then Jonas is chosen to receive special training from The Giver—the only person who remembers, and can share with Jonas, life's true pain and pleasure.

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Angelou's memoir describes her life growing up in the South of the 1930s and 1940s. Through the eyes of a child and a young adult, she sees the effects of racism, broken families, and betrayed trust. It is a story of great personal strength that ends with Angelou finding her voice as a young activist, writer, and mother.

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Set in Depression-era Mississippi, this novel describes the struggles of the Logan family to preserve their integrity in the face of racism and discrimination. Cassie, the ten-year-old narrator, learns about sacrifice and strength as her parents fight to keep their land and protect a teenage boy from a lynch mob.

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Young Scout learns many difficult lessons about human cruelty and prejudice when her father, a lawyer in a small Arkansas town, takes the case of an African American man accused of assaulting a white woman. The example of integrity and compassion set by her father leaves an indelible impression on both Scout and the reader.

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The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Ten-year-old Kenny, his parents, his little sister, and his older brother—"an official juvenile delinquent"—are an African American family living in Flint, Michigan. In 1963, the family drives to Alabama to visit Grandma. The visit brings the family closer together as they deal with intense racism and traumatic events.

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Featured in Book Club: A Literature-Based Curriculum


Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Set during the Great Depression, this book tells the story of ten-year-old Bud, a determined and resourceful boy who is searching for his father. His mother, who recently died, left him some flyers advertising appearances of Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band. With these flyers and some other precious possessions carefully packed in his suitcase, Bud sets out to find Calloway and the key to his family history.

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The Fighting Ground by Avi
A thirteen-year-old boy named Jonathan runs off to fight in the Revolutionary War and discovers a far more challenging fight—one that takes place within himself as he comes face to face with his "enemies" and witnesses the horrors of war.

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The Friendship by Mildred Taylor
A black man is shot by his white friend when he calls the man by his first name in public. Taylor's story shows how people deal with the hurt and humiliation of racism.

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Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
After the death of her mother, Kira's neighbors would banish her from their primitive village because she is physically disabled. Her talent for embroidery saves her, and she is summoned to work on a special robe used in important ceremonies. Working under the tight control of the authorities, Kira learns disturbing truths about her society but tries to use her art to bring a better future to her people.

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The Gold Cadillac by Mildred Taylor
In this Depression-era story, an African American family is harassed when they drive their fancy new car into Mississippi, where segregation laws are in effect.

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Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Thirteen-year-old Brian is in a plane crash and spends fifty-four days alone in the wilderness. With only the help of a hatchet, he survives and builds confidence that will help him survive other difficulties in his life.

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Mississippi Bridge by Mildred Taylor
Jeremy Simms, a ten-year-old white boy, watches as African Americans are forced off a bus in the middle of a terrible rain storm to make room for more white passengers. Moments later, the bus drives off an old bridge into an overflowing river. Jeremy struggles to understand the tragedy as he and a black friend try to save people.

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Monkey Island by Paula Fox
Eleven-year-old Clay is abandoned by his mother and must fend for himself on the streets of New York City. He receives help and friendship from two homeless men and is eventually reunited with his mother and baby sister.

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Song of the Trees by Mildred Taylor
Cassie Logan loves the beautiful old trees in the forest surrounding her family's farm, but a man cheats her grandmother into selling the trees for lumber. The Logan family stands together to try to protect their property.

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
An unusual girl who calls herself Stargirl arrives at Leo's high school in Arizona. The other students are at first puzzled by her behavior, which includes dressing outlandishly, being friendly to everyone, and bringing her pet rat to school. She becomes popular for a while, but then everyone shuns her. Leo, who has fallen in love with Stargirl, must decide where his loyalties lie.

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Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
While walking in the woods one day, ten-year-old Winnie Foster meets a family that is hiding an amazing secret—a spring that gives everlasting life. Winnie joins the Tucks in trying to protect the spring from greed and misuse, which could permanently alter life's sacred natural cycle.

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