We love impactful books that make us think. So we recently reached out to our teacher community to ask them for recommendations on just that, especially powerful books that stuck with them and forever altered the way they see things. The responses were fantastic! We received lots of suggestions for classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, Kite Runner, The Giver, and Lord of the Flies. These should definitely make the must-read list for you and your students, along with the following 17 favorites.
1. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I was in my first year of university when I read this novel. I had never heard about apartheid until our discussions about this book. I was mortified and began to realize how sheltered I was growing up in Canada. I definitely began to view the world much differently. –Carol M.
2. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. In the book, Earth is slowly slowing its rotation and everything is affected. It was enlightening. –Stacy B.
3. The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. This book discusses globalization and how opportunity in the age of the Internet has made an equal playing field wherever you are in the world. Eye-opening. –Sue T.
4. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I read it at a perfect age, as a sophomore in high school. It helped me make a lot of moral choices that I still carry with me today. –NaShea R.
5. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. This was my first ever mystery, which I read covertly in the library at school. I don’t think the nuns would have approved. –Brenda S.
6. One Child by Torey Hayden. I read it when I was 16, and it was the first time I really thought about special needs and abused children. It taught me that the power of one person, particularly a teacher, can change lives. –Tatum P.
7. George by Alex Gino. As a parent, I found that this book really made me stop and think about how important it is to really listen to your kids. –Jennifer H.
8. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. It’s the only book I’ve ever thrown across a room. –Courtney S.
9. All Things Bright and Beautiful series by James Herriot. His writing helped me see another part of the world and its beauty. The serenity of farm life and the amazing animals in the world! –Charmaine P.
10. The Promethea series of graphic novels by Alan Moore. They are utterly delirious and maddening and wonderful in equal measure. They made me realize that imaginative worlds are often as important as the real one. –Alexander D.
11. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. I read it around the age of 10, and it had a huge affect on my view of race relations from a very young age. I recommend it to anyone—child or adult. –Cicely G.
12. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. It made me realize the world was big and could change very rapidly. I was fascinated with the evolution of people shown through the characters of the book. –Pea Z.
13. 1984 by George Orwell. This book changed everything for me. Everything. It’s still a huge influence on my thinking. –Kevin N.
14. Wonder by R. J. Palacio. It was written for upper elementary students, but I think it holds a life-changing message for everyone. –Lisa S.
15. The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. I was 10 and bored, so I picked it up. It made me fall in love with reading. It’s a beautiful book. –Nanci N.
16. Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The movie doesn’t come close to expressing even half of the beautiful ideas and sentiments in the book. –Rebecca H.
17. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. Every time I read it, I take something new from it. –Mike C.