As a kid, reading was literally all I did. Wait, who am I kidding? Books are still a major part of my life. I honestly can’t fathom why anyone would hate reading. For me, it’s an escape. It’s a way to understand and live through these intriguing lives that aren’t yours. I enjoy looking back on the books I read when I was younger because it’s definitely easy to forget about them. These are books that have stayed with me and no matter how many times I read them, the story and characters are still exciting to me.
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
This book follows orphan Jeffrey Magee or better known as Maniac Magee. Maniac runs hundreds of miles to a fictional black neighborhood in Pennsylvania. He is seemingly unaware or simply not bothered by the racial tension. This is a memorable book because it has so many crazy unrealistic yet very creative tales about this legendary boy who simply saw people as people. The protagonist is the best part and the characters along the way are unforgettable as well. This book takes such a heavy topic and makes it into something light that children and adults alike can learn something from.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
I remember being so blown away by this book when I read it in the fourth grade. Then I read it again in middle school and got the same feeling all over again. It has a strong female protagonist named Salamanca which is like the coolest name ever. It’s one of those books that you have to read to fully grasp the greatness of it.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Giver is another equally popular by Lois Lowry. However, I read Number The Stars a few years before and loved it. It’s about a 10 year old girl living in Denmark during 1943 which is when Hitler ordered all of the Jews to be killed. Annemarie isn’t Jewish but her best friend Ellen is. Annemarie and the rest of her family risk their lives protecting the innocent. This is a beautiful work of historical fiction that takes a serious and important event and turns it into a relatable story that resonates with people of all ages.
Hatchet by Gary Paulson
You’d think this book would be extremely boring since interactions with other people are extremely rare but there’s never a dull moment. 13 year old Brian takes a 406 bush plane to visit his father for the summer in the oil fields of northern Canada. Things get CRAY when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. He tries to land the plane but instead crashes into a lake in the forest and the only form of survival Brian has is a hatchet. It’s crazy how this young boy learns how to survive. He’s extremely smart and learns how to hunt properly. He also crafts a bow, arrows, and a fishing spear to help him hunt. The plot may sound boring to some but just remember this, if an 8 year old girl can find this intriguing you probably will too.
Holes by Louis Sachar
This is one of my all time favorite books. It’s just SO creative and one book you can read over and over again. Stanley Yelnats is a boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A pair of shoes literally dropped out of the sky and he got in trouble for it since it was a rare pair that an athlete was donating to an orphanage. Stanley gets sent to Camp Green Lake which is a terrible camp ran by three highly unqualified people. The boys are pretty rough compared to Stanley but he befriends young Zero who he teaches how to read. We also get some perspective on the family curse that Stanley’s “dirty-no good-rotten-pig-stealing great great grandfather” It’s perfect how the story all comes together and all of the background you learn about every character involved, even the dead ones. One of my favorite subplots is about Kissing Kate Barlow who was a pretty innocent school teacher before a tragic event happened. The movie of this is actually pretty accurate although the movie never beats the book. I think it’s impossible not to love this book.
A Corner of the Universe by Ann M Martin
This book follows Hattie Owens, an 11 year old growing up in the 1960’s. Her typical summer gets flipped upside down when her 21 year old Uncle who is mentally disabled comes to live with them. Despite their differences, Hattie learns how to be a better person. She also learns not to judge others and how hurtful the word “retard” is. It’s an incredibly deep book and different from anything I’ve ever read.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I’ve NEVER met anyone who has read this book and didn’t love it. It’s one of those rare books that just connects with everyone. It begins with an adult Billy Coleman who rescues a Redbone Coonhound from a fight with neighborhood dogs and nurses it back to help. He then flashes back to the Coonhound’s he worked tirelessly for. The perseverance and intelligence the protagonist shows throughout the novel is heartwarming. Spoiler alert: This book WILL make you cry.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THIS BOOK. I’m sure most of you either had to read this in elementary school or at least saw the movie. The story is about fifth grader Jesse Aarons. Jesse befriends his tomboy new neighbor Leslie Burke after losing a footrace to her. The two form a new world using a bridge to separate them from the rest of the world. IM NOT GONNA SPOIL IT but this friendship
is filled with imagination, innocence, love, and HEARTBREAK. I’ve already said too much but I’m still not over it.
The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
This hilarious and heart warming tale follows a Michigan family who takes a road trip to visit their Grandma in Alabama. The short stories that highlight the three children and their parents growing up. It also takes a serious turn when the Watson children get their first glimpse at racism while in Alabama. Regardless of who you are or what year you’re growing up in, this is a timeless novel that applies to everyone.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Okay, this book is obviously more relevant around Christmas. However, this will always be one of my favorite children’s books because it’s not just about the holiday. The narrator Beth Bradley quickly reveals that the Herdmans “are the worst kids in the whole history of the world.” The six Herdman kids constantly bully Beth and her little brother. One day Charlie became fed up with the Herdman’s taking his lunch and blurt out that he gets all the snacks he wants at church. The next Sunday the whole Herdman crew shows up just in time to hear about the Christmas pageant. Imogene, the oldest girl Herdman decides she wants to play the part of Mary and the rest of her siblings quickly claim the other roles. The rest of the story is classic and hilarious. This is definitely an underrated book that will always stay with me.