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Novels to Teach Students to Face Their Fears

Novels to Teach Students to Face Their Fears Read aloud novels are a huge part of our daily literacy routine. We built in fifteen minutes each day where one of us reads from a novel to our students. It is important (even at the higher grades) to model fluency, self-monitoring and questioning techniques when reading aloud to students and we include these minutes in our weekly Language Arts minutes.

Another bonus to having a novel always as the ready is to use it after transitions like recess or lunch to calm students or to fill those minutes between transitions when you’re waiting for another teacher or moving to another location.

Each year we select a theme for choosing our read aloud novels and this year’s theme was protagonists that face their fears. Our goal was to show students that like real people, characters are not perfect and can be challenged to become stronger.These novels were chosen for our fourth and fifth combined class (9-11 year olds), but are often at a higher reading level than if they were to read the book independently.

The Girl Who Owned a City   By O.T. NelsonGirlWhoOwnedaCity
A sickness has killed all the adults over the age of 12. Lisa Nelson takes matters into her own hands by leading a group of children into survival. Her take charge attitude annoys many people, but most of all Tom and the Chidester Gang.

This book is a distopian story and does have some strong language and a shooting, so it will be important to preread it and decide if your students can handle it.

Among the Hidden  By Margaret Peterson Haddixamongthehidden
Luke is a third child, born to a family during a food crisis and population control law. He has to stay hidden in his house day after day. After a new housing development is set up behind his home, he sees the face of a child in one of the windows. His curiousity gets the best of him and he leaves the safety of his home to investigate.

This book is the first of a distopian series, which is great for leading students into more reading as they follow Luke on his adventures.  Recommended for your stronger readers.

Hatchet By Gary Paulsonhatchet

Brian is off to visit his father in Northern Ontario when the small plane crashes killing the pilot and leaving him to fend for himself in the Canadian wilderness.

This book is a challenge for some students because the beginning is a little slow, but it picks up once the plane has crashed.  It has sequels which for some students, were even better than the original.  It is a higher reading level, so it is recommended for only your strongest readers.

Wonder By R.J. Palaccowonder
Auggie is about to attend school for the first time after being homeschooled for his first four years of schooling. He has lived with a facial deformity and needs to learn to face kids at his new school.  It is a journey through friendships told through the perspective of several people in Auggie’s life.

This book deals with lots of issues around bullying an acceptance and will make you cry (especially if you love dogs), but it is also very uplifting and rewarding.


Fish in a Tree By Linda Mullaly Hunt

Ally can’t read and more importantly she doesn’t want to get help.  Things change when a new teacher does things a little differently and she realizes reading might be possible.

This book deals with understanding dyslexia and many of our students could relate to several of the characters in the story. It is a great book for understanding learning differences.

Bonus Titles (because there are SO many books you could use)
The Nest By Kenneth Oppel
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone By J.K. Rowling
City of Ember By Jeanne DuPrau
Holes By Louis Sachar
The Apothecary By Maile Meloy

There are so many books that fit into this theme, which is why it’s a great theme ever year after year.  What other books do you know about?  Do you read to your students? Let us know in the comments below.Love the Ninjas


Novels to Teach Students to Face Their Fears



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