Favorite childhood books you should totally read again.

Favorite childhood books you should totally read again.

For the 2015 Reading Challenge, I’m blogging through one category per month, in order. (Don’t worry—you don’t have to read them in order.)

So far we’ve covered:

  1. a book you’ve been meaning to read
  2. a book published this year
  3. a book in a genre you don’t typically read

This month we’re tackling category #4: “a book from your childhood.”

You have creative license as you approach this category: some of you are re-reading a favorite childhood book. Some of you are reading a book you knew about as a kid, that maybe even sat on your bookshelves, but you never read.

Some of you are reading new titles from a favorite childhood author. I’m thinking of doing this myself: I was obsessed with The Baby-Sitters Club as a kid, and I have zero desire to re-read those now. But Martin’s new YA novel Rain Reign is on my reading list, and I might read that for this category. That might be pushing it a little, but there aren’t any Reading Police around here.

Today I’m sharing seven of my actual childhood favorites—the books I read and loved as a kid. I can’t wait to hear yours—and what you’re reading for this category—in comments.

favorite childhood books

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia

At its core, this is a story about a beautiful friendship between two fifth grade kids who seemed so real that my ten-year-old self could hardly believe Jess and Leslie existed only on the page. I found myself wishing I had my own magical kingdom in the woods I could escape to, and I bawled my eyes out at the end. A moving, multi-layered story about the beauty of childhood and the searing pain of loss. Add Audible narration for $11.99. More info →
Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows

A story of a boy and his dogs, and about so much more: love and yearning, struggle and poverty, and hunting—which means it's necessarily about death. My fifth grade teacher made a class of thirty students cry, excepting none, when she read the final chapters aloud. Of note: Rawls spent twenty years writing this novel, then burned it out of embarrassment. Lucky for us, his wife encouraged him to write it again, and he dashed off the whole thing (sans punctuation) in three weeks. Originally published as an adult novel, it still didn't sell until teachers and students got ahold of it. More info →
Ramona the Pest

Ramona the Pest

The prolific Cleary wrote simple (and funny) stories that kids love to read. Her characters ring true because Cleary based them on her real-life friends and actual neighbors on Klickitat Street in Portland, a street just a few blocks away from her childhood home. Ramona is her best-loved character: I read every book about her, many times. Ramona the Pest is a wonderful place to start: 5-year-old Ramona heads off to kindergarten, where she learns that kindergarten—and life—are full of misunderstandings. More info →
The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

I probably wasn't old enough to appreciate this instant classic when I first read it as a child, but that didn't stop me. (Thank goodness.) 10-year-old Milo comes home from school one day to find a tollbooth sitting in his bedroom. Since he doesn’t have anything better to do, he pays the toll and drives through–and embarks on a strange journey into a fanciful world where he encounters all sorts of strange characters. A satisfying and delightfully nerdy book that will engage both kids and adults, albeit on different levels. More info →
A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

L’Engle begins her groundbreaking science fiction/fantasy work with the famous opening line “It was a dark and stormy night,” and plunges you headlong into the world of the Murray family, who must travel through time to save the universe. I wanted to be Meg, of course. Wrinkle is the first—and most famous—of the Time Quintet, but I read them all, again and again. More info →
The Secret of the Old Clock

The Secret of the Old Clock

The first of many, many mysteries I would come to read in this highly addictive series published under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. This is one of the all-time bestselling children's books in English: it's sold nearly 3 million copies. The writing may not hold up on an adult's re-read, but I love the Nancy Drew series anyway: she's smart, she's brave, and she's the one rescuing her boyfriend, instead of the other way around. More info →
Emily of New Moon

Emily of New Moon

If you come to Montgomery’s later, darker series expecting to find a second Anne, you’re bound to be disappointed. Luckily, my grade school self had no such preconceived notions. These were the first books that I finished under the covers with a flashlight at 2:00 a.m. because I had to know where Emily’s hopes, dreams, and disappointments led her. More info →

What were your favorite childhood books, and what are you reading for this category in the reading challenge?

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  1. Lisa T says:

    I agree with many of the books mentioned in this list and in the comments and I’ll add a few more that I didn’t see:

    Beauty by Robin McKinley — Even as a cynical young adult, I thought this novelized version of Beauty and the Beast was so romantic. Swoon!

    Charlotte Sometimes — To this day I cannot resist a time-travel novel.

    The Children of Green Knowe (and other books in the series) by LM Boston.

  2. Val says:

    A Wrinkle in Time introduced me to science fiction/fantasy at a time I needed that in my life. Amazing book.

    You are so right about Where the Red Fern Grows, tears every time!

  3. Oh man. You’ve hit on my favorite genre: juvenile fiction. I read (and loved) several of your favorites: Bridge to Terabithia, the Nancy Drew series, A Wrinkle in Time, and most–if not all–of Beverly Cleary’s books. I have so many other favorites, many of which are still on the shelf in my living room. Let’s see:

    All the “Anne” books, of course.
    The Boxcar Children series (my favorite was the second in the original series, “Surprise Island”).
    A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, both by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
    Number the Stars and The Giver, both by Lois Lowry
    Little Women and others by Louisa May Alcott (especially Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom)
    The View from Saturday and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (both by E. L. Konigsburg)
    Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
    All the Narnia books (THANK YOU, C.S. Lewis)
    All the American Girl books (up until 2001, anyway)
    All the Little House books (still love them)
    All the Dear America books

    And a lot of others. The library we went to when I was little had a blue ribbon sticker on all the Newberry Award winners, and I went through and picked all those before I read anything else, once I was old enough to understand that Newberry Award winners were among the best. 🙂 I don’t remember all the titles, but I don’t think I was ever disappointed!

  4. Tessa~ says:

    Naturally, I have bookmarked this post, for titles.

    Also wanted to very much thank you, for using “totally” in your subject line. I want to use it, all the time. But worry, that it isn’t “up to date”…

    Oh my, perhaps it is very, very, very out of date, and you used it, tongue in cheek. -pout-

    Anyway, I will continue to use it, when I simply can not help myself. -grin-


  5. Cora says:

    I love the Emily Starr books and Madeleine L’Engle’s time quintet, although I didn’t read either set until college. I’m planning on reading On the Banks of Plumb Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder for the reading challenge. I remember it being my favorite of the series, but I can’t remember why. I’m looking forward to re-discovering it.

    • LoriM says:

      I read Sue Barton, too. If memory serves, it was better written than Cherry Ames, tho I read her, too.

  6. Cara says:

    A few current read alouds that I am loving (and my kids are too) are: Homer Price, A Little Princess, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Family Under the Bridge.

    Personally, this is my favorite genre to read because I know it is “safe” and yet it covers real, hard topics to think and process.

    I just discovered your 2015 Challenge – I can’t wait to read through the plan and follow along.

  7. Anne says:

    I read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret a whole lotta times.
    Babysitters – I even read a Super Special with characters I didn’t know sometime in the past year or two… ? (Other serials, too, like Sleepover Friends, Sweet Valley Twins and High)
    Little House
    Anne, over and over
    Nancy Drew
    Harriet the Spy

    I am forgetting something!

  8. LisaM says:

    What Katy Did was a favorite of mine that I read over and over growing up. And I love Nancy Drew as well- how the books take place in the 50s (I think?) and the mysteries she solves. I want to look into many others on your list!

  9. Karen says:

    The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley
    ANY of Marguerite Henry’s Horse stories
    Jim Kjelgaard’s dog stories like Big Red
    There was a series of “We Were There” historical books that each volume was another famous person like Davy Crockett, Kit Carson, Geronimo, etc .. can’t find them anymore. Was a great way to become acquainted with many of our country’s heros and famous people.
    Will James’s “Smokey the Cowhorse”

  10. Bethany says:

    Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry

    Best ever. I’m ashamed that I’ve only read two of the books you mentioned above (and had Where the Red Fern Grows read to me, though we don’t talk about that, that book is way too sad for me!) Looks like I have a new list to work on!

  11. HollyB says:

    You should *definitely* read RAIN REIGN by Martin. It’s fantastic and so worth the read. Plus it won’t take you long 🙂 I was really surprised when I read she wrote the Babysitter’s Club series! Trust mr, RR is NOTHING like that 😉

  12. Lorraine says:

    Charlotte’s Web! And other books by EB White. I read it when I was 10 and loved it and sobbed through the end. I can’t believe my kindergartener’s teacher is reading it to her class, but I will be rereading it.

  13. Jo says:

    I am intrigued that I had only read one of the books on your list – Carolyn Keene. Maybe that’s a UK/US thing. I was a voracious reader!

    Some of my favourites were:
    Arthur Ransome – all the Swallows and Amazons series (STILL love them today)
    Chalet School – totally addicted and still collecting!
    Secret Seven / Famous Five / Five Find-Outers by Enid Blyton
    Anne of Green Gables
    Pippi Longstocking
    Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew
    C S Lewis – the Narnia Books
    Older stuff like the Bobbsey Twins and other really old fashioned books set in boarding schools of the 20’s! Strange taste for a child 🙂

    I’m sure there is more I can’t think of right now. Thanks for a trip down memory lane, and the introduction of some stuff I have never heard of.

  14. Gabriela says:

    The Prydain Chronicles. Best. Books. Ever. Lloyd Alexander wrote a number of other great books too. The coolest thing is that I wrote to him when I was a kid and he wrote back. Then, my daughter wrote to him when I read he books to her and he wrote back again!

    • Susan says:

      I loved reading the Prydain Chronicles to my kids! We still quote lines from the books, particularly Gurgi’s “crunchings and munchings”. And my “kids” are 32 and 29 years old!

  15. Jennifer says:

    My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
    Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
    Rifles for Waite by Harold Keith
    Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

  16. Jen says:

    I loved The Indian In the Cupboard as a kid and recently enjoyed experiencing it again as I read it to my son.
    Loving this post as it brings back so many happy memories! A few I’d add are:
    Sweet Valley High
    The Girls of Canby Hall
    The Westing Game

  17. I love some of the books you mentioned. I’ll have to check some of the others I haven’t read. I would add Tuck Everlasting, and a bunch of others. I do re-read “kids'” books since we are homeschooling. 😉 Yup. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

  18. Relyn says:

    I have loved reading all these comments. Here’s a few of mine:

    Strega Nona – Tomie DePaola
    Owl at Home – Arnold Lobel
    The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkein
    Half Magic – Edward Eager
    Stone Soup – Marcia Brown
    Katy No Pockets – H.A. Rey
    Madeline – Ludwig Belmans
    Curious George – H.A. Rey
    Robin Hood – Howard Pyle
    Stuart Little – E.B. White
    Bunnicula – James Howe
    Babar – Jean de Brunhoff
    Ferdinand – Munro Leaf

  19. Leslie L. says:

    So it’s December and I’m commenting on a post from last April, but I don’t care–I love children’s books. My inspiration to comment here is seeing that Jennifer wrote Rifles for Waite, by Harold Keith. I read that so many times when I was young and have an old, beat-up copy on my bookshelf now. I never knew anyone else who read that book.
    I’m an elementary school teacher and the best part of our day is after lunch when I read aloud from a chapter book. I usually choose older books, and never miss:
    The Boxcar Children
    Homer Price (we always have to eat donuts when I read the doughnut chapter)
    The Mouse and the Motorcycle and anything else by Beverly Cleary

  20. KG says:

    I’m always so afraid my childhood favorites won’t have the same kind of magic they did when I first read them. It’s always a catch-22 for me.

  21. julie S-H says:

    I loved:

    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by Konigsburg.

    I re-read it as an adult when one of my kids was reading it and I thought it was still really fun. I LOVED it when I was a kid, it completely captured my imagination.

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