As I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone reading this post, reading was a massive part of my childhood. My mom used to tell me how she would come to wake me up in the morning when I was very young and she’d find me out of my bed, sitting behind my rocking chair with a pile of books. I would create a fort behind the rocking chair in my room and read the morning away. So I want to share ten books that really meant a lot to me, from the time I was very young all the way into my teens.
Nutcracker Noel by Kate McMullan
Noel is a ballerina who is hoping to get the lead role in her dance class’ production of The Nutcracker (literally one of my favorite pieces of classical music). She is disappointed in herself when she’s cast as a tree instead. However, when fate intervenes, Noel is given the opportunity to truly shine.
This book has the most beautiful artwork that pull you right into the story. This was my favorite book to read by the Christmas tree when I was a kid.
Ella has grown up with a serious rebellious streak. Given the “gift” of obedience by a misguided fairy, named Lucina, meant that Ella had obey any command that is ever given to her. If someone told her she had to chop off her own hand, she would have to do it, or risk the mind-numbing pain that comes as a result of resisting her curse. Luckily, she’s always had her mom to protect her. When her mother suddenly passes away, Ella is left alone in a cruel world where anything can happen. When her overbearing father sends her to finishing school, she plans to run away and achieve true freedom. However, when Char, a young prince, becomes her friend, everything changes.
My 5th grade teacher read this book out loud to my class during reading hour when I was in elementary school and I have loved it ever since. It’s essentially a retelling of Cinderella, but done so creatively that I could sit here and gush for hours. Ella is such a firebrand and her strength was so inspiring to me as a child. Seriously, if you have not read this book, please do so now!
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
I have absolutely no idea how this book got into my hands. Originally published in 1948, I must have gotten it from a garage sale or something of the like.
It follows the story of Elmer, who is the narrator’s father as a boy. On a rainy evening, an alley cat jumps into his window and asks if he wants to go on an adventure. Elmer, being an adventurous young man, decides to follow this cat and ends up on a faraway island. He soon notices that he is the only human on this island and discovers a baby dragon who is being enslaved by the other animal inhabitants. Using the random items in his knapsack (bubble gum, rubber bands, lollipops to name a few…) he vows to free the dragon and escape the island.
Not even going to lie, that plot sounds super boring. However, even with the dated writing, this plot is such fun to be a part of!
Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss
When Amelia’s mom gives her a composition notebook for her birthday, Amelia finally has a place to express her thoughts.
Amelia is funny, sarcastic, and cannot stand her older sister! All of the illustrations were amazing and these books are what got me into writing and journaling. When I met Marissa Moss at ALA Midwinter this past year, I was so excited to be able to express how much her books meant to me as a kid.
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
When Jessie’s secluded Indiana village comes down with diphtheria, her mom sends her out on a risky mission to get help. Beyond the borders of her village, the world is even more dangerous and threatening and soon, her own life is on the line. Jessie must find the help her village needs before it’s too late.
I have my school librarian to thank for leading me to this book. I was about 11 when I read this and it was my first foray into a dystopian plot line. This novel is gripping!
Pirates! by Celia Rees
When Nancy’s father suddenly dies, she is sent to live on her family’s plantation in Jamaica. Her life takes an even worse turn when she sees how slaves are treated and is forced into an arranged marriage. Together with one of the slaves, Minerva, they run away to join a band of pirates in a desperate attempt to be free.
A little romance, a lot of adventure. Pirates! is the perfect pirate/adventure novel for younger teens.
The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris
Terence is an orphan raised with a quiet hermit, Trevisant. His life changes when a water sprite convinces him to head to Camelot to be knighted. Trevisant, seeing the future, releases Terence, for he knows he’s destined for knighted greatness.
When I was younger, I went through a major King Arthur phase. I read Le Morte d’Arthur when I was 10… So when I came across this hilarious series by Gerald Morris, I was all about it.
Biblo Baggins is recruited against his better judgement to join a group of dwarves and a wizard name Gandalf on the treasure hunt of the century.
What is there to say about this that hasn’t already been said?? My journey with the Lord of the Rings world began when I was in 5th grade and I’ve been in love with it ever since.
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
Like many girls her age in India, thirteen-year-old-Koly is getting married. Full of hope and courage, she leaves home forever. But in a grim turn of events Koly finds herself cast out into a current of cruel tradition. Her future, it would seem, is lost. Yet this rare young woman, bewildered and brave, sets out to forge her own exceptional future. (Taken from Goodreads)
This novel is heartbreaking, inspiring, and utterly gripping. Whelan writes about India and its culture with respect, beauty, and understanding and this is a beautiful read.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Possibly the best quote in the world! Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy have butted heads since they first met at a village ball. This humorous novel showcases their unlikely relationship and wittily critiques the edicts of 18th century social customs and expectations.
I first read this when I was 14 and immediately fell in love with Austen’s humor, sarcasm, and bold critique of women’s social expectations and obstacles. This is a book I’ve reread every year since, and even wrote my college senior thesis on this novel.
Happy Top Ten Tuesday!