I was definitely more of a goody-two-shoes than a rebel as a kid, but there was one thing I would always get in trouble for: reading too much.
My mom and dad weren't some kind of weird anti-reading parents, they would just get annoyed when I read at the diner table. Or at family parties. Or when I was suppose to be socializing and making friends like a normal kid. Basically, I could read all I wanted on my own time, but occasionally they would make me put down my book to talk to participate in real life. While I appreciate this now, at the time I just wanted everyone to leave me alone with my newest library book. Isn't this a problem all lifelong readers faced?
While every young reader has their own taste in books, there are some books that are a staple for little bookworms. Whether we came to them on our own or read them in elementary school, the books below made up a big chunk of my childhood, and I'm willing to bet you'll get all sort of nostalgic over some of the titles on this list.
1. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet is a little girl after my own heart. An aspiring writer who was too nosey and honest for her own good (which pretty much defines my childhood self), I felt Harriet's pain when her friends turned on her for being a little too truthful about them in her infamous notebook. Still, what reader wasn't always scrawling in a notebook of his or her own and making up stories about the people they knew?
2. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
I still have dreams of secretly living at the Metropolitan Museum of Art like Claudia and Jamie (mostly when I look at my bank account after paying my rent). I remember reading this in elementary school and being charmed by the idea of running away and living amongst the statues and exhibits in the museum, living off of the coins in fountains and sleeping in antique beds.
3. Matilda by Roald Dahl
A brilliant, mistreated bookworm with telekinetic abilities who loves playing pranks and defending her friends from cruel adults? What wasn't there to love about Matilda? Whether you loved the book as a kid or were a fan of the movie, Matilda's adventures allowed little bookworms to imagine that they had the power to stand up to bullying teachers or mean parents.
4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Just thinking about The Phantom Toll Booth fills me with nostalgia. The story of Milo, a bored little boy who's transported to a kingdom filled with banished princesses and words and talking dogs, will always hold a special place in the hearts of young readers. And its final message was important for bookworms who may have been tempted to stay cooped up with their novels: even though it doesn't always seem like it, real life can be every bit as wonderful and exciting as stories and fantasies.
5. The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
If you were hardcore you read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, but I'll forgive you if you only made it through the most popular book. When the Pevensie children wandered through a wardrobe and found themselves in the fantasy world of Narnia, I started squeezing myself into tight spaces around the house in the hopes of ending up there, too (don't tell me you didn't do the same). It unfortunately didn't work, but the book did quickly become one of my favorite childhood stories.
6. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
I remember always wanting to check this book out during our once-a-week library class in elementary school, and each week finding myself thwarted. This insanely popular book of children's poetry was a hot commodity and was nearly always checked out. But when I was finally able to beat my classmates to checking it out, it was worth the wait. Smart poetry aimed at kids, complete with fun illustrations? Part of me still wants to check it out of the library, but I'll save it for the elementary school kids who have been waiting for it.
7. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I can remember exactly where I was the first time I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (I was nine years old and made my friends go away so that I could continue reading on my front porch in peace). Whether you were already a prolific reader and the series cemented your bookworm status, or it Harry and the gang turned you into a lifelong reader, these books probably played a huge role in shaping your childhood.
8. A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket
Did anyone else learn a decent portion of their vocabulary from Lemony Snicket's bizarre, dark, and hilarious definitions of unfamiliar words? Way to secretly give young readers a language lesson! What really connected me, and I'm sure many other readers, to this series, though, was how Snicket presented extremely dark material to children, trusting that they had the emotional intelligence and courage to face it. He treated young readers like adults, and that resonated with me.
9. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
What little kid didn't secretly hope that they could lure Peter to their window by telling stories, just like Wendy? This classic story captured the imagination of kids everywhere who were convinced that Neverland was only a daydream away. When real life got tough or boring, we could curl up with Peter Pan and enter a world of pirates, fairies, and children who never had to grow up. It was pure escapism for kids who felt like there had to be something more than the mundane world.
10. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Personally, Alice in Wonderland scared the crap out of me as a kid, but it was a childhood staple for most of my friends. The mind-boggling Wonderland thrived on absurdities and twisted logic, and while that didn't sit well with my logical and practical 10-year-old self, I understand why a reality free of the rules of everyday life would appeal to other kids. Plus, the curious Alice taught young readers to never stop asking questions, which is always a good lesson to learn. Curiouser and curiouser!
11. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
You probably read this in elementary school, and it probably scarred you for life. Or are you some kind of monster who could read about Leslie's death and not at least shed a few tears? I tried my best to make my own Terabithia with my friends after reading this in class, but it never quite held the same magic that the book version did (though it had way fewer casualties). Still, as a kid I always gravitated towards books where the protagonist's imagination took center stage. I guess they always reminded me of myself!
Images: Nickelodeon Movies