Nim's Island by Wendy Orr makes a wonderful classroom read and is great to inspire classroom activities. But what do you read next? What books should teachers have on hand for those students who absolutely adore Nim's Island? From adventure to animals, survival to communication with authors - here's nine more books to read when you've finished with Nim's Island.
The Nim Sequels
This is, of course, the best place to start. Wendy Orr has authored two more books about Nim and her adventures - Nim at Sea and Rescue on Nim's Island. In the first, Nim finds herself out of her island comfort zone, heading out on a rescue mission. In Rescue on Nim's Island, she's back on the island, but this time she has to share the space with others.
Sequels are a great way to explore characters and settings which we're already familiar with. Students can easily compare and contrast the different books, look at the ways the characters are developed and talk about which kinds of stories are suitable for sequels. The familiarity of the characters can also make it easier to look for underlying themes and how the story conveys them.
Islands and Survival
In Nim's Island, Nim is required to survive by herself after her father finds himself stranded out at sea - a task which becomes more difficult after she injures herself. Two other books which deal with survival are Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.
In Island of the Blue Dolphins, Karana has to survive alone on an island after a series of events leaves her stranded. She needs to use innovation and apply new skills in order to survive for years. In Hatchet, Brian is a passenger in a small plane which crashes in a remote part of Canada. Like Nim, he finds himself all alone, but he doesn't have Nim's knowledge of his surroundings. With time, he discovers the skills he needs to survive and reach civilisation once more.
As well as comparing them to Nim's Island, these books open the way for an interesting classroom conversation about what is required to survive on your own. What knowledge do you need? What kind of personality do you need? Can anyone survive in extreme situations?
Saving the Day
Nim is required to fight for her island when she spots a tourist boat heading for her secluded home. Students who enjoy this part of the plot may also enjoy The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex and Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. Just as Nim employs her animal friends to help her fight for the island, the main characters of these two book work with unusual companions to save the day. In The True Meaning of Smekday, Tip sets out on a journey with the alien J. Lo to find her mother. Meanwhile in Gregor the Overlander, Gregor finds himself in a completely unfamiliar underground world where all kinds of giant creatures work together and against each other. Gregor finds himself caught up in a battle between two groups and, with the help of some of the creatures, strives to save the day.
Students can engage with these books by looking at what is required to save the day - what kind of personality does a hero have? This could also lead to classroom discussions of the word 'hero' in real life and what makes someone a 'hero'. Students can examine media reports which use the term, sort them into different groups and use them to write their own definitions.
From the beginning of Nim's Island, we know about Nim's animal friends. She has a unique relationship with them and they often step up to help her throughout the book - just as she helps them. There are lots of books for the animal fans in your class including Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and Charlotte's Web by E.B White. In Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal befriends a dog. The dog - Winn-Dixie - helps her make new connections with the humans around her as well as being a faithful friend. Charlotte's Web is often best remembered for the relationship between animals - particularly Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider - but it's the caring actions of Fern the little girl which first saves Wilbur, and the early chapters of the book look at how Fern nurtured and befriended the little pig.
Fiction books featuring animals are a great match with non-fiction books about animals. Students can question whether the animals would really demonstrate that kind of personality, research the features of those animals or explore stories about exceptional animals.
Throughout Nim's Island, Nim communicates with the author Alex Rover through email. In Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, Leigh writes letters to his favourite author Boyd Henshaw. Both Nim and Leigh develop their relationships with the authors through their writing and find themselves having to build separations between the books they love and the authors as people.
These two books are a wonderful introduction into looking at the lives of authors and how they create their books. Many authors have biographies (or even autobiographies) to explore or have given interviews which are easy to find on the internet. Students can look at how authors are influenced by the world around them or things they see or hear or even write a thank you email to their favourite author (But don't ask authors to do your author assignment for you! They need that time for writing!)