Two content developers share their favorite books (and more) from 2017

By Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist

Alexa, read me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. (Did you know Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the most requested book for Amazon’s Alexa to read aloud in 2017?) This past week, Amazon published its annual This Year in Books. The data highlights the most popular books ordered from, the most gifted books, and a bunch of other interesting tidbits of information about the reading habits of Amazon customers in 2017. While there are a ton of great reads on a list, a lot of them are familiar titles we’ve seen on our annual What Kids Are Reading report, which got us thinking about all the great books our content developers here at Renaissance get to read. With nearly 200,000 reading quizzes available, our team gets to read a lot of great stuff. We spoke to Chris and Shannon, two Renaissance content developers, and asked them to reflect on their 2017. From the most rewarding aspects of their job to their favorite books, we wanted to learn more about them.

What’s the best part about your job? What do you find most rewarding?

Chris: “The best part about my job is that I’m paid to read and think about what can be learned. It’s rewarding to have a hand in helping students improve their reading skills and learn more about science and the world we inhabit. I get the chance to learn about new discoveries in science almost every week!”

Shannon: “I was approached multiple times by local educators wanting some assistance in finding materials for their hard-to-reach students. For upper-grade students interested in specific genres or other students interested in certain topics, Renaissance Accelerated Reader BookFinder was a great tool to refer to them. Most of these educators had Renaissance Accelerated Reader® in their schools, but [they] didn’t know about the advanced search function. I was so happy that our solution could help!”

What was your favorite book or article you read? What was it about? Why was it your favorite?

C: “Although my favorite books to write quizzes on are middle-school-level science books, my favorite book in 2017 was Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush. I learned so much about that time in history and the events in London’s life that inspired him to write books like White Fang and The Call of the Wild. I admired the miners’ persistence through the hardships of getting to Alaska, traveling to the sites where they made their claims, and actually digging for gold. I also learned that although the miners had to carry everything they needed on their backs, they often had at least one book with them. They spent parts of the long, dark winter nights in the Yukon reading by candlelight, and they traded books and considered them very valuable!”

S: “I recently recommended the Silvermay book series and the Three Dark Crowns series to a friend looking for Christmas gifts. Both were from up-and-coming authors in the fantasy genre, and [they] explored fresh ideas in myth and lore, an area that tends to see a lot of redundancy.”

How many books or articles did you read in 2017 for Renaissance?

C: “225? Give or take a few.”

S: “I read six books a week and two more for edits. Sometimes, if they are large, I do three a week. Other weeks, I will have as many as ten smaller titles.” (For those keeping score at home, that adds up to around 312 books.)

While looking at the results of Amazon’s This Year in Books, a striking number of books on the list correlate to television series and movies. In the past, we’ve noticed the same thing in our What Kids Are Reading report. For example, when The Hunger Games movies came out, we saw a spike in the book’s popularity. Another one that comes to mind is the Captain Underpants series. With the recent movie coming out, there’s a strong chance that the books will experience a surge in popularity. (Looking to inspire some Captain Underpants readers in your classroom? See what a school in Washington is doing.) Staying on top of these trends is super important as our content developers are assigned new reads and create reading quizzes for Accelerated Reader and Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360®—especially as we head into 2018.

What books did your students gobble up in 2017? What do you think will be the most popular books in 2018? Let us know in the comments below, post on our Facebook page, or tweet us @RenLearnUS. Happy reading in 2018!

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(Psst: We highlight the new reading quizzes in Accelerated Reader and Accelerated Reader 360!)


  1. Andrea says:

    Wonders has been their favorite lately. Many students want to read the book now that the movie it out.

  2. Mr. Sanchez says:

    I have seen a rise in popularity with my students on the book series “Dork Diaries”. Just like the article stated, “Captain Underpants” were also very popular this year with my students. I began to purchase some books from amazon and read it in class. I also saw my students check out the book series “I Survived…” from the library. For 2018 and staying with the popularity of “Captain Underpants”, the same creator has come out with a new series called “Dog Man and Cat Kid”. I am sure it will also be a hit and even more if they decide to make a movie.

    • Patti Nunnally says:

      My kids love Dork Diaries too! They all seem to be reading one. I love listening to them talk about the books; kids who don’t love to read have gotten drawn in by these books and the dialogue between the students.

  3. Alecia Walkuski says:

    The Maze Runner series continues to be popular with my secondary students. I predict a spike in Stephen King books next year with the new movies coming out for the Dark Tower series.

    • Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist says:

      Great prediction, Alecia! You’ll have to report back and let us know if the Dark Tower series becomes popular with your students.

  4. Jody Steinhaus says:

    I love reading suggestions and recommendations about quality literature that students and adults will enjoy reading. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Dorothy says:

    My students have really started getting into chapter books. They seem to read a lot of the Magic Treehouse books. They like to follow the same chAracters through out the books.

  6. Terri Benavides says:

    Kids still love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I don’t see it’s popularity declining anytime soon. I’m hopeful The One and Only Ivan will be very popular now that the movie is in the works. Harry Potter will always be a favorite.

  7. Krystal Dozier says:

    Jake Maddox has been a hit for my students this year!

  8. Dvawn Maza says:

    My kids like Harry Potter as well.

  9. carly says:

    My students have gotten into reading graphic novels. I was very excited to find several graphic novels that help me teach science standards such as force and motion. The students are excited too!

  10. P R says:

    My students liked the historical fictions books we read aloud in class. The boys also liked the Hardy Boys mysteries which I introduced them to. The girls liked the Babysitters Club series.

  11. Katie Peugh says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  12. Patricia Hodges says:

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoy sharing new literature with other teachers, my students and my parents.

  13. Christina says:

    The last kids in earth series, Ugly, are my two picks!

  14. Rita Platt says:

    So many great books and series. One my kids and I really enjoyed was the Bad Guys series.

  15. Joan Koth says:

    I am reading “The Unlucky Lottery Winners From Classroom 13” to my class. We’ve had great discussions on what my students would buy if they won the lottery. I think they’re learning that money does not buy happiness.

  16. Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing with us. It was very interesting.

  17. jason says:

    The Dork Diary series seemed to be the most popular titles from our library. But the Lorien Legacy series has made a strong push since adding it as well.

  18. Doug Abend says:

    Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush looks amazing. Just added to the wish list.

  19. Damaris says:

    Students have been enjoying reading Wonder this year in preparation for the movie.

  20. Kristy Sturm says:

    The Selection series is one of my middle school students’ favorites. Another series they really love is the Micheal Vey series! I even had our PE coach upset because I didn’t have the second to last and last book in this series. Well, of course, I ordered it and with next day shipping!

  21. Trinette Frazier says:

    Good read and useful information.

  22. Belinda says:

    I read Wolf with my students and they loved it….

  23. David Keech says:

    The more nonfiction, the better.

    • Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist says:

      Nonfiction is great! Do you see students gravitate toward a particular subject?

  24. Ami K. Edwards says:

    Dork Diaries are popular with my class.

  25. Margaret Heyen says:

    I appreciate how quickly current content appears as an AR quiz. Thank you for keeping up with the trends that kids love!

  26. LeeAnn Needham says:

    Wonder is assigned in class and is their hands down favorite. I see a lot of Dork Diaries and Captain Underpants being read but not a lot of conversation about them.

  27. Katie Wiltz says:

    I teach 2nd grade, so my students are just now starting to read chapter books. They love “The Magic Tree House” books, “Junie B. Jones” books, and a non-fiction series that our librarian ordered this year (I cannot think of the name of it off hand). Thank you for the other suggestions. Everyone have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    • Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist Ken Stoflet, Marketing Communications Specialist says:

      The same to you, Katie! I remember reading Junie B. Jones as a kid. It’s great to see that they remain popular with students!

  28. Liana Ferrer says:

    Dork Diaries, Harry Potter, Captain Underpants

  29. Mary says:

    My students seem to like most books I read to them. The intent is to hook them into that series to want to read more books on their own. Lately…that has been the Cam Jenson series.

  30. RENEE P GRAHAM says:

    My students gobbled up the magic tree house series

  31. Laura QT says:

    This year Wonder has been a hit with all age levels including staff. My boy patrons are addicted to The Last kid on Earth series. The girl patrons have been addicted to dork diaries and My Weird School series.

  32. Kim says:

    I had no idea how truly dedicated you guys are. I know every time I have submitted a title that needed tests, a test magically appeared days later. Glad to have had a chance to meet the magic elves. Thanks for all you do!

  33. JoAnn Mayfield says:

    I think the Captain Underpants will continue to be popular in 2018. My grandson is in second grade and is just starting on these books and loves them.

  34. Stacy Hottinger says:

    The Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Wings of Fire series and anything by Raina Telgemeier and Mo Willems have been the hot books lately. I can’t get copies reshelved before they’re checked out again.

  35. Sandra Cunningham says:

    With the Artemis Fowl series coming to theaters soon I’d guess those will get read again too.

  36. Angela Parlatore says:

    My students enjoy Captain Undeepants, Dork Diaries, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

  37. Virginia Travis says:

    My kids loved the Junior B Jones series and the Boxcar Kids series!

  38. CW says:

    My 2nd graders love the Magic Tree House books, the girls are fond of JB Jones books

  39. Veronica A Gonzalez says:

    The best part about my job is that I look for interesting books that can be engaging to their minds, ears and eyes. It’s rewarding to see my Kinder students love their reading and practice their reading skills.

  40. Julie Walther says:

    Of course, Wonder was a big hit in my 4th grade classes. The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins have also been a favorite. The Fog Diver by Joel Ross was another book that really captured the imagination of my students.

  41. Lucy Cook says:

    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane has been a huge success.

  42. Amber AuBain says:

    I think the new Serafina book (#3) is going to be popular this year in our area.

  43. M Brown says:

    Third graders are “head over heels” with the book Wonder…especially now with the movie coming out.

  44. M Brown says:

    Third graders are “head over heels” with the book Wonder…especially with the moving coming out.

  45. Lisa says:

    My students enjoyed reading the Series of Unfortunate Events. My students love getting hooked on a series! Rick Riordan is another favorite!

  46. Melissa Berry says:

    Very interesting!!!

  47. Cathy Kelley says:

    My students love nonfiction books on animals!

  48. Mary says:

    Magic Tree House, Dork Diaries, Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants, Fairies, Heidi Heckelbeck were big hits!

  49. Becky Sensibaugh says:

    My kids love all the Fly Guy books as well as the Magic Tree House series.

  50. Virginia Wiedenfeld says:

    I want to thank everyone who gave suggestions! I am going to be doing some ordering! 🙂 Right now I am reading Hidden Figures (Young Readers Addition). I can not wait to introduce the book to the students. I have some readers in mind! This is a great topic! What about creating a list of books found in this feed?

  51. s. bellomo says:

    Our students have really enjoyed reading the Pegasus, Dragon Prophecy and the Unwanted Series!!!

  52. Janet Mullins says:

    Some of my students are hooked on Geronimo Stilton books this year.

  53. Charlene Cherota says:

    The Wonder books have been popular in our school as well. However, Geronimo Stilton remains a hands down favorite.

  54. Lynn Humphrey says:

    Great article! Interesting read!! I will definitely be looking into your suggestions. I’m currently reading Wonder.

  55. Christine Virnig says:

    My students really enjoy reading the Horrid Henry series.

  56. Amy says:

    I teach kindergarten, and the kids always love Junie B. Jones and The Magic Tree House. I read these aloud to them during brain break time.

  57. Deana says:

    My students really loved Wonder and the new Diary of A Wimpy Kid this year. They are waiting anxiously for the new Kwame Alexander Book Rebound to hit The shelves.

  58. Christina McCloud says:

    My students have gotten into chapter books. I began by reading The World According to Humphrey then Cam and Jen mystery series. They have loved Junie B. Jones and The Magic Tree House series as well. They want to “keep up with” the characters from Tree House. I agree with the books growing popular with movies being released the same year. Harry Potter for older students is always a hit and Paddington Bear is coming out too.

  59. Barbara says:

    Dog Man books have been very popular with our students lately. Also, Dork Diaries, Captain Underpants, and Wimpy Kid books continue to be popular.