100 Scope Notes
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The Unexpecteds: 5 Sneakily Popular Books in Our K-4 School Library This Year

Pull up a chair and enjoy a close-to-the-end-of-the-school-year staff lounge snack:


Go ahead and finish off those cinnamon ones.

Let’s talk about the books that got a lot of checkouts this year in my K-4 school library that you might not expect.


Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

This book just keeps on circulating quietly, as sad books often do. You don’t see it on the hold shelf or kids asking for it by name often, but it is being read all the time.


Rocks and Minerals

Are your students obsessed with rocks, minerals, and gemstones too? Or just at my school? Our 552 section gets a ton of traffic and this book is proof. So this isn’t necessarily a surprise to me, but not a topic that you typically see near the top of the circs pile.


The 50 States: Explore the USA with 50 Fact-Filled Maps! by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Sol Linero

You never know with atlas-y type books. Sometimes they get on the shelf and nothing happens. Not the case with this book, which has a couple things going for it – it’s huge and it’s fun.


Children’s Book of Magic

When’s the last time you added a magic book to your collection? Our section was looking pretty tired, and had the low circs to prove it. I came across this book and it’s been hot this year.


Fancy (Breyers Stablemates series) by Kristin Earhart, illustrated by Elisabeth Alba

Do you have this one in your early reader collection? While books like Fly Guy, Elephant and Piggie, The Princess in Black, and Mercy Watson get all the early reader attention, this book (and series) continues to get checked out a whole lot.

Any surprises at your school library?


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. Christine Sarmel says:

    Rocks and Love, Aubrey are also big at my library. The biggest surprise: the continuing popularity of cookbooks and kid cooking magazines. Chop Chop is never on the shelf.

  2. Karen Mann says:

    Kid cooking magazine?? I’ve never seen that! What’s the title??

    Popular in my library are the 13 Story Treehouse series and books on survival! I wonder if they’re planning to make a break for it! ;)

  3. Jerrold Connors says:

    I think the recent gem obsession might have to do with Steven Universe (if you haven’t seen that, it’s a Cartoon Network show where all the alien characters are based on gemstones). Our school did a field trip to our Academy of Sciences and their Gems and Minerals exhibit was similarly unexpectedly popular.

  4. Christine Sarmel says:

    The kid cooking magazine is called Chop Chop. There are only 4 issues per year, but it’s super popular with my students and relatively cheap. Also endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics as part of their work on fighting childhood obesity.