Fantastic Fictional Teachers
Did you know the first full week in May is Teacher Appreciation Week? Teachers can play a huge rule in the people we become. By encouraging and believing in their students, teachers help kids discover their potential and grow into the person they’re meant to be.
To celebrate educators everywhere, we’ve compiled a list of some fantastic teachers from books! Do you have a favorite?
Mr. Kermit, The Unteachables by Gordon Korman
The Unteachables are a notorious class of misfits, delinquents, and academic train wrecks. Like Aldo, with anger management issues; Parker, who can’t read; Kiana, who doesn’t even belong in the class—or any class; and Elaine (rhymes with pain). The Unteachables have been removed from the student body and isolated in room 117.
Their teacher is Mr. Zachary Kermit, the most burned-out teacher in all of Greenwich. He was once a rising star, but his career was shattered by a cheating scandal that still haunts him. After years of phoning it in, he is finally one year away from early retirement. But the superintendent has his own plans to torpedo that idea—and it involves assigning Mr. Kermit to the Unteachables.
The Unteachables never thought they’d find a teacher who had a worse attitude than they did. And Mr. Kermit never thought he would actually care about teaching again. Over the course of a school year, though, room 117 will experience mayhem, destruction—and maybe even a shot at redemption.
Miss Stretchberry, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Jack hates poetry. Only girls write it and every time he tries to, his brain feels empty. But his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, won’t stop giving her class poetry assignments—and Jack can’t avoid them. But then something amazing happens. The more he writes, the more he learns that he does have something to say.
Miss Benney, Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Ramona Quimby is excited to start kindergarten. No longer does she have to watch her older sister, Beezus, ride the bus to school with all the big kids. She’s finally old enough to do it too!
Then she gets into trouble for pulling her classmate’s boingy curls during recess. Even worse, her crush rejects her in front of everyone. Beezus says Ramona needs to quit being a pest, but how can she stop if she never was trying to be one in the first place?
Miss Harris, The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s hated them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that’s the way she likes it. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it’s only a temporary problem.
Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She’s determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out quite as she hoped it would…
Ms. Blinny, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard.
An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day.
Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground haven for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin and, eventually, Benny.
But will anyone believe him?
Miss Lupescu, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
IT TAKES A GRAVEYARD TO RAISE A CHILD.
Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family.
Ms. Bixby, Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see in yourself. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one-of-a-kind.
Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan, more of a quest, really, to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.
Leonora Lesso, The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.
The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.
But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?
Mrs. Baker, The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Seventh grader Holling Hoodhood isn’t happy. He is sure his new teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates his guts. Throughout the school year, Holling strives to get a handle on the Shakespeare plays Mrs. Baker assigns him to read on his own time, and to figure out the enigmatic Mrs. Baker. At home, Holling’s domineering father is obsessed with his business image and disregards his family.
As the Vietnam War turns lives upside down, Holling comes to admire and respect both Shakespeare and Mrs. Baker, who have more to offer him than he imagined. And when his family is on the verge of coming apart, he also discovers his loyalty to his sister, and his ability to stand up to his father when it matters most.
Each month in Holling’s tumultuous seventh-grade year is a chapter in this quietly powerful coming-of-age novel set in suburban Long Island during the late ’60s.
Mrs. Pidgeon, Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Middy Thomas
From the moment Gooney Bird Greene arrives at Watertower Elementary School, her fellow second-graders are intrigued by her unique sense of style and her unusual lunches. So when story time arrives, the choice is unanimous: they want to hear about Gooney Bird Greene. And that suits Gooney Bird just fine, because, as it turns out, she has quite a few interesting and “absolutely true” stories to tell.
Mrs. Gaarder, Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza
Ahmed Aziz is having an epic year—epically bad.
After his dad gets sick, the family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota for his dad’s treatment. Even though his dad grew up there, Ahmed can’t imagine a worse place to live. He’s one of the only brown kids in his school. And as a proud slacker, Ahmed doesn’t want to deal with expectations from his new teachers.
Ahmed surprises himself by actually reading the assigned books for his English class: Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Shockingly, he doesn’t hate them. Ahmed also starts learning about his uncle, who died before Ahmed was born.
Getting bits and pieces of his family’s history might be the one upside of the move, as his dad’s health hangs in the balance and the school bully refuses to leave him alone. Will Ahmed ever warm to Minnesota?
Mrs. Caroline, The Insiders by Mark Oshiro
San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.
Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of friendship, adventure, and just a little bit of magic.
Other honorable mentions—
- Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen
- Miss Honey, Matilda by Roald Dahl
- Mr. Brunner/Chiron, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan