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25 Favorite Children's Books

Updated on April 22, 2011

Stories for children: What to read, and when to read it

What follows is a trip down memory lane: How I paged my way through the early 1990s in children's literature.

The 25 books on this list are grouped by grade level. These were the books I discovered, then read and re-read in those years.

I'd recommend these titles to any older reader looking for a nostalgic kick, or as gifts to any younger reader looking for something new to devour. Many of these books remain classics, and not all of the titles are strictly-for-children.

Harry Potter is not on this list, but only because the Hogwarts mania didn't hit until late high school for me, so I did not experience those works from a child's perspective.

Instead, I had to rough it (relatively speaking) when seeking out summer and after school reading.

Now, on to the mysteries, the fantasies and the tales of robots, spaceships, princesses and pioneers that enthralled me most as a child.

A well-loved, well-used copy of Jane Austen's work from my childhood library.
A well-loved, well-used copy of Jane Austen's work from my childhood library. | Source

Discovering classics: 8th grade

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
I vividly remember how the words on the page came alive to me after I picked it a blue-covered illustrated volume off a high shelf at a public library. I read the first chapter or two standing up — the text was that enthralling. Oh, poor Mrs. Bennett, ever to be laughed at, two centuries on and counting.

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
This is no Christmas Carol. It's a coming of age tale that is darker and less syrupy than most of Dickens' work. Pip begins as a lonely, fearful — nearly haunted — child. He grows into some measure of jaded self knowledge only after tangling with a world full of mixed motives and letdowns of every kind. Sometimes, it appears, you just can't go home again.

Science fiction: 7th grade

I, Robot, Isaac Asimov
A short book by Asimov on black holes and the life cycle of stars had caught my attention in elementary school. I returned to devour his fiction.

Sphere, Michael Crichton

Children's fiction chart toppers: Your picks

Which of these children's book series did you most love?

See results

Fantasy: 6th grade

Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
The book is a stepping stone into a larger series about a planet with a strange past — Pern — populated with dragons and human space colonists (who have returned to a lifestyle out of the dark ages).

The Seventh Princess, Nick Sullivan

Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Sullivan

History and horror: 5th grade

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare

Moccasin Trail, Eloise Jarvis McGraw

The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, Dorothea Jensen

Pet Semetary, Stephen King
Let me just say, I wished I hadn't. I was so creeped out, I went back to reading Christopher Pike's Chain Letter and, worse, Sweet Valley High.

Hard times: 4th grade

The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pilot Down, Presumed Dead, Marjorie Phleger

Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

Pictured is The Silver Chair, one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. / E. A. Wright 2009
Pictured is The Silver Chair, one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. / E. A. Wright 2009

Series craze: 3rd grade

The Magician's Nephew, C. S. Lewis
It's hard not to love the Chronicles of Narnia. This "first" book in series (chronologically) might be my favorite.

The Secret of Shadow Ranch, Carolyn Keene
Can't recall what the secret was, but this was the Nancy Drew mystery I cracked open most often.

Meet Samantha: An American Girl, Susan S. Adler
Absorbing historical series, but the loudest lessons the American Girls series imparted about our society's class and wealth differences came not from the books, but from noting the lucky few girls at school whose parents sprung for the then $80-odd Samantha doll. Me? I enjoyed a much cheaper paper doll collection. Wardrobes were supplemented with my own colored pencil sketches.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Betty MacDonald
How else to answer the question of whether seeds planted in the dirty ears of naughty children will actually sprout?

Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, Ann M. Martin
Many hours were lost to the books in the Baby-Sitter's Club series. I nearly had the repetitive character exposition in the first chapter memorized.

Chapter books: 2nd grade

Beezus and Ramona, Beverly Cleary
The details of where I was — and what the weather was like (rainy) — the afternoon that I was handed my first Ramona book. I quickly learned the first rule of reading chapter books: you should not bother to retell every funny incident to your mother as you read it. With this tale, that process would take a year.

Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
This is one of the most dog-eared and well-loved books of them all. I wanted to be Anne: red hair, green hair, cropped hair — it wouldn't have mattered.

The Princess and the Goblin, George Macdonald
Facing hordes of tender-toed goblins, footsie becomes a legitimate means of mortal combat.

Word play: 1st grade

Fox in Sox, Dr. Seuss
"Would you like some new, blue goo...?"

Alexander and the Magic Mouse, Martha Sanders

The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams


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    • r jayanthi profile image

      r jayanthi 5 years ago from india

      E A Wright,I too grew up on a diet of books. Loved your list of books. It has inspired me to write a hub ! Good work. voted up

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      This is a good list. I love it when hubbers post their favorite books, it's a great place to look for book ideas for gifts or for the self.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Wow, I almost forgot about Velveteen Rabbit! You have quite a collection here and I am proud to say that I've probably read half of these books. Stephen King is one of my favorite storytellers and it would be impossible for me to imagine my childhood without the works of C.S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia. I enjoyed reading this hub and look forward to reading more!

    • E. A. Wright profile image

      E. A. Wright 8 years ago from New York City

      I enjoyed the books you mentioned, too. I may have to expand this list to 50 Old Favorites.

    • Army Infantry Mom profile image

      Army Infantry Mom 8 years ago

      You have some good books listed here,..I was raised on Charlett's Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,..LOL