Books have always been one of my great loves. Whether it’s the smell, the way the paper feels on your fingertips, or the magical world a good book takes you to, there is something so special about reading—and falling in love with—a good book.
When we found out we were pregnant with our first child, the first thing I did was go out and buy a book for him/her. As we started building our little one’s library, I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful books from my childhood and how I couldn’t wait to share them with our soon to be son or daughter. All of the books on my list hold a special place in my heart. Some I read aloud with one of my parents and some on my own or in school. These are the ones that I will never forget and can’t wait to read with our children:
The Bridge to Terabithia
by Katherine Paterson
Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He almost is—that is until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess, and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.
by Natalie Babbit
Doomed to―or blessed with―eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.
Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls
Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.
Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O’Dell
In the Pacific, there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.
This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
The Harry Potter Series (books 1-7)
by JK Rowling
About the first book:
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard—just as his parents were. Everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.
*The Harry Potter series has got to be my very favorite series/very favorite books of all time. I read them as an adult and can’t wait to read them again with my babies.
The Little House Collection
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Set during the pioneer days of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books chronicle her life growing up on the Western frontier. Come along for the adventure with this collector’s set of the first five Little House books, featuring Garth Williams’ interior art in vibrant full color.
The Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America’s frontier history and a heartwarming, unforgettable story.
The story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack. Pioneer life is sometimes hard for the family, since they must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But it is also exciting as Laura and her family celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. Every night they are safe and warm in their little house with the happy sound of Pa’s fiddle sending Laura and her sisters off to sleep.
And so begins Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved story of a pioneer girl and her family.
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L Konigsburg
When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run fromsomewhere she wants to run to somewhere–to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and preferably elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing that her younger brother, Jamie, has money and thus can help her with the serious cash flow problem she invites him along.
Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie, find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at an auction for a bargain price of $250. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. This quest leads Claudia to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth George Speare
Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler is marked by suspicion and disapproval from the moment she arrives on the unfamiliar shores of colonial Connecticut in 1687. Alone and desperate, she has been forced to leave her beloved home on the island of Barbados and join extended family she has never met. Torn between her quest for belonging and her desire to be true to herself, Kit struggles to survive in a hostile place. Just when it seems she must give up, she finds a kindred spirit. But Kit’s friendship with Hannah Tupper—believed by the colonists to be a witch—proves more taboo than she could have imagined and ultimately forces Kit to choose between her heart and her duty.
Elizabeth George Speare won the 1959 Newbery Medal for this portrayal of a heroine whom readers will admire for her unwavering sense of truth as well as her infinite capacity to love.
by Gary Paulsen
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present—and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self pity, or despair—it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeline L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father—a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.
American Girl Historical Series
(I started with Kirsten)
Kirsten Larson and her family arrive in America in 1854, after a long sea voyage. Everything looks so different from the life Kirsten knew back in Sweden—the ways people talk and dress seem strange! Getting lost in a big city and parting with her best friend only add to Kirsten’s worry. Will she ever feel at home here? It is only when the Larsons arrive at a tiny farm on the edge of the frontier that Kirsten believes Papa’s promise—America will be a land filled with opportunity for them all.
Anne of Green Gables
by LM Montgomery
The book recounts Anne’s adventures in making a home: the country school where she quickly excels in her studies, her friendship with Diana Barry (her best or “bosom friend” as Anne fondly calls her), her budding literary ambitions, and her rivalry with classmate Gilbert Blythe—who teases her about her red hair. For that, he earns her instant hatred—although he apologizes many times. As time passes, Anne realizes she no longer hates Gilbert but cannot bring herself to admit it. However, by the end of the book they become friends. The book also follows Anne’s adventures in quiet, old-fashioned Avonlea. This book is the beginning of a lovely series following Anne through the process of growing up, marriage, and having children . . .
The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
First published in 1911, this is the poignant tale of a lonely little girl, orphaned and sent to a Yorkshire mansion at the edge of a vast lonely moor. At first, she is frightened by the gloomy place, but with the help of the local boy Dickon—who earns the trust of the moor’s wild animals with his honesty and love, the invalid Colin—a spoiled, unhappy boy terrified of life, and a mysterious, abandoned garden, Mary is eventually overcome by the mystery of life itself—its birth and renewal, its love and joy.
The Ramona Series
by Beverly Cleary
Kids everywhere feel connected to Ramona’s unique way of looking at the world as she tries to adjust to new teachers, feels jealous about Susan’s curls, and is secretly pleased by Yard Ape’s teasing. The scrapes she gets herself into—like wearing pajamas to school or accidentally making egg yolk shampoo—are funny and heartwarming (and sometimes embarrassing). No matter what—Ramona’s lively, curious spirit shines through.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl
Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last—but only five lucky children will be allowed inside. The winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket—our hero—a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis
Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
by JRR Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent—a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.
Fantastic Mr Fox
by Roald Dahl
Someone’s been stealing from the three meanest farmers around, and they know the identity of the thief—it’s Fantastic Mr. Fox! Working alone they could never catch him; but now fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. What they don’t know is that they’re not dealing with just any fox—Mr. Fox would rather die than surrender. Only the most fantastic plan can save him now.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
by Judy Blume
Millions of fans young and old have been entertained by the quick wit of Peter Hatcher, the hilarious antics of mischevious Fudge, and the unbreakable confidence of know-it-all Sheila Tubman in Judy Blume’s five Fudge books. This is the book that started it all, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
by Donald J. Sobol
The classic mystery series starring everyone’s favorite boy detective Encyclopedia Brown! Whether Encyclopedia is solving cases for his neighborhood friends or his chief-of-police dad, he always has an intriguing mystery to crack.
by Judy Blume
What happens when teasing goes too far? This classic middle grade novel from Judy Blume addresses the timeless topic of bullying and has a fresh new look.
“Blubber is a good name for her,” the note from Caroline said about Linda. Jill crumpled it up and left it on the corner of her school desk. She didn’t want to think about Linda or her dumb report on whales just then. Jill wanted to think about Halloween.
But Robby grabbed the note, and before Linda stopped talking, it had gone halfway around the room. There was something about Linda that made a lot of kids in her fifth-grade class want to see how far they could go…but nobody, Jill least of all, expected the fun to end where it did.
The Boxcar Children
by Gertrude Chandler Walker
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.
Winnie the Pooh
by A. A. Milne
In 1926, the world was introduced to a portly little bear named Winnie-the-Pooh. Along with his young friend, Christopher Robin, Pooh delighted readers from the very beginning. His often befuddled perceptions and adorable insights won the hearts of everyone around him—including his close group of friends. From the energetic Tigger to the dismal Eeyore, A. A. Milne created a charming bunch—both entertaining and inspirational. These simple creatures often reflected a small piece of all of us: humble, silly, wise, cautious, creative, and full of life. Remember when Piglet did a very grand thing or Eeyore’s almost-forgotten birthday?
Dear Mr Henshaw
by Beverly Cleary
Beverly Cleary’s Newbery Medal-winning book explores the thoughts and emotions of a sixth-grade boy, Leigh Botts, in letter form as he writes to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw.
After his parents separate, Leigh Botts moves to a new town with his mother. Struggling to make friends and deal with his anger toward his absent father, Leigh loses himself in a class assignment in which he must write to his favorite author. When Mr. Henshaw responds, the two form an unexpected friendship that will change Leigh’s life forever.