The Next Chapter

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The books for bigger kids. Bear with me. It's long but worth it.
  • The Anne of Green Gables Books and The Emily of New Moon Books (if I wanted Anne to be real, I wanted to be Emily) by L.M. Montgomery
  • Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll (I was SHOCKED at how many of my friends had not read these.)
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. (She just died, which made me very sad. Newspapers paid tribute to her in long, prominently placed, obituaries.)
  • Matilda, The BFG, George's Marvelous Medicine, The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and The Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl ( Other ones are good too. These are just the ones that stand out in my memory).
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
  • Blue Willow by Doris Gates (One of mine and my mom's favorite books. I looked for blue willow plates wherever I went).
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • After The Dancing Days by Margaret Rostkowski (I read this for school and still remember large parts of it more than ten years later).
  • Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt (and the following books, though in my fifth grade class, only the girls were allowed to read Dicey's Song which deals with, among other things, female puberty. There is a bra shopping scene, which might not be the most revealing, but as a prepubescent girl is what stuck in my head.)
  • The Search For Delicious by Natalie Babbitt
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (I didn't know these were by the same author until today).
  • Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois (I think my fourth grade teacher read this out loud to us. I was able to return the favor by reading most of it to my sister. It's another wonder of whimsy and crazy inventions).
  • The Mushroom Planet series by Eleanor Camero (These books about two boys who build a kid size spaceship to get to a new planet, were some of my favorites. I was delighted to fund, after finishing The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet that there were more of them. Reading them now when I know more about space exploration, they seem quaint, but I think the thrill is still there, though I fear some of them are out of print now.
  • From The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler by by E.L. Konigsburg (Man, I wanted to sleep in the Met. When I went as a college student to a party after hours at the museum, all I could think of was this book. I've read some of her other books, which are also good, but I am not including them because I read them much later, when my youngest sister wanted help on her book projects).
  • The Cricket in Times Square (a family on the New York Subway made my day when the father turned to his two young kids and said, "we get off at Times Square, that's where the cricket lived," and his daughter enthusiastically exclaimed, "maybe we'll find a newsstand" (that's where said cricket lived)).
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (Oh my goodness. I have NO idea what I will do if I have boys.)
  • The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. (I liked a lot of his books, but this was the first I read and most memorable).
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (on second thought, about 50% of these are genderless, though when I was in fifth grade I wrote a story that sounded a bit like a rewrite of this with a female heroine.)
  • The Indian in the Cupboard books by Lynne Reid Banks. ( I have linked to a trilogy of them, but there are more than three. As I have heard it, she was going to keep writing these, but the publisher asked her to tone down the stereotypes embodied in the book--even though the cowboy is decidedly uncowboyish in his tendency to cry, and the Indian, though his English is sometimes broken, firmly instructs others about the difference between Indian tribes-- and so she decided to stop writing them rather than change her characters. Interestingly, she has also written some thought provoking novels about Israel, which I read in middle school.
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I found a tiny gold key soon after I read this, and I made it into a bookmark and was delighted. This too, my dad read with fabulous accents. He has Cockney down pat).
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I don't think this was my favorite at the time. That was probably the one just below, but it is one that I have read a million times since and that I brought to college with me as a familiar and wonderful read. In the movie, which is faithful for much of the time, the ending is made happier, which I think is an insult to the emotional capacity of young movie watchers and readers everywhere).
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (This was my all-time favorite for a while. It was so vivid that I confused the images I imagined with a movie, which, of course, did not exist and I had never seen. It's a great adventure story and the heroines are both girls).
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Duh. I wanted to re-read this last weekend, but couldn't find my copy. Time to get a new one).
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (My dad read this out loud to me around third grade. He did it with voices, and it was thrilling. This past year, he found some new kids to delight with his reading of this book).
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. (This was my first foray into Twain, which was much less of a struggle than The Prince and the Pauper which I liked once I got into. But who doesn't love Tom? And, I have a confession to make. I've never read all of Huck Finn.)
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (amazing word play and a deep respect for words comes out here. This is great at any age, as many of these are. This book, in particular though comes across as very smart).
  • Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (Like a slightly more preachy version of Anne of Green Gables but wonderful in its own right. I have no idea why all the covers to this book are so ugly now).
  • Hey World, Here I Am by Jean Little(see earlier entry -- one of my favorite books ever)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (another given, and this one, like The Giver, can be read at a million different levels. It makes me so sad that my sister, for some reason, refuses to read it).
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry (fun games: have kids debate the values of this fictional world before they get to the end. Have college students wake up in a college political theory and realize that they read a novelization of Plato's ideal world as outlined in The Republic when they were in fifth grade).
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (This and Where the Red Fern Grows are two of the earliest books that caused me to cry for hours. I think books are a good way to introduce kids to tragedy. Also, there is a great interview with Paterson in which she expressed her utter surprise that the book was banned from some libraries for promoting new age religion. She wrote the book, she said, before she had ever heard of anything called new age religion. She was writing about imagination).
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (Admit it. How many of you kept your own spy journals? I certainly bought some composition books after reading this. I don't think I learned her lesson).
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
I'm ending with a classic that every person should read. I'm sure I missed some of the books that I treasured. After all, my favorite must have changed week to week and I never put down a book in the middle until high school when I couldn't always keep up with assigned reading. This already overly long list will have to do. Feel free to put more in the comments.

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