For more than a decade, I’ve been researching student reading habits and identifying the most popular kids’ books at each grade to help educators match kids with titles they’ll love.

This year, my team analyzed the reading records of more than 8.7 million students across the United States to produce the latest edition of the world’s largest annual study of K–12 student reading habits. That’s a lot of data—these students read more than 289 million books last school year!

From that massive data set, we noticed some key trends overall:

Book series are powerful.

Several book series appeared on the book lists, underscoring how important a reader’s relationship to a character can be to their relationship with reading. Often, once a student enjoys a book, something special happens—a connection is made—and students are motivated to seek out additional stories about the character, or simply by the same author.

Fiction dominates.

In almost every grade, the number one book and number one book series were both fiction, as were most of the titles on each list. If we narrow our focus to nonfiction, Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier emerged as winners in the elementary and middle grades. In high school, more serious nonfiction made the list, such as Night by Elie Wiesel, A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer, and The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls.

Older students read less.

The data show that reading time peaks around second and third grade before declining in middle school. Once students enter high school, they’re typically reading ten minutes or less per day—and the books read most at these grades are titles that are typically assigned to students, rather than self-selected for reading enjoyment.

To see the complete book lists, featuring the top 20 most popular books by grade, as well as digital reading suggestions and cross-curricular options, get your copy of the new What Kids Are Reading report.

Kindergarten

#1 Book: Biscuit Goes to School by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

#1 Series: Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Biscuit Goes to School Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Biscuit Goes to School Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 1

#1 Book: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

#1 Series: Dr. Seuss Collection by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Green Eggs and Ham Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 2

#1 Book: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

#1 Series: Dr. Seuss Collection by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Green Eggs and Ham Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 3

#1 Book: Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by Dav Pilkey

#1 Series: Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Dog Man Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 4

#1 Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney

#1 Series: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Dairy of a Wimpy Kid Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Dairy of a Wimpy Kid Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 5

#1 Book: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

#1 Series: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Wonder Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 6

#1 Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney

#1 Series: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Dairy of a Wimpy Kid Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Dairy of a Wimpy Kid Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 7

#1 Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry

#1 Book Series: The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

The Giver Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

The Giver Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 8

#1 Book: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

#1 Series: The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

The Outsiders Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

The Outsiders Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 9

#1 Book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

#1 Series: Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

To Kill a Mockingbird Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

To Kill a Mockingbird Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 10

#1 Book: Night by Elie Wiesel

#1 Series: Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Night Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Night Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 11

#1 Book: The Crucible by Arthur Miller

#1 Series: Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Cruicible Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

The Cruicible Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Grade 12

#1 Book: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

#1 Series: Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Hamlet Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Hamlet Book Cover - Popular Kids Books

Looking for more of the most popular kids’ books?

Get a list of all of the most popular kids’ books. With 60 recommendations for each grade, the brand-new 2019 edition of What Kids Are Reading is your essential guide for books to get your students hooked on reading. Inside, you’ll find:

  • The top 20 most read books and series by grade.
  • Popular digital reads to help spark interest and build students’ digital literacy skills.
  • Cross-curricular titles focusing on science, social studies, and social-emotional learning to help bring literacy into the content areas.
  • Essays from popular authors such as Janell Cannon (Stellaluna) and Gary Paulsen (Hatchet).
  • Research analyses about vocabulary acquisition, reading time, literacy growth, personalized goals, and more.

Just click the graphic below to read all of this and more.

Kids Reading - What Are Kids Reading? Popular Kids Books

Kids Reading - What Are Kids Reading? Popular Kids Books