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100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

The ‘What Are Kids Checking Out?’ List

Follett, book distributor and maker of one of the most popular library automation systems in the country, recently put out a list of the most popular books in elementary school.

Follett has collected circulation statistics from schools across the country (who choose to participate) to create the list. As a school librarian who sees the books kids are checking out every day, the list rings true. One thing that’s kind of fun about it is seeing all different types of books (picture, chapter, early reader) together.

So let’s see which books kids are checking out and reading.

lightning

1) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Wonder

2) Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Smile

3) Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Sisters

4) Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

hp-prisoner-of-azkaban

5) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

diary-of-a-wimpy-kid

6) Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

PigeonBus

7) Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

hp-sorcerers-stone

8) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

hp-chamber-of-secrets

9) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K Rowling

Read-Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid-Rodrick-Rules

10) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney

david

11) No David! by David Shannon

Duckling Gets a Cookie

12) The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

Day the Crayons Quit

13) The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

big-nate

14) Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce

david-goes-to-school

15) David Goes to School by David Shannon

cu-3

16) Captain Underpants (#3) by Dav Pilkey

i-survived-1

17) The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 (I Survived series) by Lauren Tarshis

Old School

18) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney

pigeon-needs-a-bath

19) The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

one-fish

20) One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

last-straw

21) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney

cabin-fever

22) Diary of a Wimpy Kid Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

hard-luck

23) Diary of a Wimpy Kid Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

Fly Guy Frankenfly

24) Fly Guy and the Frankenfly by Tedd Arnold

dog-days

25) Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

underpants

26) Captain Underpants (#9) by Dav Pilkey

Cat in the Hat

27) The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Long Haul

28) Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney

Buzz Boy

29) Buzz Boy and Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

Green Eggs

30) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

9781419705847

31) Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney

Dork Diaries

32) Tales From a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter by Rachel Renee Russell

Captain Underpants 11

33) Captain Underpants (#11) by Dav Pilkey

Fly Guy Flyswatter

34) Fly Guy vs. The Flyswatter! by Tedd Arnold

Dork Diaries

35) Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl by Rachel Renee Russell

Bad Kitty School Daze

36) Bad Kitty School Daze by Nick Bruel

Minecraft Construction

37) Minecraft Construction Handbook

Minecraft

38) Minecraft Essential Handbook

Fly Guy Amazing Tricks

39) Fly Guy’s Amazing Tricks by Tedd Arnold

Dork Diaries 9

40) Tales From a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries 1

41) Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell

Minecraft Combat

42) Minecraft Combat Handbook

Dork Diaries 8

43) Tales From a Not-So-Happily Ever After by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries 5

44) Tales From a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries 4

45) Tales From a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries 7

46) Tales From a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell

Dork Diaries 6

47) Tales From a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker by Rachel Renee Russell

Pete School Shoes

48) Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean

A few observations:

  1. Not much nonfiction! Let’s see – there’s Minecraft and that’s about it (graphic novels Smile and Sisters are in most nonfiction sections, but they’re a special case, being memoirs). Historical fiction I Survived is the next closest thing. While nonfiction is incredibly popular, student interest doesn’t focus on particular books as much as it does in fiction.
  2. Series. Lots of series.
  3. One thing this seems kind of obvious, but it worth keeping in mind is that students still are choosing books that are in the collection, so the list is still ultimately shaped by the people making purchasing/collection development decisions.

What stands out to you?

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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.

Comments

  1. Eric Carpenter says:

    I’m most surprised by the lack of Elephant & Piggie as well as the lack of non-Telgemeier graphic novels. No Babymouse, Squish, Lunch Lady, Zita or Amulet is very surprising.
    Also seeing more novels than picture books leads me to believe that in many places kindergarten and first-grade students are not circulating books as frequently as the upper elementary and middle school students. Though it could be that younger students’ tastes are more varied and less influenced by trends and popularity than older students

    • Joanna Reser says:

      Your comments caught my attention. Amulet, Big Nate, and Bone are all frequent checkouts for our middle school in the graphic novel realm. When I worked with younger students, it seemed to be around third grade when students began to request popular titles suggested by their older siblings or follow a class trend of high interest choices.

  2. I’m always fascinated in what books continue to make the list year after year. As you said, tons of series. Also interesting, although not surprising, that the cut-off for when the Harry Potter books outgrow elementary seems to be around The Goblet of Fire. It would be interesting to see whether or not the HP books or The Diaries of a Wimpy Kid will ever dip in popularity over the next couple of decades.

  3. Jenny Bay says:

    No Newbery or Caldecott or Coretta Scott King or Pura Belpre Award winners. Something to ponder…

  4. Although these are Follett circ stats, I am wondering how many of these titles were obtained through Scholastic Book Fairs and cataloged by the librarian. In the last five years my budget has dropped by 90% so I get twice as many books from Scholastic Dollars each year as I do from Follett. And the titles above are almost all readily available from Scholastic…..

    • Joanna Reser says:

      I noticed this as well; nearly every book on the list was available or had an installment in the Scholastic Book Fair last school year.

      Not sure this is the right place to add this, but personally, I prefer Mackin over Follett. They are much quicker, more well mannered, and more personal with customer service and questions.

      Our district is lucky to be close to The Junior Library Guild in Dublin, OH. Twice a year, they have a ‘$5 per hardcover’ (some library reinforced and already with a plastic cover on the jacket) warehouse sale and most of our budget, aside from Scholastic Dollars, is spent there. Last weekend there was even an entire row of popular, recent publications for $1. We really cleaned up this year, getting over 100 age appropriate titles for less than $350. JLG is the only way we can afford to add more than a dozen new titles per year.

      • Young Park-Cunningham says:

        I feel compelled to add a few comments about the Scholastic Book Fair here, even though this conversation is about popular titles.

        We just finished our annual Scholastic Book Fair, one of the PTO fund raisers.
        I have seen a steady erosion of the quality of the books available at the Fair over the last 4-5 years , without attractive prices offered to our students. On top of this issue, Scholastic raised the minimum amount of sales volume for cash rewards to $2,500 which we did not meet this year. We basically provided them a free store with sales clerks, aka volunteers, to sell their merchandise at a tax dollar supported public school. We are considering to end this business relationship, perhaps starting next year.

  5. I can’t believe there are 3 Seuss books here. I was also surprised at the lack of Elephant and Piggy, but there are 25 of them. Every library probably doesn’t have every one.

  6. Joanna Reser says:

    I like your closing point, that student choice is based on our choices as collection developers. I often feel like I should add two more diverse, more classic, and/or more literary titles for every one Wimpy Kid book we purchase.

    If we discuss and present more of these “meatier” titles, the students become interested. Just this month, one of our teachers read a few chapters of ‘The Face on the Milk Carton’ to her 6th graders. It may not be the most high quality book, but to have close to 50 students clamoring for a mystery story written over 25 years ago just shows how great our influence is in guiding their interests.

    Shiny new titles don’t need to be promoted in our libraries and classrooms; they sell themselves. Blurb your old favorites. Have a staff pick shelf. Excerpt some exciting or moving passages in books that are looked over because an art director didn’t make great cover art choices. Sure, reluctant readers may need books like these to get caught up in the excitement of reading, and everyone likes a fun, frivolous read sometimes, but there are many ways to guide our kids beyond the Diaries and the Underpants which seem to take over the world.

  7. For Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, it may also come down to this – required reading for 6th grade in New York State. It’s a great read, but I have 25 copies in my library that go out once they start reading the book – in addition to the class sets.
    An FYI for Joanna Reser – I too prefer Mackin for better cataloging and better pricing. I was forced to use Follett this year by my district and I lost several hundred dollars in book costs, and more importantly, those Follett processing costs!!