Meg Ryan’s character put it so beautifully in You’ve Got Mail: “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of you in a way that no other book does.” This list of thirteen classic books shaped my childhood and took me on the wildest adventures—all from the safety of my bedroom, or the back seat of my parents’ minivan. I can’t wait for my kids to experience them! It was really tough narrowing this down to only thirteen, so I might have to write a second list soon . . . And if you’re a grown-up and you missed out on reading any of these books as a kid, you’ll love reading them now.
1. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks—This one’s boy-friendly, unlike the majority of my list. What kid doesn’t dream of their toys coming to life?
2. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson—I didn’t usually go for sad books when I was a kid (I still don’t), but—well you just can’t beat this book. It captures the essence of childhood like few other books do.
3. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce—This one’s not as commonly known, though it is a classic . . . and it is just beautiful. I discovered it by accident when I was ten, and was swept away.
4. A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett—Yeah, I’m cheating, lumping two books together here. Every little girl HAS to read these magical books.
5. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling—Okay, so I read these as an adult, but they made me feel like an eleven-year-old! Parents, please don’t let your kids cheat and watch the movies first. You’ll rob them of one of the greatest reading experiences of their life—one that could turn even anti-book kids into avid readers.
6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery—I still watch the movie adaptation of these books regularly whenever I need to unwind—but as always, read the books first. They are delightful.
7. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter—I blame this book, Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden for all of the orphan games I used to play as a kid. I had wonderful parents, and yet I always pretended to be an orphan—weird, I know. Sorry, Mom and Dad. Blame the books.
8. The BFG by Roald Dahl—It doesn’t get any better than this. Kids (and parents) will laugh themselves silly.
9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott—Makes you grateful for your sisters, if you’ve got them—and long for sisters, if you don’t.
10. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein—This one means more and more the older you get.
11. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein—A whimsical collection of kid-friendly poems and illustrations. I read and re-read this book countless times.
12. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis—I still kind of wish I could live in Narnia, and am tempted to look for doors in the back of my closets . . .
13. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder—We’ve actually started reading this one now, since it starts out when Laura is five years old. It’s such a fascinating portrait of life on the American frontier.
Let me know if you or your kids read these books, and what they think! Happy reading!