WSIRN Ep 21: The books that made you fall in love with reading

It’s not Tuesday, but today we have a special Friday bonus episode of What Should I Read Next!

For today’s bonus episode we have a very special guest: my 8 year old daughter Lucy. Lucy lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her mom (me!) and her dad and her three siblings (two older, one younger). She’s a third grader who loves music, sports, and all kinds of animals, and her picks today are going to remind you about all the books that made YOU first fall in love with reading.

What Should I Read Next #21: The books that made you fall in love with reading

Books discussed in this episode: 

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The Mother Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Zia by Scott O’Dell
The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary
The Ramona books by Beverly Cleary
Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick
Wish You Were Eyre by Heather Vogel Frederick
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Also mentioned in this episode:

12 terrific books for tween girls

more posts you might enjoy


Leave A Comment
  1. Sarah D. says:

    Very cute topic today, but your title is driving me nuts! No books have ever made me fall in love with reading with Lucy. I don’t even know Lucy!

  2. So looking forward to listening in on my way to the gym this morning! Tomorrow I’m speaking at a writing conference as the only children’s author. I’ll talk to writers who up until now have written for the adult audience but are interested in writing for children. I totally track with you and Lucy here and plan to mention something you’ve hit upon: life-long readers start in childhood. Children’s books are life changing and hugely impactful.

    Thank you for honoring your daughter and all young readers today!

    PS – Ramona Quimby is hands down my favorite middle grade character. She is PERFECTION.

  3. Ally says:

    Loved this, She is precious! I have an 6 year old and we both love books, but I don’t really discuss them as much with her. I just love how you talked about books with your daughter, totally inspiring me to engage more like any other book-lover. Thanks!

  4. Kristen says:

    Loved this episode! Oh, Betsy-Tacy is a favorite of mine, and I’ve shared the first four books with my 7-year-old niece, who’s read them all several times. Good pick for Lucy! The first books take place in Mankato, MN, which is just down the highway from where I live. Since the books are based on the author’s life, you can tour their actual houses and find other landmarks from the books. So fun!

  5. Alex says:

    Love the idea of Book of the Month (and the discount!) but I’m so sad to find out they don’t ship to Canada.

  6. Susan in TX says:

    Loved this episode. Lucy, you have a great “radio presence.” 🙂 Books we (my daughter and I) thought of while listening if you haven’t already read them: The Kildee House by Rutherford G. Montgomery; Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer; The Moffats by Eleanor Estes (there’s a few of these), as well as Ginger Pye by same author; Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (there’s an Astrid name!); and of course, we would urge Lucy not to give up on Betsy-Tacy. She might want to skip the first book and start with the second (I know that is akin to bibliophile blasphemy) since in the first book the girls are about 5. Lucy may enjoy them a little bit older – and you can always go back and read the first one. Also, if you enjoy Gone Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright has several with the same kids that are really good. And, of course, there’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.
    I’ll stop there and show some constraint – this is one of my favorite topics. 🙂
    Lucy, you would be an asset to any book club discussion – happy reading to you both!

  7. Amy says:

    I so enjoyed this episode! I have four children who are all readers, but my 10 year old daughter is constantly looking for new-to-her books. Books we’ve enjoyed are All of A Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor, the Katie John series by Mary Calhoun, the Henry Reed books by Keith Robertson and the Saturdays series by Elizabeth Enright. These are all series set prior to 1970’s so even if the characters are a little older than Lucy, they stay away from some of the teen angst that Lucy may prefer to avoid until shes older:) Good Luck finding summer reads, Lucy

  8. Jill says:

    I loved this episode! I wasn’t expecting to have tears in my eyes while driving to work this morning. From Lucy’s sweet voice and refreshing confidence to the way you engaged with each other, this episode could not have been better. As a mom of three girls myself (ages 7 1/2, 6, and 6), I can’t wait to read some of these books together and have these types of conversations ourselves.

  9. Dawn says:

    I suggest Mandy and The Last of The Really Great Whangdoodles, both by Julie Andrews Edwards, to Miss Lucy. What a sweet episode. Thanks to you both.

    • Susan in TX says:

      Yes! Mandy was one of my own childhood favorites and one I still give as a gift. My girls loved the cover off of my old copy.

  10. Bethany says:

    Thanks for being on the show, Lucy! I thought you did a fantastic job and this was such a fun episode! My daughter has similar taste to yours and is currently enjoying the Sarah, Plain and Tall series, and In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richarson. She loves the Betsy-Tacy books, too.

  11. Sandra mosolgo says:

    Try a new book, Adventures With Waffles by Maria Parr. There are so many good older books. My grandchildren liked Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat & The Railway Children by Nesbit. Freddy the Pig is another great older series.

  12. Dana says:

    At that age I loved Betsy-Tacy, Little House series, Trixie Belden mysteries, Childhood of Famous Americans series ( historical fiction), The Little Princess, The Borrowers, The Enormous Egg, Henry Huggins, Ribsy, and of course Ramona. I also remember reading Caddie Woodlawn, Blue Willow, Hans Brinker, The Five Little Peppers, Katie John, Pippi Lomgstocking and All-of-A Kind Family. I also recommend the Beany series. The first one is called Beany, not Beanhead. Plus an all time fave of mine, Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant. It is a quick read but such a lovely story of friendship, courage and caring. If you want her to fall in love with poetry, Cynthia Rylant has some wonderful poetry. Also Douglas Florian writes great poetry for kids that age. My 2nd graders could not get enough of his poems. They are all short, but long on word play and imagery that kids get.I think making poetry accessible to children that age is essential, without resorting to the total silliness that some children’s poetry engages in.

  13. Sarah says:

    Loved this episode! (And I was quite impressed to hear your eight year old daughter use the term “realistic fiction.”) I normally listen to your podcast while I’m doing dishes during my kids’ lunchtime. They usually tune it out and chat with each other, but my seven year old son’s ears perked up today when he realized that you were interviewing a kid. I ended up playing the episode over our Bluetooth speaker, and he listened intently to the entire thing…and we’re heading to the library tomorrow morning to check out Gone-Away Lake, lol. We’re hoping you’re planning a boy episode sometime soon. 😉

  14. Kathy says:

    Loved this! Regarding Island of the Blue Dolphins; it is based on a real event. The woman about whom it is written is buried at the Santa Barbara Mission. She was rescued from the Channel Islands off the California coast.

    Have you read The Read Aloud Handbook? It is stuffed with wonderful books for kids, and is organized by age. As an adult I read most of the books in the The Read Aloud Handbook. I discovered some AMAZING books.

    Has Lucy read The Secret Garden? Heidi? Bambi? Old Yeller?

    Future possibilities: Sounder, The House of Sixty Fathers, Hatchett, My Side of the Mountain, It Happened at Hawk’s Hill, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

  15. K.L. says:

    This was wonderfully refreshing to listen to! I would recommend Caddie Woodlawn ( action but realistic, age, pioneer like Laura Ingalls). Heidi, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Bridge to Terabithia also came to mind.

  16. Debbie says:

    Have you seen Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins? It’s realistic fiction, as Lucy said she likes, though it’s set in Bangladesh rather than the American frontier. It may also be shorter than what she typically chooses. The first Amazon review by ER Bird is very helpful and informative.

  17. Laura says:

    My 10 year old loved the Lemonade War too- didn’t realize there were sequels! She will be glad to learn it. Thanks! I let my kids read basically anything that interests them (hello stick dog, wimpy kid, rainbow fairies, etc..) with the hope that they will fall in love with reading. Then perhaps one day they will love better literature. We are reading The Phantom Tollbooth at bedtime and it is such a clever, fun story!

  18. MMD says:

    Maybe a bit young for Lucy, but my daughters are going crazy for the Gooney Bird Greene series by Lois Lowry right now.

  19. Amy says:

    Loved this episode!! Please consider one for boys, I have a 12 yo boy who is an avid reader and can always use suggestions.?

  20. Grace says:

    I loved this episode! I listened to the audiobook of the first Betsy Tacy book last night and it was just delightful. Bonus points for Sutton Foster narrating it 🙂

  21. Robin says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful visit with readers each week. I have told all my friends how great it is! So enjoyed this episode! We love The Melendy Quartet series by Elizabeth Enright, Half Magic series by Edward Eager, Trixie Belden series, Callahan Cousins by Elizabeth Doyle Carey, All of a Kind Family series and an absolute favorite is Cornelia Street and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters. Happy reading!

  22. Loved this episode! I have several book recommendations for Lucy. If she likes books on survival (like Island of the Blue Dolphin) then I recommend My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Another one by Jean Craighead George is Water Sky about Whales and Alaska. Another good one about Alaska is The Year of Miss Agnes. (I know you didn’t say you liked books about Alaska but this one is a book that could have happened and it involves children of multiple ages). I loved the Carolyn Haywood books when I was 8-9 years old (B is for Betsy, etc). I’ll stop there (although I could totally keep going.)

    • Kristina Mullen says:

      I was surprised Anne didn’t pick-up on (or maybe just didn’t mention) that all of Lucy’s picks were survival, competition, and adapting to new environments. All of the recommendations seemed to revolve around friendship, where Lucy seems to prefer individualism and “grit.” I would recommend Lucy read Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George because of the survivalist aspect. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Opal is 10 years old and gets a new dog, this book is funny and heart-warming. My last pick for Lucy would be How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, personally I think it is hilarious and it has a similar feel to Muggie Maggie with the teasing and humor. Happy Reading!!

  23. Lisa K. says:

    So thrilled when Lucy started talking about Island of the Blue Dolphins! That was my favorite book when I was a child. Another one I remember loving and which I associate with it because of the strong sense of a child’s independence and self-reliance was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler. Lucy might like that one. I have loved every episode of the podcast. Great format.

  24. Britten says:

    If she likes adventure, a bit of adversity, younger children protagonists and stories that could potentially happen in real life, I’d recommend: The Boxcar Children series, A Little Princess and From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler…Happy reading!

  25. Sarah Silvester says:

    Hi Lucy! I loved listening to you on the podcast 🙂 I have a girl who turns 8 in less than a month, so this was very helpful. We just discovered the Squishy Mcfluff books, have you seen those? Squishy mcfluff is the invisible cat of a girl called Ava. They are written in verse and are very funny! The author is Pip Jones. I’m glad your mum recommended Roller Girl, because I was about to buy that authors next book for my girl’s birthday. It’s called “the great pet escape” and it’s about all the class pets at an elementary school escaping and having adventures. It’s a graphic novel too. Thanks for being on the podcast!

  26. Ginger says:

    I thought I couldn’t love a podcast voice any more than Anne’s, but Lucy’s sweet eight-year old (and very well-spoken) voice, might rival. So enjoyed this one! Great mother-daughter dynamic.

  27. Susan C says:

    Some of the books I liked when I was younger:
    The Great Brain by John D Fitzgerald
    All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
    Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
    Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
    Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
    Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

  28. Sara K says:

    Loved listening to Lucy talk books with her mom! I had my 10 year old listen in to this episode and she loved discussing books right along with you. My daughter likes the Whatever After books which are certainly not realistic fiction, but they are fun.

  29. Hilary says:

    I listened to this with my 8 y.o. 3rd grader while I was cooking dinner. She is not a ‘natural reader’ so it was nice to have her listen to a kid her own age talk about books. I literally went to the library and picked up as many as I could that you two mentioned in this episode.

  30. Erin in CA says:

    Just wanted to chime in and say that Betsy-Tacy is one of my DD’s favorite audio books. It is read by Sutton Foster and it is FANTASTIC. I love when DD is re-listening to her favorite sections and I get to hear them playing in her room! I mourned when I found out that they only made the first book into an audio book.

  31. Sara K says:

    We thought of a book for Lucy! My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder. It’s about a girl, maybe 12, who goes to Paris with her mom and brother and follows clues left by her grandmother all around the city. My 10 year old loved this book and didn’t want it to end!

  32. I so enjoyed this episode. Island of the Blue Dolphins was one of my favourites when I was young. My daughter had to read it for school a few years ago, so I decided to re-read it and was pleased to find that it still held up for me.
    I have a recommendation for Lucy. Shooting the Moon, by Frances Dowell is a charming story, and if she likes it, she should check out more by the author. She has many great titles, my favourite was Falling In, but I didn’t suggest that one because of Lucy’s preference for realism.
    Thanks for the podcast, I look forward to every single episode!

  33. Deirdre says:

    What a fun episode and great comments!
    My 8 yr old son asked if we could drive around the block to keep listening and learn which books were recommended. He wants me to recommend El Deafo, which is about a young girl who is deaf and her friendships. It’s a graphic novel and the characters are rabbits…sort of. I resisted, myself, but my son Nolan insisted I read it and he was right—it’s brilliant!

    Also, at Lucy’s age I loved Enid Boyton’s Famous Five series, which usually involves the sea as well.

  34. Angela says:

    Loved this episode! Listened with my kids and they loved the new book selections and hearing from a reader around their ages. Would love more episodes featuring kids!

  35. Katy says:

    I’m a few days late to the party, but I’d like to add Nick Sullivan’s The Seventh Princess to the list. Even though there are princesses in it, it’s not a typical girly princess story. The main character falls asleep on the school bus and wakes up in a different world where she has to save herself and several princesses from being turned into harpies. Action and adventure and I think the girl is maybe just a bit older than eight? I really enjoyed this episode, by the way. Your daughter is very well spoken and cute.

  36. Lynne Janssen Brooks says:

    Dear Lucy,
    My grown sister gave me the Anne of Green Gables series & it took me years to finally read it, but then I fell in love with all the characters! Then it took me what felt like years to convince my daughter to read the series, but then she adored it. Now she has it in her 5th grade classroom library & recommends it to everyone, even boys! 😉 Happy reading, lovely young lady!

  37. Shana says:

    I have no book recommendations but I wanted to comment that this is officially my favorite episode. Lucy was fantastic!

  38. Meg Longley says:

    Hi Lucy! You might like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. I don’t remember exactly how old the girls are, but it’s a great adventure! Happy reading. Loved the show!

  39. How fun! I love helping my own kids connect with books, so it’s always great to hear from a youngster. I want to recommend a book for her that is similar to Island of the Blue Dolphins, as far as a girl taking care of herself. It was one of my FAVORITE books of all time, and I couldn’t wait to share it with my own daughter, and I was so happy she liked it. It’s called Mandy, and it’s by Julie Andrews Edwards. Mandy is 10 and lives in an orphanage in England and finds an abandoned cottage, which she makes a place of her own.

  40. Megan says:

    Please reconsider your recommendation of Rollergirl – we got this from the library for my 8 yo based on the show (we listened together) and eeeeeeek. Way way way too mature for our family – the social dynamics/difficulties include accusing one girl of being on drugs and calling a girl named Astrid “Ass Turd” 😮

    Had to explain that to my 8 yo before promptly returning to the library.

  41. Jocelyn says:

    Oh this episode is so cute! I think I would love reading with Lucy. I think Lucy would love Caddie Woodlawn, Swallows and Amazons and Babe: The Gallant Pig.

  42. Julie says:

    I’m behind on my listening, but just had to say thank you so much for this episode! I’m a huge fan of yours and avid reader, but after listening to this, I was so excited to share it with my 8 year old son (who also loves to read). He truly enjoyed listening to it and immediately asked me to create a ‘Want to read’ list for him… and the first book on the list is ‘Island of the Blue Dolphins’. 🙂

  43. Paula says:

    I love your podcast and was so excited to share this one with my oldest daughter (and 11 year old avid reader)! She would like to request that your oldest daughter be featured in the next “kid reader” episode : ) Thanks for all you do!

  44. Amanda Houghton says:

    I have to tell you, I love Lucy! She sounds adorable. I realize I am late to the WSIRN podcast – I started at #1 a few weeks ago and I listened to this one today. Do you have recommendations for young boys??? My son is 10, a little below reading level (he’s in 5th Grade but gravitates towards graphic novels and Diary of a Wimpy Kid-type books) and doesn’t enjoy the typical boy books (like Harry Potter). He had a spurt with “Who Was” and “I Survived” books, but not ALL of their topics/people draw him in.

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