I could probably start a blog that does nothing but discuss children’s books, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. But each one of these books sparked something in me when I was little. As an adult reader, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate that feeling I had when I was a kid, reading way past my bedtime, lost in someone else’s world.
To children’s book authors everywhere: Thank you.
10. CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E.B. White
This is the first book I can remember reading that made me cry. I was upset for days after I finished it. It wasn’t until I was older that I was able to recognize the mark of a truly great book: it stays with you long after the reading experience is over.
9. HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS by Thomas Rockwell
What could be more gross – and more awesome! – than having to eat worms as part of a bet?
8. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU by Dr. Seuss
I checked this book out of the library because someone else had checked out Green Eggs & Ham. To this day it remains my favorite of all the Dr. Seuss books. I loved it so much I refused to return it. We kept getting letters from the library, and eventually my poor mom just paid for it.
7. CRISIS ON CONSHELF TEN by Monica Hughes
Assigned reading in grade four! And it was my very first thriller (okay, it’s probably more science fiction, but it was very thrilling). Set way in the future, it was about a boy who undergoes an operation that gives him gills, so he can live underwater because Earth’s air is too polluted. In hindsight I suppose this book was part of the curriculum because of its message about the environment. But back then, all I cared about were the underwater adventures.
6. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery
Everything about this book is magical, from the spunk and whimsy of the title character to the breathless tranquility of Green Gables. Because of this book, I’ll never rule out the possibility of someday living on Prince Edward Island.
5. A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L’Engle
I was eight when I turned to the first page and read: It was a dark and stormy night. This might be a clichéd way to start a book in 2010, but it’s clichéd because of this book.
4. I WANT TO GO HOME! by Gordon Korman
Korman is my hero. Born in Thornhill, Ontario, his first book This Can’t Be Happening at McDonald Hall (1978) was written as a 7th grade English assignment, and was published by Scholastic by the time he was 14. To date he’s written 65 books. I Want To Go Home! is my favorite, because it’s about a kid who doesn’t want to be at camp, and so he does everything he can to make the experience memorable. I laughed so hard I had tears. TEARS. And I was only ten.
3. TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING by Judy Blume
I loved all of Blume’s Fudge books, but this first one was my favorite. I didn’t have a little brother like Fudge, but Peter’s exasperation with him is legendary.
2. THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis
This whole series is amazing, but there’s a reason this one is the standout: the White Witch is one icy bitch. (See, I could appreciate a good villain even at the age of nine.)
1. RAMONA QUIMBY, AGE 8 by Beverly Cleary
Ahhh, Ramona. I was eight, she was eight, and we both had all the same problems: older siblings who thought they knew it all, parents who worked all the time, a teacher we wanted to please, and kids in our class who got on our nerves. She will forever be my most cherished childhood heroine ever.
Which books did you love when you were little?