Top Ten Tuesday: Books We Wish We'd Read as Kids

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Don't worry: if you loved the Tuesday recipes, you may still get some on occasion. I'll either post them as an extra Tuesday post or just go late and do Thursdays... but I was really starting to reach for ideas. And if you want recipes, for heaven's sake, go over to City Wife, Country Life and follow the blog. Because it's superb, and the excellent Farmer's City Wife actually puts up pictures with her recipes.

So: first week of a new meme, and I'm already breaking the rules. This week's theme is The Top Ten Books You Wish You'd Read as a Kid. But I read a lot of great books as a kid, and of the ones I haven't, I'm a lot more curious which ones you think I should have read.

After all, I plan on keeping the childlike spirit around for life. I also plan on reading more.

My questions for you: Which books do you think I should read? And which books do you wish you had read, or still plan to?

To help with recommendations, I've picked an old School Library Journal list of 100 Best Children's Books and bolded the ones I've already read. The original link seems to be defunct, but luckily I was able to get this from Janet Batchler's blog, Quoth the Maven. Starting from the top:

#1 Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
#6 Holes by Louis Sachar
#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry
#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster [sounds familiar, but I'm not sure]
#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
#12 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl
#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
#22 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo
#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
#27 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett
#28 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne
#29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland /Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
#30 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager
#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#34 Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling
#36 Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
#48 The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements
#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl
#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene
#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
#65 Ballet Shoes by Noah Streatfeild
#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
#70 Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
#72 My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton
#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
#77 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
#80 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
#84 Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander
#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary
#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
#93 Caddie Woodlawn by C. R. Brink [another one that I think I may have read, but don't know for sure]
#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren [I would have ranked this higher. Just sayin'. :)]
#96 The Witches by Roald Dahl
#97: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
#98 Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston
#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder


  1. +JMJ+

    First time playing and already breaking the rules? LOL! I wish I had your guts. ;-)

    If The Phantom Tollbooth sounds familiar, it probably is! Or you might have seen the cartoon. I remember describing the story to a friend who kept guessing correctly what would happen next and still insisted that she hadn't read it! =P

    Caddie Woodlawn I read when I was out of college. I think I would love it more today had I picked it up during my Little Women days, but I'm glad that I read it with my trained English major's eye. Some of the seminal girls' classics that I grew up with, I hardly revisit any longer.

  2. Hm... I'm not a good one for making recommendations, because I'm very ill-read in the genre of children's literature (we just didn't have that many books, and I'm sure we must have gotten some from the library but I don't remember).

    Books I'm just hearing about that are apparently children's classics (like, little kid books, not "chapter books"): Blueberries for Sal, The Little Prince, A Cricket in Times Square, all of Dr. Seuss's books, the Frog and Toad books, Bread and Jam for Frances... wow. I'd never heard of them, but people tell me I'm deprived. :)

  3. You know, I didn't see too many on your list of unread ones, that you should immediately go out & read. As far as I'm concerned, you've hit the best ones already. :)

    But, despite my comments on a previous post, I would take the time to read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I also second the recommendation on The Phantom Tollbooth.

    I'd also go with Tuck Everlasting & all of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books.

    As for books I wished I'd read as a child, well, more classics like Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, & Dostoevsky.

  4. I second Lloyd Alexander's Prydain chronicles . . .and I guess Tuck Everlasting, too.

  5. Enbrethiliel, I think I'll have to put The Phantom Tollbooth on my to-read list and go through it just to make sure! Maybe I'll give Caddie a try, too.

    Farmer's City Wife, there's a couple of those that I don't think I've read, though I've heard of them. But you never had Frog and Toad? Definitely deprived. :P Of course, if you never had Morris and Boris either, I'll have to be truly shocked.

    George and Anonymous, updating my to-read list right now. (Maybe I should move that thing to Goodreads.) I've had so many people recommend the Prydain books that I'm kind of surprised, myself, that I still haven't read them.

  6. I'll third the Prydain chronicles. The first book in his Westmark series is also quite good.

    You should try Number the Stars as well. Very sad, but very good.

  7. +JMJ+

    I guess I'd "fourth" the Chronicles of Prydain, but I've only got as far as the second book. =P They're pretty solid Fantasy novels for young people, though, and I have no trouble shelving them next to my Lord of the Rings books. =)

  8. The Prydain books...though I didn't read them as a kid either, I just discovered them a couple years ago..as a kid I hated kid's books and ended up missing a lot of good ones.

    Apart from that, there's not much you missed I'd recommend..actually, there's not much on the list I'd recommend, maybe I still have issues with kid's books :)

  9. While I do think you've hit the best ones, there's several un-bolded books that I'd recommend emphatically.

    Prydain's good (I'll "fifth" it, especially Taran Wanderer), "Holes" is good... "The Dark is Rising" is absolutely awesome. It's the best of the series, in my opinion--to be honest, I thought those books got weaker as the series progressed, but tDiR is a knock-out-of-the-park. "The Giver" went over my head as a kid: I didn't understand the ending, though it did give me fuel for thought. "Number the Stars" is excellent historical fiction. "My Side of the Mountain" appeals to the Jeremiah Johnson part of my psyche... "The Graveyard Book" is one of my favorite coming-of-age books of all time. "Sideways Stories From Wayside School" was just silly, but I love silly. I haven't read or seen "The City of Ember," but it looked great.

  10. Wow! Prydain it is... I'm stopping by the library this afternoon, so I'll see if they have the first one in.

    David and Chris, thanks for the other recommendations. I've had a lot of recommendations for Lois Lowry's books over time as well, so maybe I should bump those up on the to-read list.

    Masha, that made me laugh. :)

  11. The City of Ember was a good read, but it didn't look like the sequels to it were as good.

  12. "The Graveyard Book." There's a very good reason this is the only book ever to win the Newbery and the Carnegie and the Hugo Awards at once. If you're up for a very good audiobook, you can find the author reading it--he sounds somewhere between Alan Rickman and Puddleglum.

    "The Phantom Tollbooth" is a great example of how to do "educational" material right: bury it up to its neck in puns and lob goofy philosophies at it.

    There is a lamentable absence of Sid Fleischman from the list. By The Great Horn Spoon, any of the McBroom books, Chancy and the Grand Rascal, Bandit's Moon, Humbug Mountain, The Whipping Boy...

    The Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks is often overlooked, but has some of the best, funniest, and most rounded talking animals in children's fiction. Freddy the Detective is the best known, but he dabbles in many other trades over the course of 24 books or so.

  13. George, I'm not sure I'd even heard of the City of Ember. Maybe I'll have to look that up.

    Eric, Neil Gaiman is a very good dramatist--I'd expect that to be a fun listening experience. Of course, I don't have much patience with audiobooks when I can read the paper copy in a third of the time. :)

    Also, though I don't remember whether I've read anything by Fleischman, I do get the sense that he belongs in a list of this sort. I'll definitely put him on my to-read list. Thanks for the other suggestions as well.

  14. What Eric said. The Freddy Books--sheer brilliance. And Sid Fleischman. If you have any aspirations of writing YA fiction (ahem) devour anything and everything by Fleischman. You will learn more about storytelling and good prose through a good dose of Fleischman than--well, than almost anything else, to be honest. He's impeccable. And a whole lot of fun.

    I also strongly suggest--nay, urge, protest, plead with great lamentations and many arguments--James Thurber. Gaiman calls The 13 Clocks 'probably the best book in the world.' And The Great Quillow, or Many Moons or--to slide into another genre, if you're ready to not stop laughing for several hours--My Life and Hard Times. Genius...

  15. Mr. Pond, I read The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and enjoyed that. I'll have to look up the books. Adding to my to-read list again...


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