Some of the best books I’ve ever read are children’s books. This is attested by the worn copies that still sit on my bookshelf, in spite of the fact that I’ve sold the majority of my physical book collection over the last few years.
These titles vary in popularity, and they make my list for different reasons. Some have irresistibly well-crafted plots. Others are superior in world-building. Most have valuable lessons to teach. All are inspirational.
If you missed out on these as a child – and even if you didn’t – don’t be ashamed to read them now. I promise it will be worth it!
1. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Who were these people, these specially selected tenants? They were mothers and fathers and children. A dressmaker, a secretary, an inventor, a doctor, a judge. And, oh yes, one was a bookie, one was a burglar, one was a bomber, and one was a mistake. Barney Northrup had rented one of the apartments to the wrong person.
This mystery is an easy read, but there’s nothing simple about it. The cast of characters – and the plot – is interesting and complex, and there are plenty of twists to keep you going. It’s the first book I recommend to teens and tweens I come across, boy and girl alike.
2. Whoever Heard of a Fird? by Othello Bach
Once there was a little fird – just an ordinary fird, part fish, part bird – and he wanted to find a herd of fird. But nobody had ever heard of a fird.
This delightful story was out of print for a number of years, and my mom paid a pretty penny to replace the copy she lost. It was released again in 2012 with new illustrations, but I firmly believe it’s worth it to pay for the original. The pictures are fanciful and entertaining, and the story is heart-warming. The world in which Fird lives is entirely unique. You’ll be eager to join him as he journeys away from his home with the dickens in search of a herd of fird.
3. Searching For David’s Heart by Cherie Bennett
But now I knew that love was a poisonous thing. It had turned me into a murderer. I would die with my secret before I would tell.
I want to sob at the mere thought of this story. It’s about a 12-year-old girl who loses her beloved older brother, David, and sets out on an epic journey with her best friend in search of the boy who received his heart. It gets extra kudos for dealing with issues of class and racism in an honest but respectful way. Also, you will cry.
4. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…
This is indubitably the most famous book on this list. I fell in love with it as a child, having heard it read out loud year after year at otherwise boring graduation ceremonies (my dad plays the piano for the local college where he works.) If you read only one book for the rest of your life, make it this one. Better yet: read it first thing every day.
5. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
You never know the worth of water until the well is dry.
I remember when I was younger struggling to get through this book. As a voracious reader, the story intrigued me, but several times I lost interest somewhere in the middle and bailed out. And then came the day when I didn’t; I finally reached the end.
And it was beautiful.
Rarely since have I found a story as well-crafted as this one, nor an ending so satisfying if bittersweet. Push your way through; you won’t regret it!
6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Wild nights are my glory!
This story and its sequels are truly brilliant works of sci-fi/fantasy that include a taste of dystopia and, later in the series, biblical history. Not only that, but the characters are easily lovable and some of the most unique and memorable of any series I have read. If you really can’t make time to read the book, check out the movie. There’s a new movie version debuting on the big screen in 2018, and I can’t wait!
I hope you enjoyed this list and that it brought back some memories. I’d love to hear about the books you choose to read!