I started a chapter book at the beginning of the year (Charlotte's Web) but it was too hard for most of them to follow. (I teach in a pretty average public school)
I haven't done a novel since then, but last week we were talking about the word present having two meanings. And I told them about the part in Ramona the Pest where that happens. They asked me if I would read it aloud, so I think I will start that this week.
If you want really "classic" Treasure Island was recommended to me today, because Bailey White used to read it to her second graders. (Bailey White was an NPR commentator and wrote the book Mama Makes Up Her Mind)
We used to read Mr. Popper's Penguins to our first graders and got in trouble with the 3rd grade teachers, since they used it as a text in their reading program. Just double check that whatever novel you choose is not in the curriculum later on.
My Father's Dragon was a book that really held my class's attention. They liked it so much that I went on and read the final 2 in the series!
Also have read:
Mouse and The Motorcycle
Ramona the Pest
Junie B. Jones
The Courage of Sarah Nobel (This book I didn't think would be interesting to them, but they did enjoy it.)
Mr. Popper's Penguins
My class also enjoyed the MOuse and the motorcycle - I even rented the movie to show them. My Father's Dragon was a big hit as well. They also liked the series Ready Freddy, because in each illustration they try to find the word FIN.