If you're a '90s kid like me, your childhood was bursting with fantastic reads, and some phenomenal characters to look up to. From heroes to class clowns, our bookshelves were brimming with characters that we wished we could trade lives with. And since the books from your childhood have the biggest impact on your life, these idols stuck with us for a long, long time.
It's pretty obvious from this list that as a kid I desperately wanted to be a shapeshifter, a warrior princess and a spunky girl detective all at the same time. Heck, I still want that. Is anyone looking to hire a shapeshifting warrior princess detective? I'll provide my own talking cat, sword, and magnifying glass, if that's what it takes.
Since I was a kid during the '90s, most of these characters are in books that are geared towards kids. Some of these are books that came out in the '90s, others came out a few years before for the decade, but were staples on every '90s bookshelf.
Some things in the '90s were fads: slap bracelets, butterfly clips, wedge sandals, Giga pets. But the books and characters who showed us how to grow up? Those are forever.
1. Claudia from The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin
She has her own phone line. What could be cooler than that? Plus, she has such a funky style and a very relatable addiction to candy.
2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Even though you were probably pronouncing her name wrong before the movies came out, everyone wanted to be Hermione. The cleverest witch of her age, fearless, and loyal, Hermione was an inspiration to us all.
3. Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
OK, Nancy had been around for a while by the time the '90s rolled around. But she's Nancy Freakin' Drew, the original girl detective! Every book-lover had a horde of Nancy Drew books on their shelf. Not to mention the Nancy Drew movies and computer games that we ate up.
4. Harriet the Spy from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Even though the book by Louise Fitzhugh came out in 1964, the film adaptation was dropped in 1996 and we all caught a huge case of Harriet fever.
5. Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Roald Dahl classic, Matilda, came out in 1988, and then the movie came out in 1996. (Guess 1996 was a good year for book-adaptations, huh?) Even though, let's face it, Matilda's life kind of sucks, we all wanted her powers... and we were over the moon when Miss Honey adopted her.
6. Rachel from The Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate
Fashionable and bloodthirsty, Rachel has all the spunk a girl could dream of. Whether she is crushing her enemies from elephant morph or rendezvousing with her red-tailed hawk boyfriend, Rachel is the definition of kickass.
7. The Baudelaire Children from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
These books came out right at the end of the decade. Even though their situation is, well, unfortunate, their smarts and their peculiar sets of skills were surely something to envy. And even if you didn't want to be the orphans, you probably wanted to be Lemony Snicket.
8. Every Judy Blume character ever
I couldn't pick just one. Even though a lot of the Judy Blume classics were published before the '90s, every girl reading in the '90s had some Judy Blume character that spoke to them. Whether it was Margaret from Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret or Peter Hatcher from the Fudge series or Vix from Summer Sisters. There are so many great choices.
9. Daine from The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce
I mean, we all worshipped Tamora Pierce's kickass female characters. And Daine was so many people's favorite. Not only is she super fierce, but she can talk to animals and she gets to spend her days hanging out with the alluring Numair.
10. Junie B. Jones from the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Even though she's kind of a mess, we all wished that we had Junie B.'s sass.
11. Jack and Annie from The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osbourne
Not only did they have an awesome treehouse (who wasn't dying to have their own treehouse?), but Jack and Annie got to travel through time on the reg. So jealous.
12. Cimorene from Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Run away and live with dragons? Yes please! My sister read this book (and its sequels) so often, that if anyone was on the path to becoming Cimorene, it was her. A fearless princess, hardbent on getting her own adventures in life, Cimorene was the antedote to every damsel in distress we had to suffer through.
13. Sammy Keyes from the Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen
Wow, just seeing the font on the Sammy Keyes books takes me way back. This girl detective was always in the middle of some delectable, mischievous mystery that you couldn't wait to read about.
14. The students of Wayside School from the Wayside School series by Louis Sachar
We would have all ditched our own schools to head over to the wacky Wayside School. All of these characters were strange and fantastic, from the Three Erics to Louis, who was based on Louis Sachar himself.
15. Ella from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
OK, so she has a little bit of a problem being cursed and all. But Ella has such a spark! She lives in a addictive magical world, and she gets into so many thrilling adventures.
16. Cam Jansen from the Cam Jansen series by David A. Adler
Cam Jansen has a photographic memory, and so we all wanted a photographic memory. Admit it, you spent ages trying to prove to your friends that you too could solve mysteries with the sheer power of your mind.
17. Sabriel from Sabriel by Garth Nix
In a world filled filled with dark magic, Sabriel seems to come alive off the page, and she's so great at kicking ass. Best of all, she seems like such a real person. Plus, who wouldn't want to spend their days adventuring with Mogget and Touchstone?
18. Lyra from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
Having a daemon like Pan, constantly taking the shape of different animals, would be so freakin' sweet. Not to mention, Lyra is such a badass, fearlessly diving into the fray of a cosmic war.
19. Amelia from Amelia's Notebook by Marissa Moss
After reading these hilarious books, you couldn't wait to get your hands on your own composition notebook to make your own. Not to mention, Amelia is so funny and sassy, and her problems were things every kid could relate to.
20. Poppy from Poppy by Avi
Even though she was just a little deer mouse, Poppy has so much life and so much courage. As she went on her adventures, we all wanted to be as brave as she was.
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