The 10 Best Books I Read in School: K-College

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I’ve been a little out of the blogging groove between our lake vacation, work, and the start of school. Lots of excitement around here this week, and the Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) got me thinking about the books that stuck with me during my years in school.

I read a lot as a student—everything from classics to The Babysitter’s Club (over and over and over). Many of those classics that I read as a child remain favorites, but I tried to choose books here that I recall actually reading for class and that stuck with me in some significant way.

While there were many books I read in school that I enjoyed and appreciated, few from junior high or high school stuck with me in the way of those I read in elementary school. Something about reading books as a child fixes them in your mind in a way that just doesn’t happen as an adult.

Many of these were my first exposures to ideas and experiences that were unfamiliar to me (immortality, art history, the Underground Railroad, the Vietnam War), while others had themes that were appealing to me (secret worlds, survival, independence).

On the opposite end of my list, some of the books I read in college have stuck with me for the compelling stories and the interesting discussions they prompted.

As you might expect, given the range of ages at which I read these, it’s quite a disparate list:

  1. Tuck Everlasting: I loved this story about a young girl who befriends a family that has found the fountain of youth.
  2. Bridge to Terabithia: A young friendship grows in a secret forest kingdom.
  3. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: A widowed mouse seeks the help of rats to move her family to safety for the winter.
  4. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: A girl and her brother move into the Museum of Modern Art and try to solve a mystery of the artist behind an angel sculpture.
  5. Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman: My first extended glimpse of slavery and the Underground Railroad. I was fascinated and horrified and recall reading this several times around fourth grade.
  6. Island of the Blue Dolphins: A girl survives alone for years alone on an island after being left behind by her people.
  7. Homecoming: A teen girl walks her younger siblings across states in search of a relative who will take them in after they are abandoned by their mother.
  8. Fallen Angels: The story of a mostly black platoon in the Vietnam War. This book set off an unlikely fascination with Vietnam; I read it several times in junior high.
  9. Pattern Recognition: My first real foray into cyberpunk in college, this is an early exploration of the concept of viral videos.
  10. Into the Forest: A teen girl and her family survive after the power goes out for good. Read for a college course on feminist rhetoric.

What are the best books you read in school?

The 10 Best Books I Read in School (K-College)



  1. I didn’t read The Bridge to Terabithia until I was an adult. I wish I had gotten to read it when I was growing up. Such a great book! I loved Island of the Blue Dolphins. I remember that one well from my childhood. Youe list sure is bringing back memories! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I read Bridge to Terabithia again this year–it definitely holds up as a great book! I loved Island of the Blue Dolphins and read it several times as a kid. Did you know there’s a sequel called Zia?

      1. I think I had heard about the sequel, but had forgotten about it. Maybe I should consider re-reading Island of the Blue Dolphins and then follow it up with the sequel . . . Or maybe my daughter will be reading it when she’s a bit older and I can read along. Thanks for reminding me!

  2. Fab list. I have heard many wonderful things about many of the books on your list! I should make some time for them!

    1. I know how hard it is to fit in all the books you want to read! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Tuck Everlasting is one of the books I’m eager to read with my kids ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I remember Island of the Blue Dolphins as being the *in book* to read in middle school. I never read it though, I was too busy with my horror novels. ๐Ÿ˜€ But Bridge to Terabithia and Mrs. Frisby are two that stuck with me for many years. That and Where The Red Fern Grows.

    Here is our TTT.

    1. Haha–I liked Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine, even though I was (and still am) kind of a chicken when it came to those kind of books.

      I debated adding Where the Red Fern Grows, but I don’t think I read it for a class. I kind of want to re-read it, but I’m pretty sure I’d end up sobbing for hours.

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