Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is freebie week, so I’m going back to an old topic that I didn’t get a chance to talk about when it was originally posted, favorite books from my childhood. This list was incredibly difficult for me to narrow down. When I was younger, my mom picked me up from school every Friday and I’d spend hours and hours walking up and down the aisles at my local library picking out books. When I was a teenager, I even got my first job there! For this list, I stuck with mostly middle grade books because these are the books I found myself coming back to again and again. One of my favorite parts of teaching has been being able to introduce some of my old favorites to my own students.
Sixteen Childhood Favorites
Amber Brown and Justin Daniels are best friends. They’ve known each other for practically forever, sit next to each other in class, help each other with homework, and always stick up for each other. Justin never says things like, “Amber Brown is not a crayon.” Amber never says, “Justin Time.” They’re a great team—until disaster strikes. Justin has to move away, and now the best friends are fighting. Will they be able to work it out before it’s too late?
Baby-Sitters Little Sister is a series spin-off of The Baby-sitters Club novel series. The series centered on seven-year-old Karen Brewer, the stepsister to Kristy Thomas, who is President of The Baby-sitters Club. In this series, Karen is a second grader at Stoneybrook Academy. Much of the books are about Karen going to school, and the many adventures that she and her classmates have. Karen usually tries to do the right thing, but because she has been through some hard times in her young life, she sometimes makes a mistake. She does, however, learn from the mistakes, and the books do teach valuable lessons.
There’d been a terrible mistake. Wayside School was supposed to be built with thirty classrooms all next to each other in a row. Instead, they built the classrooms one on top of the other … thirty stories tal! (The builder said he was very sorry.)
That may be why all kinds of funny things happen at Wayside School … especially on the thirtieth floor. You’ll meet Mrs. Gorf, the meanest teacher of all, terrible Todd, who always gets sent home early, and John who can read only upside down – along with all the other kids in the crazy mixed-up school that came out sideways. But you’ll never guess the truth about Sammy, the new kid … or what’s inside for Wayside School on Halloween!
Anna is more than shy. She is nearly invisible. At seven, terrified of school, Anna retreats within the walls of her family’s enormous house, and builds a world of passageways and hidden rooms. As the years go by, people forget she ever existed. Then a mysterious note is thrust through a crack in the wall, and Anna must decide whether or not to come out of hiding.
Mr. Quimby’s going to college, Mrs. Quimby’s going to work. Now that Ramona is eight, she can go to a new school with a new teacher and ride the bus all by herself. But after school she has to stay with Grandmother Kemp and be nice to that bratty little Willa Jean until Beezus —(who’s tempermental enough to ruin anyone’s day—) comes to take her home. Life isn’t as easy for Ramona as it used to be. All the Quimbys have to adjust, and Ramona gets her chance to prove that she’s “big enough for her family to depend on.”
At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.
Come in … for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.
Shel Silverstein’s masterful collection of poems and drawings is at once outrageously funny and profound.
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated”. Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.
Now that we’re in the North Platte River Valley the air feels dry and thin. My lips are so chapped they bleed when I talk. The only thing to do is dip our fingers in to the bucket of axle grease and rub our lips every hour or so. It smells bad, it tastes bad, and the blowing dust sticks.
It feels like we must be halfway to Oregon, but Tall Joe says, no, we’ve only gone five hundred miles. He also says the worst part of the trail is to come.
Does he mean more rivers to cross…? I’m afraid to ask what he’s talking about.
The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.
What is death all about?
What is life all about?
So wonders thirteen-year-old- Elli Friedmann, just one of the many innocent Holocaust victims, as she fights for her life in a concentration camp. It wasn’t long ago that Elli led a normal life; a life rich and full that included family, friends, school, and thoughts about boys. A life in which Elli could lie and daydream for hours that she was a beautiful and elegant celebrated poet.
But these adolescent daydreams quickly darken in March 1944, when the Nazis invade Hungary. First Elli can no longer attend school, have possessions, or talk to her neighbors. Then she and her family are forced to leave their house behind to move into a crowded ghetto, where privacy becomes a luxury of the past and food becomes a scarcity. Her strong will and faith allow Elli to manage and adjust somehow, but what Elli doesn’t know is that this is only the beginning and the worst is yet to come….
A remarkable memoir. I Have Lived a Thousand Years is a story of cruelty and suffering, but at the same time a story of hope, faith, perseverance and love.
Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.
It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.
With the land to hold them together, nothing can tear the Logans apart.
Why is the land so important to Cassie’s family? It takes the events of one turbulent year—the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she is black—to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family’s lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride, for no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away.
Charlotte Doyle is just such a girl and she swears to tell the truth in all its detail. It happened during the summer of 1832 aboard a ship called the “Seahawk.” The only passenger on the long Atlantic Ocean crossing, Charlotte found herself caught between the madness of a ruthless captain and the rage of a mutinous crew. This is her terrifying account of that fateful voyage.
Caddie Woodlawn is a real adventurer. She’d rather hunt than sew and plow than bake, and tries to beat her brother’s dares every chance she gets. Caddie is friends with Indians, who scare most of the neighbors — neighbors who, like her mother and sisters, don’t understand her at all.
Caddie is brave, and her story is special because it’s based on the life and memories of Carol Ryrie Brink’s grandmother, the real Caddie Woodlawn. Her spirit and sense of fun have made this book a classic that readers have taken to their hearts for more than seventy years.
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!
What were your favorite books when you were younger? Did you read any of these? Or maybe you didn’t fall in love with books until you were a teenager or adult? Let me know in the comments!