Last fall I posted a list of 9 Books Every Girl Should Read. I received some great feedback from people who said, “Hey, what about the books all kids should read?” So here’s my list of books every kid—girl or boy—should read.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
This book truly takes children (and adults) into another world. Once they’ve been to Narnia, they’ll never view this world the same way again.
[The Professor:] Don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it. And don’t talk too much about it even among yourselves. And don’t mention it to anyone else unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves. What’s that? How will you know? Oh, you’ll know all right. Odd things, they say—even their looks—will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harper Lee has a gift for creating three-dimensional characters that come to life on the pages of this book. Thanks to Scout, the ultimate precocious narrator, and Atticus, the ultimate quiet hero, this book manages to tell a winsome story about a weighty topic.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
This book is pretty much philosophy disguised as a children’s book, yet it still holds up as an engaging story in its own right.
Here I am, footsore and hungry, tramping away from it, tramping southward, following the old call, back to the old life, the life which is mine and which will not let me go.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I read this book countless times as a kid, and each time I hoped in vain for a different ending. Tear jerker though it may be, Rawls paints an endearing picture of a boy who doesn’t have much going for him other than his determination—but that proves to be enough.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter once said, “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” That’s precisely how you feel when you read her stories—like something delicious is about to happen.
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is the book that taught me to love poetry even before I could understand it. (Not that I get it all that much now. . . .) My dad would read these poems to me from a picture book with lush illustrations, and I remember wishing I could somehow climb into the pages.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
“Why did you do all this for me?” [Wilbur] asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
Can you imagine a more poignant portrayal of friendship than that?
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
As delightful as the movie is, it doesn’t come close to the charm and fantasy of the book. I should note that the book is decidedly creepier than the movie, but I was so taken by the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and the other characters who became my friends down the yellow brick road that I didn’t mind too much.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
My mom read this series to my brother, my sister, and me when we were kids. It’s one of those rare series that is accessible for a broad range of ages and can be enjoyed by both boys and girls. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to my parents, but just in case, I felt like Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny prepared me for life in an abandoned train car, should the need arise.
What were your favorite books as a kid? What’s missing from this list?
Happy reading to you, whether you’re young, or young at heart!