100 Scope Notes
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The Circs So Far: The 10 Most Popular Books in Our K-4 School Library

Now that we’re back into the swing of things after winter break, I thought I’d fire up the computer and look at which books have been checked out the most in my school library, count them down 10-1, and draw a couple conclusions.

(Thanks to ShelfTalker for the title inspiration)

10. Become a Pokemon Trainer

Pokem0n is one of those things that you thought would have faded in popularity long ago. But Pokemon has legs, people. This DK Reader has been checked out or on hold all year long. Side note: three cheers for books on popular topics written at a low level.

9. Prince of the Elves (Amulet, Book #5) by Kazu Kibuishi

I’m somewhat surprised that this is (Circs So Far Spoiler Alert) the only graphic novel that appears on this list. Could be that we’ve added to the GN collection to the point where students are reading a wider range of titles, rather than the focus staying on just a couple. Whatever the reason, I’m not surprised an Amulet book is the lone graphic novel representative on this countdown.

8. Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble by Nick Bruel

The illustrated novel continues to be a popular format, and this recent addition to the Bad Kitty series has been making the rounds nicely. But here’s my big question: Is that Nick Bruel’s hand on the cover, or a hand model??

7. The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 2 by Megan Rothrock

The two most popular requests in our library? LEGO books and … (Circs So Far Teaser Alert) a book series that you will see at the top spot on this list. These adventure books look great and have the step-by-step LEGO building goods inside.

6. Buzz Boy and Fly Guy by Ted Arnold

I’ve talked before (while utterly mangling Shakespeare) about how there should be more books in the sort of zone occupied by Fly Guy: funny, sort-of-cute-but-not-too-cute, and basic with the vocab. This series remains popular in my library and this is the book that popped up to the top.

5. Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All (Dork Diaries, Book #5) by Rachel Renee Russell

I love how many kids are excited about this series, but man, can I not keep the titles straight. Can we stick to numbers? This is Number 5 in the series. Also, it’s Number 5 on this list.

4. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The popularity of this book continues to be very strong. I love how after a teacher reads it aloud to his/her class, students want to check it out and read it again.

3. The 13 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Another heavily illustrated chapter book series – I’m sensing a trend here (see conclusions below). Andy Griffiths visited our school last year, and that was just the spark needed to send his treehouse books into the popularity stratosphere at my school. The 26 Story Treehouse also has a ton of checkouts.

2. Invasion of the UFONuts (The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut, Book #2) by Laurie Keller

This series (and the last one) are the two that students ask about most often – they can’t wait for the next book. I can’t blame them – this series is incredibly fun to read. The next book, The Spinny Icky Showdown arrives on November 3, 2015.

1. Minecraft Handbook (Series)

It made sense to me to lump these books together, because as a group they generate a ton of buzz. Can’t have enough.

When I look at this list, a few takeaways appear…

Big Conclusions:

Illustrations: Safe at any age. With the exception of just one book (Wonder), all the books on the list have illustrations or images of some kind. I’m not breaking news here, but it’s clear that all ages are drawn to books with visuals.

Humor is king. Funny books make up half of the list. When humor is done right, it’s irresistible.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. This is so helpful! I wouldn’t have heard of the LEGO or Pokemon books if not for this post, and they’ll make good birthday gifts. Thanks, Travis.

  2. I always love reading these at the end of the school year. Thanks for posting one midway! I thought I’d do one of my own for our elementary library as well: http://bit.ly/1x9H9jg

  3. Travis and Amanda! Thanks for the inspiration! There are a few titles I’m adding to my list of books to purchase! The best book list is one created by the kids! Here are our most circulated titles: http://bit.ly/1LNM2cz.