Brace yourselves for my most nostalgic post of all time. Over the past several days of writing this post, I've spent much more time than normal reminiscing about my childhood, where my love of books began...
From my infancy, I was read to constantly by my parents. My mom has always been a huge book lover, and of her three children, I was the only one to really pick up this trait.
As a tiny child I'd carry books around constantly. This has not changed, and I hope it never does. I am the girl who always brings a book (or several) anywhere I go, just in case. I can't even begin to count how many times I was glad I did. I read ten books at once, switch from one to another every few pages, read and reread beloved books, and can't stop myself from recommending books to any fellow book lover I meet.
And I know without a doubt that the books in this list were some of the defining factors that have made me the book loving fiend I am today. A childhood spent adoring books is a good childhood, and makes for a good adulthood - of this I am very confident. So, below, in a general order of books for younger children to books for older children, these are some of the stories that have defined the reader I am today.
1. Eric Carle Books
Who can forget such colorful childhood classics as "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" These books are a staple for many young readers and families for a good reason.
2. Sandra Boynton Books
Another hugely popular children's book author. I remember clutching these books from a very early age, carrying them around with me as I did with all of my most beloved stories. Boynton's illustrations are unique and very recognizable and the stories are adorable.
3. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
One of my all-time favorite children's books. I still remember it vividly to this day. I mean, look at the precious owl babies!
4. The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
This is an adorable and amusing book about a group of prairie dogs living in tunnels underground, who are thrown into a frenzy when a tennis ball falls in their hole. This is a favorite of my entire family to this day. It's truly a hoot.
5. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
Another hilarious book that I still love. My Ma had great voices for the characters when she read this that still make me laugh when I imagine them. These books are about a young and amusing kitten who thinks he's a Chihuahua.
6. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Still without a doubt one of the greatest books of all time. This is a charming, funny, heartwarming classic tale that most have read, or at least heard of. I almost feel a need to read this for maybe a third or fourth time now as an adult, and remember once again just how wonderful it is.
7. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
This book is absolutely gorgeous. The writing is just beautiful and the story itself is wonderful as well. This book was read to me as a child, and even then I could recognize beautiful writing when I heard it here.
8. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Okay, obviously Kate writes some amazing stuff. This is another incredible children's book by her, where she yet again proves that children, like adults, can appreciate beautiful stories and writing.
9. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
This book is stunning. For those who don't know, it is an impressively huge children's book, due mainly to the fact that more than half of the pages are completely illustrated. The book is told in groups of written pages, interspersed with groups of illustrated black and white pages that continue the story.
10. The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I'm currently rereading this beloved 13-book series from my childhood, and thoroughly enjoying it. These are darkly humorous books about three orphans, an evil villain, and all of their very unfortunate experiences. The books seem to mature with their readers, getting a bit longer and more sophisticated each time.
11. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
This book is amazing! I seriously can't even describe how much I loved this book as a kid and how much I want to reread it now (casually just put it on hold at the library). It's funny and mysterious and adventurous and extremely unique. I'd highly recommend this for parents looking for something to read aloud to their kids, as I'd imagine you'd enjoy it just as much as your children would.
12. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
What a majestic book. Want to start your children on a dragon-loving path early on? Here's your strategy. I cherished this book, and still do. The three main characters are a dragon, a Brownie named Sorrel, and a young boy, and they. are. all. best. friends. It's understandably awesome.
13. May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson
This was the first darker, creepier book I read, and I loved it. It follows a young girl and her cat, who fall into a lake behind her house. They emerge on the other side in an "alternate" world, with a friendly ghost guide, lots of crazy adventures, and a spooky villain she's fleeing from, in the hopes of getting back to her real life.
14. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This is a remarkable book, and has a special place on my top ten list of favorite books to this day. My mom read this to my sister and I as kids, and we absolutely adored it. The writing is excellent, and the characters are the kind you want to meet in real life and have adventures with. Seriously, look at that shiny seal...award winners are always awesome, right?
15. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Another award winner! Even though I will admit to enjoying the movie adaptation of this, the book is so much better! First of all, the movie changes and adds a ton of stuff, when this book was basically perfect to begin with. This book began my love of retellings and fueled my desire for magic and
humor and royalty.
16. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Another one of those book-is-so-much-better-than-the-movie situations. Seriously, an amazing book. The first one is by far the best, while the second and third are just pretty good, and the fourth is really not great (in my opinion). The book is essentially about an underground city where people are given specific jobs at a certain age, and it focuses on two characters, Lina and Doon, best friends who, through a series of crazy events, end up fleeing the city and changing everything they've known.
17. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
By now, most have heard of these famous books following a group of siblings who discover the portal to a magical land in a wardrobe. It's a longer series, and teaches lesson upon lesson while also being extremely entertaining and exciting.
18. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
This is a very unique and captivating book about a girl receiving prompts and clues that take her around her city. It follows three different storylines, and deals with time travel and various mysteries. There are some unexpected surprises in the book, and it is very well written, and enjoyable for adults and kids alike.
19. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Cornelia writes amazing books, part 2! If my memory is correct, this book is designed for a slightly older audience than Dragon Rider, but both are fantasy books for middle grade readers. This book is particularly fantastical, with magical creatures, magical books, and tons of adventure.
20. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan
I hear all of Riordan's series are excellent, though I have yet to read any besides this. Still, these are the original and most classic of his books, and highly beloved to all those who read them. For those who don't know, these books follow the adventures and perils of Percy Jackson, a young demigod, whose father is Poseidon himself. Each book contains new mysteries and action, as Percy and his friends take on quests and maintain order for Olympus.
21. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
This is an adorable book series from a very excellent young adult and middle grade author. These books are quite different from the movie adaptations, though the basic premise of Mia discovering she's a princess is the same in the books as it is in the movie. This book is cute, funny and intelligent. I thoroughly enjoyed this, as well as the continuing books in the series.
22. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Of course, a list like this could never be complete without mentioning one of my all time favorite series, Harry Potter. At this point, I doubt there are many people who don't know about Harry Potter, but if you haven't read these books, no matter your age, I implore you to pick them up and give them a try. They are amazing, funny, fascinating, and beloved for a very good reason. I'm currently rereading the entire series for about the fourth or fifth time and I've never regretted anything less.
23. Holes by Louis Sachar
This is a very unique book following a young boy whose family is apparently under an ancient "bad luck curse", and who is sent to a juvenile detention center to dig holes for a summer. The book centers around a huge mystery and is full of action and humor. There are also flashbacks and the like, which make it an even more entertaining read.
24. Alex Rider Series and Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz
Horowitz is truly a master of middle grade and young adult suspense and action stories. I read and loved the Alex Rider books, which feature a young spy and his various missions. I also read Raven's Gate, and though I don't remember all of the plot anymore, I remember feeling a burning need to tell everyone I knew about this book as soon as I finished it. It was that intense, even back then.
If you read this entire lengthy blog post, I seriously appreciate you! Please feel free to comment below the childhood books you loved and cherish!